Over the years, I’ve mentioned my fondness for BBQ. And many have asked how I do it. So over the weekend, I brought my phone along as I smoked a brisket. Football season is almost here, so let’s get brushed up.
Picking the brisket
You want to get a whole brisket aka a “packer,” not just a brisket flat. It should not be corned or in a brine, as you’re not trying to make corned beef. Get the best quality that you can (I used prime, some competition cooks use Waygu).
Look for a uniform shape, if possible, and get one with an even fat cap, not one where it is very thick in some spots and bald in others.
For this smoke, I picked one at 15.96 pounds. That’s pretty big.
Trim the brisket
Cut off any sinew-y stuff, and trim the fat cap layer down to where there is a small, even amount throughout on the fat side. Aim for perhaps 1/4” to 1/2”.
I then salt it and wrap it in many layers of plastic wrap overnight.
Season the brisket
After taking the brisket out of the fridge, I then inject it with beef broth. I want to maximize the moisture level inside of the meat, because I cook hot and fast.
If cooking a brisket hot and fast (300-325), gotta maximize your moisture. Injecting with beef broth works. Try blending in onion powder! pic.twitter.com/3mLkzQ6OVv— Tomahawk Nation (@Tomahawknation) July 30, 2017
Then, it is time to rub.
I use a mixture of coarse ground pepper and kosher salt.
Grind the pepper. But try to keep it coarse. pic.twitter.com/VMg2M5WzJb— Tomahawk Nation (@Tomahawknation) July 30, 2017
Use a ton. Seriously, it will feel like too much, but it is not. A lot will fall off in the cooking process, and you want a good crust.
Rub the trimmed, injected brisket with combination of your cracked pepper and kosher salt (don't use table salt, granules are tiny). pic.twitter.com/EsxMZj6wuw— Tomahawk Nation (@Tomahawknation) July 30, 2017
Start with a clean grill
The idea that a grill needs to be super seasoned, and that old, caked-on crud helps the flavor of your meat is good is just false, just like creosote won’t flavor your food. If you have a smoker that does not double as a grill, this is still important.
Clean smoker is key. Creosote isn't tasty. pic.twitter.com/pkkisWBSCe— Tomahawk Nation (@Tomahawknation) July 30, 2017
Start the fire. I use a chimney starter to get a small amount of lump started up, and then pour that into the other coals.
Despite what is in the video below, it is actually smart to start the chimney starter from below, so the heat can rise. I obviously cannot hold up a call phone, chimney starter and a flame at once.
Dump the lump.
By now your starter should be hot. Carefully add it to rest of coals. Let it all heat up a bit. Then before adding meat, add smoking woods. pic.twitter.com/8mgEjudJZV— Tomahawk Nation (@Tomahawknation) July 30, 2017
Wait until the coals ash over, so that you have a nice even heat. At about 350* temperature, I add my smoking wood and, after waiting 10 minutes for the wood to get good, the brisket.
Put meat on when smoker is about 350. Large hunk of cold meat will bring the temperature of smoker down. Shoukd settle around 310. Adjust. pic.twitter.com/nq9LWUNwax— Tomahawk Nation (@Tomahawknation) July 30, 2017
Be prepared if it rains.
If it rains, grab wife's new beach umbrella (warning: you may catch hell for it). Keep an eye on it, don't let it catch fire. Rinse after. pic.twitter.com/MJ3XhBO2ek— Tomahawk Nation (@Tomahawknation) July 30, 2017
Don’t mess with it too much. Opening the dome or the door alters the temperature, and you want nice and steady heat around 310-325.
Once it hits 165* internal (check multiple spots), it is time to wrap.
After four hours, check internal temp in several spots. If it's 165, pull it and wrap in butcher paper (or foil). If not, wait then do it. pic.twitter.com/EJKo2jTAzs— Tomahawk Nation (@Tomahawknation) July 30, 2017
I use butcher paper to wrap, because it lets it breathe. But some use foil, and that is great, too. You want to retain moisture and protect the bark. Don’t wrap too tightly.
Place back on smoker in wrapped butcher paper. Check temp after two more hours, then every 30. Remove at 195-200 internal. pic.twitter.com/lbaUEtYCFu— Tomahawk Nation (@Tomahawknation) July 30, 2017
It should have a good bounce to it.
Jiggle test approved. 15.96 lbs, paper got a hole in it and lost moisture, yet still came out well. pic.twitter.com/8ej9AUI36R— Tomahawk Nation (@Tomahawknation) July 30, 2017
My butcher paper actually had a hole in it which caused about a pound to be dry, but it came out pretty nicely.
Slicing is key. You want to slice brisket against the grain, and remember that the point and the flat are two separate muscles, so against the grain might be one direction with the point, but another with the brisket.
You shouldn’t need sauce for it, but some people do like to save the juice from the cook and whip that into a sauce.
How do you do your brisket?