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Sunday, January 29, 2017

o-CNN: Big Sky BBQ Beef Brisket 101 - Starting it Right by Trimming and Injecting in Okotoks, Alberta

Step 1: Trim Your Brisket

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Most things in life work better when you start it right.

It is not to say it won't work in the end. It is just an easier way to learn from others, instead of paying your school fees. Take time to prepare. Learn by observing and listening to the experts. It will shorten the learning time and cost you less. Once you have the basic covered, then the real adventure starts. Then you have a license to break the rules.

Come with us as we learn how to do amazing Brisket in a smoker with Rob at Big Sky BBQ.

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We wanted to know what the secret is to Big Sky BBQ's succulent Brisket. They do an amazingly good, soft, flavourful smoked Brisket. Rob Bolton, the owner and chief BBQ Pitmaster gave us some guidance on how to start a Brisket smoking endeavour the right way. It will be the first in a series of suggestion on how you can improve the way you treat your meat.

Big Sky BBQ is an authentic Texas-style BBQ pit (barn) just outside Okotoks, Alberta. Alberta is beef country. If you want to play with the "big-dog-bbq-boys" in this part of the world, you better know your Brisket from your Ribeye. All the Big Sky dishes are from locally sourced ingredients and done in a Backwoods Smoker on-premise with real wood. They cook it fresh every day. Believe me when I say that they run out. It is that good.

You cannot get more authentic unless you park your Harley on the lawn outside (which you can do once the snow clears this Spring). If you are grounded by your domestic government and have to stay home to watch the kids, you can order your Brisket online from Big Sky BBQ's Online and Mobile Menu and pick it up on your way home, or get it delivered.

The only problem is that will have to be around the South Calgary - Okotoks area to get a taste of this Brisket. It is a huge problem that we are working on with Rob. Maybe you will be able to get it in the Bow Valley as well. Later...


The way to start any good Brisket is to ensure you get the best Brisket you can buy. You can tenderise the saddle of a horse, but it is not going to taste as nice. Best is to get your meat from your local butcher. His business is to get you come back for more. He's a professional. Let him sell you a nice dry-aged cut that will cook with a lot of flavours. Trust your local butcher.

Some people smoke or cook the two muscles of a beef Brisket separately. They take great care to painstakingly separate the two parts without messing it up (Yes, I know there are more parts to a Brisket, but for purposes here we will keep it simple). You have the flap which tends to be dryer with less fat and the point muscle with a beautiful layer of fat underneath and some marbling.

We recommend you keep them together they way they were intended to be. By not separating it, you save yourself a lot of time, and you are doing a good thing by protecting the fat under the point. Let the fat slowly melt into the flap. It will tenderise the dryer part of the cut and give you a beautiful, flavorful and succulent outcome.

You have to trim your Brisket. This is when you cut off the silver tendons and unwanted fat on top of the cut that won't render and won't melt away during the cooking process. It will also keep your rub from penetrating the meat. Rob calls it your "grandma's underwear" (No offence intended. It is just a descriptive figure of speech). Get rid of it. It should not be on your Brisket.

You can use the parts you cut off to make a reduction of beef broth with red wine and other good stuff. You will use it to inject more flavour into the meat and braise it further before the finishing stage. Inject the beef reduction into the Brisket with the grain. It will ensure it stays inside and delivers maximum flavour. Apply your Brisket rub and let it cure overnight in the fridge before smoking or cooking it the following day. The flavouring needs time to do their job.

Rob was very secretive about his beef reduction and his brisket rub. Apparently, he is working on a plan to market these later as condiments you can buy directly from Big Sky BBQ's online store. Most BBQ professionals guard these recipes with their lives. It is the single biggest flavour differentiator between Brisket smoking experts that are championship winners and those that are "just having a go".

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks on how to treat your meat.

Hendrik van Wyk
Brisket Cowboy

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