Listening to Jeff Schmidt talk about making brisket is like listening to a writer struggling to find the right word, or an artist obsessing over shades of color.
The pitmaster and owner of Waterbury’s Hindsight BBQ starts with quality meat. He only uses prime beef — the grade with the most marbling — never choice or select. He then trims the meat to enhance flavors during the slow-cook process. He gets to work at 4 a.m. to start the 12- to 14-hour, brisket-smoking process. During that long cook, there is so much that can go wrong and so many variables to consider, Schmidt says. “The weather is a factor,” he says. “If it’s raining or it’s sunny, or it’s hot, it’s cold, when the wind blows a certain way — when you’re cooking with live fire, they’re factors.