I appreciate all the good ideas. Last winter I built a smoker out of a scrounged 9’x28" dia. pipe with 1/4" wall. Cut off 2′ for an offset smoke box. Nothing fancy compared to what you see at cook-offs but it works. The only local wood we have is mesquite unless somebody cuts down an old orchard, so we use it for all meats except fish.
I’ve never had much luck with dry rubs on brisket. I use a paste of undiluted concentrated orange juice, coarse ground red chili, onion and garlic flakes, black pepper and Lowery’s season salt. Glob it on the brisket and wrap tightly in plastic wrap overnight.
Having a smoker with lots of iron makes heat control much easier. Having a heat source in addition to wood would be great but I don’t.
I smoke a 10lb. brisket uncovered, fat side up for about 6 hrs. then double wrap it in heavy foil and let it cook for another 6 hrs. or so. Again fat side up. Isn’t it amazing how many friends you have when they see smoke on your patio?
My cookin’ buddy and I are fixing a dinner for 70 antelope hunters the middle of this month. Brisket, chili, slaw and red beans. Cooking for hunters is easy. By the time they get out of the field they are so damm hungry they will eat nearly anything….except Yankee food.
Saran plastic wrap can actually withstand heat as high as 265�(directly from the company). Many, many folks use it when competing and they love it. I have had it crinkle on me a few times so am a little gun shy. It doesn’t melt..it just hardens and crinkles. Also, be aware that ovens constantly cycle……up and down all the time. My oven when set at 250� will reach temps above 275� and go as low as 240�. It IS a rather inexpensive gasser, but all ovens do this from the reports I have heard.
I agree when using foil, you need to be careful! Any holes and you will need to re-wrap.
Thanks for sharing your technique!
I agree with the very first thing Stogie said…"there is no 1 perfect way to cook a brisket." The one thing I would add to the excellent advice he gave though is about foiling. I usually cook my brisket on a water smoker for 8 hours or so…I then wrap the meat in commercial plastic wrap available at most of the big box stores…Costco, Sam’s, etc. Foil will occasionally develop pin holes which will allow the juices to leak out. Commercial food wrap will withstand temperatures up to 225 degrees and will seal everything inside. Put the meat in an oven at 200 degrees for another three hours. This steams the meat and tenderizes it. Do all your cooking the day before you wish to serve the brisket so that the wrapped meat has time to rest in the refrigerator overnight. You’ll notice that a dark gelatin has formed on the outside of the meat. Scrape this off and add to your sauce along with any juices that may collect. Slice the meat cold. You may warm it in a 200 degree oven in a covered container or in your sauce. This same technique works well with pork ribs as well.
Well, now I know the difference between corned beef and pastrami!
Thanks, Stogie, for all the knowledge and experience you share. I’m a much better BBQ’er since following your advice.
Stogie: Your meats have the personality, taste and care that makes something extra special. My one observation with a Brisket Competition, was Won by a Vietmanesse French Chef, who just had to prove that it’s timing, attention and knowing the meat well to win. He selected 3 Briskets Packer cut from the Wholesaler. Then, showed me his sure way of winning. He Defatted and prepared his Briskets Flat and Proportional. Dry Rubbed them, Them covered them completely with a cover 3/4 inch thick of Suet Fat tied loosely to hold to Briskets. He smoked them at low temperature, turning meat about every 2 hours. when temperature was 150 degrees he removed from heat to rest, turning twice for one hour, then back to smoker. When Briskets were 175 Degrees he removed from smoke and took off the Suet that remained on meat. Brushed the surface with Glace de Villande on both sides, let stand 15 minutes, then Seasoned with his Spicy Barbque Sauce, raised the heat in the smoker so as to put a BARK on the meat, about 20/30 minutes each side and won first prize. This was in Las Vegas in a competion between local Chefs. I’m sure that the Butchering, Suet Fat and the Glace de Villande unstead of Beef Broth made the difference. Suet Fat is used all over Europe to control, moisturize and give flavor on Beef, Pork, Poultry and even Fish.
Not really many secrets are there??? LOL
The one "secret" I did learn, and it made a huge difference in my scores, was using about 1/2 cup of good strong beef broth poured over the meat before resting. You need to rest it in foil so the foil catches all the fats and juices from the brisket. Then, after resting for a couple of hours, using all that juice either by itself or mixing it in with your sauce.
The one thing I AM sworn to secrecy on…..excatly where and how to cut the best meat from the full brisket. Of course that is for competitions only so not really needed in the backyard.
Thanks again for the compliment!
wow stogie, you just gave a master’s course in brisketology. thanks! Are you sure you’re comfortable giving up all those secrets?
Stephen Rushmore Jr.
Great discussion! I long ago realized there is no 1 perfect way to cook a brisket.
Brisket is about the hardest meat to get exactly correct..at least when competing. The judging test is as follows……..slice a piece about 1/4-3/8" thick(NO thicker!). Then, hold between thumb and forefinger in each hand. At this point the meat must stay in one piece. Next, pull the meat apart by gently tugging it. It should separate with little effort. That is VERY hard to do!
There are so many ways to cook a brisket, but low and slow is where you must start. Most competitors will cook the entire brisket, many do NO trimming whatsoever to their Packer cuts. When finished cooking, they will cut very select pieces from the flat to turn in to the judges.
Now, I learned to cook brisket using the whole cut…flat and point. The point always takes longer to cook(twice as thick as the flat), so you will end up separating the flat and putting the point back on the smoker for another couple of hours.
