Barbeque makes old ones feel young
Barbeque makes everybody someone
If you're feelin' puny and you don't know what to do
Treat yourself to some meat - eat some barbeque
-Robert Earl Keen
Like millions of Americans over this past Memorial Day Weekend, I participated in the ritual of the barbeque. For many (mostly panty-waisted easterners), "having a barbeque" means grilling hamburgers, hot dogs, or some other form of meat. Not so in Kansas City. Here, it means honest-to-God smoked meat, cooked low-and-slow over a wood fire.
For my entire life, I've used a Little Chief smoker for jerky, salmon, and chickens, but it wasn't until I moved to KC that I began dabbling in what I call the Holy Trinity of smoked meat -- ribs, pulled pork, and brisket. Ribs are probably the easiest to master -- rub 'em down with assorted spices, fire up the smoker, and pull 'em off when the meat is tender but not yet falling off the bone.
Pulled pork -- a pork butt -- was a bit of a challenge, at least until I purchased a remote digital thermometer that allowed me to measure doneness by temperature and not time. Time, I've learned, is a bad way to measure BBQ, since there are so many variables in the equation -- smoker temperature, ambient temperature, and the actual cut of meat, to name a few.
Even with a thermometer though, beef brisket remained my bugaboo -- until last weekend. I had tried many different recipes, and every single one of them produced a piece of meat that was either tough or dry -- or many times both. I used an adapted version of Meathead's Barbeque Beef Brisket Texas Style, and the results were terrific.
The leftovers ain't bad, either. Sliced beef sandwiches, chopped brisket with scrambled with eggs, or minced in homemade flour tortillas with cilantro and onion (today's lunch) are all great ways to make this meat sing.