Hello friends and welcome to this special smoked beef brisket holiday edition of the smoking meat newsletter. A couple of times each year I produce a special newsletter in commemoration of a holiday or other unique event or to give added information in the event of a barrage of like-minded questions or comments.
As such, I have had a larger than normal amount of questions from folks wanting to smoke a brisket for the first time this 4th of July and I thought it might be prudent of me to try and give a few tips on smoking some holiday fare. I think I outdid myself with this one but I'll let you make that decision;-)
It is my wish that all of you have a wonderful holiday with family and friends and that you send them away knowing that you are king or queen of the smoke pit;-)
So here we go!
Brisket Smoking Tips
First off, let me say that beef brisket is the most feared meat to smoke but in reality it is not nearly as difficult as most people think. The trick to brisket is simply allowing it to cook/smoke for however long it takes to reach an internal temperature of about 190-200 degrees F.
The key is LOW and SLOW and PATIENCE. Don't rush it.
Keep the temperature of the smoker as close to 225 degrees F as possible and prepare to allow at least 1.5 hours per pound if not a little more.
**My personal formula is 1.6 hours per pound + 2 hours
This means a 10 pound brisket will be placed in the smoker 16 hours + 2 hours before I am wanting to serve the brisket.
That is 18 hours prior to meal time.
On the grate or in a pan?
I like to sit a brisket down in a deep aluminum pan, the throw-away kind. I have discovered that the brisket gets just as much effect from the smoke this way as it does sitting directly on the grate. There are some advantages to this method as well as a very small disadvantage:
The advantage is that it keeps the smoker clean and you get to catch all of those tasty drippings. It also allows easy transport from the smoker into the kitchen when it is finished. The only disadvantage is that this will prevent a crust or bark from forming on the outside of the brisket.
The ultimate decision is yours but I have noticed that the pan method creates a much juicier beef brisket due to it sitting in it's own juices for so long.
Brisket gets done early?
If the brisket happens to get done early then I simply place the brisket in a foil pan covered tightly with heavy duty foil and wrapped in a couple of thick towels. I then place the whole pan down in an empty ice chest. I fill in any empty space with small throw pillows or a blanket and it will stay above 140 degrees for up to 4 hours and will not dry out.
Brisket appears to be dry?
If you are able to catch some of the juices from the brisket while it cooks then you can pour this over the brisket after it is sliced, pulled or chopped. If not, you can simply use beef broth to make it a little juicier. Feel free to mix some brisket dripping in with some beef broth to make a very flavorful liquid to juice up the brisket a little.
Need to reheat the brisket?
I recommend slicing or pulling a beef brisket about 30 minutes after it is finished cooking/smoking. If you need to reheat the brisket, Pour some beef broth and/or brisket drippings that you have saved over the meat. Place in the oven on low heat (250-275) and allow to heat until it has reached the desired eating temperature.
The time required will vary depending on the size of the pan, the amount of meat in the pan, etc.
How to pick out a perfect brisket?
I don't know if there is a perfect brisket but I have been using a method for many years that seems to work well for me. When you are in the store, if the briskets are wrapped in plastic only then you can lay the brisket across the side of your hand and watch for the maximum amount of bend. More bend tells me that the brisket is more tender. Less bend.. well you get the idea.
Someone recently wrote to let me know that the briskets in their area were in Styrofoam trays. This prevents the bending trick so you will have to rely on the low and slow to get that brisket tender.
Maintaining temperature in the smoker?
This is a question that I get a lot and unfortunately there are so many varieties of smokers that no single method works for all of them. My most important piece of advice is to get a lawn chair and something cold to drink. Park the smoker in the shadiest place you can find and prepare to stay right with it the entire time.
For the electric and propane versions, this may not be as much of an issue. Just make sure you have a full bottle of propane. I get about 30 hours out of a full bottle of propane in mine but that will certainly vary a little from smoker to smoker.
For the charcoal/wood burning varieties, make sure you have plenty of charcoal and/or wood on hand to keep the fire going for 18-20 hours. There is nothing worse than running out of charcoal in the middle of a smoke. Buy more than you think you need and if you have some left over then it can be used at a later time.
I don't really like to do this but in a bad situation.. i.e. the fire goes out, you run out of charcoal, etc. it is not unthinkable to take it into the house and place it in the oven at 225 degrees F.
This is not a bad option especially if it is received 4-6 hours of smoke already. The electric heat will not mess up the flavor of the brisket and it will turn out alright in the end.
I have done this on occasion and I did not advertise it when I served the meat.. no one guessed it and you could not taste a difference in flavor.
