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Beef Brisket Take 2

Last year (almost a year to the day I find), I posted Smokin’ Chick’s Beef Brisket. I smoked another one recently-my husband says it was the best brisket he’s ever had!  He said the same thing  last time.  I guess I’m 2 for 2 on brisket.

Some people are intimidated by a brisket or any cut of beef that is known to be tough.  Low and slow with plenty of moisture is the way to cook those cuts.  My brisket was 8.33 pounds.  It was smoked on the grill just under 3 1/2 hours, then in the crock pot on low for another 8 or 9 hours.  It pulled apart quite easily and was very moist.  The rub gave it a nice coating and flavor that required no sauce (but I use sauce anyway).  If you don’t want it pulled, make sure you slice the meat against the grain and not with it.

Smoked Brisket Part 2 (7)

Just off the grill.

For the rub you will need:  allspice, garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard and ground ginger.  Place the brisket over 2 sheets of plastic wrap, layered over each other at right angles.  I just sprinkled the spices over both sides of the brisket liberally and rubbed them in.  Wrap the brisket tightly and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.  Smoked Brisket Part 2 (8)

Smoked Brisket Part 2

Small piles of coals are for later

Pull the meat out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grill time, to relax the muscle fibers.  Prepare the coals and soak the wood you will be using for the smoke.  I used apple wood chips (I purchase the wood chips from Lowe’s if I don’t have any oak or cherry wood chunks from the trees on our property).Smoked Brisket Part 2 (2)







When the coals are hot, sear each side of the brisket 3-4 minutes to seal in the brisket’s natural moisture.  Opposite the coals, on the coal grate, place a foil pan filled with a liquid.  For this brisket, I used cranberry juice.  Once it is seared, move the brisket to the opposite side, fat side up, add more coals to the main pile and close the lid. 

Seared on both sides

Seared on both sides

The temperature peaked at 325 degrees F.  I had all vents on the lid and the kettle wide open.  If the temperature gets above 325, adjust the vents to regulate the temperature.  The more open the vents, the more oxygen and air flow gets to the coals.  Closing the vents a bit will decrease the oxygen and air flow, thus decreasing the temperature.  Once the temperature dropped below 250, I took the brisket off and wrapped it in foil to further cook and then cool. 

After 3 1/2 hours on grill

After 3 1/2 hours on grill

Smoked Brisket Part 2 (12)









I was saving the brisket for a later time, so it went in the freezer for a couple of days.  I took it out the day before I was putting it in the crock pot to thaw in the refrigerator.  For the crock pot, I kept the brisket in the foil, opening it, but forming a bowl from the foil.  I poured enough water around the bowl to provide enough moisture for a lengthy time in the crock pot, but not so much it would get into the foil bowl.  I did not want to take my brisket for a swim!  The brisket slow cooked between 8 and 9 hours.

Out of the crock pot

Out of the crock pot

Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!


Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin

I enjoy coming up with new rubs, marinades and sauces for pork.  Pork is one of those meats that just about anything goes.  The tenderloin is my favorite cut of pork.  I buy the 10-15 pounders when they are on sale and cut them up when I get home.  I leave bigger sections, such as the 2.5 pounds used in this recipe, and pork chops any thickness I want.  The sections are then put in freezer bags and frozen until I’m ready to grill!

What you need:  2.5 pound boneless pork tenderloin, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels.

Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin (5)

For the rub:
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Basil flakes
Ground coriander
Fresh cracked black pepper
Sprinkle all liberally (except maybe garlic-you might want to do that  lightly) over all of tenderloin. Rub in, cover the tenderloin and refrigerate for at least an hour, removing about half an hour before grilling.

Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin (2)
Balsamic Glaze:
1 cup Balsamic vinegar
up to 2 tbsp honey
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and continue heating until volume is reduced by half. Let cool to room temperature.

Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin (12)

Prepare a fire for indirect cooking. Spread coals when most are ashen and temperature is high heat.

Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin (6)

Sear all sides of tenderloin, about 5 minutes each side.

Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin (9)

Remember to NOT use a fork to turn the meat.  No piercing!  Watch and put out flare-ups when searing the fatty side. Move to the side of the grill opposite the fire, fatty side up and add more charcoal, about 5 briquettes.

Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin (3)

For pork, I sometimes insert a thermometer to make sure it is done. Internal “doneness” temperature for pork is 150-165 degrees F. Brush some of the glaze on the top of the tenderloin and put the lid on the grill. If you can maintain a cooking temperature around 300 degrees, a 2.5 pound tenderloin should be done after 2 hours. Mine wasn’t, so I brushed more glaze on it, wrapped it in foil and finished it in the oven at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes.

I served the pork with a caprese salad.  This link takes you to a recipe.  The only difference in how I serve it and this recipe is that I dress it with olive oil and  balsamic vinegar.

Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin (13)

Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

Grill Smoked Turkey Breast

Thanksgiving Dinner

Success!! If you saw my previous post titled Watch this Space, then you know I was planning to put our Thanksgiving turkey breast on the grill. I was not just successful, I was very successful. Best smoked turkey I have ever eaten!

I started this the night before, putting a 4.85 pound whole turkey breast in a brine.  A whole turkey breast is the bird without the legs, wings and thighs attached.  It still has a cavity.  Basically, a headless, legless, wingless bird.  It can be bought frozen or fresh, with or without giblets, neck, heart and liver.  I bought a fresh breast and purchased a couple of legs and livers, giblets and a heart for my stuffing (stuffing is what I eat, not filling or dressing).  For the brine recipe, see Beer Can Turkey.  I added ice to the brine after it had cooled slightly to bring the temp down quicker.  By the time I had gotten to the brine, I had already baked three pies, had the stuffing ready to go and made cranberry sauce.  I wasn’t in the mood to wait for the brine to cool so I could add the turkey.  I don’t know why I didn’t add ice before.  More water is added later anyway.

I cleaned out the grill the night before Thanksgiving (almost sounds like a Clement C. Moore poem).  Maximum airflow is a must.  I dumped a huge pile of coals on one side of the grill with a smaller pile next to it.  I also had a small stash of oak pieces available.  I did not have the wood soaking in water.  I just threw those right on the coals at the beginning and as needed later on in the cooking process.  When all of the coals in the big pile were nearly gray, I moved the smaller pile over to get those going.  Then I moved those on top of the big pile right before I put the turkey on.  I had plenty of heat for most of the cooking time doing this. 






 As you see in the lower left hand corner of the second picture, there is a foil pan.  I filled this with orange juice and water for my steaming liquid.  It caught the drippings from the turkey as well as the juices from the citrus fruits I added to the cavity of the turkey.  I stuffed the cavity with a quartered lemon, lime, half a small orange, 3 medium garlic cloves, smashed and a one inch piece of ginger, quartered.

Ginger, oranges, lemons, limes and garlic to be stuffed into the turkey breast.

Aromatics stuffed through neck of breast after it was placed on the rack on the grill.









Once everything was ready, the foil pan was filled, the rack placed on the grill and the turkey breast placed on the rack with one of the legs to support it (a turkey torso will not stay upright on its own.  It needs support-the leg worked well).  Then the lemons, etc. were stuffed in through the neck and a probe thermometer was inserted through the lower part of one side of the breast (if you do this, make sure it is not touching a bone and the end is still in the meat).  I added a couple of pieces of wood and closed the lid.

Ready to smoke!

Target temperature for poultry is a minimum of 165 degrees F. 170 is a better temp to shoot for.  It took about 3 hours and 40 minutes to achieve 168 degrees F on Thanksgiving Day where I am.  Outside temperature was in the upper 40’s to the low 50’s the entire time I was smoking the turkey.  It may have gone quicker with higher outdoor temps.  I added more wood twice and 8 briquets once.  The first time I added wood and briquets, I also covered the breast with heavy-duty foil to prevent further browning.  See below to understand what I mean.  If you have never had or seen smoked poultry, you might be surprised at the appearance.  But don’t be put off, wait until you see how it looks underneath!

Right off the grill.


Turkey leg.


Let the turkey rest 15-20 minutes before carving.  Resting allows the juices to be reabsorbed back into the bird.  Carving too soon results in crumbly, mushy slices. 


The only thing I will do differently next time:  I will take the legs off much sooner.  The smaller one was quite crispy!  The turkey breast was perfection!  Excellent smoked flavor, very juicy.  Definitely will do this again.  It helped make my Thanksgiving Dinner plate look like a work of art!

Thanksgiving Dinner

Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

Beer Can Turkey

OK-this isn’t really a “Beer” turkey. But, the holder is the kind we used to see commercials for several years ago for “Beer Can Chicken.” I got mine for 5 bucks at Wally World a few years ago. I don’t think I’ve ever used beer. I’m not against it, I just don’t use it very often when I am cooking. On average, I use the holder once or twice a year. Cooking a whole bird is not high on my list, but it is worth the work when I do.

