If you can’t light your charcoal, nothing is getting cooked tonight.
But what’s the best way to get that pile of cold charcoal burning hot?
If you have had a bit of a poke around the internet, you might have heard of charcoal chimney starters. They’re a pretty standard way to light charcoal. But are they the best option for you? What if you don’t have any extra cash to buy a gadget that will help get the job done? Will a splash of lighter fuel be of any assistance?
We have sought out the best tools available for lighting charcoal. We also have some handy information to share with you regarding what you should definitely not be doing when lighting up your smoker.
Best charcoal chimney – Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter
The Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter is a great example of a well made, reasonably priced chimney starter. The Weber Rapidfire holds enough coals to fill a 22½ inch Weber Kettle, and is about 12 inches high.
There isn’t much more to a chimney starter than a thick metal tube divided into an upper and lower compartment, and a handle. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the concept. We have heard from some who have bought cheaper chimney starters that they just don’t work. And that’s even after dousing the coals in lighter fuel.
So why is it that such a simple design can fail, especially when most people who use chimney starters swear they work so well? It all comes down to the subtleties of the design.
The Weber Rapidfire has a cone shaped bottom which means it starts up fast, and channels the heat to the coals, where you want it. This further reduces the temptation to use lighter fuel, which you should definitely not do (more on that later in the article).
To use it, scrunch up 2 or 3 sheets of paper and place them in the bottom compartment, and place your coals in the top compartment. Light the paper and wait for around 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, grab the starter by the handle and give it is shake to make sure all the coals are lit. After about 15 minutes, have a peek — all the coals will be white hot and ready to go.
What We Like:
- It’s made by Weber. There is a level of confidence that comes with a product made by a trusted brand in the barbecue world.
- The double handle system makes pouring out the hot coals a lot easier. As this is a bigger chimney, you don’t want to be dropping those red hot coals on yourself!
- The cone shaped interior helps light the coals quickly and evenly. You won’t even be tempted to use lighter fluid.
What We Don’t Like:
- We have heard some complaints that the metal and rivets are a little flimsy. But on the whole, most who have bought this product feel that the quality is not a problem.
A note on safety — when the coals are lit, you will need to wear gloves while handling the chimney. The chimney starter gets incredibly hot, so you need to be careful when handling it.
We have even heard that you can use a chimney starter to cook! Place your wok on the top of the chimney starter once the coals are lit and it is just as good, if not better than, any hotplate you have in your kitchen!
Just about everyone we have heard from who has one of these say it works every time and makes lighting their coals a breeze. A common comment is that they are all a little baffled as to why they didn’t purchase one sooner.
Get the latest price on Amazon.
Best Propane Charcoal Starter – Red Dragon Propane Torch
If you like the idea of hitting your coals with some serious heat to get them cranking fast, then the Red Dragon Propane Torch is worthy of some attention.
In fact, some may even feel this starter could fall into the “overkill” category, as it is a heavy duty unit. It can also be used to kill weeds and clear scrub, so it is a great tool to have on hand if you have a bit of land to maintain.
Despite it’s heavy duty appearance, the blowtorch is actually the perfect way to light your charcoal for a low and slow cook efficiently. The idea is to light just enough coals so that the barbecue comes up to the desired temperature and stays there, rather than getting hotter than the target temperature and dropping.
To do this, fill your cooker with charcoal, and target 2 or 3 spots with your blowtorch, for a minute or two each. Give the charcoal full access to oxygen for 5 or 10 minutes, then shut the lid. Watch the temperature rise and stabilize at the level you are after, and you are ready to add your smoking wood.
The Red Dragon Propane Torch attaches to a regular barbecue gas cylinder. While your cylinder may be quite cumbersome, if you are using it to barbecue, all this equipment is likely to be in one spot anyway.
This unit has a squeeze handle, meaning you have nice control over the intensity of the flame. We have heard from those that have bought the unit that it is well built with quality fittings. It is also easy to assemble; all you need is a wrench and the ability to follow some instructions.
What We Like:
- This is a heavy duty unit and is multi-purpose. In fact, you might find this a handy piece of equipment to have on hand for more than just lighting your barbeque.
- The unit is well made and should last a long time.
- Assembly is quick and easy. You will need a couple of wrenches, but that’s all.
- Unlike gasoline or other fire starting chemicals, propane is flavorless and odorless.
