Original recipes included further below.

Sometimes things come last minute, other times it takes a bit of planning. For me, I find that I manage to make it a little bit of both. Last weekend I had a Saturday full of plans. The biggest project was repairing my mower that had a bit of trouble at the end of my previous lawn care session when it somehow decided to completely rip a wheel loose from the deck! A little investigation and I found that one of the other wheels was ready to do the same. All the parts needed to be purchased for repair before I could start, so a trip to Menards or Lowes was first on the list. The repair itself would involve some steel sawing, drilling and bolting, so I figured a good couple hours for the full repair plus a blade sharpening while I had things apart.

After repairing the mower, the grass was obviously waiting to be cut, so that would take a good hour and a half or two. I had some minor fence repair that had been bugging me, so that was another half hour. Clean out of the gutters would take another hour, if I tacked on sweeping up the sidewalk afterward. A bit of raking, some tree trimming, some minor deck repair, some garage clean up, a few other odds and ends, and I was looking at a full 8 hours so I knew I needed to get started if I expected to get some laundry done too.

Of course before starting all this, there is the requisite moment where I stand in front of the refrigerator with the door open and absent-mindedly stare at the stock of food while pondering what there possibly could be to eat. I happened to open the freezer and saw several packages of meat waiting for their turn to be used, and I had the bright idea that brisket would be just the thing for later. “I’ll smoke some brisket today!” I foolishly said to myself as I threw the 2 lb package into the fridge to thaw.

Yes, I know. Did I really think that frozen brisket was going to thaw by the afternoon just by putting it in the fridge? Well, I suppose I did at the time, but I didn’t give it the required amount of thought, I had stuff to do! Needless to say, the thawing time wasn’t nearly sufficient, and I still had frozen brisket by the end of the day. Not to mention, I had a few leftover items from my to-do list that I didn’t get done as well. But, I did have a fully wheeled mower and a fully cut lawn.

Thursday came around and the brisket was still sitting in the fridge. It was getting to the point where it needed to be used, but I kept forgetting. At 7:50 am that morning I remembered, and determined it HAD to be used that day. I needed to leave for work, but how can you cook a brisket without a good rub!? I grabbed the brisket out of the fridge and tore off the packaging…meat still looked good. Time to make the rub. I threw together some ingredients and coated the meat generously before covering it back up and shoving it back in the fridge. I wouldn’t make work by 8:00 like I was supposed to, but the rub was made.

Rub Mix
Measurements are VERY approximate
1/2 c brown sugar
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cocoa powder

Rub into meat vigorously and completely cover brisket on all sides. Set in fridge for 8 hours.

Now with the rub in place, the plan should be to smoke the same day right? Of course! However, I worked late and didn’t get home until about 7:00 pm. The smoker hadn’t been used for a while, so I needed to do a little setup. I finally had the flames going and heating up the box a little bit after 7:30. Usually, I like to go for low and slow, so I got the smoker up to about 220 degrees and a batch of apple wood chips in the smoker box. Brisket, in, fat side up, middle rack.

Off and on I checked in on the meat for the next couple hours. When the apple chips were used up, I added a couple helpings of peach chips until the meat reached about 140 degrees. At that point I was going to let it go smokeless until 180 degrees. But now it needed a good mopping of additional flavor.

Mid-Smoke Baste
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp black raspberry jam
2 tbsp water
1 tsp orange marmalade
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lime juice

Melt butter, add other ingredients. Warm in microwave and stir until all ingredients mix evenly.

At this point in the process it was getting quite late. I had to leave early in the morning, but this was important to get right. I basted the brisket once and turned it fat side down for the next 45 minutes at 250 degrees. Then another basting and back to fat side up for another 45 minutes at…300, because honestly, I did need to get to bed. Once the internal temperature was 180 degrees, I took it out to rest on the kitchen counter til it was cool enough to slice, then cool enough to put in the fridge. I finally finished at 1:30 am, and had some glorious smokey goodness.

This weekend I wanted to use some of that glorious meat in another application; slow-cooked chili. Most of the time when I am cooking, I don’t use hard-set recepies and go from a general idea, then pick elements here and there that feel right to go with it. I wasn’t under pressure to get this meal completed, so I took my time and thought out the ingredients.

Slow Cook Brisket Chili
5 strips of smoked bacon
Cook up the bacon in a frying pan until it is just shy of crispy. Remove bacon and set aside.

1/2 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped red pepper
1 1/2 c. chopped red onion
5 cloves garlic, chopped.

Sweat the vegetables minus the garlic in the hot pan with the bacon fat until onions are almost translucent. Add the chopped garlic on top and continue cooking for several minutes.

In large crock pot add:
2 tbsp olive oil
28 oz can (1) crushed tomatoes
27 oz can (1) red kidney beans
15 oz can (2) black beans
16 oz can (1) cannellini beans
12 oz can (1) tomato paste
6 oz smoked brisket, chunked or cubed
5 slices of bacon (cooked above) chopped
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground mustard
6 ground allspice berries
1/2 tsp hickory smoke flavor
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp Better Than Bouillon, Beef
2 cups water
1 cup apple juice or apple cider (optional)
Vegetables and garlic (cooked above)

If I had it available, I would have added:
1 tsp ground fennel seed

Set crock pot on high, uncovered for about an hour. Covered on high for another hour. Then covered on low for another 4-5 hours. Total of 6-7 hours in the crock pot...stirring occasionally.

So what was the end result of a messy mix of some half-baked planning and some reckless spontaneity? Hopefully a bunch of halfway decent meals. I got some positive reviews from the wife, and she had the suggestion that I share…so…here ya go! Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the process, so you will just have to imagine how tasty it looks.