My favorite celebrity chef, Alton Brown, had an episode in Season 2 of Good Eats titled, “Romancing the Bird.”  Alton put the turkey in a brine overnight.  I have never failed to do the same to my turkeys ever since.  The turkey absorbs all of the flavors and becomes the juiciest bird that will bring delight to your mouth. 

Number one priority for this recipe is to purchase a SMALL bird.  Unless you have a firebox separate from the main cooking chamber or are using a gas grill, you will not get a large turkey fully cooked.  Every time the lid is removed from the grill, heat is lost and it is crucial to maintain a constant temperature.  If you have the capability to control the fire without having to open the main cooking chamber, go for the bigger bird (and good luck).  I found an 8.5 pound turkey and I did have to finish off the dark meat inside.  It just got to be too hard to maintain the temperature after a couple of hours. 

First thing to do is prepare the brine.  It will need some cooling and fridge time before the turkey is added.  For the brine:  Water-4 quarts plus more; 1 cup cider vinegar; 1-2 tbsp ground sage; 1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger; 1 tbsp fresh ground pepper; up to 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder; 3 tbsp onion powder; 1 1/2 tbsp allspice; 1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar; 1/2 cup coarse salt.  All ingredients go into the biggest stockpot you have (or if you are doing a big bird (not the big yellow guy from Sesame Street!), a pot big enough for all of the above) and heated to dissolve the salt and brown sugar.  The salt and sugar must be dissolved completely.  What you are doing is creating a solution that will eventually even out the moisture balance inside and outside the bird via osmosis.  The moisture becomes trapped in the protein cells of the turkey and will leave the meat nice and moist even after 2 or 3 hours on the grill (or in the oven).  No one really wants to chew a moisture sucking piece of meat, now do they?  Cool the brine to room temperature then refrigerate until ready for it.   


While the brine cools its heels, get the thawed turkey ready.  Make sure you remove the giblets and neck.  Check the body cavity and the neck cavity (boil them up with some simple seasonings and use in a gravy or stuffing ala Betty Crocker recipe-or cook them up for your dog or your neighbor’s dog).  Rinse and pat dry the turkey.  The bird will go right into the stock pot with the brine and add enough ice water to cover completely.  If the stock pot isn’t big enough, use a cooler.  Place the turkey and the brine right into the cooler along with ice water to cover the turkey.  Cover/seal the stock pot/cooler.  The goal is to soak that bird for about 12 hours.     


Ready to start your fire?  Give yourself plenty of time to get things started.  You are going to have a big pile of charcoal for this and I kept a smaller grill nearby with coals started to add as needed during the cooking time. 

Now is the time to end the spa soaking of the turkey.  Choose your 12 ounce canned beverage of choice.  I generally use ginger ale or lemon-lime soda, but I had neither and used a Coke Zero.  Whatever you choose, even if it’s beer, should go well with the turkey.  The brine is sweet, savory and a sweetened beverage or hoppy or malty beer will work just fine.  Pour out half of the beverage (drink it, pour it down the sink, whatever!).  Place the can in the holder and add a couple of smashed cloves of garlic-no need to peel them.  Put the whole thing in a disposable pie plate or round cake pan.  Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse inside and out and pat dry.  Place over the can and rub with oil and more ground sage.  Pin the wings with sturdy toothpicksto prevent them from becoming cinders.

Finally, add a small onion or potato to the neck cavity.  This will keep the steam inside the bird.  Discard the onion (or potato) at the end of cooking.

Your fire should be ready, so spread the coals evenly around the rim of the grill.  Add more coals and the turkey right in the middle of everything.

Put the lid on and insert a thermometer in the vent opening.  Try to maintain a temperature of 325 degrees F.  Add coals from started stock as needed.  I added coals about every half hour to 45 minutes to maintain the temperature. 

For an  8.5 pound turkey, expect  3 1/2 to 4 hours on the grill.  I had a difficult time maintaining a 325 degree temp and if I had, the bird would have been cooked all the way in that amount of time.  As it was, I took it off after 3 hours since my temp was steadily below  275 and I finished it in the oven.   Despite that, the turkey had a perfectly smoked flavor and was super moist.   Good luck on this one-for me, this was one of the hardest things this girl has ever cooked on the grill.

Enjoy and until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!