Dead Fish in a Box

The chronicles of a suburban fishpimp trying to keep it rural.

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Monday, June 13, 2005

Kobe Brisket Recap

Kobe Brisket

Last week I was all fired up to fire up the smoker and BBQ this lump of Kobe Beef I’d been given to cook for sales training. So here’s how it went:
I did my research and found that a brisket typically takes 1-1.5 hours per pound to cook for choice grade, which average 8 Lbs, making for a 10-12 hour cook time. But this was Kobe, uncharted territory, these suckers were 13 Lbs each & super fatty. When it comes to protein, Fat equals Flavor – that’s our mantra. It’s why we love bacon, prime rib, & gravy on our dark meat at Thanksgiving. It’s what makes that damn Copper River Salmon so desirable. Fat, in this case, also means reduced cooking time. A 12 oz New York steak will cook 2-3 minutes faster than a 12 oz Top Sirloin because of the marbling (fat content), and these briskets (normally a lean cut or meat) were marbled like prime grade New Yorks!
I put a post up on the message board seeking advice, but didn’t get any before I started. I hedged my bets by picking up a remote thermometer with an alarm. I should have bought one of these things a long time ago, it saved my butt, but more on that in a minute. It’s basically an electronic instant-read thermometer with the display separated from the probe by a 36” lead. The cost being $22, the benefit being the ability to check doneness without having to lift the lid of the smoker, and losing temperature control. It also means I don’t have to go out in the rain to test anything. What’s more, in this over-night cook, I don’t have to go out in the rain in the middle of the night in my p.j.’s to test anything.
After surveying the situation, I realized that these hunks of meat were too durned big to fit whole on the racks, so I ripped them lengthwise & rolled them into semi circles. I put a rub of salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, mustard, & meat tenderizer (aka MSG) and started the charcoal. The meat went on at a little after 6:00 PM with a mixture of Oak, Pecan, and Mesquite wood chunks. I was expecting a cook time of aprox 13 hours. I turned the meat at midnight and refilled the water pan. I was fixing to check the temperature again at 3:00, and pull it off the grill at 7:00 AM. I awoke to the sound of the temperature alarm going off at 2:00. That sucker is LOUD! And boy I’m glad it is, because the access door had fallen off and the coals that should be just barely smoldering were in full-on blaze mode. When I saw that in my semi-comatose state I freaked! I was afraid I’d ruined the meat! Oh, the Humanity!!! I whipped the lid off, pulled the meat off onto some cookie sheets, and moved it on inside. As I gathered my wits I realized that the temperature was a perfect 185F. The lid temperature was at 250F, so it probably hadn’t got too hot. Other than having to deal with the meat 5 hours earlier than I had planned, all was well. Note to self – Kobe brisket cook time: 50 min/lb. I wrapped the slabs in foil, placed them in a 25 gallon cooler, and put warm, dry towels on top. I put the thermometer on top of the closed lid and set the meat-parcel next to the front door so I wouldn’t walk out and forget everybody’s lunch. Then I went back to bed for a couple hours.
I got up at 4:30 like a normal day, let the dog out & started the coffee. When the dog came back in he was acting a little funny. His nose was in the air & he was searching for something. It bears mentioning that he’s a herding dog, not a hound, and I’ve never seen him seek something out solely by scent. But he zeroed in on the cooler o’ flesh. Funny, we haven’t even given him a scrap, I’m not sure he even knows what beef tastes like. Of course, he’s a pretty smart dog; he probably knew it was Kobe. The Cooler kept the meat nice & warm. It had only dropped to 172F in two hours.
When I popped it open at work we were all treated to the smoky scent of barbeque wafting through the fishhouse kitchen. I trimmed off the massive fat cap and went at it with a dull serrated knife. Pushing, but not slicing, across the grain it shredded beautifully. It took me about 30 minutes to get though it all. I drizzled a little leftover juice back into the bowl & tossed it with a pinch of Johnnie’s Seasoning Salt. The team went after it at around 11:00; they were not disappointed. It was tender, smoky, & moist. The 15 of us polished it off with little effort. I spiked the rookie’s bbq sauce with a little Dave’s Insanity Sauce. He’s still sweating 5 days later.
It was some good barbecue. The people told me I’d outdone myself again. I thought it was OK. Either I’m not a big BBQ beef fan, or the Kobe just wasn’t the mind-blowing gastronomic experience I had expected it to be. Judging by people’s reactions, I’d guess the former is more likely than the later; they sure enjoyed it.
I probably won’t do a Kobe brisket again – a) it's about 3 times as expensive as a regular choice brisket, and b) it rendered so much fat that the 2 gallon water pan was nearly filled with black, oily sludge – took me nearly 45 minutes to get it all cleaned up. The bottom line is this: I’m sticking to pork, poultry, & fish on the smoker.


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