What We Don’t Like:
- This is not built purposely as a barbecue lighter. As such, the long nozzle and general size of the unit can make it a little awkward to use. This is especially true in the case of ‘green egg’ cookers, as you will need to get the nozzle down into the barbecue to light the coals.
We have heard that some people experience gas flow issues.
In reality, this unit is a little more than a charcoal starter. While it will do a great job of lighting your coals fast, if you are also after a way to control weeds without the use of chemicals, or burn off some greenwaste, this is the perfect tool for the job.
Get the latest price on Amazon.
The Best Electric Charcoal Lighter – Looftlighter Charcoal Starter
The Looftlighter is an electric device that blows superheated air out the end of a nozzle. And by superheated, I mean more than 1200°F.
Start up the device, and place the nozzle in contact with the charcoal. When the charcoal starts to light up, you will see small sparks flying out. Once this happens, pull the nozzle back from the charcoal a little, but keep the hot air up to it.
At this point, you can either focus on heating up one area of the charcoal, or move the Looftlighter around and light up the edges of individual coals throughout the pile. Either method will work and it really comes down to your preferences after some trial and error.
This product comes with a 2 year warranty. This is good to know because, compared to other charcoal lighting tools, this one is a little expensive. However, most people who have purchased one find that they are well made and work as described.
The unit’s power chord is 10 feet long. While the chord length is generous, you will still need to think about where you place your barbecue in relation to power outlets, which could be a bit of a pain. When camping, for example, this might not be the best tool.
What We Like:
- The speed at which you can have your barbecue lit and ready to go when using this device is very appealing.
- Quality construction with a 2 year warranty.
- No need to use paper or fuels to get your coals lit. Even if you are using a starter chimney, in windy conditions the ash coming off the paper can be messy.
- The unit comes with a hanger which doubles as a bottle opener. Nice touch.
- The air that the Looftlighter blows out is so hot that you can light wood with it, making it a bit of a barbecue allrounder.
What We Don’t Like
- The unit is a little noisy. While this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, be warned that the sound is akin to that of a small leaf blower. If that kind of a sound would grind your gears, it is worth considering that before you outlay the money.
Unlike chimney starters, you do have to physically hold the unit to the coals throughout the lighting process. While it only takes 5 – 10 minutes to do the job, you might find this a little irritating.
While you could be forgiven for thinking this is just a toy for big people, we have found that it does actually work, and works well.
It is built to last, lights your charcoal fast, and saves you the task of sourcing old newspapers, school books or bank statements to burn in order to get your barbecue started.
Get the latest price from Looftlighter.
How NOT to light charcoal
I have alluded to this topic throughout this article. One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that fuel, gasoline, spirits (anything smelly and chemical-ly) is a good way to light your coals. It is not.
Not only is it unnecessary (especially now that you know what great options that are out there), but it will also make your food taste terrible. It will taste like petrol, or lighter fuel, or whatever it is you doused your charcoal with.
Worse still, using such chemicals can be downright dangerous. The fumes that come off them are toxic, and the very worst case scenario is that they can kill.
Not to mention the potential for burns. Stray sleeves, arms and faces, for example, hovering over a struggling fire while lighter fluid is being squirted onto it is a recipe for disaster.
What about the easy lighting charcoal you see in the stores? In the wise words of Meathead Goldwyn from Amazingribs.com
“… stay away from the easy lighting charcoal. Just open the bag and smell. They are soaked in mineral spirits. All the way to the core. So petroleum products are in the smoke right to the end. And you can taste it in the food.”
Light Charcoal the Low Tech Way
We have talked about the latest and greatest way to light your charcoal, but if you don’t have the inclination or the extra cash to buy one of these tools, don’t forget you can go old school. Yep, some paper and a match will still do the trick.
Exact methods vary, but the basic idea is to put down some paper, egg cartons, old bits of cardboard, with or without some fire lighting cubes underneath your coals. Light the paper, and wait for the charcoal to light up.
There are some minor variations to consider. For example, how tight to scrunch the paper, whether to douse the paper in cooking oil or not, or if fire lighting cubes are really necessary. But you get the basic idea.
Just be careful of the ash that can blow off your paper or cardboard. In windy conditions, ash can take off and light up your garden, which you really don’t want happening. If you are lighting up low-tech under a tree with low hanging branches, or the lawn has dried out a bit in the summer, it is a good idea to take extra care.
