Hello and welcome to another edition of the smoking meat newsletter. Every once in a while it’s nice to go back to the basics and do something ordinary but wonderful.. smoked brisket.
But it’s also nice to try something a little new and for this edition, I am going to show you my hybrid method of smoking brisket low and slow to develop that nice smoke ring and give it plenty of time to get that nice and smoky flavor, followed by a high heat finish that will shave hours off of the process.
I must admit that I enjoy the long, slow process of cooking a brisket and when time allows, it’s one of my favorite ways to spend the day or even the night but, there are times when you need to get a brisket done a little faster than usual and it’s more about the task then just enjoying the moments.
In this article, I am going to show you how to literally remove hours out of the process without sacraficing quality, tenderness, juiciness or flavor.
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Smoked Brisket: Low and Slow Start with High Heat Finish
In this article, we are dealing with how to smoke a brisket in less time than it usually takes. Using the low and slow method it normally takes about 1.5 hours per pound however, I have found that for those times when you need to get it done fast, you can cook it low and slow for a few hours and then finish it on high heat to get it done in record time.
What You’ll Need
- 10-12 lb Packer cut brisket, Untrimmed
- Large foil pan
- 2 Tablespoons coarse black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons coarse kosher salt
- 15-oz bottle of Worcestershire
- 1 cup Apple Juice
- 1 batch of Jeff’s Rub (purchase recipe)
- 1 batch of Jeff’s Sauce (recipe included with rub recipe purchase above)
How to Prepare the Brisket
In times past, I have always smoked briskets low and slow and I have trimmed the fat cap on the brisket down to about 1/4 inch or so. On this one, I trim the fat from the meat side but I leave the fat cap side as is to help protect the meat from the higher heat it will endure in the cooking process.
Place the brisket fat cap side down on the cutting board or in a foil pan and use a sharp knife to remove any large areas of fat. You want the meat exposed to the smoke and you also want the rub to be actually touching the meat rather than the fat so take your time and do the best job you can do here.
Note: While you are trimming the meat side, take note of the grain direction and if you need to, cut a small corner from the brisket to indicate the cut across the grain. Grain direction will be hard to see once its finished cooking.
Once you are satisfied with the meat side, mix the 2 TBS of kosher salt and 2 TBS of coarse black pepper together and make sure it is well blended. I like to put this into a cheese shaker since it has large holes but you can use any empty spice container as long as it has fairly large holes.
Sprinkle a healty portion of the salt and pepper blend onto the meat side of the brisket.
Note: To allow maximum smoke penetration, we are using a light coat of salt and pepper rub at the start and once the brisket is about 2 hours from being finished, we will add on the wonderful flavor of my rub which will blend in very nicely with the salt and pepper for an amazing finish.
At this point, the brisket is ready to go on the smoker.
I highly recommend that you get the smoker going first thing and that way it is ready to go by the time you get the brisket ready.
Prepare the Smoker for Cooking
Follow the steps necessary for your smoker to bring it up to about 240°f which is where we will hold it for about the first 3 hours.
Once the smoker is ready and chugging along at 240°f, it is time to go get the brisket.
Here is some information on various smokers to help you get the best out of whatever smoker you are using:
All of these recipes are easy to do in ANY smoker. Here’s some information that I have written on various smokers.
- Bradley 4-Rack Digital Smoker – An electric smoker that is fully automated and keeps the temperature where you set it. It also keeps the smoke flowing via an automated mechanism that moves a new wood puck into the smoker every 20 minutes. See this smoker and read reviews on Amazon.com
- Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5 Smoker – the king of charcoal water smokers. Add charcoal, water and wood and you’re good to go for several hours. 3 dampers on the fire bowl allow you to dial in the air perfectly for maintaining perfect smoking temperatures. See this smoker and read reviews on Amazon.com
- Big Green Egg – Ceramic cooker that uses charcoal. Add lump charcoal, light it and add some wood.. set the top and bottom vent and you’re good to go for hours on end due to the thick walls that hold heat incredibly well.
- Great Outdoors Smoky Mountain Propane Smoker – A propane smoker that works exceptionally well. I have had mine for more than 8 years and it still works great. See this smoker and read reviews on Amazon.com
- More smokers on the way..
Note: In colder weather, it is advisable to preheat the smoker at least an hour or more before you are wanting to use it. Keep the door closed as much as possible and even skip basting if necessary to maintain proper smoking temperatures.
