Crossed Test: Which one is better?
In the field of competitive barbecues, there is a great talk at this time of a new trend that is emerging overpowering in the cooking process of the four categories. The traditional method that requires a slow cooking, strictly anchored at temperatures around 110°C, which virtually starts immediately for the biggest cuts in the two days of the competition and that is why it is called Low & Slow. It is alongside the tendency of several teams, in some cases even top ones, to raise the threshold to 150°C radically lowering the timing. The new trend, as opposed to the former, takes the name of Hot & Fast. Ingenuously you might think that everything is about getting smoked up to some degree, but those who have tried this kind of cooking rightly know that the thing is definitely more complicated. Low & Slow cooking is based on balances that are completely disrupted in a Hot & Fast. The entire procedure must be remodeled to make it consistent with the goal.
In Italy in particular, this theme has been highlighted by the decision of our friends, Bros Hog, one of the best Italian teams, to completely overwhelm their approach and tackle this season by baking in Hot & Fast, thus covering the role of the pioneers of this trend. So we asked to Carlo Alvaro, Brisket man of Bros Hog to play a game with us: start from the same raw material, from the same seasoning and the same tools to make two Brisket in parallel, his in Hot & Fast and Ours in Low & Slow, then tasting them together and expressing a cross judgment.
The raw material from which we start is a National Beef Choice with a weight difference of 10 grams (4,500 and 4,490 kg). We will inject both with an injection at 10% of the weight of Kosmos Smoke House Reserve Blend. Finally as rub, Carlo kindly brought me a pack of the new formulation of the Beef Rub Oh My Rub, line produced by the same Bros Hog, and I was anxious to try. Finally, the tool used is a vertical ProQ smoker. Let me point out now, not being this the subject of the test, that the new Oh My Rub liked me so much and in the following days I also tried it on some beef steaks, also evaluating it as an excellent steak rub.
We naturally have to start the evening before with trimming and injection, dissolved directly into normal water. Cooking at 224 ° F starts then the next morning around 7.00, after an overnight rest and subsequent rubbing with the new Oh My Rub. I arrange a Minion Method, with the Water Pan filled with salt and fully smoking with cherry chunks.
Around 9 o’clock Carlo joined me, performed his trimming and proceeded to the same injection in the same quantities as I had. Of course he rubbed it with Oh My Rub, even if Carlo was for a lighter application than I’m used to, probably to better adapt to the highest temperature.
And here begins the distinction: Carlo proceeds to set the ProQ around 300°F in the absence of water pan, placing the brisket in a sort of high direct cooking. An obvious bark is quickly drawn, which literally sizzles, emanating a scented fragrance. Cooking started around 10.00 and just before midday, once satisfied with the appearance of the brisket, routed to the temperature of the stall, Carlo decides to go into the foil, in which we agreed to add only a pair of glasses of lukewarm broth. When the 95°C internal temperature is reached and the test probe is verified, finally decides around 14.00 to go to rest in the cambro for an hour.
Overwhelmed by my procedure because it is the canonical Low & Slow, but the case wanted us to get to the phase of rest practically together: 4 hours of cooking for Carlo and 6 for me. Not an abysmal difference in fact, although you have to say that I have squared my brisket and that I adopted a more generous trimming, lowering the mass of the cut.
After an hour of rest we are ready for the test of cutting and tasting. Two different briskets came out, as was expected, but we were agreed that they were both, in their own way, very good, tender and tasty. But what is the verdict in the end?
We talked together and the conclusion we came to is that no one is better or they are both. In the sense that the trade off that has to move towards choosing a cooking method or the other is the choice of what factor you are trying to prevail. Cooking a Low & Slow Brisket makes it a bit simpler to get a soft and juicy product and your skill must be focused on emphasizing taste, avoiding the “boiled” effect. On the other hand, the Hot & Fast cooked Brisket makes immediate a wide and rich taste that closely resembles the grill, the charcoal and your ability has to be more focused on maintaining high-level moisture.
Concluding, there is no better method than the other but simply two cooking settings that favor different aspects of the end result. It’s up to you to try to figure out what is the character you want Your Q to have. So what would you choose?