With a U-Haul truck full of Texas post oak and a smoker in-tow, Daniel Delaney made his way from Austin back to Manhattan to start the craziest do-it-yourself brisket kickstarter I’ve ever heard of. Without a storefront or a barbecue reputation to rely on, he convinced hundreds of people to pre-purchase 3,200 pounds of his brisket, sight unseen, for the staggering price of $25 per pound, and it only took 48 hours to sell out. It wouldn’t be fair for me to question the wisdom of his customers because I too bought into the hype and purchased a couple of pounds knowing that I live 1,500 miles from his nearest brisket party. But as luck would have it, I found myself in New York on a weekend where Brisketlab had an opening. So, I bet you’re wondering, can Texas barbecue be successfully replicated in a foreign environment? With the help of Laurie Jon Moran, who had recently taken some time away from his day job at Le Bernardin to drive around Texas eating barbecue with his girlfriend, it was time to discover if this Delaney fellow was really smoking or just blowing smoke.
Before I get to proclamations about the beef, it is important to understand that the Brisketlab has a few advantages over their competition in New York. Briskets are smoked in New Jersey away from the strict regulations of the Big Apple. Also, only about a dozen briskets are required for each Lab, and they are the only cut of meat on the menu. Even these advantages don’t make smoking a brisket an easy endeavor, and Delaney made a few important decisions to boost his chances of success: an all wood smoker was purchased from none other than Aaron Franklin; Delaney has aged Texas post oak shipped to New York; and his process and ingredients are based on what he’s learned from Aaron Franklin and Wayne Mueller. The simple rub he uses on his Creekstone Farms briskets