It’s easier to screw up a brisket than almost any other cut of meat.
It can be a challenge to bring the entire slab of meat to temperature without drying it out. The goal is to achieve a tender, smoky brisket that holds together when you slice it – but barely.
Brisket makes a tremendous addition to any holiday meal, any time of year. With enough meat resulting to feed a crowd, it’s a fan favorite for all ages, tastes and most dietary concerns.
I ruined more than a few briskets in my day before getting an edible result. Now, I’ve mastered the brisket cook – and I’ve developed an idiot-proof method that I’m happy to share with you.
How to Smoke the Perfect Brisket
For our purposes, we are cooking a whole brisket, often referred to as a “packer.” It’s a big slab of meat and usually covered with a nice fatty cap.
- Set the meat out for an hour or so and let it come down to room temperature. Rinse the slab with cool water and pat dry.
- Using a sharp – and I do mean SHARP knife – you’ll want to make the fat layer somewhat uniform. I trim off a good bit of fat. For my money, leaving two inches of fat on the meat doesn’t add anything to the flavor, but it does add to the cook time. Where you find ¾ inch or more of fat on the brisket, use your knife to carefully trim that thickness down to about ¼ inch even layer. Don’t start worrying about moisture on the meat. There will be plenty. Instead slice with the blade parallel to the brisket and trim the fat all the way around.
- Next take the chunk of tough fat in the middle of the brisket and trim it down. At this point you can separate the brisket’s point and the flat if you like. This is how we do it. On your brisket, you’ll not that it’s like having two decks of cards stacked on top of each other, with some fat holding it together. So I’ll slice and lift, following the contour of the meat and will remove that point from the flat altogether ending up with two separate pieces of meat. This allows me to both decrease cook time and increase amount of meat that has gotten smoke and rub.
- Use June Bugg Rub Steak + Brisket to coat the brisket liberally, making sure all edges get covered. The salt and black pepper in this rub will enhance the flavor of the meat exponentially and the spice mix will enhance and balance the smoke for the perfect flavor to pair with the perfect texture this technique will achieve for you.
- Place on smoker grate at 225° for 4 to 5 hours.
- When a mahogany color has been established, you can wrap in foil and leave the brisket on the smoker. Or you can take the easy way out and place the brisket in a pan, cover tightly with foil and place in oven at 210° for another 6 to 8 eight hours.
- If you take the oven route, I usually pull the brisket out and warm it back up on the grill with direct heat at 350° for about five minutes. This will enhance the bark on the outside and firm up the meat – in a good way.
- Once you’ve finished the cook, let the meat rest, so it can cool slightly. If you have juice from an oven pan, pour a little bit over the brisket while it’s resting.
- Slice when slightly warm. It will hold together, but be as tender as warm butter. Please note: if your brisket is still steaming hot, wait to cut it until steam isn’t actively leaving it. Your slices will hold together a little better with a cooler temperature for slicing.
Mission accomplished! Smoky, tender brisket that doesn’t fall apart when sliced – but is like warm red meat butter to the taste buds. Whether you enjoy as a meat entrée with holiday sides or as a sandwich for a holiday picnic, your brisket will be the hit of the party – and you’ll be the hero.