There was a cloud of smoke rising from the parking lot of Buffalo Fred's Ice house on Shepherd last Sunday morning. I turned my car into the parking lot to see what was going on and found a retired truck driver named Jesse Gamino smoking chickens on an oversize barbecue trailer. His rig had an outline of Texas cut from steel sticking up from the top of the smoking chamber. Jesse was wearing an apron that looked like it was made out of a Texas flag.
The Lone Star patriot told me that the ice house was holding a benefit for a long-time patron who had to go to the hospital but didn't have health insurance.
Jesse was a little embarrassed about the fact that he was cooking chickens. Chickens are, after all, outside the mainstream of Texas barbecue. "Brisket is my specialty," he assured me. When I asked him how he cooked briskets, he said that he liked to season them and wrap them in foil. He said he cooked the briskets for three hours, then unwrapped them, and smoked them for eight hours more. That's a technique I'd never heard of.
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It sort of makes sense, though. Some people start cooking a brisket fat side down to get the fat cap melting and then turn it over and let the fat flow over the meat while it cooks. I am betting cooking it in foil first has the same sort of effect. I'll have to give it a try.