Independence Day calls for serious barbecue. Boneless, skinless chicken and zucchini just won’t cut it; nor will stuffed mushrooms, shrimp kabobs, or grilled pineapple. July 4th calls for low-and-slow pit cooking, ideally involving aromatic hardwoods.
I bought a 7.5 lb brisket at Chops in Broussard, ’cause nothing says “we hold these truths to be self-evident” like a big hunk of charred beef. Rubbed with a cinnamon-chipotle spice blend, the brisket spent 9 hours total on the Big Green Egg at 225-250 degrees, cooking over lump hardwood charcoal and pecan wood.
The butcher had trimmed it nicely, leaving a 1/4 inch thick layer of fat on one side. I placed the fat side down, directly over a disposable foil drip pan resting on the Egg’s plate setter (legs up, in the inverted position). After three hours, the brisket developed a nice crust, and I gave it a generous mopping every hour thereafter, using a mix of apple cider vinegar & some leftover spice rub.
At the six-hour mark, a pot of baked beans joined the brisket. An oval Le Creuset enameled cast iron pot fits the curved edges of the Egg, making good use of the steady, even heat. (FYI, the baked beans recipe printed on the Camellia brand navy beans package is quite tasty, though it needs a tad more brown sugar.)
At eight hours, I inserted a temperature probe. Brisket’s connective tissue (chewy collagen) converts to gelatin (delicious tenderness) at around 150 degrees. During cooking, a large brisket hits a plateau and can remain at 150 for hours–resist all temptation to increase the cooking temperature and trust that the beef will cook in its own sweet time. Once the temperature begins to climb, it is evidence that you’re on the downside of the cook, and you’re officially finished at 190 degrees. For optiumum slicing, rest the foil-tented brisket on a platter for at least an hour.