The Barbecue 101 class for freshman at Texas A&M is using my Legends of Texas Barbecue as a textbook, so I was invited to be the guest lecturer last Friday. The subject was brisket, and the theme was "To Wrap, or Not to Wrap." I talked about the history and methodology of brisket cooking, and then we tasted six briskets that had been cooked in a smoker parked on the sidewalk out in front of the building.
The meat was prepared according to six different recipes. Jim Goode's recipe for "plugged brisket" was a favorite of most tasters. The recipe appears in my book along with a recipe for Goode's elaborate mop sauce. The mop sauce contains four cups of beef broth and a pound of bacon along with a zillion spices - it's very tempting to eat the stuff like soup. Some of the unwrapped briskets came out dry, as you might expect. And some of the wrapped meat got pretty squishy.
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But the surprise in the taste test was an unwrapped brisket that was accidentally overcooked to an internal temperature of 205° F. (185° is the usual target temperature.) The falling-apart meat was very highly rated. Several tasters declared it their favorite. In the seasoning department Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning was the stand-out.
Earlier in the day, I also gave a talk on the relationship between the meat industry and the restaurant business as part of the Texas A&M Meat Science Center's Rosenthal Lecture Series. The meat scientists were delighted that the New York Times is calling young butchers "the new rock stars." I suggested that they all go eat at Feast and see what the nose-to-tail movement is all about.