Anyone have a favorite spot for a good bowl of chili? Seems to be a complete dearth of restaurants that serve chili in the area.
I suspect that you can find a fresh ham at Chavez Supermarket on Fair Oaks. It is a commonly used cut in many latin cuisines, so if they don't carry it (ask for pierna) you can certainly try some other carnicerias.
I want to source tallow for frying and I am not interested in rendering my own. Does anyone have knowledge of a source close to San Jose?
Prep a full packer cut brisket. Trim fat cap to 1/4 inch. Remove all surface fat from the presentation side. Inject with Kosmos/Butcher/FAB or whatever phosphate-containing injection marinade you prefer. Science is your friend. This ensures a moist finished product. Apply your favorite rub. I personally favor Santa Maria style rub from Mansmith or the The Rub Co (both are California based and are super tasty)
In parallel to the meat prep, fire up your smoker to 200F as measured at the cooking grate.
If you're still reading, it's time time to put the brisket in the smoker. Be sure to keep the fat side down.
After 8 hours, ramp the temp to 225F
After 2 more hours, ramp the temp to 250F
As the smoker is coming up to 250F, take this opportunity to quickly wrap the brisket in two layers of heavy duty foil and add a cup of beef stock. Again, be sure to keep the fat side down.
Cook at 250F until the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 200 in the thickest part of the flat.
Now remove the brisket from the smoker and separate the point from the flat. Clean the fat off the bottom of the point, cut it into 1 inch cubes, re-season with rub, put it in a foil pan and return it to the smoker for 1 hour uncovered and an additional 1 hour covered to create burnt ends.
Rewrap the flat in the foil and put it into a cooler so that it will retain heat as it rests. When the burnt ends are done, take the flat out, slice and serve both cuts.
If your guests are from Texas, they'll likely complain because Texans mythologize brisket and the idea that one could be cooked properly outside the Republic is anathema. However, anyone else on the planet will enjoy a life alteringly delicious bite of beef.
There are several ways to go about it. Most are labor intensive.
Here is a high level approach that is the easiest way I know:
First, brine the thighs using whatever method you prefer (I favor high salt concentration for a couple of hours)
Then use a Jaccard to punch tons of holes in the thighs on the skin side until the surface of the skin looks like cheese cloth. The perforations make it easier for the fat to render.
Then apply rub.
Cook indirect skin side up at 300F measured at the cooking surface for 15 minutes. Then flip the thighs skin side down and cook until the internal temperature is 160F.
Remove from the smoker, dunk in sauce. Return to the smoker for another 10 minutes to set the sauce.
Serve and enjoy.
Curious if the brisket entry you described contained any greenery (parsley or lettuce)?
One point you are incorrect on is collagen breakdown. Connective tissues can actually completely breakdown, given enough time, at cooking temperatures of 160 degrees. There is ample evidence of this in sous vide reference materials as well as in a large number of reputable molecular gastronomy writings. I've done a number of experiments with my smoker setup to cook at extremely low temperatures using smaller brisket flats that really bear that out.
When not cooking at a contest, I have frequently used my oven to finish after I feel enough smoke has been applied. It saves on charcoal for sure and depending on your smoker it can save a ton of effort in fire maintenance.
Now I cook with a Big Green Egg and a Stoker forced draft unit attached. WIth that setup I can actually cook with more precision, from a temperature stability perspective, on my smoker than I can in my Thermador oven. The Stoker keeps the temperature variation down to as little as +/- 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Cheater Q to be sure, but my mouth can't tell the difference. On the now rare occasion that I decide to do some stick burning in my offset cooker, I always finish in the oven because that ornery beast requires lots of care and feeding to keep it at the right temperature with the right kind of smoke.
Let me preface this by saying that I am not bragging, just establishing credibility in stating that I am a competition BBQ cook and I have qualified for The Jack before and have won multiple large contests. I definitely know how to cook a brisket.
I have a few pointers for you:
In the first place, you need to measure temperature accurately on each of your cooking surfaces. In a vertical smoker you can have significant variation between the racks. Buy a cheap oven thermometer and do some experiments. Once you establish the difference between the stock thermometer and the cooking surfaces, you are good to go.
We cook our brisket at 225, but anywhere up to 250 or so should produce a nice brisket.
Second, when the heat source is below the meat you should cook fat side down.
Third, until you have a whole lot of brisket cooks under your belt, you should use foil. There is a reason they call it the Texas Crutch. It just makes a tough cooking situation much more manageable. With that in mind, when the brisket hits 160, foil it and return it fat side up to the smoker and leave it there until the internal temperature reaches 190. At that point, pull it from the smoker, wrap it in a few more layers of foil and put it in a cooler that is not much larger than the piece of meat and let it rest for up to 4 hours. (Fill the extra space in the cooler with old towels or crumpled newsprint.) Then it is ready to slice and serve.
More advanced techniques include injection (Beef Consomme or Fab-B are common) and extreme low temperature smoking.
Also, you should talk to the butcher in your local grocery store and ask for a packer cut brisket. Look for something under 10lbs and at least choice grade.