RED BANK: BRISKET SMOKED TO THE HEAVENS

broschart smoking meat 6Scott Broschart preps a 15-pound beef brisket for the smoker as his wife, Gina Roselle-Broschart, looks on. Below, PieHole enjoyed a late afternoon lunch of brisket in Broschart’s backyard. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

broschart smoking meat 2Scott Broschart dropped PieHole an email recently saying he was going to put a big piece of meat in the smoker out behind his house in Red Bank. Would we care to stop by?

Texas-style  barbecue isn’t often successful here on the Green, but we’d heard from several eaters around town about Broschart’s skills. So a few minutes later, we were making plans to meet up at Broschart’s house on Hudson Avenue.

broschart smoking meat 5Broschart uses charcoal to get his Weber Smokey Mountain smoker ready for a long, overnight smoking session. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

Originally from Hazlet, Broschart had his barbecue epiphany after moving to Houston to work in politics.

“I grew up thinking that barbecue meant hamburgers and hot dogs and maybe some Costco ribs on the grill,” Broschart tells PieHole. In Texas, he says he got to sample smoked pork chops, brisket and short ribs.

“My first exposure was a place called Goode Company [in Houston]. Looking back now, it wasn’t so good, but it was eye-opening for me — the smell of smoke and meat cooking, and the sight of 20 feet or so of chopped oak, stacked up and ready for the smoker. That was the first sign that [Texas barbecue] was going to be different than Costco ribs on a Weber,” he tells PieHole.

After returning to New Jersey, Broschart attempted to replicate what he’d experienced in his own backyard. At the time, he was dating his now-wife, Gina Roselle-Broschart and he made his first brisket for her family’s annual Labor Day party.

“They were having 80 people to this party and I had no clue what I was doing, but I knew what it was supposed to taste like,” says Broschart.

“He went all in, he was so nervous,” says Roselle-Broschart, “but everyone loved it and he’s made it every year since.”

That was five years ago, and Broschart estimates he’s made about 50 briskets since then.

“I try to smoke at least once or twice a month.” says Broschart, who notes that the rising cost of brisket can be a bit of a barrier to regular smoking.

In 2013 Broschart, and his wife moved to Hudson Avenue, which he says really allowed him to step up his barbecue.

“Just to be able to get the quality of ingredients that we can get here is incredible,” he says. “I can get brioche buns from Antoinette Boulangerie [where Gina is executive pastry chef]. I can pick up some cheese from the Cheese Cave and I can get the brisket from Monmouth Meats. It’s great to have the options we have, and to have them all within walking distance. And it’s good: it’s top-quality stuff,” says Broschart.

Broschart invitied PieHole over for a late lunch of smoked brisket that he’d pulled off the smoker a bit before our arrival.

His backyard picnic table was spread with baguette and brioche buns from Antoinette Boulangerie, a bowl of whipped pork fat that a butcher buddy of Broschart’s had brought over for the occasion, and some thinly sliced young gouda that Stephen Catania from the Cheese Cave suggested would pair nicely with the smoked meat.

And then there was the brisket. Broschart was right when he told us that you can’t get anything like this in the area.

He tells PieHole that many East Coast barbecue restaurants will compensate for dried out, lower quality meat and poor smoking technique by slicing the brisket thinly and dousing it in sauce.

Not so with Broschart’s brisket. After more than 12 hours on the smoker and a short rest, he lobbed off thick slices of beef and fat layered with a delicious smokey exterior crust that melted without protest under the weight of a fork.

First we had it without sauce. Then we had brisket on brioche buns. We had brisket on baguette with young gouda. We had it with a tiny drizzle of the coffee-based barbecue sauce that Broschart whipped up. We wished we had a second stomach.

This was the magic every backyard barbequer tries to achieve when they put a 15-pound piece of meat over smoke, and it certainly raised the bar for PieHole’s definition of good smoked brisket.

Broschart thought it wasn’t one of his best, but does admit that for the last seven or eight briskets, he’s really had his dry rub dialed in.

He offers the following tips to PieHole readers who might want to give smoking a hand:

  • Buy a whole packer cut. Get good meat from a good local butcher, choice grade or better. “Stew [Goldstein] at Monmouth Meats is a bevy of information and knows everything,” says Broschart.
  • Use the right wood. People get caught up with applewood, but it’s too mild. “I use a mix of 75% oak and some hickory, pecan, mesquite and maybe some cherry wood, “says Broschart, who has an 80-gallon drum of wood for smoking in his backyard.
  • Don’t worry too much about the temperature of the smoker. Keep it between 215-275 degrees, and you’ll be fine.
  • Don’t use too much wood and oversmoke it. You don’t want big thick billowing smoke. You’ll get bitter and you’ll taste too much smoke.