Hello Brisket, My Old Friend

Annnnnd… It’s the middle of the month already. Whoops.

A few weeks ago, I came up with the grand idea of marinating a brisket in gochujang – a Korean red chili paste. It had been a while since I had done a brisket. I also thought I’d be fancy and get the Choice Angus cut from restaurant depot that cost somewhere around 20 cents more than the “regular” kind. Angus breed cows are supposedly certified to a certain degree of marbledness, but I haven’t really been able to tell all that much.

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Generic uncooked brisket.

Gochujang is a condiment that features heavily in Korean barbecue. It is made out of red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. I happened to have some on hand from an earlier cookout where I bought some Korean short ribs and other meat from H Mart. I had attempted to write a post on it, but it was spectacularly uneventful (which is what happens when you don’t prepare your own meat).

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The Red Menace.

Gochujang is also very, very red. Or orange. Or whatever color it is. I had some doubts whether it would actually marinade anything since it is rather pasty – usually watery marinades penetrate the meat better. To keep it from being too salty, I went with a ratio of 2:1 for pepper to salt.

I had gotten a bit of late start to seasoning and trimming overnight; I got back from a movie (Magnificent 7, in case you were wondering) around 12 and then got finished with the meat around 1 in the morning. An unfortunate consequence was that I had to get up around 5 or 6, leaving me with around 4-5 hours of sleep. In general, I was bit annoyed with the shape of the brisket. The flat muscle in some areas looked too thin and the point was very… pointy. Much to my frustration, I had some difficulty in squeezing the brisket on the elevated rack that usually use. I removed it entirely.

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Someone buy me a second smoker.

I ended up wrapping it around 2, a bit earlier than I would have preferred. Usually I like to let the brisket to start getting out of the stall before wrapping. I also ended up taking it a bit off earlier than usual – maybe right around 200 and didn’t let it rest as long as usual (two hours instead of four.)

As a result, I thought the flat ended up kind of dry. I attempted to eat a bit of the end and it tasted like the bizarre love child of bacon and beef jerky. I wasn’t too sure if the marinade had anything to do with that; there were also just too many different factors going on this time around for me to pinpoint exactly why it turned out the way it did. Nobody else seemed to mind however. (Though I suppose that should be the correct response whenever one is presented with free meat). The point was fine.

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Fine.

As I suspected, the gochujang doesn’t really add all that much flavor. There was a bit more spice, but with the sauce, pickles and onions that we use for sandwiches, that flavor tends to get blocked out. For it to penetrate the meat more effectively, I think the paste would have to be mixed with some water to form an actual marinade in which I could submerge an entire 14-pound brisket.

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If only my barbecues were sponsored by Bud.

Anyways, I guess you can’t win them all. The one lesson from this particular cook is to be more careful when choosing the shape of your brisket and to improve timing a bit.

This is neither here nor there, but I’ve noticed that part of the gasket that installed on the Weber has started falling off. I originally pasted it on to improve the seal between the lid and grill. Turns out that having it come off isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Because only a portion of it has fallen off, it has essentially become a second vent that is closer to grate level – this means that I can increase the amount of air/smoke being let out and allow it to circulate more. I think the seal might have been a little too effective before, making it hard to increase heat by limiting the amount of smoke going out the top. In recent cooks, it has become more evident when I open the bottom vents – you can see a direct increase in smoke coming out from the top and sides.

In other news, there’s now a lemoncat Instagram! You can follow me at lemoncatbbq.

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