The brisket hit the smoker at 8am. The whiskey was open by 11am. An early start is important. It’s well established that good barbecue should begin around dawn. It needs the better part of a day to drip, blacken, and break down into tender perfection.
That’s why Thomas Boemer, chef at Revival and Corner Table, had a gorgeous brisket on my smoker by 8am. And the whiskey? Well, that’s because nothing complements a full day of chatting with one of the finest barbecue minds in the Twin Cities better than a few fingers of Kentucky’s finest.
“This is actually my pork shoulder technique,” Boemer says. “It’s a very Carolina way of doing it. Where I come from, true barbecue isn’t whole hog, it’s specifically pork shoulder—which, if you think about it, is a lot like brisket when it comes to the proportion of meat to bark, and tissue to fiber.”
With a second Revival location (featuring expanded barbecue offerings) taking shape in St. Paul, what better time to have Boemer over to helm a Southern feast? We did it all in a Green Egg, but this would work in any smoker setup; just make sure the heat is indirect and you have a full day to let it patiently smoke and rest.
Boemer wasn’t the only chef in the kitchen that day who knows his smoked meats. Alex Roberts of Brasa and Restaurant Alma came by a little later in the day to grind his own cornmeal into fresh masa for brisket tacos (more on that here, as Roberts breaks down the expected virtue of masa). We can’t give away all these chefs’ secrets, but Roberts was kind enough to bring brisket beans, and share with us his recipe for creamy chard.
Finally, Nick Rancone, Boemer’s partner at Corner Table and Revival, dropped by with an armful of exceptional sour beers—a marvelous pairing for rich foods like barbecue; if you haven’t tried it, they bring that burst of acid needed to balance the fatty brisket and creamy chard.
There’s no way I could absorb all the barbecue wisdom Boemer dispelled over the course of that afternoon. Instead, I’ll let a few important tips punctuate the recipe, which can be found in all its glory on the next page.