Wrapping It Up
We hope you have enjoyed our roundup of the best tools for starting charcoal. Lighting your charcoal need not be a stress inducing aspect of the barbecuing experience. With the right tools and a little bit of know how, it is not too difficult.
Whether you go high-tech with a gadget like the looftlighter, or stick to the old school techniques such as scrunched up paper and matches, there are plenty of ways to get the job done.
What method do you use to light your charcoal? Do you have any tips or tricks that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below. And if you have found this article helpful, but sure to share!
How to Reheat Brisket (without making it dry)
I love cooking brisket. Especially a whole packer style brisket.
The problem is that once my family (and dog) have eaten our full, there’s usually still a few pounds of meat leftover.
And if you’ve ever tried to reheat leftover brisket you’ve probably noticed that it tastes nothing like the delicious smoked brisket you were enjoying the day before.
If you’re sick of leathery leftover brisket, keep reading. In this guide you’ll learn the 3 best ways to reheat brisket as well as a few secrets the barbecue pro’s use to keep their brisket moist.
How to Store and Freeze your Brisket
How you freeze your brisket largely depends on the answer to the following question:
Do you slice your brisket before your after you freeze it? Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of both.
Slicing Before you Freeze
- Slicing your brisket and freezing the slices so they can be reheated individually is very handy if you only need to reheat a couple of slices at a time.
- Brisket slices will not take up as much room in your freezer as a whole brisket will.
- If you’re not careful, you can be left with dried out brisket when you freeze it in slices.
- Because the meat is sliced, there is more surface area that could be exposed to contamination. Maintain high hygiene standards, and put the slices into the freezer as soon as they are prepared to avoid this issue arising.
Slicing After you Freeze
- The brisket will retain a lot of its moisture if it is frozen whole.
- There is less chance of contamination as the exposed surface area is reduced.
- Slicing a whole, reheated brisket looks “fresher” than serving up pre-sliced brisket.
- Will take up more room in your freezer.
- You will have to reheat it all in one go, and this will take longer then reheating slices.
How to keep your brisket as moist as possible
- If you chose to slice before you freeze, let the brisket cool while sitting in its own juices. This will ensure it retains as much moisture as possible.
- Freeze the slices on a flat sheet of baking paper initially. This will allow them to freeze separately. Once they are frozen, pop them in a ziplock bag. Now you will be able to take them out separately as you need them.
- Malcom Reed of howtobbqright.com suggests letting the brisket rest, then separating the fat out of the cooking juices, leaving the quality au jus behind.
- Then, after placing the whole brisket and the au jus into a foil food service pan, he vacuum packs the whole thing, pan and all, making reheating, with juices and all, a breeze.
The Best Ways to Reheat Brisket
There are a few ways you can reheat a brisket. Depending on how much time you have, or how you froze the brisket in the first place, the best way to reheat will differ.
A Word on Food Safety: It is important to check the temperature and not the clock when reheating. The internal temperature of the meat needs to reach 160°F for it to be safe to eat.
Similarly, when reheating a whole brisket in the oven or the smoker, make sure you have let it defrost properly first. This means letting it defrost for around two days in the fridge.
While you can also thaw meat in cold water baths, thawing in the fridge is the easiest way to thaw your meat without losing too much moisture, and without leaving your meat in the “danger zone” of 40-130°F.
1) Reheating Brisket in the Oven
If you have frozen your brisket whole, the oven is probably the quickest and easiest way to reheat your meat.
- Preheat the oven to around 325°F.
- Once the brisket has defrosted, and the oven has reached temperature, pop the brisket in the oven and cover it with foil. Two layers of foil is even better if you want to be sure that there are no holes in the foil. Holes in the foil will lead to dried out meat.
- Your brisket should be ready in about an hour, once the internal temperature has hit
When reheating in the oven, there is the tendency for the meat to dry out. To avoid this, either make sure the original cooking juices are still in the bottom of the cooking tray, or add some moisture.
One suggestion is to reduce two cups of apple cider or apple juice by half, add a couple of tablespoons of your favorite barbecue sauce and pour that mixture into the bottom of the pan. You can use this as a sauce once the brisket is reheated.
