The Mother of All Briskets
By Mickey Dunaway
On our last trip to Costco—yes, the very same Costco I lambasted in my previous edition of Southern Exposures—Sandy and I went in to pick up a few things and ended coming home with the mother-of-all-briskets and spent the mother of all prices for it, too. I’m talking like almost $60 for a piece of meat!
This MOAB took up one whole shelf in the fridge, and I swear, the damn thing stared at me every time I opened the door to get a drink. At the end of the week, with the weather finally turning to fall, I let MOAB know that its day had come, and that day was Saturday, September 25 —the day Auburn almost got beat by Georgia State at homecoming.
Early on this Saturday, Sandy headed down to South Carolina to meet Christian to pick up his two Labradoodles we are keeping while his family frolics at Disney World. We paid for gas to pick up the pups and take them back next week. My son provided their food, but I expect my water bill to be out the roof they drink so much. I do have to make sure they don’t destroy my artificial turf backyard or whiz on the plants around the perimeter of our backyard fence.
We love these two dogs who make Boomer and Chloe look like orange and white midget bird dogs— although Boomer holds his own by biting them on their ankles. For Boomer, it was like his long-lost cousins had come to visit. Chloe, our little diva, is basically above all the frolicking and frowns on all the big-dog barking.
Before I got up the courage to wrestle the MOAB from the fridge, I put most of a bag of charcoal in a pan on the left side of my Weber grill and set the burner under it to hell-hot to heat the charcoal to the perfect gray ash color before I put the MOAB on the opposite of the grill.
Before heading to the grill, I cut off about five pounds of prime corn-fed beef fat and put it into a stewpot, covered it with water, seasoned it with Montreal steak seasoning, and let it simmer away for a couple of hours. Once we skim the fat off, I expect to have some mighty fine beef stock for some fall soup.
I seasoned the MOAB with the same Montreal steak seasoning but not before having cut off about a fourth of the creature so it would fit on my grill. With MOAB secured firmly on my Weber stainless and expandable grilling basket for fish, ribs, and the like, I took it to the grill, which was now the perfect temp. However, I forgot one thing — the pan to catch the drippings. After all, brisket is about 70% water and drips throughout the five hours of smoking.
I inserted my radio-telegraph meat thermometer deep into MOAB and placed the grill temp probe next to the meat. I finally figured out how to transmit the two temps to the mothership on the picnic table, where I was consuming my third cup of coffee and finishing up my Bathroom Wars contribution to Southern Exposures.
Damn. The thin aluminum turkey pans we had were not big enough, and for a moment, MOAB thought he might be heading back to the fridge. Not so fast, big boy! I cut one pan in half and attached it to the other for a perfect—if somewhat redneck-looking solution.
With all the preliminaries completed, it was about 10:30, and I placed some big hickory chunks on my hot charcoal, and the smoking commenced for another five hours. We have a tower fan on the patio in case we have some of those Alabama-hot summer days, and we still want to enjoy our backyard. The hurricane-producing fan works fine, too, to keep the smoke away while the bar-b-que is going.
During the five hours of cooking, I fed more charcoal and woodchips to the pan to keep the grill temperature between 225-275, with 250 being the preferred optimum MOAB cooking temperature. Finally, at five hours, that slab of USDA Prime beef brisket was at 195 degrees according to my temp probe. I took it off, wrapped it in aluminum foil, put it back on the grill, and let it ease back up to 195 degrees again from where it had come down to about 170 in the wrapping process.
After about an additional half-hour of slow cooking, the internal temp of the meat was back to 195 degrees. At this point, I removed it from the Weber stainless and expandable grilling basket. I wrapped it up nice and snug in an old towel and MOAB with his beautiful brown bark into a cooler to continue to slow cook for the final hour before we sliced him up and had him join us for supper at the halftime of the Auburn game. At this point, MOAB was the best thing in the house as Auburn had been whipped all over the field by a Sunbelt team, no less. Of course, some of the Jordan-Hare magic returned in the second half, and we pulled it out.
I didn’t sleep well on Saturday night—getting up twice to read. So, I slept until about 9:00 a.m. Sunday, and when I emerged looking for coffee, I was taken back because the whole damn house still smelled like Texas! That MOAB was a hell of a slab of beef.
To my good non-Southern friends: This is a USDA Prime example of the Southern culture we value so much. Don’t need no damn Yankees bringing your sophistication to us Cornelius rednecks. Yes, of course, I will always appreciate our friendships, but that still don’t mean I’m going to attend no stinkin’ opera.