memorial day weekend history

Memorial Day Weekend History

Memorial Day is a holiday close to the hearts of Americans, showing our appreciation to the women and men who sacrificed their lives while serving in the U.S. military. It was originally called Decoration Day started shortly after the Civil War, becoming an official holiday in 1971. It is not really clear where we first started to celebrate Memorial Day, there are many communities that have records of initiating the memorial gatherings. But, in 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.
Many of us observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries, participating in parades and having family Barbecues.


Memorial Day BBQ Menu Ideas

Memorial is also considered the unofficial start of summer. One of the best ways Americans celebrate Memorial day is by having a barbecue with family and friends. So what to have at this barbecue, the popular items are hot dogs and hamburgers, corn on the cob and fresh salads. Those are great choices but we’re going to go big and have a slow smoked brisket (beef brisket to be exact). And, along with that some appetizers Memorial Day BBQ style and a couple of side dishes, so let’s get going.  The best way to smoke brisket is slow and long at about 225 degrees.  First, you have to buy the beef brisket, so let go over the five things to consider when purchasing your brisket.

Quality – All meat is inspected by USDA and they grade the meat based on the age of the animal and the degree of marbling in the meat. You have three choices when picking your brisket, prime – choice – select cuts. These are the categories that USDA assign to all cuts of meat. Prime brisket will be the pricey cut, which has the most marbling throughout the brisket. Then the choice cut has little less marbling. The select cut has the least marbling and is what you find in most of your grocery stores. Prime and Choice you will find in a butcher shop or in places like Sam’s and Costco’s. I prefer the prime cut it is worth every penny. If you can afford it, prime or choice is best when you want a succulent beef brisket for your family and friends on Memorial Day barbecues.

Weight Factor In Choosing Your Brisket – To me, there are two important things to factor in : (1) the fat and collagen to muscle ratio; and (2) the number of people you’ll be feeding. Because you’re going to be smoking slow and long, there will be losing weight as the fat starts to render away, which helps with flavor and tenderizes the meat. You have to figure you’re going to yield 60 % of the original weight of the brisket. So I follow the guideline of a pound of meat per person you’re planning to serve.

Flexibility Of The Brisket A brisket is a meat that you have to be careful when cooking, so you should be looking at a few things when making your selection. As we said above not too fatty, yet a good ratio of marbling. Another thing to look for when choosing your brisket is that when held in middle both ends flex down. If it is stiff it means there is too much hard fat and collagen which would not render away during cooking.

Select A Whole, Untrimmed Cut – There are butchers that offer Flat or point cut of brisket. I have to tell you that the best way to go is the whole – untrimmed cut, yes it is a big piece of meat. Whether you are a pitmaster or a novice it will be well worth it with the end results of a delicious succulent brisket. My family always looks forward to leftovers the next day, so it never goes to wast.

Make Sure The Flat Section Has An Even Thickness – This is important for the piece you choose to have an even thickness to ensure an even cooking of the brisket. If the edges are to thin they will become overcooked.

best way smoke brisket

LIVE at Traeger HQ with Matt Pittman || Meat Church BBQ

We are LIVE at Traeger HQ with Matt Pittman from @MeatChurchBBQ. Join our discussion about trimming and injecting brisket, and talking about brisket's close cousin, Corned Beef & Cabbage. Follow @TraegerBBQ on Instagram from more behind the scenes from Matt’s visit to Traeger HQ.

Posted by Traeger Grills on Wednesday, March 8, 2017



Now your half-way to having a perfect brisket. Take your brisket and trim excess fat, best to be about a quarter inch thick ( If you buy it at a butcher he will trim it so it is ready to be smoked). When you get it home dry it off with paper towels and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 to 6 hours. You want it to be dry to the touch all the way around, this will ensure that when you apply your rub it will create a perfect crust on your brisket.

There are many rubs you can make from scratch. I for a brisket like to first spread a thin layer of spicy mustard ( I use Gulden’s mustard), then a layer of Kosher salt. Then I use a Coffee Rub made by Traeger, putting a nice thick coating on. Then let it sit for about three hours to let the brisket to reach room temperature, this helps the meat to cook evenly. Oh if you like to go Texas-style brisket you can still base the meat with mustard, then good layer of kosher salt and coerce pepper.

