Sunday, February 13, 2011

We are the Champions: Brisket Chili

I hope I didn't give away the ending of this post with the title.  Oh well...  A few posts back I did a brisket that turned out less than stellar but very tasty.  The chili we made with it  was very different in taste to anything I had ever had but received high prise from all that tried it.  We made the chili in practice for the 4th Annual Liberty Park Chili Cook-off.

Well this past Saturday was the day of reckoning.  The Friday before, I had planned to get up some time around 6am to start the brisket but awoke to a downpour. The combination of the weather and the hour persuaded me to make my way back to bed.  The cook-off was scheduled to start at 4pm Saturday giving me plenty of time to smoke the brisket overnight Friday night assuming I would get a reprieve from the weather.  This was not in the cards.  It rained all day and into the evening forcing me to get creative and find some way to get this brisket going. So I did what any man would do, I built a shanty with a tarp and some twine...
I don't think rain would affect the egg or the cook but it sure does bother the hell out of me.

I rubbed the brisket with a combination of Grillmates applewood rub and the Montreal steaks spicy rub.  I wrapped the brisket tightly in Saran wrap and placed it in the fridge overnight in prep for the Friday cook (because of the weather delay it got an extra day in the fridge with the rub)

I got the egg locked in to 250 with plenty of lump charcoal for the cook.  I added some hickory chips that had been soaking for several days and 2 hickory chunks that had been soaked for only an hour or so. This was more wood than I have added to any cook to this point and the first time I used chunks (I wanted to make sure this thing had a sweet smoke ring when done).  I placed the plate setter in legs up for indirect and used a drip pan and grate.  One of the major differences between this cook and the last was that I placed the brisket on the lambda rack (inverted v-rack) on top of the grate fat side down to protect the meat from too much heat.  I used the maverick meat probe entered near the fat tip of the brisket and the grill probe connected to the grate directly below the brisket.  I let the brisket cook overnight and the grill temp actually dropped from 250 to around 200 in this time [this actually turned out to be a good thing since the brisket stayed in the plateau even longer (see my last brisket post about the plateau temps)].  When I woke up I got the grill back up to 250 and let the brisket cook until it got to an internal temp of 190 (took about 15 hours total).  I pulled the brisket and immediately wrapped it in foil.  I put it in a cooler and let it rest for about 2 hours while we changed locations to prep the chili.

This brisket turned out to be excellent.  Very tasty and moist with a bit of sweet applewood that was complimented by a lingering spice.  There was a very well defined pink smoke ring that can be seen in the image below.  I cut the brisket in slices as is traditional. I then sliced it longways and made cubes from these pieces for the chili.  We probably ate 2 pounds of the brisket during cooking and I shared the extra brisket with those at the cook-off.
The brisket sliced with a few examples of cubing pieces
(that is actually our tasting pile that kept growing and shrinking moments later).
Notice the well defined pink smoke ring around the edges of the meat.

Cubed for the chili and easy tasting.

The Chili

I figured I would write a bit about the chili I am so proud of.  I am not afraid to share the recipe as not many will be able to make the brisket the way I can (tip: see above).

3 pounds smoked brisket, chopped into small cubes
1/3 can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
6 tomatoes concasse
2 small cans tomato paste
2 medium onion, chopped
4 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 bottles Sweetwater IPA
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Frank's Hot Sauce
6 fire roasted red chili peppers

2 tablespoons black course-ground pepper
2 tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoon salt
6 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoon oregano
Olive oil

Puree the chipotles and red chili peppers. Combine all ingredients, except onion, garlic, spices and one beer, and simmer in a large pot. In a separate pan, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. Add spices, then mix with chili. Simmer 2-3 hours, adding beer as needed to thin. Hint: The brown sugar will decrease the heat from the peppers, so add more if the chili is too spicy. Add more peppers if chili isn’t hot enough.

The ingredients (some already mixed):

This produced almost exactly one crockpot's worth of chili.  (We I was very concerned with the quantity of chili we had made and I was very vocal about it, I should not have worried).  The chili had great flavor. It was sweet on the front end and spicy on the back (I must have said this 150+ times Saturday night but it was very true and everyone agreed and appreciated my input except the couple next to me during serving).  It was very smokey in flavor and very hearty.  We came up with a clever name "3 Guys, 1 Brisket" and made a sign to highlight our key ingredients. 
I was concerned with how much chili we made but it turned out we had more than most and
were still serving when some of the others had long run out.

The competition included around 22 or so different chilies with prizes given for best overall, best unusual, and spiciest.  Some of the highlights were a pho chili, a chocolate mole chili, a fire in the hole chili, another brisket chili, a beef rib chili, and a jerk chicken chili.  Over 175ish people were in attendance at Red Brick Brewery for the event to taste chili and drink beer.  All in attendance were responsible for voting for one of the chilies as the best for each category.  Here are two reviews of the event that are better written than mine and have fewer sets of parentheses (I use a lot).  This one from a co-worker of the guy that won for spiciest (try to keep up) and this one is from one of the organizers and the author of Eat It, Atlanta.  There are some more pictures of the winning chilies (including ours) and the winners in the second review.

The results:
Not surprisingly, Fire in the Hole won spiciest with our chili, surprisingly, coming in second (I did not think ours was spicy at all).  The pho chili won best unusual (well deserved except I don't know what makes a chili a chili I guess). And.... drum roll please..... you guessed it!
The hardware.
Yours truly, very proud and slightly intoxicated. The beard is what put us over the edge.
The guys over at the Liberty Park Chili Society put on a great event and donated about $600 to the National MS Society.


  1. That smoke ring looks perfect! I gotta try this! Did your brisket dry out at all by cooking it fat side down?

  2. Not at all. This was the moistest (is that a word) brisket I have ever had. I was a little surprised that toward one end the fat was not completely cooked off. In the picture of the smoke ring you can see a little of the fat on there that I trimmed off when cubing.

  3. How far in advance did you make this? Could it be made the day before or would take something away. Also, my wife is allergic to all mustard; can something else subsitute?


    Gainesville, FL

    1. Day before might be even better so that the flavors have time to meld together a bit more. I made this again recently and skipped the mustard all together, it did not noticeably take away from the flavor.

    2. I made this back in January for a Church fundraiser. It was good; and, in the end, it was all gone.

  4. Smoked a brisket on a Friday, made the chili Saturday morning. Turned out really well. Great chili. I didn't get a ton of the smoke flavor in the chili, but it was just enough. Several of my friends thought it was great stuff as well. Would definitely make again. The only change I had to make was using some diced fire roasted green chilies (the ones found in small cans), since I could not find any red chilies. I'm hoping the flavors melded even more to Sunday...I'll find out soon!

  5. Well, I tried to upload the picture of the trophy from the chili contest we just won but it didn't happen. Thanks for the recipe Matt. My chili turned out really spicy, which was fine, but I was wondering what you use for the fire roasted chiles? I used red Fresno chilies from my garden.



  6. I'm planning on doing a brisket chili in a couple of weeks. How much chili did you end up making?

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