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Chef Michael Symon shares a crowd-pleasing recipe from his cookbook Playing With Fire: BBQ and More from the Grill, Smoker, and Fireplace.


For the Cleveland BBQ sauce:
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 small red onion, quartered
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, plus 1 tablespoon of sauce from the can
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup brown stadium-style mustard
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (12-to 15- pound) brisket
For the Basic Rub:
  • 2 parts kosher salt
  • 2 parts freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 part celery seed
  • 1/2 part ground coriander


Serves: 20


For the BBQ sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, onion, garlic, chipotle in adobo, bourbon, coriander, and paprika. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the flavors come together, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the chipotle puree, brown and yellow mustards, maple syrup, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Strain the vinegar mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the mustard mixture (discard the solids) and whisk until smooth and combined. Use the BBQ sauce immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Prepare the brisket by trimming the fat cap to create a fatty side and a lean side. Remove all but about ½ inch of fat on the “flat” or thinner half of the brisket, and about 1 inch on the “point” or thicker side. Turn the brisket over and remove any sinew or silver skin from the meat side of the brisket. You should expect to trim and discard up to 2 pounds of fat and silver skin on a large brisket.

Prepare and preheat your smoker to 225˚F. Combine basic rub ingredients in a bowl.

Pat the brisket dry with paper towels and coat the entire exterior with the BBQ sauce. Season liberally on all sides with the basic rub.

When the temperature in the smoker reaches 225˚F and the smoke is running clear, add the brisket, fat-side up. Cook until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 195˚F, between 12 and 15 hours. For the best results, use a probe thermometer to continually monitor the meat’s temperature.

To serve, slice the flat portion of the brisket against the grain until you reach the thick ribbon of fat that separates it from the point. Turn the point portion of the brisket 90˚ so that you can continue slicing the meat against the grain.

Excerpt from Michael Symon’s Playing With Fire: BBQ and More from the Grill, Smoker, and Fireplace by Michael Symon and Douglas Trattner. Copyright © 2018 by Michael Symon and Douglas Trattner. Used with permission by Clarkson Potter. All rights reserved.

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