From doctors and computer information technologists to restaurant owners, 2015 Camp Brisket participants learned the finer points of cooking one of the most popular barbecue cuts found throughout Texas.
Jeff Savell, distinguished professor in the department of animal science at Texas A&M University, led the camp and was joined by Davey Griffin, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service meat specialist, and Ray Riley, manager of the E.M. "Manny" Rosenthal Meat Center at Texas A&M.
The camp is a partnership between Foodways Texas and the meat science section in the department of animal science. Event registration sold out in less than five minutes, according to organizers, and various national and state media reported from the event.
According to Savell, "There are three foods in Texas: Texas barbecue, chicken fried steak and Tex-Mex. You don't see anybody standing in line for chicken fried steak or Tex-Mex, but they are standing in line for the best barbecue."
More than 100 attendees learned where the brisket and other barbecue cuts come from on a side of beef, proper trimming and preferred seasoning methods, plus the many different types of barbecue pits and wood smoke used during cooking.
"You find a lot of people attending this camp who have achieved success in cooking other cuts, but they keep coming back to brisket," Savell said.
Trying to cook brisket consistently is one of the most unique challenges among barbecue cooking, Savell said. Griffin provided an overview of the anatomy of a brisket demonstrating the various cuts from a side of beef.
Barbecue restaurant owners and experts also were featured speakers during the two-day event. A pitmaster panel on cooking briskets featured Bryan Bracewell of Southside Market and Barbecue in Elgin, Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, and Russell Roegels of Roegels Barbecue Co. in Houston.
Though beef prices continue to be high due to lack of supply, Savell said, consumers' hunger for barbecue is greater than ever.
During a three-year period beginning in 2010, drought conditions led to 1 million fewer beef cows in Texas alone.
Nationally, cattle inventory levels are the lowest since the 1950s
"There are fewer briskets today, but stronger demand," he said.