Special guest blogger appearance by Mr. Freak...
We’ve always considered Brisket the Kilimanjaro of KCBS barbecue. It’s hard for a lot of cooks to conquer, not so much because it’s technically difficult, but rather because of the sheer expense involved in making the journey.
Most of us have to cook more than a few cases of those big, beautiful, budget-busting slabs of beef before we even get a glimpse of the summit. And that costs a crapload of money, even if you’re cooking CABs from Costco.
Fortunately we found a shortcut early this year that helped us make our run at the top of the mountain. We’re not there yet, but we got pretty close last weekend at Sam’s Club with a 178-point-whatever, having missed our first 180 by a tenderness point.
The shortcut? It’s called Mystery Beef.
This all started at our first comp of the year, CCS Fest in Indy. After a long winter off, we came out guns blazing with strong calls in Chicken, Ribs and Pork. But we finished in the bottom half of the pack overall, thanks to terrible Brisket that deserved every one of the 5s it got at the judges table.
We made the bonehead move of trying a hot new ingredient without even doing a test cook. Matter of fact, we didn’t even taste it before Mr. Freak went injecting that stuff into a $180 Wagyu brisket.
It turned out to be a lethal mistake, but from the ashes of that 139.92 box of horrors, Mystery Beef was born.
What is Mystery Beef?
Don’t ask Mr. Freak, he doesn’t know. And Ms. Freak doesn’t know either. All we know is the stuff evidently works pretty well on Brisket, and it was first perfected the night before Day 2 of Masters in May, where we RGCed thanks, in part, to the magical qualities of Mystery Beef.
Masters Day 1 had been pretty ugly for us, and Brisket had again proven to be our nemesis. We were still tuning our recipe in real-time on competition day, and it bit us in the ass AGAIN!
Confident the problem had something to do with the fancy new injection, Ms. Freak decided to do something about it. She changed the formula of the injection mix, trying something completely different than prescribed on the package. The end result: Smoke Freaks Full-Strength Beef mix.
Meanwhile, Mr. Freak had his own ideas, so he doctored the base injection as supplied by Ms. Freak, not knowing that she had already thrown the original recipe out the window.
By the time we pumped the new concoction into our Day 2 SRF Black Label, we realized neither of us had any idea what was actually in the stuff.
Mr. Freak was pretty bent out of shape about it, but Ms. Freak remained sanguine and simply labeled the remaining injection “??? Beef ???”
A few hours later we were driving home, smiling ear-to-ear the way BBQ teams do after a killer day. We’d not only RGCed, but we got a nice call in Brisket -- our first of the year!
Mr. Freak tried to take credit for fixing the brisket injection. And so did Ms. Freak.
That’s when we realized, not only did we not know what Mystery Beef is, neither of us knew exactly what we did to make it. So we spent the rest of the drive back-tracking every step until we were each pretty sure we’d figured out our respective parts of the formula.
I’d tell you what goes into my half of the injection, but Ms. Freak doesn’t even know that secret. Some things are best left a Mystery, and as long as our Brisket recipe is working, that’s what it will remain.
Next stop: Gold Ribbin’ BBQ Fest in Green Bay, our 4th double-header of the season. Freak ON!
Ann is Co-Founder and Pitmaster for Smoke Freaks. She loves being the Head Cook and and has fallen head over heels in love with Pork.