Smoke Your Way to the Perfect Brisket
Screwing up brisket is easier than almost any other cut of meat. But brisket doesn’t have to end badly. It’s time to take of brisket – so that perfectly moist and delectable beefy goodness can take care of us.
Our founder, Andy Chapman, shares his advice to help you smoke your way to the perfect brisket.
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 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’ll admit, 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’re cooking a whole beef brisket, often referred to as a “packer.” It’s a big slab of meat and usually covered with a nice fatty cap. Here are my step-by-step preparation and cooking instructions for this particular piece of meat.
- Set the meat out on the counter 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, 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. So, for my method, use your knife to carefully trim the fat thickness down to about 1/4 inch across the board. To do this, you’ll slice with the knife blade parallel to the meat and trim the fat all the way around. Be careful. (And don’t start worrying about moisture on the meat. There will be plenty.)
- Next, it’s time to take on that chunk of tough fat in the middle of the brisket. This is a good time to brisket’s point and the flat if you like. That’s how I do it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look at your brisket. You’ll note that it’s like having two decks of cards stacked on top of each other, with some fat holding it together. So, to separate those two pieces, I’ll slice a bit and lift, following the natural contour of these two parts of the meat until I ultimately remove that point from the flat and end up with two separate pieces of meat. Channel your inner butcher and have fun with this. Doing this exercise allows me to both decrease cook time and optimize the amount of meat that will get touched by smoke and rub.
- Use June Bugg Rub Steak + Brisket to coat the brisket liberally, making sure all edges get covered. I’ve used lots of rubs, then I made my own that outperformed the others. I know it’s a shameless promotion, but y’all – if it works, it works. I’ve found it to be fool proof, and I have lots of other people who agree with me. 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 leaving you with both the perfect flavor to pair with the perfect texture this technique will achieve for you.
- Place your brisket on smoker grate at 225° for 4 to 5 hours. I smoke over Southeastern U.S. pecan wood chunks.
- When a mahogany color has developed, wrap the brisket in foil and leave it on the smoker. Alternately, you can take the easy way out and place the brisket in a pan, cover it tightly with foil and place it in your indoor 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 before slicing. 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 until it cools slightly. If you have juice remaining from an oven pan, pour a little bit over the brisket while it’s resting.
- Slice the brisket while it’s still slightly warm. It will hold together, but it’ll be as tender as warm butter. Please note: Follow the instructions. If you shortcut and your brisket is still steaming hot, it will tend to fall apart and lose a lot of moisture in the process.
Mission: Brisket Accomplished!
That’s how I take care of brisket to make a smoky, tender brisket that doesn’t fall apart when it’s sliced. Instead, it’s like warm red meat butter to the taste buds. Whether you enjoy your brisket 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.
Have More Questions about Smoking the Perfect Brisket?
Andy will be answering your questions on his #AskAndyC Facebook & Instagram Livecasts on the Eat Y’all Pages this summer weeknights at 7 pm CDT. Message us on Facebook to submit your questions ahead of time. Follow the pages at Eat Y’all on Facebook and Eat Y’all on Instagram.