Food Writing

The Brisket-A-Thon: A 17-Hour Adventure To Flavor Country

Strap in boys and girls, because I’m taking you along to brisket-land (and what a sweet, sweet place to be).

We started the brisket the night before our dinner party. You must make brisket for a dinner party, to not do so is a great disservice to any and all of your friends and family. Fact.

brisket_fatWe rubbed the brisket down with some Texas-style dry rub and then removed some of the extra fat. See that photo? That’s the fat! There were two pounds of it. TWO POUNDS! And we were still left with a nine pound chunk of meat. It’s flavor country after all, not flavor city-state or some other nonsense.

The day started at 4 AM. Yes, like that time before it’s actually light outside. Heck, there wasn’t even a hint of the day to come yet, just a touch of crispness from the night and a whiff of oak logs starting to smoke.

Smoking is a tiresome repetition of putting more wood and coals on the fire, mopping it with a marinade, flipping it every few hours, and hoping upon hope that the smoker’s at 225 degrees every time you check it.

But, while the smoker sits in the background, the day unfolds around it. I drank hot tea on the patio and watched the sunrise. I made a gallon of sweet tea and twice baked potatoes, natch. We played with the dogs. My husband stepped on a lit coal, barefoot. Twice. (He learned after that.) There were multiple games of horseshoes. This was a proper Texas barbecue, of course, so those games lengthened and the beer poured steadily until the day took on the golden hue of sunset.

And the brisket still smoked on.

Around 8 PM, I decided that the brisket was done. There’s something about meat temperature and all that, but hell, the meat HAD to be done at that point. But, not yet friends. Brisket has to rest for at least an hour before it is served. Of course, at that point, you’re just worried that you probably messed it all up and it will be horrible and 17 hours were just tossed straight down the drain, but yet you persevere. You have to. It’s brisket and it deserves a measure of trust.


At 9 PM, the brisket was finally unwrapped and sliced. After all of that waiting, you would expect a moment of hushed gratitude, an appreciation for the beauty of meat charred and marbled, a commingling of spices, the smell of smoke lingering throughout the house.

Not so. What took 17 hours to cook was eaten in a 40 minute frenzy. A delicious delicious frenzy of that charred and marbled meat and commingling of spices.

Flavor country is just a short ride away from moaning on the ground while clutching your stomach, but it’s hard to argue with just one more bite, not when you have 17 hours of build-up (shall we say foreplay) behind you.


Sign up for our newsletter to have the best of Book Riot delivered straight to your inbox every two weeks. No spam. We promise.

To keep up with Book Riot on a daily basis, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. So much bookish goodness–all day, every day.

About Nikki Steele

Nikki Steele is a freelance writer who runs BookPairing, a blog about pairing wine and beer with books, and is a contributor over at Insatiable Booksluts. When she's not writing or cooking, she's probably roughing it outside with her two mutts. Connect with Nikki on Twitter: @BookPairing.

  • Brigitte

    My next-door neighbor has left his BBQ smoker out front in between the two houses for the last month. Looks like I might have to borrow it for a few days… :D

    • Nikki Steele

      Do it! I’m sure he won’t notice.

  • raych

    Food that I’m never going to make for myself is the best food to be invited over for.

    • Nikki Steele

      Exactly — we made sure to invite all of the people and let them know what was on the menu so we had to make it. :D