The Time-Traveling Art of the Brisket
Slab Barbeque's Burt Bakman on the mystical nature of perfectly smoked beef.
September 3, 2019 ● 2 min read
You never know when your calling will hit you. For Slab Barbeque's Burt Bakman, it happened on a trip to Texas where he found himself in love with the whole state of mind of barbecue. He recently shared his journey to learn the art of the pitmaster with 24 other chefs who were in town for our ChefsFeed Indie Week Los Angeles event, courtesy of our friends at Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. on behalf of the Beef Checkoff. Here's a peek behind the scenes.
While he insists he doesn't feel he's ready to wear the title of pitmaster, Bakman is unrestrained with his smoking know-how and shared it freely with the visiting chefs. One of the keys: "Clean smoke, using smaller pieces of wood and adjusting the fire constantly," he says. As for when it's done, it's less tangible, more instinctual. "We look for a certain sparkle in the brisket, and take our time. The brisket has a lot of collagen and fat that needs to be broken down and render properly. It comes down to the relationship between the cook and the brisket, but smoking gives it this love that you can’t get anywhere else."
In addition to brisket, Bakman loves the art of smoking the mighty beef rib. "It's hard to find, it’s a sexy dish, it’s a sexy plate. It’s a beautiful cut, you cut open the rack of beef ribs, there’s just this glow. It’s the first thing that sells out when we carry it."