2) Reheating in your Smoker
Once the meat is thawed out, you may also choose to reheat it in your smoker.
Reheating in the smoker is much the same as reheating in the oven, only it will take longer.
Meathead Goldwyn, of amazingribs.com suggests the following method in his guide to reheating leftovers
- Heat your grill to 225°F
- Use the 2-Zone cooking setup for reheating
- Sit your foil-wrapped brisket in the indirect zone until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 155°F
- Unwrap the brisket and finish it off over the direct zone for around 5-10 minutes. Make sure you check that the internal temperature has reached 160°F before serving.
Keep an eye on your meat to make sure it does not burn when it is over direct heat.
If you are cooking on a gas grill, setting it to medium heat should be about right for reheating.
3) Using the Sous Vide Method to Reheat your Brisket
This method is great because you will never dry out or overcook the brisket when reheating it this way. We have to give credit to foodfirefriends.com for the idea to use sous vide to reheat brisket.
If you haven’t heard of sous vide before don’t worry. It sounds fancy, but sous vide is just another word for a water bath. It’s a pretty interesting method for cooking that’s been growing in popularity over the last few years.
Check out the video below if you’re interested to learn more.
The downside is that you need the right equipment for this method. It also isn’t the quickest way to reheat your brisket.
Here is a run down of how it works:
- Meat is vacuum sealed in an air and water tight plastic wrap
- Water temperature is between 110-175°F
- Meat is left in the water bath until the internal temperature of the meat reaches the same temperature as the water bath.
For a whole brisket which is around 4 inches thick, this will take around five hours. For pre sliced brisket around two inches thick, it will only take two hours.
While there are very specialised thermometers out there to check the meats internal temperature when cooking or reheating this way, they are not commonly used outside of commercial kitchens.
For reheating brisket you can use the time suggestions in this guide
What About Boiling or Microwaving Leftover Brisket?
You may feel tempted to whack the brisket in the microwave, as it is an indisputably quick way to reheat food.
Trouble is, microwaving works by turning the water molecules into steam. Essentially the brisket will be steamed from the inside out.
This will leave you with dry, rubbery and downright horrible meat. Plain old waste of a brisket if you ask us.
How about boiling? Boiling a brisket that is wrapped in an airtight covering can have pretty good results. Similar to the sous vide method, the meat doesn’t dry out.
The trick is ascertaining the internal temperature of the meat, as you will still have to ensure that it has reached at least 160°F for it to be safe to eat. While there are sous vide cooking charts, they will not generally reach the water temperatures when boiling.
Thus, ensuring the meat has reached a safe internal temperature is a concern when boiling meat to reheat it.
What to do with your Leftover Brisket
If you are open to trying something different, there are countless ways you can use leftover brisket, and you can find a whole stack of them in this roundup of leftover brisket recipes.
But just to give you some inspiration, here are some of our favourite ideas:
- Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie: Technically, the beef version of this recipe should be called cottage pie, but that is irrelevant. Using cut up chunks of your leftover brisket in this classic recipe not only yields delicious results, but also makes for a quick, easy and filling midweek meal.
- Quesadillas or Tacos: If you have any tortillas laying around, the addition of leftover brisket is a match made in heaven. Keep it simple with cheese and sauce, or jazz it up with toppings such as pickled onions and avocado sauce.
- Beef Stroganoff: Creamy, hearty and filling, beef stroganoff is a family classic. And if you have leftover brisket it is quick and easy to whip up too.
Wrapping It Up
We hope you have enjoyed our guide to reheating brisket. Brisket yields such a good amount of tasty meat that knowing how to freeze, reheat and reuse it means you can get the most out of this delicious cut.
What do you find is the most convenient way to freeze and reheat brisket? Or do you have any questions that were not covered in this post? Let us know in the comments section below. And if you found this article helpful, be sure to share.
9 Leftover Beef Brisket Recipes
After smoking a brisket, no matter how lip smacking delicious it was, there are almost always leftovers. A brisket yields a lot of meat.
If you are looking for some ideas for how to use your leftover brisket, then check out this list of 9 great ideas to get your mouth watering (again).
1) Brisket Grilled Cheese Sandwich (You won’t need an afternoon snack if you have this for lunch)
Think of all the very best comfort food items. Creamy, melted cheese perhaps? How about warm crispy bread, lightly toasted? And don’t forget juicy, flavor packed beef, smoked to perfection. Can you imagine all of these things combined into one?