Since those many years ago, I now separate the point from the flat BEFORE cooking and cook each piece separately. Nowadays, most of the time I buy only the flat, especially when catering. Sam’s carries them in Choice grades for a very good price and the entire fat cap is intact. Avoid the cheapies at Wally World as they will be Select grade.
Fat side up or down??? That is changing in the last 2 years. Used to be everybody did them fat side up. Now, most will flip them half way thru the cook. The theory is that they will simmer in their own fat when the fat side is down.
To trim or not? I have cooked brisket every which way including trimming ALL the fat cap and then using toothpicks to secure back in place. Why do this? There is NO spice on Earth that will penetrate a fat cap. So, I cut it off, season the meat and then replace it. Lots of work, but effective.
My most recent method is to leave the entire fat cap in place with NO seasoning on that side of the meat and then AFTER it reaches my internal temp and BEFORE I rest it, scrape that fat off and season that side. Then rest for about an hour or 2. Much easier and much more flavor.
If you decide to trim, you are walking a fine line between trimming too much and not enough. Your type of smoker will make a difference as well. Water units will NOT melt that fat cap..even just 1/4" of it. Whereas, the offsets will melt most of it away.
Timing? I have had briskets cook in as little as 45 min/lb. and take as long as 2 1/2 hrs/lb. The difference? THICKNESS. The weight is important for timing, but the thickness is the key. Briskets come in greatly different sizes, so you must pay attention to the thickness. Sorry, no general rules as to this, just experiment and take good notes.
Foil or not? Again, no 1 correct way to do this. In the early 90’s the winningest brisket cook foiled his briskets when they hit 165�, let them cook to about 188-190�, remove and let rest for 1 hour. Today, the best brisket cook does NO foiling, except at the end to let it rest.
Final temp? It has to be above 180�, but below 200�. Too low and it will still be tough, too high and you have yourself pot roast and it falls apart. No such thing as Rare, Medium or Well Done!
You should try and avoid using foil at the start of the cooking process. This will prevent any type of bark from forming and like other BBQ, the bark is where the flavor is most intensified. I like to layer my seasonings and always apply more rub after mopping.
Me personally, I have won with foil and without foil. The one common thread is near the end let it rest for at least 1 hour. Foil it, wrap in towels and place in a dry cooler. Be sure to KEEP the juices and add them to your sauce.
OK, here is my recipe. I took 3rd Place last year in Minnesota and placed in the Top 10 in other contests with this combo…….
Worcestershire sauce or A1 Sauce….I use Country Bob’s ,2,29663.015,1,12744,22.214.171.124
29677,29663,29663,2003-08-07 22:18:54,RE: Beef Brisket”
Excellent, OC! I’ll do that next time. I always boiled the corned beef and added the rest later, but I’ll bet the baked beef tastes better. Thanks!
This is only a little off topic, it is about brisket, but corned not fresh. While I love a good piece of corned beef, I hated to cook it. I had always done it by boiling with cabbage, potatoes & carrots. The veggies always came out great but the meat was always tough.[:(]Then I thought, my baked fresh briskets always come out tender & moist, why not cook my corned beef the same way. The brisket came out great & when I opened the foil I had wrapped it in, I had more than enough liquid to use to flavor the veggies! I now have corned beef whenever I can pick up a piece at a good price![:D]
VibrationGuy is 100% right. The slower done the better. Forget any temperature higher, then 225 will not be as effective. Keep the Fat Side up, as the juices from dripping fat, enhance the character. Both in the oven or smoker, may I recommend that you keep a pan, under the Brisket, partially filled with water, to catch the drippings, keep the moisture or smoke circulating, plus to make a great dipping sauce or enhance your favorite barbque sauce. After removing from the fire or oven, let meat rest on a board about 30 to 45 minutes to permit the meat to set. At that point it will be better then you imagined. The only difference in the meat is that most professionals allow the Briskets, before being boned and trimmed to "Packer Trim". They dry age the Whole Bone/in Plate, Brisket for 2 to 5 weeks, to allow natural enzyme action to improve flavor and expedite collegin breakdown.
I don’t worry about food poisoning in intact beef – it’s just too rare to bother worrying about. I try to keep my smoker temp at about 200-225, and I make sure the meat stays at 210 internal for one hour; that temp, in a moist environment, is where protein degrades into collagen, that lip-smackingly succulent gel of goodness.
If your smoker isn’t good at temperature control, you might smoke long enough to get a bit of flavor on it, then bundle everything up in a few layers of heavy-duty foil and pop it in the oven. Sad, but workable.
Keep the humidity up in the smoker, trim the fat cap to 1/4-1/8"(ideally the fat cap+the rub should form the crust without much white fat in between). Of course Low and slow and I slather mustard and then heavy handed with the black pepper on my rub, something about brisket that just cries out for black pepper. If you feel the need to cheat(ie using the oven after a few hrs in the smoker) I like to use a beer bath (maybe 1/2 beer in the bottom of the container and put the meat on a rack above it).
The best place for advice on the web is over at Ray Basso’s forum, those guys know their stuff.
Oh yea and start the brisket first it typically takes longer than shoulder, and much longer than ribs(of course it depends on size).
The way it is sliced is a major contributor to wether it is tender or not. I always found it hard to tell the grain once it was cooked, easy on the raw piece but often hard to find once done. then somewhere (wish I could credit where) I heard the tip to cut into the meat about 2 inches deep (yeah I know 2 in sounds like a big slash but remember this meat is going to shrink in cooking) on one end, cutting parallel to the grain, after it is cooked you have a built in guide so to speak to get you started, once you start cutting it’s easy to follow the grain as it turns.
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