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.
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.
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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.