JB May’s KC Brisket

JB May’s KC Brisket
Two tickets to paradise

So far as most people see it, a proponent of grilling has to choose one of two camps – charcoal or gas. The gas users say that charcoal is inconvenient and can provide inconsistent heat. The charcoal users say that gas doesn’t get quite as hot and doesn’t impart that distinctive charcoal aroma. Meanwhile, the guys who cook over hardwood just laugh, take a slug of whiskey from the bottle, and call both of them pussies. And not wanting to be called such, I’ve always wanted to try my hand at smoking. Which brings us to today’s recipe, a tangy, smoky brisket inspired largely by Mike Mills’ excellent Peace, Love and BBQ.

At it’s heart, the practice of grilling is about taking something ordinary and making it excellent through skill, practice, and sheer force of will. Nowhere is that more evident than with brisket. You take a tough, fat-covered cut that most meat departments don’t even stock, and you turn it badass – much like Mr. Miyagi did to Daniel Russo. Except, you know, Miyagi didn’t end up eating him. But if it helps you to put on some badass ’80s music in hope of a montage, you go right ahead, sport.


Sure, it says “Smoker,” but it’s the blackening that really convinces me

– First thing’s first – if you want to smoke, you’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that you’re going to need an entire day. And probably half of the previous evening. If this is unacceptable, then go get yourself a chicken caesar wrap from Applebees, Sally Mae.

– For this job, you’re going to need a smoker. I know that a lot of BBQ cookbooks try to throw grill-owners a bone and say that you can use indirect fire and wood chips, but that’s not going to work. You most likely won’t have a side door to drop in fresh coals on your kettle grill, and you don’t want to be lifting the lid every time you need to add heat. Just get a smoker. You can snag one for about $65.


When starting coals, make sure you’ve got a friend nearby in Chuck Taylors. You know, for atmosphere.

– You’re also going to need a metal bucket, or a chimney starter with a stone or metal sheet under it to keep prepared coals ready. When you’re cooking low and slow, you can’t be throwing on unlit coals and hope they’ll catch at 230 degrees.

– Get a pair of comfortable tongs. You’re going to be transferring a lot of lit coals. A lot. You don’t want to end up with some sort of clawed hand, like you’re a 13 year old boy 48 hours after the new Victoria’s Secret catalog comes in the mail.

– Also good? Suede grilling gloves. As you may imagine, a bucket of coals is hot as fuck.


Gentlemen make sure to not giggle when saying “probe” … more than three times.

– Keep a probe thermometer on hand to keep an eye on the smoker temperature and check the brisket when it’s nearly done. Also keep a spray bottle to spritz the brisket when you have to turn it.

– The type of hardwood you use (apple, mesquite, hickory, etc.) depends on your preference, but make sure it’s small enough to fit in your smoker. Unless you’ve got a wood shop, or are some kind of unholy urban lumberjack, you’re not going to be able to split it at home.


Why yes, starting a fire on a third floor wood deck is a very good idea, smartass


I wish there were a manlier word to use than “spritz.” I’d consider the term “Man Spray,” but that sounds even worse.


A meal fit for a king. Also fit for Ted Nugent.