Everything's bigger in Texas, and if you're looking to go big for your Father's Day barbecue next Sunday, Jeremy "Jay" Armstead of Texas Hold 'Em
has a few secrets for a Texas-style celebration for Dad.
According to Armstead, "Texas-style barbecue is all about long periods of smoke with a slow-cooking fire and a lot of beef." He uses professional equipment in his restaurant, but Armstead says any home cook can achieve the same effect. The secret is the use of a hardwood such as oak or hickory.
It can be done on your basic charcoal Weber grill. Unfortunately, maintaining the proper temperature with one of these is not the easiest task. "The best product for the home cook is
the Green Egg," he says. Again, he advises the most important component in attaining the perfect Texas effect is time. For beef brisket, the proper temperature is 250 to 275 degrees. According to Armstead, "The average cooking time is about an hour per pound. A six-pound brisket should take six or more hours. The slower the better; it breaks the tissue down."
It is imperative to use indirect heat. When the brisket is done, there will be a pink ring around the meat, about a quarter inch from the outer layer. This is visible upon cutting into the meat. "A lot of people see the pink and think the meat is not done," Armstead warned. "This color is from the smoke. It's like walking into a fire with your eyes open. The smoke is going to turn your eyes red."
I asked Armstead if he learned this method as a child. "Growing up in upstate New York, Texas was the furthest thing from us back then. My fondest memory as a kid was of my dad. He was a hunter. He would bring back deer, rabbit, and squirrel. We used to put it on the grill for Father's Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July. I remember my father putting on his overalls and getting the coal fire going." With a father who built barbecue grills, it is not difficult to understand how Armstead's passion for barbecue started.
Luckily, he has done his research. And better yet, he's willing to talk. Happy grilling.