Your neighbor may insist that you don't need a smoker -- hell, he smoked killer wings on his grill last week. But for trophy-worthy ribs and brisket, he's wrong. Gerard Craft, executive chef of Niche in Clayton, Missouri, uses this setup for home smoking. "It does a great job of maintaining heat and controlling smoke," he says.
Fill the base with hot coals, toss on wood, adjust the vents to tweak the temp, and load in the meat. Its rounded ends help heat move throughout the unit evenly -- the key to making tough cuts fall-apart tender. You'll need to tend the fire for a few hours, but that's why beer and friends exist. Invite your neighbor too. (Avoid these 5 Cookout Mistakes That Make You Sick so you, your friends, and your family aren't stuck hovering over the porcelain throne.)
Ancho Chile BBQ Brisket
4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp ancho chile powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp coarsely ground pepper
1 flat-cut (also called "first-cut") brisket, 5–5 1/2 lb, fat trimmed to 1/2" on one side
4 cups hickory or oak chips, soaked for 1 hour
How to Make It
1. In a medium bowl, mix the salt, sugar, and spices. Rub the mixture into the brisket. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 2 to 24 hours.
2. Preheat the smoker to 300°F. Scatter chips over the coals. Unwrap the meat and set it on the grate, fat side up. Let the heat drop to 250°F and maintain that temperature, adjusting vents or adding charcoal, until the brisket reaches 160°F, about 3 1/2 hours. Let it rest 15 minutes. Slice. Eat. Orgasm. Clean up.
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-- Jack Gilmore, executive chef, Jack Allen's Kitchen, Austin, TX