Multiple pieces of meat?
Easy answer.. one brisket or three does not matter. The heat is working on all of the briskets at the same time. If they are all about the same size then they will most likely get done in about the same amount of time. Otherwise the big ones will require more time than the smaller ones. To get them done together, place the larger brisket(s) into the smoker before the smaller brisket(s).
If you want to smoke chicken, ribs and a beef brisket for example.. you would figure the time on all three and place them in the smoker so that they get done together.
Meal time minus required cook time equals start time.
Whole chicken requires about 3.5 to 4 hours to complete, Ribs require 5-7 hours to complete depending on size/variety, our brisket example above requires 18 hours to complete.
So, for a 12:00 noon meal the next day I would place the brisket in the smoker at 6:00 PM. The ribs would go in at around 5:00 AM in the morning of the meal and the chicken would go on a few hours later at around 8:00 AM.
This gets everything done at about the same time.
This should be first on the list but I am putting it last.. it is not the MOST important but it is important. Always look for a brisket that has a nice thick fat cap. The fat is where the flavor is and as the fat melts it self-bastes and keeps the meat from drying out.
I like to score the fat cap at one inch intervals in a cross hatch pattern. This allows the smoke to get to the top of the brisket meat and also allows the fat to sit in pockets instead of just running off as it melts.
Rub the brisket down with a good rub.. I use my very own rib rub which works wonders on a brisket and adds a ton of flavor.
Coat the brisket with a thin layer of prepared yellow mustard then pour on the rub and massage it in with your hands.
The mustard helps the rubs to stick to the meat. The mustard loses it's mustard flavor during the long cooking process.
Serving the brisket?
Once the brisket is finished cooking/smoking you will want to wait about 30 minutes or so before cutting or piercing it in any way. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
You will notice that the brisket is quite a bit smaller when it is finished.. I have noticed that the size decreases by as much as 50% in some cases.
The brisket is made of two layers and is separated by a layer of fat. Find a long, sharp knife and run the blade through the layers to separate them. This will allow you to remove the fat layer and any other fat pockets before slicing or pulling the meat for serving.
At this point you can pull, chop or slice the brisket.
To slice you will normally want to slice against the grain. Cut off the tip of the brisket to see which way the grain runs and slice across it.
This makes the brisket able to be cut with a fork in most cases. If the brisket is extremely tender you may need to slice it thick to help it hold together. If it is not as tender then you can slice it a little thinner to make it seem more tender.
What is the best wood to use for beef brisket?
My favorite wood is completely subjective but right now I prefer pecan to almost any other wood for brisket. I also love to use mesquite as well as oak, apple and hickory.
Woods can be mixed together to make your own unique combinations.
To get an idea of the smell/flavor of any wood just use a lighter to heat up the end of a stick or log and cause it to smoke. If you like the smell then you will generally also enjoy the flavor.
The Perfect Rub and Barbecue Sauce for the Beef Brisket
If you want to buy the store variety then by all means do so but if you want to wow your family this holiday season with the best rub and sauce you have ever tasted then you can do that with my very own rub and sauce.
I offer the recipes that allow you to make this right in your own kitchen and you will find the kids as well as other family members trying to sneak bites of it right out of the pan!
It is that good!
Here is a few emails I just received from some very happy customers:
I purchased your rub and sauce recipe a month ago. I have tried almost every brand on the market, nothing comes close to this! It is good on anything. I can't keep from eating it while it is simmering on the stove!
DANG SIR. I'VE BEEN COOKING FOR YEARS. MAINLY COWBOY COOKING AND HUNTING CAMP COOKING. BUT I KNEEL TO THE GOD.YOUR STUFF IS THE BEST. THANK YOU.
Thank you very much, I love the sauce very much, even told my kids that it'll be used in all my bbq's.
Jeff just wanted to say thanks….I made 4 slabs of baby backs today with the rub recipe and they were to “DIE FOR” I never even added a drop of sauce to them they were that good.. One of these days I'll make the sauce recipe and I could only guess that it to will be just as good …… Thanks Again for all the tips of the trade
You deserve the very best and is is completely within your grasp! Only $18.95 and worth every penny.
Note: If you do not receive a download email within minutes of ordering, please shoot me an email letting me know and I will send the file to you as an attachment in an email.
Some Other Helpful Links
Smoking Ribs – /smoking-ribs
3-2-1 Ribs – /smoked-rib-recipe
Smoking Chicken – /smoking-chicken
Smoking Meatloaf – /meat-loaf-recipe
Smoked Pork Shoulder – /pork-shoulder-recipe