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If I had a dollar for every person who has told me they are intimidated by brisket then I would be quite well off and while I do have to admit that tender smoked brisket is definitely something that requires some knowledge, skill, and a little practice to get the hang of, don't let it intimidate you into not trying it.
As everyone knows, there are no rules when it comes to barbecue and smoking meat. There are many methods that folks use to end up with the results that they like.
I have mostly smoked briskets at around 225-240°F and even done them on high heat a few times to get them done fast but over the last few weeks, I have received a few emails implying that the best way to cook brisket is to turn down the heat to around 200 degrees and to use foil to end up with a tender juicy brisket that would make a Texan proud.
I did not follow the prescribed method without making a few changes but I did slow things way down, used an injection to add a lot of juice to the equation and I allowed it to rest for a full 2 hours.
This 16 lb brisket literally fell apart and was very moist and juicy. It was so tender that I wasn't even able to make burnt ends out of the point!
Only follow this method to the letter if you are tired of tough, not-all-that-good, brisket!
- Untrimmed packer brisket
- 32 oz beef broth (I use low sodium with no MSG)
- Large foil pan
- Heavy duty foil
- Jeff's original rub
I don't inject every brisket that I cook but I figure it can't hurt anything and since we are aiming for the juiciest and most tender smoked brisket known to man, let's just do it!
I usually place the 3 tablespoons of ground rub into a pint jar then fill it the rest of the way with beef broth. Stir often while using to keep it mixed up.
Place the brisket fat side down in a foil pan to catch the juice that runs off.
Fill the meat injector with the injection marinade and inject the marinade into the brisket about every 2 inches or so in a grid pattern.
Some people will tell you how many ounces to inject but my method is to inject in each spot until it squirts out then move to the next one. I do recommend that you wear an apron and perhaps a face mask as it can get messy.
Push the injector into the meat at an angle (45 degrees or so) and depress the plunger as you slowly pull the injector out.
If the plunger won't push in then you have a clog and you'll need to clear it before moving on. This should not be a problem if you grind the rub really fine.
When you are finished injecting the brisket it is time to season the outside of the brisket generously with my original rub .
In times past, I have recommended placing rub on the top, bottom and sides of the brisket and even scoring the fat so the rub can get down to the meat but on this one, I will just season the top side (meat only side) since it will be sitting in juices and the rub would just wash off of the bottom and sides.
The top of the brisket will be wet from the injection marinade and so I don't think it's necessary to add mustard to help the rub to stick. Feel free to do this if you like but I chose to skip that step.
After about 10 minutes, the rub will start to get a wet look as it absorbs the juices on the outside of the brisket.
I say this often but it bears repeating and especially for those who are new to the newsletter and smoking:
You can use ANY smoker for my smoking instructions whether it is electric, gas, charcoal or wood.
A smoker, in its' most basic form, is simply a heat source with wood smoke. I use all kinds and I get very good results regardless of the heat source and so can you.
If someone ever tells you that you are not really smoking meat properly unless you are using a stick burner (an all wood smoker) then realize that you have just met a smoker snob and they will probably be of no use to you in your learning.
There will always be those who feel that it has to be their way or no way and this just simply isn't true when it comes to smoking meat.
You can carry your kitchen oven out to the yard, place some wood chips over the heating element or the burner and you will have a smoker. Your spouse or house mates may not appreciate it but you get my point;-)
As long as you maintain a proper heat and there is wood smoke, you CAN smoke meat and make it taste really good!
Whatever smoker you happen to have must be setup for smoking low and slow. In this set of brisket instructions, I recommend maintaining around 200 degrees and using oak wood if you have it.
If you do not have oak and can't find it, any good robust hardwood fit for smoking will work such as hickory, mesquite, pecan or even fruit woods like cherry or apple.
Also, if your smoker will not maintain a heat as low as 200 degrees then you will have to just cook it as low as you can. The recipe will work but it will probably get done faster than mine did.
Once your smoker is maintaining 200 degrees, you are ready to place the brisket in the smoker.
Place the brisket directly on the smoker grate with the fat side down.
Maintain 200°F throughout and keep the smoke going for at least 6 hours if you are not using a stick burner.
If you have a water pan, use it.
If your smoker does not have a water pan, you can either not worry about it or you can place a metal pan of water next to the area where the heat enters the smoke chamber or on a lower grate over the heat.
Leave the brisket alone and keep the door/lid closed as much as possible during the cooking time so as to not lose any heat and further prolong the cooking time.
Once the brisket has cooked for about 6-8 hours, put about 1 cup of beef broth and a few tablespoons of my original rub in a foil pan.
Place the brisket fat side down in the pan and cover it with foil to allow it to continue cooking while the steam inside the pan tenderizes it.
If you have a digital probe meat thermometer, be sure to place it in the brisket just before you cover it with foil so you can know what's going on in the pan temperature wise.
If you do not have a digital probe meat thermometer then you are really missing out on a tool that will change the way you cook. If you can swing it, get a remote version such as the Smoke so you can carry the receiver with you around the yard and even into the house and you can do other equally important things and still know what is going on in the smoker.
2 great tools for the serious smokers!
The brisket is done and only done when it reaches 195-200°F. With large cuts like brisket, the “safe-to-eat” temperature is not the same as the finish temperature. It is safe to eat early on in the game but it will be as tough as shoe leather unless you let it reach that 195-200°F mark in temperature.
We use 1.5 hours per pound to estimate how long it will take but that is as far as we go with time.
Once the cooking begins, it is all about the temperature.
Once the brisket reaches 195°F, poke it with a toothpick or other thin, sharp object of a similar size and it should have little to no resistance. If it does, let it cook another 30 minutes and check it again. Repeat if necessary.
Once it is finished cooking, it is time to let it rest and finish tenderizing.
This is a very important step in my opinion. Take an empty ice chest and line the bottom with heavy duty foil.
Place the smoked brisket into the cooler and and fold the foil down onto and around the brisket. Place another piece of foil over the top of the brisket to cover it.
Place thick towels into the cooler to fill in any remaining space and close the lid.
Let the brisket rest in this configuration for about 2 hours.
Saving the Juice is Optional but Recommended
I like to save the juice, defat it and then use it to juice the meat back up when reheating the brisket but that is entirely up to you.
Pour the juices into a quart jar and notice how the fats float to the top.
Place the jar in the fridge and once the fat at the top goes solid, it can be scooped out and discarded leaving you with wonderfully tasty brisket juice.
Once the smoked brisket is finished resting, carefully remove it from the cooler and place it on the cutting board or countertop. Be very careful or it may try to fall apart on you like mine did.
You will notice that part of the brisket is more flat and meatier (the flat) while the other side is much larger and contains more fat (the point).
I like to just start slicing the flat across the grain until I get about half way to the other side. The fattier side is usually made into burnt ends rather than slicing.
Cut the flat into thick slices across the grain using a very sharp knife. As you can see, this was so tender, slicing it was all but impossible and much of it fell apart and become pulled brisket rather than sliced brisket.
Serve the brisket with some of my original barbecue sauce on the side and enjoy!!
I hope you have enjoyed these instructions on how to create an amazingly tender smoked brisket and I sincerely believe that if you will forget about the time and just follow these instructions to the letter, you will amaze yourself and your friends at how easy it is to turn out the best smoked brisket you have ever tasted.