Smoking the Brisket
Place the brisket directly on the grate and let it smoke cook until it reaches about 160 degrees. You are probably looking at about 3 hours.
At about the 2 hour mark, I insert a digital probe meat thermometer into the brisket so I will know when it has reached temperature. I use a Maverick ET-732 which is a dual probe remote thermometer with the sending unit at the smoker and the reciever in my pocket. This way, I can go about what I need to do and I always know the temperature of my smoker and the meat.
Here is how the probe should be inserted into the brisket
Once the brisket reaches about 155-160 degrees, you will want to get the pan ready to hold the brisket.
Place the brisket down into the pan with the liquid, fat cap side down.
~This is where you add my rub~
Sprinkle rub all over the top and sides of the brisket.. be generous with it.
Cover the pan with foil to hold in all that goodness.
At this point, you will want to ramp the heat up on the smoker to about 325-350 degrees. I was easily able to do this in the Meadow Creek TS120P but your smoker, depending on what you have and how cold it is outside, may not be able to cook this hot.
Note: It is not a disgrace to use the home oven or even the grill if you need to in order to reach the high temperatures required to get this brisket done in record time.
Remember that THIS particular brisket is about learning how to get it done quick. It’s not about sticking to what you have always done or even about staying with the tradition of low and slow. Do what you have to do to get the brisket into 325-350 degree heat.
Within 2 hours, my 10 lb brisket was reading 195 degrees in the center of the flat. If your brisket is larger, it may take slightly longer.
Once the brisket reached 195 degrees, I checked it for tenderness by inserting a toothpick into the meat and found that it was not as tender as I liked so I left it in the smoker but I let the heat die down a little to about 250 degrees. I checked it every 30 minutes or so and at the end of 2 additional hours it was finally as tender as I liked.
At this point, you can let it rest for 30 minutes and then serve it immediately.
How to Tenderize Further
If you have the time and want to let it tenderize further for a while then follow these steps:
- Wrap the brisket in foil
- Wrap the foiled brisket in (2) thick towels
- Place the wrapped brisket down into an empty ice chest
- Fill in remaining space with towels, pillows, blankets, etc.
- Close the lid tightly
The brisket will stay hot for several hours and will continue to tenderize while it waits.
How to Serve the Brisket
Slice the brisket across the grain into about 1/4 inch pieces. Serve with some of my warm barbecue sauce (order the recipe) on the side for the folks who want it.
This 10 lb brisket took 7 hours to finish which is less than 45 minutes per pound total. This just goes to prove that you can definitely do brisket in a hurry when the need arises.
Will I start doing all of my briskets using this method?
I dont’ think so.
I thoroughly enjoy the low and slow, laid back smoking process but it does give me options if I need them.
- Trim fat from meat side of brisket
- Apply salt/pepper rub to meat side
- Smoke brisket (fat cap down) directly on grate at 240 degrees until 160 degrees or about 3 hours
- Place brisket fat cap down in pan with marinade
- Apply my rub to top and sides of brisket and cover with foil
- Cook at 325-350 until brisket reaches 195 degrees
- Check for tenderness with toothpick (should go in easily)
- Cook longer if neccessary (check every 30 minutes or so until tender as desired)
- Let rest for 30 minutes then slice and serve
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Love the sauce and rubLove the sauce and rub recipes. So far I have used them on beef ribs, pork ribs, and different chicken parts. Can't wait to do a beef brisket. Texas rub is great as well! ~Peter S.
I tried the rub on a beef..I tried the rub on a beef brisket and some beef ribs the other day and our entire family enjoyed it tremendously. I also made a batch of the barbeque sauce that we used on the brisket as well as some chicken. We all agreed it was the best sauce we have had in a while. ~Darwyn B.
You see the raving testimonies and you wonder, "Can the recipes really be that good?"Love the original rib rubLove the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future! ~Michelle M.
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Great Resources for Smoking Meat Enthusiasts
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- Smoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue (my book)
- Smoking-Meat.com Facebook Page (24,734 Likes)
- Follow Jeff on Twitter
- Newsletter Archive (All of our past newsletters archived just for you)
- The Smoking Meat Store (Smokers, smoking gadgets, thermometers, etc.)
- StoryQue: A Barbecue Magazine for iPad (Now available in PDF)
- The Smoking Meat Forums