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How to Make a Champion Brisket

BrisketTown's Winning Brisket

In my experience, there are two primary schools of brisket: Texas-style (slow-smoked for hours and served with white bread, pictured above) and Jewish-style (oven-braised for hours in a sweet-sour sauce often spiked with Manischewitz). But last week at the annual Brisket King of NYC competition, I experienced this fatty, flavorful cut of beef in ways I’d never imagined.

Taboonette's Brisket

Taboonette’s Middle Eastern pita sandwiched tender brisket with tahini, pickled onions, preserved lemons and cilantro, winning Best Exotic Brisket. Who thought brisket could ever taste so refreshing? Then Tchoup Shop went for over-the-top decadence with fried boudin brisket balls, awarded the title of Best Non-Brisket Brisket.

Boudin Brisket

But barbecue tradition won out in the end. Two Texas-style New York pit masters took home the evening’s big prizes for Judges’ Favorite (the official Brisket King of NYC) and People’s Choice, respectively: BrisketTown, the new Williamsburg brick-and-mortar spot that started out as Daniel Delaney’s Brisketlab pop-ups, and Mighty Quinn’s, Hugh Mangum’s two-month-old barbecue joint in the East Village that began as a vendor at Smorgasburg.

Dan Delaney's brisket station

When Food Network’s Mory Thomas presented Daniel and Hugh with their crowns, he asked for some insight on their winning meats. Here’s what you need to know to make your own championship-worthy smoked brisket:

The Rub:
Daniel uses a simple salt-and-pepper rub, adhering to Texas tradition. Hugh won’t reveal what’s in his — it’s a Mighty Quinn secret.

The Wood:
While Hugh uses about 80-percent oak and a little bit of applewood to smoke his brisket, Daniel sticks with 100-percent oak. “It’s a combination of tradition and that it’s not an overpowering wood,” he explains. “White oak burns super clean and allows for a mild smoky flavor. You’re eating meat, not smoke.”

Smoke Time:
Both pit masters smoke their meat for anywhere from 16 to 22 hours.

Sauce or No Sauce?
There’s no barbecue sauce at all at BrisketTown: “We don’t believe it in it,” says Daniel. Hugh concurs when it comes to brisket. A championship brisket should be so flavorful that there’s no need for sauce.

Photographs by Morgan Ione Yeager

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    I love brisket too and all the ways sound great! I also want you at the network to know that although you think you had to stay PC and dump Paula; I think you reek! Don't any of you have the gump to stand up and say what's right? She could have lied and been just fine; but she chose to tell the truth. I imagine most all of us have had ugly thoughts, and most have had those thoughts come out of our mouths at one time or another in our lifetimes! We are all human, and make mistakes. How that has to do with her cooking abilities, however, I can't fathom! Forgive her and put her back where she should be, please. If you need the space, take some of the trash off; like Nadia or Guidia. And while I'm at it, please remove that rotten music from the main body of the shows. There are so many hard of hearing persons; and they cannot hear the shows now that you've ruined them with the nerve racking music… I hate it too…. and I'm a songwriter! So…. it's bad! thanks.

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