Re: [gardeners] Long winded BBQ school, Texas Style

Allen and Judy Merten (
Tue, 06 Jul 1999 23:21:59 -0500

    A oil drum will make an excellent BBQ pit. I will message tomorrow with details. Have to get to bed now. Tomorrow I have a 3 hour  MRI of my back scheduled.
    Bastrop Co.
    SE Central Tx.

Penny Nielsen wrote:

> Hi Allen
> An interesting read.  Even tho I've had lunch I'm drooling.  We have an old oil drum with a lid on it.  Not sure now why agreed to take it free.  Anyway, I was wondering if there is any way we could make a BBQ, similar to what you describe from it.  Not sure how we would do the vents.  Have thought about roasting a pig for a party.  Could just  make a pit in the ground, but it would be nice to be able to better control the heat, etc. with vents.
> What do you think.
> Penny in Halifax, N.S. (the other Penny)
> >>> Allen and Judy Merten <> 07/06/99 01:11AM >>>
> Hi Penny,
>     One of the things that I love to do and talk about is BBQ. It's a
> family tradition.
>     You asked how to slow cook a brisket over coals.
>     My pit is like a horizontal barrel. It has 2 vents on each end. The
> vents are located at the top and bottom of the ends of the barrel. The
> bottom vents control the air intake and the top vents control smoke
> exhaust. The manipulation of the vents control the heat. I always have
> more air coming in than smoke going out. I open the bottom vent on one
> end of the barrel and partially open the top vent at the opposite end.
>     The heat is from coals of oak, hickory, mesquite, or pecan wood that
> I begin burning with the barrel open. Once the wood is burning well, I
> close the pit and open the vents. This slows down the burning process
> and starts making hard coals that will last and produce heat at a steady
> rate.
>     I begin preparing the brisket before I start the fire. I buy "packer
> trim" brisket in heavy kripac bags. The weight is usually from 12 - 15
> lb.. Some of this is fat that needs to be trimmed. (Suet for bird
> feeders). I trim most but not all of the fat. I sprinkle soy sauce or
> Worcestershire sauce and concentrated lemon juice over both sides of the
> brisket. Next I heavily season with garlic powder, salt, paprika, onion
> powder. You can substitute steak seasoning or ready mixd brisket rubs
> for the other dry ingredients. I don't care that much for the steak
> seasoning. It is mostly salt and not much else. You can add red or
> cayenne pepper if that is your taste. I cook for mixed crowds of kids,
> women and men so I go light on the pepper if I use it at all. I always
> have hot peppers on the side anyway. One alternative to all of the spice
> application is to use Italian dressing as a marinade. Place the brisket
> in a large rectangular cake pan covered with foil, or double or triple
> wrap the brisket in foil. Place it in the oven for 30 minutes at 350*.
>     The fire should be just about right by now. I take the brisket out
> of the pan and reserve the drippings to baste with. The fire was laid at
> one end of the barrel as much as possible. I light the ends of the wood
> nearest the bottom vent that will be open. Place the brisket on the
> opposite end from the fire, nearest the top vent that will allow smoke
> to escape. The meat will be cooked by the hot smoke passing by not by
> direct heat from the coals. If you have flames flare up when the pit is
> open shut the vents completely and let the flames suffocate. This
> creates intense smoke inside the pit which will flavor and color the
> brisket. Turn and baste the brisket every 15 to 20 minutes or sooner if
> it looks dried out. I cook brisket for 2-4 hours depending on the weight
> of the brisket and the heat of the fire. I cook all my BBQ using this
> same method. Only the oven is omitted for lighter weight meats like
> chicken, ribs, Emu, venison, etc. I use the same method to smoke
> turkeys. The best BBQ chicken is split at the breast but not at the back
> and cooked butterfly fashion.
>     If you are going to BBQ brisket away from home and oven, triple wrap
> the brisket and cook wrapped for 1-2 hours. Unwrap it and finish cooking
> until done. Don't over cook brisket. If you wait till the meat is all
> gray it will be tough as a boot, maybe a boot heel. Brisket is a juicy
> meat. When you cut a little slice to test if it is done, you want to
> quite cooking when it is still faintly pink, not rare. After the brisket
> is sliced most of the juices will drain out of the meat taking that pink
> color with it. Keep in mind that the smoke will color a "rind" on the
> outside of the brisket. This is where the flavor is. Pecan wood will
> give you a redder and deeper rind than any other wood that I have cooked
> with.
>     Like Jimmie, I can cook out side in all kinds of conditions and be
> just happy to be cooking outdoors. I can make homemade biscuits and
> sunny side up eggs on a campfire. I shocked 3 of my sons by cooking
> sausage over a open fire one rainy day using a shovel for a grill. We
> were clearing dead brush and dead falls from the area for our house. I
> have cooked stews, chili, beans, soup, wild game, fish, fowl, etc. on an
> open campfire. I enjoy doing it. It is such a kick to have people think
> you're some kind of wizard 'cause you can cook the way the old trail
> drivers, hunters, pioneers, and travelers  did it.
>     If you are going to cook that way you have to have cast iron. Teflon
> and that fancy stuff won't get the job done.
>     I have rattled on enough. I told you I enjoyed talking about BBQ.
> Allen
> Bastrop Co., 98* w/thunder and a rainbow, but no rain.
> SE Central Tx.