memorial day bbq menu ideas

Forgot to say this brisket is about 12 pounds after it is trimmed. So I am going to use a combination of hickory, oak, and little cherry pellets gives the end result a great flavor. Fire up the smoker to 225 F., this brisket will cook for a good 8-10 hours or longer. You want the internal temperature to reach 190 F for maximum tenderness. Do not rush this it could take 10 hours, try not to open the smoker too much. I use a temperature probe to monitor the internal temperature of the meat as it cooks, which help to not keep opening the smoker. All meat will come to a “stalling time” where you will see the internal temperature will stay at around 145 10 165 degrees and you will think there is something wrong. Be patient this is normal. DO NOT OPEN THE SMOKER TO CHECK!! I like to make a wet mop of two cups of beef broth,1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, mix it and put in a spray bottle. Then every hour apply it to the meat. Another trick I do is I place an aluminum bowl with some apple juice in it and place in the drip pan under the grill grate, both of these things help keep the meat moist and tasty.

In the original post, I left out the placing of your brisket on the grill. You always want to put the fatty side down and meaty side up. Yes, I did say that the fat will add taste and help tenderize the meat. But, I was talking about the marbling of fat that runs through the meat. The fatty layer that you trim to about a 1/4 inch in thickness, if you put it facing up would wash away your seasoning.

When the internal temperature hits the 165F, take the brisket off and wrap it in two layers of aluminum foil. Then, place it back on the smoker until the internal temperature hits 204 f.  Even then I use a handheld prob and prob the meat with it, if there is resistance then the meat is not ready, so let it cook another ten minutes until prob goes in with no resistance. Once it is ready to take it off leave it wrapped and let it rest to allow all the juices to evenly return to the meat ( let it rest for 1 hour).

memorial day barbeques

While Brisket Rests Time For the Appetizers And Side Dishes

I love to cook on my smoker, so when the brisket is resting, wast no time and start making your appetizers and side dishes.

Everyone like the munchies we put out dips and chips and veggies, but their always waiting to see what I am smoking up for them. This Memorial Day it will be Spicy Shrimp on skewers. First I use wood skewers so I let them soak in water for about hour, so they do not burn.

appetizers memorial day bbq

Okay so what are we going to need :

  • 2 lbs. of med. Size shrimp – please deveined and remove the shell, of course, leave the tails
  • 6 oz. Thai Chilies – we get them at Trader Joe’s
  • 6 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 TBSP Chicken Rub – I am a Traeger person so I use their rubs
  • 11/2 TSP Sugar
  • 3 TBSP Olive Oil

Now put those great looking shrimp to the side. Take the ingredients put in a blender and hit the pulse button few times. You look for it to be a bit more than chopped, kinda like pasty. Place that delicious mixture of chili and garlic in a bowl with the shrimp mix it all up and cover it and put in the refrigerator. I do this the night before, but you can get away with an hour.

Now start the smoker set it for 450 degrees let it heat up for 8 minutes. Take shrimp out and thread them onto the skewers, about 5 to 6 per skewer. Now place them on the grill shut lid and let them cook 2-3 minutes on each side until the shrimp are nice pink color. Now serve and watch the smiles and listen for ” Wow they are so delicious !”.

memorial day bbq menu ideas

Of course, you’re going to have all the salads for usual sides for a BBQ. I have to have something off the smoker, or it wouldn’t be a real Chris BBQ. This is a good one but very easy. Depending on how many wonderful people you have use as many tomatoes that you think you will need. Cut them in half, brush them with olive oil and sprinkle them with kosher salt. Have the smoker at about 180 to 200 for some really good smoke and heat, place the tomatoes cut side facing down. Close the lid and let them cook for 45 minutes. You want the skin of the tomatoes to be easy to peel off.

Ring The Bell It Is time To Eat !!!!!

The meat has been resting for about two hours. So carefully remove the foil. It is time to slice the brisket and take the tomatoes off the grill. At this point at our house, everyone is sitting at the table ready to eat. So serve your guest and enjoy your Memorial Day barbecue.

Memorial Day Barbecues

Memorial Day is a day to appreciate the women and men that gave their lives to serve and protect us a no better way to celebrate than a parade in their honor and barbecue with family and friend.

Like always hope you found this informative and give you a way to enjoy your next family barbecue. For other ideas of what to serve click here.

Thank you


Comments or questions are always appreciated.






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  1. great article. my husband hates to bbq so if that happens at my house, its up to me… and I am just learning because I love bbq but I am new to it so dont really know how yet or have great ideas so that gave me some good ones….. love the ideas and the pics made me hungry so I better go fix dinner…..

    1. Thank you for the comments there are many other posts that could help you and give you ideas. If you ever have any questions please drop me a note.

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