How to Cook Brisket
There was a thread in the beginning of 1996 that started off a bit slow. Then Mike Scrutchfield again posted a blockbuster post in which he
explained how to cook a brisket. It was a shocker for me to see him
post it. I had never even come close to cooking a brisket that was good.
When he posted this recipe I called him up the next day and asked him if he was
really sure that he wanted to put this information on the Internet. He
said he was just happy to help people.
Well, I tried the recipe as soon as I could and what a shock it was to me and
my family. I had suddenly I turned into someone who was a good barbecue
cook. My family heaped tons of praise on me for the great job of cooking a
It was about a couple of weeks later that I got a chance to talk to Mike in
person. At that time I was still selling insurance and was putting on a presentation at
a sales meeting for Mike's real estate company. After the presentation I
was telling him how great my briskets were tasting using the information he had
posted. After listening to me, he gave me some more advice. He asked
me what kind of rub I used on the brisket. When I told him the name of the rub he shook his head
and said "Get some Head Country Rub and use that instead." Then he asked
me what I did with the juices that had collected in the foil when the brisket
was finished. I told him I threw it away with the foil. He shook his
head again and said "then you threw away the all the great flavor of the
brisket." The conversation then produced more details. "Pour the
juice into a container and let it cool The fat will rise to the top and then
scrape the fat off of the remaining juice." Then heat that juice up a bit
and add two beef bullion cubes to it and stir it until the bullion cubes
dissolve. After you have sliced the brisket, drizzle the juice over the
sliced brisket. To finish off the brisket before serving it, he told me to
use a pastry brush and brush room temperature sweet barbecue sauce on the edges
of the sliced brisket. Then it would be ready to serve.
Before I left the office he printed off a recipe, that was on his computer,
for cooking ribs. As I drove away from Mike's office I felt like a king
and was very happy. The sales presentation had gone went really well and I
knew I would make some insurance sales from the leads I had collected.
More than that I so happy to have this great information that had been given to
me by one of the best barbecue cooks in the country. I also felt that I
could call Mike a friend and this friendship had all come about because of The
BBQ Forum. Since then I have been very fortunate to develop a lot of great
friends all over the world because of The BBQ Forum
Re: Sauce Recipe
Thanks for all the nice compliments on my brisket. It's been very successful
this year. I won over $10,000 on my brisket entries in the contests I entered
First of all you must start with good meat. The 99 cent a pound brisket just
wont cut it. Always start with USDA Choice or better, I use Prime because of my
meat sponsor (Beef America, Omaha Neb) but most of that is shipped overseas to
Japan because they are willing to pay the price! Use Choice or better!
Next I start with a good rub that's heavy in garlic and pepper, ("Top Secret"
brand) not yet available but I'm working on it for this Spring! Seasoned about
three hours before smoking.
Smoke for at least 8-10 hours at 225 until the internal temp is in the
165-170 degree range. I like 4 chunks of Oak. 2 chunks of Cherry and 1 Hickory,
with mostly white hot charcoal.
After the internal temp is 165+ I put the brisket in foil and cook at 300
degrees (oven or smoker temp) until the internal temp reaches 205 degrees. When
that's done I just put it away in an insulated environment (I use a sleeping bag
at contests) still wrapped in foil for several hours to allow it to still cook
until I ready to serve.
What you have when you open it up is a brisket that you'll need to slice 1/2"
thick to keep in slices and I then top it with a sweet, but still a distinctive
whang, BBQ Sauce (again "Top Secret" as of this date!) to serve to the judges.
Most of the time it'll be up there with anyone for taste, tenderness, and
appearance. Those are the three aspects we are judged on at BBQ contests!
To recap, use good meat, seasoning well, get the final ultimate temp. and top
with just the right sauce, present it well. and you'll be a Blue Ribbon Winner!
This bit of information on how to cook a brisket almost instantly changed the
way a lot of people cooked brisket after that. Brisket is a very tough
piece of meat and most people had no idea how to cook it. When this bit of
information hit the Internet people who had always cooked bad brisket were able
to cook really good brisket.