Welcome to the brisket grilled cheese sandwich.
After all the work you put into smoking that delicious brisket, it’s nice to make something really easy the next day.
You only need two or three slices of brisket to make this special sandwich, and you can have this warm, filling meal ready in around 15 minutes.
- 8 slices Italian bread or Texas toast
- 1 cup heaping shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup heaping shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 2-3 slices leftover brisket, shredded
You can find the recipe for the brisket grilled cheese sandwich here.
2) Breakfast Brisket Hash
Not only is this hash a delicious way to use your leftover brisket, it is also loaded with protein. If you feel like a lazy morning, this meal will likely cover you for both breakfast and lunch.
This meal hails from Ireland originally, and there surely is nothing more comforting on a fresh morning than the smells of brisket, peppers, onion and garlic sizzling away in the pan.
The ingredients in this dish are readily available, and if you can cook yourself a great brisket then whipping up this breakfast hash will be a breeze.
- 2 cups beef brisket, cooked and shredded
- 2 cups hashbrown potatoes, cooked
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
Grab the recipe here, and call all your friends around for a delicious, lazy Sunday breakfast.
3) Four Ingredient Breakfast Quesadillas (you can have these ready in 20 mins!)
If last nights barbecue left your cupboards a bit bare, there is nothing to fear. These breakfast quesadillas only require 4 ingredients, and even they are negotiable.
For instance, if you have some other meat left over that you want to use up, it will taste great as well.
Similarly, it doesn’t matter exactly what sauce you have floating around, as long as you have enough to generously coat that meat, then all is good.
Aside from that, all you need is some cheese and tortillas, and you’re good to go.
- 12 burrito-sized tortillas
- 1-2 lbs brisket
- 1-2 cups BBQ sauce
- 16 oz shredded Colby Jack cheese
- Cooking Spray
Check out the recipe here and play with it according to what’s in your cupboards.
4) Smoked Brisket Shepherd’s Pie with Jalapeno Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
Just by reading its name you can tell this is a proper recipe in its own right. If you find yourself needing to entertain back to back, then have this one at the ready.
With the addition of carrots, broccoli, peas etc there is a fair serving of veggies in this dish. Now I am not going so far as to say it falls into the “health food” category, but “hearty” would be a fair description.
The jalapeno cheddar mash is a great twist on a classic mashed taters as well.
- 2 pounds Chopped Smoked Brisket
- 3 Carrots, sliced or chopped evenly
- 1 head Broccoli, cut into bite sized florets
- 2 cups frozen Mixed Vegetables, corn, peas, etc
- 1 Red or Sweet Onion, minced
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 ½ cup Beef Broth
- 3-4 Tbsp Flour
- 2 pounds baby red potatoes, quartered
- 1 ½ cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 1 jalapeno finely minced, seeds removed for less heat
- 4 Tbsp Butter, cut into cubes
- ½ cup Sour Cream
- ¼ cup Whipping Cream or Half and Half
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Planning of a big weekend of entertaining? Then head down and grab your brisket, and while it is smoking, check out the smoked brisket shepherd’s pie recipe here.
5) Beef Brisket Street Tacos
Tacos are the perfect size meal if you want something that fills you up yet is not going to leave you with (more) leftovers. Make just as much as you want and eat it when you feel peckish.
This recipe calls for pickled onions. Of course you can grab them right off the store shelf, but for those who love a bit of DIY, the recipe for pickling the onions is included in the recipe for the tacos.
Aside from frying up the brisket and whipping up the avocado cream sauce (which sounds amazing) there is nothing much else to do than heat up the tortillas, then pile those ingredients on.
- olive oil
- 2 cups leftover brisket or pot roast (click on link in post for the brisket recipe)
- ½ cup chopped green chilies
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ⅛ tsp Cheyenne pepper
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
Get the recipe here.
6) Brisket Stroganoff (ultimate comfort food in 30 minutes)
The mention of beef stroganoff (or brisket stroganoff, in this case) brings to mind the words creamy, meaty, and buttery.
Pile it on pasta, or mash, and you are in for a real treat.
