Discover more from Broken Palate
Smoke Brisket Like A Pro
Chef Tristen Epps shares his tips for success. PLUS: Turn your outdoor fire pit into the ultimate BBQ
Barbecue season is upon us, with summer the traditionalle many of us are content to simply throw a few burgers on the grill, cooking “low and slow” is an art form that takes time and care. Some cuts of meat take half a day to reach their full potential, but if you’re patient, the result is worth it.
Tristen Epps is executive chef at the Eden Roc Miami Beach’s Ocean Social by Tristen Epps. The chef, who worked with Thomas Keller, Troy Guard, and Marcus Samuelsson, shares his tips for weekend warriors who want to try their hand at smoking meats.
Start With the Meat
For slow cooking, Epps prefers beef brisket, lamb Denver (small ribs), or leg of lamb. The chef also recommends buying from a reputable butcher, rather than finding a deal at the local chain store. “I think quality always matters, no matter what you’re doing. “ That doesn’t mean going out and spending money on the most expensive meats. “You can buy a secondary cut, but what you want is good quality meat. Lesser quality won’t give you consistent results. The meat might shrink up or have a really irony flavor because it didn’t have enough fat or connective tissue.”
Epps prefers to season beef with only salt and coarse pepper. “Smoke and slow cooking are the only ways of cooking that add their own flavor,” says Epps, adding that after 12 hours of cooking, you really just taste the meat. “Salt, pepper, meat, and smoke. It’s really that simple.”
Epps says he seasons lamb and ribs more aggressively because the cooking time is shorter than a 12-hour brisket. He prefers warming spices like ras el hanout, adding, “I love seasoning blends on the lamb". Citrus and fresh herbs also pair well with lamb.
Choosing Your Wood
For home cooks and people just starting out on their smoking journey, Epps suggests starting with pellets that can be found at Home Depot. “These work really well for the average smoker or hobby smoker.” Epps suggests starting out with fruit woods like peach, apple, or cherry. “They give off nice mellow tones and burn rather quickly.”
For the serious smoker, Epps suggests a combination of white oak for depth, blended with a fruit wood to give it flavor. Hickory and mesquite can be used if you want a powerful smoke: “They give off a spicier flavor to the meat,” says Epps.
Invest in a Meat Thermometer and Have a Plan
“There is no shame in knowing what you’re doing,” says the chef, adding consistency is key to a beautiful brisket. “Make a plan and write that plan down every time you barbecue,” Epps says he writes his plan down on a paper bag and hangs it on the grill. The chef also reverse-engineers his process. “I figure out when I want to eat and then I count backward. If I want to eat at two in the afternoon, I need to start at 2 in the morning.”
Epps suggests for the first three hours leave the meat alone. Don’t lift the lid and let the meat get all the smoke it can. “There’s so much smoke the meat can absorb, and that happens in the first three hours.”
After that, spray the meat with water and a mixture of bourbon, cider, or whatever suits you best. Epps says he sprays the meat with whatever he’s drinking. Right now, it’s a chilled rose, according to the chef. “It’s fun. You sit outside in a chair with a bottle of rose on ice.”
After 8 hours, take out the meat, wrap it in butcher paper and foil, and give it a long nap in the smoker until it reaches a temperature of 203 degrees (this is where your meat thermometer is essential). At this point, the meat should have a beautiful bark developing and the seasoning should be sticking.
PARTNER DEAL: SOLO STOVE TURNS YOUR OUTDOOR FIRE PIT INTO THE ULTIMATE GRILL IN SECONDS. SAVE UP TO 45% NOW
If you want to enjoy a seamless barbecue experience for your home, check out Solo Stove. These home fire pits bring a bit of fun to your backyard, and they’re luxurious and surprisingly affordable.
Besides providing the perfect gathering space, Solo Stove can be turned into a grill in seconds. Solo Stoves are perfect for every outdoor space from a personal size (perfect for a S’mores party) to a gorgeous fire pit where you can gather all your friends around.
Plus, Solo Stove can be converted into a grill in a matter of seconds, so you can do everything from cooking to entertaining in one beautifully-designed unit. Take advantage of Solo Stove’s sale for the ultimate backyard barbecue experience.
Happy Fourth of July from Broken Palate.