Before The BBQ Forum the only way you could lean such information was to talk
one of these great barbecue cooks into letting you mentor with them at contests.
When you did this you could slowly learn the tricks and techniques that had
taken these great cooks years to develop. When The BBQ Forum came along
these great cooks started sharing the information they had learned on the
As this information started to leak out on The BBQ Forum the bar was raised
at barbecue contests. The great cooks that started to share their
information now had to develop even better cooking methods to keep on winning.
I don't know if anyone realized what was happening at that time but the effect
became clearer as the years went by.
In 1996 The BBQ Forum started growing rapidly and so did the flow of
information. In this same thread the following exchange took place.
Re: Sauce Recipe
Sat, 27 Jan 1996 13:33:35 -0700
You know I never told you this last year, (you know how big your head gets),
but you were a major factor in helping me accomplish winning the National
Championship. In 1994 my worst category of the four majors was chicken so last
winter I set about to change things. In one of the early issues of the Bullsheet
in 1995 you was generous enough to share your chicken do with the group. Part of
your process involved marinating the chicken in Wish Bone Italian dressing, I
tried it with my newly developed rub and the rest is history. 1st place overall
in Chicken KCBS for 1995! I now use the Wish Bone "Robust" and I find it does
even a better job.
One thing I've learned from competition experience: Don't be afraid to share!
You can put two different cooks side by side with the same cookers, same meat,
same marinades, rubs, and sauces and the finished products will be completely
different. I see too many really good cooks, whose meat tastes much better than
mine, (which is not hard to do) not score as well because they didn't
concentrate on the other two aspects of competition cooking (tenderness and
You got to have the whole package right to win. You got to practice a lot and
learn your cooker intimately. Once you've won a ribbon in a category, don't
change the flavor ever again, then start concentrating on the other aspects of
tenderness and appearance and the ribbons will start changing from yellow and
browns to reds and blues. That's my tip of the day for all, and not necessarily
you Coach. As I know all too well you've whipped my butt on more than one
occasion. You've a really good cook and a super nice guy.
Thought for the day: Where the Hell is Lincoln Arkansas? Oh I remember, it's
just south of Kansas City, bout a day and a half!
No good air down there either!
Note: From Ray Basso: The "Coach" Mike was refering to was Jim Sposato a ledendary cook at
that time and Jim reply to Mikes post with this one:
Re: Sauce Recipe
Sun, 28 Jan 1996 12:25:33 -0700
Thanks for the kind comments. I love to compete against good cooks and you
are one of the best. when you can win in many different locations like you have
the past couple of years it proves you are a good cook. I have NO secrets when
it comes to BBQ. What good is it to have lots of knowledge if you don't share
with it somebody else. Cook-off are just like football games. No matter how you
do one week will not say how you do the next week. (good or bad). I'm looking
forward in competing against you again this year. I can always learn from you
and anybody else. I found some sauce recipes with corn syrup but not both corn
syrup and molasses in them. Which ones do you want.
I think this exchange really shows the nature of competition barbecue cooks.
They are a fine, fun loving bunch of people but they are very competitive.
I remember talking to Carolyn Wells once about how generous Mike Scrutchfield
was in sharing his information on The BBQ Forum. At that time he was
winning all the time Carolyn said "Mike Scrutchfield is the most fiercely
competitive cook she has ever seen." However, even thought I listed to her
words carefully I thought Mike was one of the most generous people I had ever
meet because of his contributions to The BBQ Forum.
In September of 1996 Mike Scrutchfield wrote the following in a post to the
"In Kansas City we throw "Dry" brisket in the trash! Good Kansas City
style brisket is juicy and tender. So tender in fact that we have to slice
it 1/2" thick and it needs just a touch of sauce on top to give it that
finishing touch. No wonder Texans don't do very well in BBQ contests
At the time he had the credential to back up those words.
Blue ribbon winner, brisket at the 1995 "Jack Daniels" World Invitational,"
"National Points Champion" Brisket division, also in 1995 and six Blue Ribbon
wins in 1996 year to date.