Generally, the ingredients in this dish are those you would typically have on hand, but you might want to check that you have some Chianti, as it is required along with worcestershire sauce to deglaze the pan.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 cups Chianti
- 2 1/2 cups chopped smoked brisket, click here for recipe
- 3/4 cup sour cream (room temperature)
- cooked egg noodles (or your favorite pasta)
- fresh parsley, chopped (for topping)
Have a look at the recipe here.
7) Leftovers Cottage Pie
Not only will this classic cottage pie recipe work beautifully with brisket, but also with leftover lamb, chicken or even that ground beef you need to defrost and use before it expires.
Really, though, we are mainly interested in making it with leftover brisket, as the flavor packed into the brisket, along with the easily shreddable texture of the meat after smoking it makes it a pleasure to cook with.
- 3 cups cooked leftover beef brisket or roast, shredded and chopped
- 3 cups mashed potatoes (leftover or store-bought)
- 1 cup frozen vegetables
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
If you are looking for a quick, filling and tasty midweek meal that everyone will enjoy, check out the recipe here and pull out the leftover brisket ready to go.
8) Smoked Beef Brisket Chilli (expertly paired with the perfect wine – if your out of beer)
This is more than just a tasty chilli, it is an award winning chilli! So brace yourself for something special when you serve this one up.
This recipe plays to the smoky flavors you can expect from a brisket, with the addition of bacon and chipotle sauce giving this chili a truly distinctive flavor profile.
There is quite a bit of spice in this recipe. If you aren’t a fan of too much heat, perhaps hold back a little at first, and add more spices as you go. After you have cooked this one a couple of times you will find the sweet spot.
- 3 slices of bacon, diced
- 1 large onion, about 2 cups, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 2 ½ cups leftover smoked beef brisket, cut up into 1-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons chili powder*
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- ½ tablespoon dry chipotle seasoning** or the equivalent in canned chipotle in adobo sauce, adjustamount to your heat preference. A little goes a long way
- ½ tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 12 oz bottle beer
- ¼ cup coffee, cold leftover coffee from your morning pot
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- ½ can black beans, drained and rinsed, used a standard 15 oz can
- ½ can kidney beans, drained and rinsed, used a standard 15 oz can
- ½ can corn, drained and rinsed, used a standard 15 oz can
- 1 small, 4 oz can diced green chili
You can find the recipe here. If you are feeling extra fancy, scroll down past the chili recipe to discover the perfect wine to accompany it.
9) Sweet and Spicy Brisket Baked Beans
Reimagine baked beans with the addition of spices, sauces and of course leftover brisket.
Far from an emergency dinner on toast, these baked beans are liable to steal the show next time you have a family dinner.
All you need to do is chop up some extra veggies for heat and flavor, squeeze in some sauces for richness and a little bit of sweet and of course add the brisket to beef them right up.
Let them bubble for around 45 minutes and you have an absolutely mindblowing side dish – or meal. Up to you.
- 3 1/2 cups prepared baked beans or 1 28-ounce can
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon stone ground mustard
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 pound smoked brisket chopped
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 bell pepper seeded and chopped
- 2 jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped
- salt and pepper
Find the recipe here.
Wrapping it up
There is so much more you can do with leftover brisket than whack it on a sandwich (although that is delicious too).
Follow these recipes to the letter, or simply use them as some inspiration the next time you find yourself blessed with leftover brisket.
If this post has inspired you to cook a brisket, we’ve got some great guides to help out:
- Beginners guide to smoking your first brisket
- Should you cook fat side up or down
- Guide to wrapping brisket
- Best knives for slicing brisket
We hope you found this article helpful. Do you have any other great leftover brisket ideas? Let us know in the comment section below. And if you like our list, be sure to share it!
Should You Cook Brisket Fat Side Up or Down?
There are some topics in the world of barbecue that have never really been put to bed. Whether to cook your brisket fat side up or down is one of them.
If you are new to barbecuing, this may be a burning question that you have not been brave enough to ask out loud.
Or, it could be that there are so many conflicting opinions out there that you have given up on finding a straight answer.
Let’s get to the bottom of this.
What Is the Debate About?
Briskets have two distinct sides – one is covered in fat, and another is bare meat.
Aside from these two distinct sides, briskets are made up of two distinct muscles. The Point and the Flat. The pointed end tends to have a thicker covering of fat, while on the flat end the covering of fat is a little thinner.
