4.070 Barbecued Pepper Brisket

Cycle 4 – Item 70

16 (Sat) March 2013

Barbecued Pepper Brisket


by me

at Imjin Gang Pokpo Eojang

-Paju, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-

with W and DJ, MtG, HY + KIT + JH, CJH + KKH, LHS + YYH, CSW + gf, HSE

I was inspired to try making barbecue brisket upon watching an episode of the television program BBQ Pitmasters.  The first season is a reality-based format that follows a group of professional barbecue specialists as they compete in BBQ competitions around the USA.  Beef brisket is one of the main categories featured in all such competitions, along with chicken, pork, and pork spareribs.  It seemed like something that I should attempt at least once in my life.

The first challenge was acquiring a suitable piece of meat.  Brisket is popular in Korea, but it’s generally sold in smallish slabs to make soup or thinly sliced for grilling.  However, at mainstream retail outlets, it’s not sold as a whole piece, as BBQ pros use, which can weigh as much as 5 kg.  The biggest cut available at E-Mart was a mere 850 g.

And though the beef was rated 1 (3rd tier), it still cost 5,400 won per 100 g, 45,900 won for 850 g.  To put that into perspective, a whole 5 kg brisket would’ve cost 270,000 won.   To put that into further perspective, a whole 5 kg brisket of 1++ (1st tier) beef at around 8,000 won per 100 g would’ve cost 400,000 won.   All things considered, perhaps the smaller size was appropriate given the experimental nature of the endeavor.

Still at home, several hours before grilling, I treated the meat to a dry rub of pepper steak seasoning + cajun spices + chili powder + onion powder + garlic powder and wrapped it in foil.  At the campsite, I arranged charcoal briquettes for indirect heat in a small kettle and placed the brisket on the center of the grill, still wrapped in foil – this trick is the “Texas Crutch,” meant to seal in the juices to keep the meat moist – and closed the lid.  I left the package to cook at a constant temperature of around 150 C.

The occasion was LHS’s birthday.   We’d come to this same campsite to celebrate his birthday 2 years before (see 2.073 Pork Japchae).  That time, we had intended to, but last-minute emergencies prevented us from bringing any kids, so we vowed to go back someday.  We brought the kids this time, to treat them the adjacent mini amusement park, but it ended up being a pain in the ass because the kids kept nagging the adults to do stuff and everything was so damn expensive.

Four hours later, the brisket turned out okay, though far from what I’d consider to be a success.  The meat exuded a nice peppery aroma but tasted a bit bland.  We had bottled BBQ sauce to boost flavor.  The meat was exquisitely moist, which I attribute to the combination of natural fat in Korean beef + Texas Crutch.  In fact, the meat was so insanely tender that it could be pulled apart with a spoon; it crumbled when I tried slicing it.  Ultimately, my first go at brisket would’ve been better served by tearing up the meat, mixing in BBQ sauce, and piling the slop into a sandwich, though that wouldn’t have really been worth the effort or the cost that had gone into it.

I’ll try this again, but in the oven at a lower temperature for a longer period, and with more seasoning.


(See also CAMPING)

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