Mention the word barbecue to an American and you are almost guaranteed to receive an opinion on whose is the best and from which part of the country it hails from. But with this easy barbecue brisket recipe you can make your own at home.
Although the rest of the world associates the word barbecue as the implement you cook on, here in the US it is used to describe food that is slow-cooked, using some smoke and then eaten with an accompanying, sweetish sauce.
Think of pork ribs, as well as pork shoulder or Boston butt for pulled pork. And then there is beef brisket. There is a passion associated with barbecue that sees no end to determining whose is the best version!
Today on Compass & Fork we feature easy barbecue brisket, slow-cooked in the smoker to impart great flavors and taste. A cheaper cut of meat, brisket is just a perfect cut suited to cooking long and slow. When pre-marinated with a dry rub and then slow-cooked over smoke for many hours, it is a hard cut of meat to beat, especially if you are feeding a crowd.
Fresh from our road trip to the American south, we delve into the history of barbecue. Where did it start and how did it spread around the country?
The Passion of Barbecue in the American South
I make no secret of the fact that I love delving into the history of food. In that regard I found our trip to the American south incredibly interesting as to why the diet is so different there compared to the American north.
Without getting into too much detail, it is true that after the Civil War, people in the south were desperately short of money, food, everything really. People were forced to eat cheap and easily available food to even survive. Coupled with this the fact that many, now freed African Americans were self-made cooks on plantations, they became the chefs of the South and food they cooked with proliferated throughout the South.
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Think shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy and vegetables like okra and collard greens. Rice and other corn-based foods became common. It wasn’t just ingredients but cooking methods such as the use of frying that was introduced by African American migration throughout the South. You can learn more about Low Country Cuisine here.
The History of Barbecue
It was in this environment that barbecue developed. There is little doubt that some of the spices used in the preparation of early barbecue was because of African American migration. But the cooking method for barbecue was most likely a result of the Native American practice of cooking slowly over a smoking fire over the course of a day.
As African American cooks and chefs started to move throughout the rapidly growing United States, their barbecue traveled with them allowing local variations to develop. Today, per Time Magazine, there are 4 major barbecue styles:
- Memphis. Pulled pork doused in a sweet, tomato-based sauce is a favorite.
- North Carolina. Whole hog with a vinegar-based sauce.
- Kansas City. Pork ribs cooked with a dry rub.
- Texas. Pulled pork in the east and beef brisket in the west.
Our recipe for beef brisket might follow the Texas method of cooking but the spicing for the dry rub is more what you would find in North Carolina.
The bottom line is that any of these methods are brilliant. Just pick one and go with it!
Easy Barbecue Brisket
Looking to feed a big crowd?
The brisket is first prepared by removing any excess fat and then scoring it to allow the dry rub marinade to permeate the meat for a good 24 hours. Then it is all day on the smoker, basting as we cook and allowing the brisket to rest for at least 30 minutes before serving. This might sound like a a lot of work but most of it is passive. And the results make it worthwhile. Your family and friends will be very happy. So this recipe really is an easy barbecue brisket to make at home.