Let me start by saying that this is more of a guide than a hard and fast recipe. This is not baking, so precision is not required, and you can (should) safely explore and experiment.
I’ve taken a handful of recipes and “averaged” them together to come up with a process that has consistently produced a delicious (and easy) brisket. The recipes that I drew inspiration from are:
Here is my short and sweet version of all the stuff below:
- Score brisket
- Rub up to 2 days before
- Smoker set to 225º, soaked pecan chips, indirect
- Wrap in double foil at ~160º with the wrap sauce
- Wrap in towels and put in cooler at 205º
- Rest for hours
Brisket through the stages of cooking, and my homemade sauce
Get a brisket. Trimmed, portioned, whatever. If you get a whole brisket it’ll have a lot of fat on it. A lot. Trim that up a bit, or ask the butcher to. Score the meat while you have the knife out. Both sides. This gives even more surface area to absorb the rub and smoke.
Liberally apply your favorite rub somewhere between the night before and 2 days before the smoke. I don’t just sprinkle it daintily on mine. I coat it. Wrap it up and let it sit in the fridge If you don’t have a favorite rub, you can try the one that I use:
Texas Dry Rub (from Weber’s On The Grill app)
- 2 tb paprika
- 2 tb light brown sugar
- 1 tb pure chile powder
- 1 tb cracked black pepper
- 1 tb kosher salt
- 2 ts granulated garlic (garlic powder)
- 2 ts granulated onion (onion powder)
- 1 ts ground cumin
I don’t inject (or brine) my brisket. I actually don’t inject anything.
My equipment is a Big Green Egg, large in this case. I use indirect heat, lump charcoal, and a couple of big chunks of pecan (soaked). I like to try to maintain a 225º heat throughout the smoke. You probably don’t want to go above 250º for an extended period of time. Slow and low is the key.
Start in the morning. You don’t have to get up crazy early, though. It seems like it takes my Egg about 45 minutes to get settled in where I really like it when I’m going to do a long smoke. Take the meat out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter while the grill gets going. This is also when I soak the wood chunks.
Stick your meat thermometer in the meat – making sure it’s in the middle of the fattest part of your hunk of brisket. It’s also a good idea to monitor the temperature of the grill, and some thermometers have inputs for both.
Once you’ve got the grill stabilized and smoking, put the meat on. Fat side up or down. It doesn’t matter. Really.
The Meat Stalls
You’ll notice the meat temperature climbs pretty steadily and then stalls around 160º. There’s science going on that you should go read about, but the short of it is that you can cheat and win. I’ve seen this called the Texas Crutch, and I’m not too proud to use it. As someone online said, if you want to be a “purist” then go dig a pit.
- 2 tb (or so) brown sugar
- 2 tb (or so) chopped shallots
- 2 tb (or so) apple juice
I let my meat get to 170º, but somewhere in the 160º-170º range you can wrap the meat in heavy duty foil. A double layer is even better. Pour the crutch sauce in there. Make it as air tight as you can, while still letting the thermometer wire come out.
With the meat wrapped in a cozy foil cocoon it will go through the meat stalls much quicker, and also not dry out. You’ll also get a lot of really tasty juice, seasoned by the drippings from the brisket and the rub that you liberally applied.
I like to take my brisket up to 205º (or even a little higher at 207º). It may only take an hour or two to get there once you’ve wrapped it up. You can probably take it off anytime after 190º, but it will be ridiculously tender when you take it up to 205º.
Do Not Unwrap The Meat. Leave it in it’s double heavy duty foil wrap cocoon, and wrap it in a couple of layers of old towels. Stick it in a cooler, with the thermometer wire accessible. You’ll want to keep an eye on the temperature, and you’ll be surprised how warm it stays.
Let it rest for as long as you can possibly stand it. Hours. The meat will stay warm for a very long time. To put your mind at ease, you’ve got the thermometer still going. The USDA says the safe limit for raw or cooked food is 2 hours in the danger zone (40-140°). My briskets have stayed above 150º for up to 8 hours sitting wrapped up in a cooler. YMMV. You can always turn the oven on to it’s lowest setting (170º) and let it hang out in there.
You don’t use that high fructose corn syrup junk that you buy at the grocery store, do you? No. You’ve worked too hard to perfect your brisket to ruin it with crap BBQ sauce.
Here is a super easy sauce that you can make in a few minutes. I got this from a tri tip recipe in the Weber’s On The Grill app.
- 1/2 cup ketchup (you can get it with real sugar instead of HFCS)
- 2 tb white wine vinegar
- 2 tb water
- 1 tb Worcestershire sauce
- 1 ts molasses
- 1 ts soy sauce
- 1/2 ts chili powder
- 1/2 ts granulated garlic (garlic powder)
- 1/4 ts celery salt
Mix it all up in a small pot and let it simmer for a few minutes. The longer it simmers the more it’ll thicken up. I got a small squirt bottle on Amazon, and I always keep some sauce in my fridge.
Slice the brisket up. You can reserve the juice that it’s been sitting in as an additional sauce, or to put over the brisket in storage.
What did you think? What did you like, and what would you do different?