Sometimes pitmasters will cut the brisket in half before they cook, but most times it’st best left whole.
But the real point of contention, is which way that fat should be facing. Up or down.
Why Cook Brisket Fat Side Up?
Advocates of cooking fat side up claim that the fat will “melt” into the meat, making it moist and juicy.
However, this is a myth.
The truth is that meat cannot absorb fat. Instead, the fat melts and runs off the meat into the drip pan, taking any seasoning you may have put on the meat with it.
To make matters worse, cooking fat side up won’t leave your brisket looking its best.The fat will not form a uniform bark like the bare meat would, leaving you with a not-so-appetizing looking brisket.
However cooking brisket fat side up is not a complete no no. If you use a horizontal offset smoker, or any other smoker wherein the heat comes from above, cooking fat side up is the way to go.
We will have a closer look at why under the section “Where is your heat coming from?”
Why Many Say Fat Side Down is Better
Most of the time, the fat side down team have got it right.
Because the fat is on the bottom, when it melts it will not wash the seasoning away, and the bark retains all the flavors you added.
Additionally, the smoke produced as the fat hits the hot coals will add a great flavor to your meat.
In most cookers, the heat comes from underneath the meat. Fat acts as an insulator. So as your meat cooks it is protected from the intense heat of the fire by the fat that does not melt away. As a result, your meat doesn’t dry out.
Also, the top of the brisket will form a uniform bark, leaving you with a brisket which looks great.
Where’s your heat coming from?
We have touched on this already, but when deciding whether to cook your brisket fat side up or down the determining factor really is the origin of the heat for your cooker.
Most of the time, the heat comes from the bottom (like on a Weber Smokey Mountain Bullet Smoker), so fat side down is the way to go.
But there are exceptions.
For example, horizontal offset smokers send the heat in from above. In that case you want to use those insulative properties of the fat cap to shield the meat from the top. Thus, fat side up is the way to go.
So have a look at your cooker, determine where the heat is coming from and you are most of the way to working out which way to sit your brisket.
It is still a good idea to check that the unprotected side of the meat is not drying out. If it is, you can always wrap the brisket in foil or butchers paper roughly halfway through the cook.
What The Pros Say About Fat Up or Down
You can find experts who sit on both sides of this debate. But now that we know that it largely depends on the type of cooker you use, this makes sense.
For instance, Malcom Reed of ‘How To BBQ Right.com’ likes to cook his everyday ‘eating’ briskets fat side up.
He explains his reason why like this:
Malcom Reed, Easy Smoked Brisket Recipe
“At a contest I would cook brisket fat side down the entire time. But you have to remember with my competition briskets I’ve trimmed off most of the fat, and I’ve injected it with at least 16oz of liquid….
For this “Eating Brisket” we’re not worried about the extra fat or what it looks like after it’s cooked, so I’m going to cook it fat side up the entire time.
I want the final product to have a “beefy” flavor but not be enhanced or artificial. ”
We had a look at the smoker he used in the recipe, and it does appear to be a horizontal offset style smoker, so the direction from which the heat comes in has likely also had a role in this decision.
Similarly, Aaron Franklin, known for cooking a mean brisket, goes fat side up.
However, he also uses an smoker with a heat source from above. You can follow Aaron Franklin’s Brisket Guide here.
But the fat does have a flavor all of its own, and when it drips onto the coals it can impart that flavor to the meat. Meathead Goldwyn, of amazingribs.com says:
“And what about the fat dripping into the fire and being resurrected as flavorful droplets mixed in with smoke? I save the fat cap and put it on the grate over the fire and let it drip away.”
Cooking your brisket fat side down will have a similar outcome, with the fat dripping directly onto the hot coals, and the resulting smoke flavoring your meat.
Wrapping It Up
So no, there is not a ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question of fat up or fat down.But we have discovered some vital facts.
No, the fat will not penetrate your meat as it melts, but it will wash off your rub.
Yes, the smoke coming off the melted fat hitting the coals will flavor your meat.
And yes, the fat will act as an insulative barrier between the heat source and the meat, protecting it from drying out.
The long and short of it? Know your smoker, identify where the heat is coming from, and place the fat cap between the heat and the meat.
We hope you have found this article helpful. Do you have any additional questions or suggestions? Make sure you let us know in the comments section below. And if you did enjoy this article, be sure to share it!
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