Beef Brisket Low & Slow; Paleo BBQ Sauce

I once smoked a brisket years ago but otherwise had never cooked one. From what I gather, it’s a rather tricky meat to cook as it doesn’t have a lot in intramuscular fat, and it’s a muscle meat that gets a lot of work, being as it is, the pectoral muscle of the cow.

We were having friends over for dinner Saturday. My original thought was sous vide pork belly, but then I see all the various recipes call for a soak of 18-36 hours. Too late. But I wanted to do something for a first. Brisket it was.

I headed over to a local market—Lunardi’s—with the most extensive butcher counter around (it must be 50 yards long). They had one brisket under the glass, about 4 pounds, very nice and clean trimmed. I asked if he had one with more fat; he heads to the back and got one that had not been trimmed yet.

IMG 1142
7.5 Pounds of Brisket

On the backside, there was the nice layer of fat. You’ll see that later when it’s sliced up.

In terms of cooking method, I did a light dry rub using The Salt Lick, let it sit for an hour, wrapped it in foil, into a baking pan, and in the oven at 200 for six full hours. For the first 45 minutes and then the last 30 minutes, I kicked the temperature up to 350. Then I let it rest, still covered in foil, for a full hour.

The final step was to sear both sides on the gas grill, a few minutes per side, on high.

Big Meat

During the afternoon, I also prepared fresh green beans with bacon & onion. It’s about 5 handfulls of the beans, a whole onion, 4 strips of bacon sliced, fried, and the bacon fat is added to the pot along with 2 cups of chicken stock and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then turn to a medium low simmer, uncovered. Takes about 4 hours. Just let the liquid simmer off until it’s very soupy with a deep flavor.

Next was the BBQ sauce. There was a recipe I adapted by a guy who had a blog called Son of Grok, but it’s no longer there. Luckily, someone had put it up in Mark Sisson’s forum so I found it right away. Here’s my version.


  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 rounded tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 4 teaspoons black molasses


  1. Place all ingredients except the tomato paste and molasses into the the 2 cups of beef stock and bring it to a boil. Cover and simmer on low for at least a half hour, so as to get the onion and garlic soft. Turn off the heat, let it cool for a while. Then put it all into a food processor or blender and liquify.
  2. Put it back in the pot, add your tomato paste and molasses and bring it back up to heat. Reduce as necessary to obtain the desired saucy consistency.

It’s a very nice sauce with just the right balance of hot/spice, tang, and sweet. Per serving, the sugar load is minuscule compared to anything I can find at a BBQ specialty store. Even high end products typically have HFCS as one of the top ingredients, if not the very top.

Back to the brisket, it was time to slice. Click to open the high resolution.

See the fat?

Our friend Julie prepared a salad with watermelon, onion, feta cheese crumbles and fresh mint leaves to go alongside. I also got some cole slaw from the Lunadi’s deli counter.


Here’s a closeup on the mail plate.


It tuned out to be an interesting experience because this was not your typical BBQ brisket that you pull apart, dip in sauce and eat. Far more like roast beef, but very moist, very tasty and with just enough “chew” so you know you’re really eating meat. The BBQ sauce was a nice compliment to it.

The leftovers including all the fat scraps went into the crockpot Sunday morning and now I have enough shredded brisket for many meals this week, including probably a Fat Bread sandwich and at least a corn tortilla taco or two.

Real food, folks. Paleo? Close enough for me.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. blaklabl on September 10, 2012 at 10:11

    Richard, here’s a recipe I have used with great success in the past for a paleo/primal BBQ sauce.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 10, 2012 at 10:35

      Thanks BL. Many similarities.

  2. Gary Conway on September 10, 2012 at 09:36

    God call on getting the fattier cut, Looks like the brisket turned out really well. Will have to try out your BBQ sauce recipe.

  3. Marc on September 10, 2012 at 09:37

    For brisket you really have to smoke it. Oven cooked will turn out a roast like you got and the flavor is off. With a brisket you want the red smoke ring around the edges. Here is my method. I’m usually dealing with a much larger brisket than you are likely to find in Cali. This weekend I did a 16 lb brisket.

    1. You need to rub it the day before. An hour with the rub just doesn’t cut it.
    2. Bring the brisket to room temp before smoking.
    3. 6 hours or so in the smoker fat side up. Pecan wood. Temperature around 200-215.
    4. Foil wrap it tight and put in a pan to catch drippings. In the oven on 215 overnight (about 8-9 hours depending on size). Looking for an internal temp of 185-190.
    5. This step is important. Pull from oven , wrap in towels, put in a cooler and let sit for 1-2 hours.
    6. Slice and enjoy.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 10, 2012 at 10:08

      Marc, yea, way back when I definitely got the smoke ring, wrapped it, in the oven etc. and it cam out like smoked brisket.

      Thing is, we have that a lot, both from Willey’s and now, Dickey’s that just opened up, both within 5 minutes. I was shooting for a roast, Wih the fat intact. I like to try new things. I got the best of both worlds because with putting leftovers, scraps and the drippings into the crock pot, I have shredded brisket and it’s quite delicious and tender, but different still from smoked.

  4. Gary Conway on September 10, 2012 at 09:38

    *Good (although I’m sure even God prefers it that way)

  5. Skyler Tanner on September 10, 2012 at 10:28

    Looks good. I’ve been meaning to make one sous vide the way they do at the French Laundry but haven’t gotten around to it. After that I plan to try it the way they suggest in Modernist cuisine (7 hours smoked, 72 hours sous vide).

  6. rob on September 10, 2012 at 11:48

    Scenes from the weekend’s “Meatopia” event in NYC, wish they had more pics of the 1,000 pound steer they cooked

  7. […] 4-hr soak at 200F (low & slow), wrapped in foil. Finished off for a few minutes on the grill. Home made BBQ sauce. Game on. …But, I was so blown away at the taste of the […]

  8. Walter on July 11, 2013 at 07:09

    Try putting in a filet of anchovy in the sauce and it’ll make the meat seem even more meatier. The nucleotides in the anchovies react with the glutamates in the tomatoes to make the meat taste awesome.

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