Beef Brisket

Beef Brisket

Nothing says Texas BBQ like the big bad beef brisket. Done right, and the brisket is the most tender, juicy piece of cow you will ever taste. With a nice dark bark (or crust) and that unmistakable smoke ring, the brisket is a BBQ stable. There are countless opinions on how to cook the best brisket. From the simple dalmation (salt & pepper) rub to elaborate brines and marinades, debates have been going on for ages and will do for the best way to smoke brisket. I have broken down my recipe for what I believe is some of the best brisket around.

Picking a good brisket…

Brisket comes from the breast the animal similar to our pectoral muscle. It comes in many shapes and sizes but one things for sure, they’re big. So unless you’re training for world’s fattest man or woman, invite a gang of people over.

There are 2 muscles that make up the brisket- the flat which is lean and juicy and the point which is a fatty muscle that rests on top of the flat. The top side  will have a layer of white fat and the bottom side which consists mostly of the flat will be lean. A whole brisket, commonly referred to as a Whole Packer will weight anywhere from 8-12 pounds. There are many recipes that just deal with the flat of the brisket but I

A look at the fatty top side.

will show you how to cook the whole packer.

Preparing the Brisket…

Trim away most of the fat from the top leaving about 1/4 inch on. Apply the mustard slather followed a heavy sprinkling of any BBQ rub – don’t be shy, this is a big cut of meat that can take liberal amounts of seasoning as opposed to more delicate meats such as ribs and chicken. I like to inject the meat with a

marinade such as Texas Beef Marinade to give it some extra flavor and help keep it moist. To do this you will need a heavy duty injection needle available at most supermarkets or cooking supply stores. All this can be done a day in advance.

The bottom side where you can see the flat and the point a lot better.

Settin up your smoker…

Set up your smoker or grill for indirect heat (see Cooking Process). Every smoker is different and performs better at different temperatures so cook at what your manufacturer suggests. But in general you want to aim for 230-250 Fahrenheit for the entire cooking process. The key here is to keep the temperature steady. Use the vents- close the lower ones of you’re running hot and open them more if you’re running cold. I use apple, oak, and hickory but use what smoking woods are available to you (refer to Wood-e-ology). Throw a few handfuls of wood chips or about 4-5 wood chunks on the hot coals.

Smokin Time…

Throw it on fat side up for first half of the time, fat side down for the next quarter of the time, and fat side up again for the last quarter of the time. Begin spraying with apple juice every half hour or so after you flipped it for the first time. A whole brisket can take anywhere from 10-18 hours depending on the weather, temperature, and the meat itself. You will need to add more wood about every 1-2 hours or when you stop seeing smoke. Smoke is an ingredient just like anything else…too much smoke will make your food taste bitter. When in doubt DO NOT add more wood. When the temperature begins to drop simply add some more pre-lit charcoal using a charcoal chimney.

When is it done?…

Patience, patience, patience. You gotta cook it low and slow to about 185-195 Fahrenheit. When it’s tender it’s done. Stick a fork in it and if it goes in and comes out easily it’s done.

Slicing the brisket…

If you sliced your brisket correctly across the gain it should look something like this.

After pulling it off your smoker let it rest for at least 15 minutes. This gives the juices a chance to settle back into the meat (think of a sponge soaking up water…) You want to slice thinly (about 1/8 inch) across the grain. What do I mean by that? The brisket like any other muscles is made up of tiny fibers. You want to cut across the fibers severing them. There will be some pieces on the ends that are too narrow to slice. Chop them up, throw them back on the smoker for another hour or so and you’ve got some delicious burnt ends! Serve the brisket sliced in a sandwich or alone with sauce on the side.

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