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RUBY'S BRISKET
from "Beer-Can Chicken" by Steven Raichlen

The sharp-tongued, backwoods drifter in Charles Frazier's National Book Award-winning Civil War period novel, Cold Mountain, Ruby Stobrod is a pragmatic country girl who seems to know how to do everything — from butchering livestock to roasting meat in the embers. Such are the evocative powers of Frazier's writing that, simply by reading about them, you can almost taste the dishes his characters prepare. Consider the following brisket, which Ruby seasons with a simple rub and cooks in the glowing coals of a campfire. (The only thing I've changed is to wrap the brisket in aluminum foil instead of paper.) This gives you a very different sort of brisket from what you'd get by the more conventional method of smoking. It's also great for campers.

Serves 4
 Beer-Can Chicken
INGREDIENTS (CLICK TO BUY)

6 slices of thick-sliced smoked bacon (the smokier, the better)
4 to 6 teaspoons All-Purpose Barbecue Rub (recipe follows)
1 center-cut piece of brisket (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
Your choice of barbecue sauce (optional), for serving

You'll also need
A charcoal grill
4 pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil (24 by 18 inches each)

All-Purpose Barbecue Rub
1/4 cup coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

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PREPARATION

1. Place a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil shiny side down on a work surface. Place 3 slices of bacon about 1 inch apart on top of the foil. Sprinkle the rub over the brisket on all sides and rub it onto the meat with your fingers. Lay the brisket on top of the bacon. Lay the remaining bacon on top of the brisket. Bring the ends of the aluminum foil up over the brisket, folding over the edges several times and crimping them to make a tight seal. Tightly wrap the brisket in 3 more layers of aluminum foil, shiny side out (so it will reflect the heat), to make a sturdy packet.
2. Light charcoal or wood chunks in a chimney starter. When the coals glow red, dump them into the bottom of the grill and rake into a pile on one side. Let the coals burn until they begin to ash over, 5 to 10 minutes.
3. When ready to cook, lay the wrapped brisket next to the coals. Using a small shovel, long-handled spatula, or tongs, shovel 6 or so glowing embers on top of the brisket.
4. Roast the brisket under the embers until cooked through and tender, about 2 hours. Every 30 minutes, turn and rotate the brisket so that a different side faces the mound of coals (take care not to puncture the foil packet when turning). Place a few fresh coals on top of the foil packet. You'll need to replenish the coals after 45 minutes to 1 hour. Simply place fresh charcoal or wood chunks on top of the mound of coals. They’ll light in about 10 minutes. If you’ve wrapped your brisket well, there won't be any leakage of bacon fat. If the fat does leak, you may get a flare-up in the bottom of the grill. Keep your eye on the grill for flare-ups and move the brisket to a flame-free section of the grill if you see one.
5. Test for doneness by using a long slender metal skewer: It should pierce the meat easily. Rake any coals off the foil packet and transfer it to an aluminum foil pan or roasting pan. Let cool for 10 minutes.
6. Present the brisket in its flame-darkened foil packet to your guests, then remove it to the kitchen for unwrapping and carving. Take care to avoid the escaping steam. Trim off any burnt parts from the brisket. Thinly slice the meat across the grain and serve.

All-Purpose Barbecue Rub
1. Put the salt, brown sugar, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl and stir to mix. (Your fingers actually work better for mixing the rub than a spoon or whisk does.)


Buy The Ingredients
Product nutrition and information
 Quantity Ingredients Est.Price
  Schaller & Weber Black Forest Bacon, Cut to Order - $14.99/lb
 
 
  Meal Mart Kosher Beef Brisket, First-Cut - $15.99/lb
 
 
  Domino Dark Brown Sugar - $1.99/ea
 1lb
 
Optional Ingredients
  KC Masterpiece Original Barbecue Sauce - $2.99/ea
 18oz
 
You May Already Have
  Reynolds Release Non-Stick Aluminum Foil - $5.29/ea plus tax
 37.5sq ft
 
  Morton Coarse Kosher Salt - $2.99/ea
 48oz
 
  Spice Supreme Paprika - $1.29/ea
 4oz
 
  Just FreshDirect Tellicherry Peppercorns (Refill) - $4.99/ea
 2.1oz
 
Estimated Total:  
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