How to cook brisket for dummies

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How to cook brisket for dummies

You didn’t do barbecue when you’ve never smoked brisket. It’s a challenging cut of meat to do right, but it’s certainly not impossible to smoke your first brisket with fantastic results.

Morrison used all my tips and tricks from the last couple of years and smoked its first brisket. When you follow his steps, your first brisket is going to be a success. Just know that if Morrison can do it, you can do it too.

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What to look for in a brisket?

You start, of course, with a whole packer brisket and the best you can find and afford. You have to search for a good amount of intramuscular fat that you can find as thin white lines in the meat. The more lines you see, the better quality the brisket.

If you’ve found a good quality brisket, trim as much fat as you can. Do this with a flexible thin knife to cut the fat off and leave the meat. You have to get rid of the fat so that the dry rub can stick to the meat, and the smoke can penetrate. Please don’t throw away the fat because you can use it as beef tallow or as extra fat in ground beef for your burgers.

How to give flavour to a brisket

A brisket gets its flavours from the smoke picked up while it’s in the smoker and the moisture you spray on during the cook. But more importantly, from the dry rub that you apply before it goes in the smoker. And making an excellent dry rub for brisket is very easy.

Make the dry rub by mixing 1 part salt, 1/2 part of round black pepper, 1/2 part of paprika powder, 1/4 part of onion powder and a 1/4 part of garlic powder. Put a light coating of mustard on the brisket and sprinkle an even layer of the dry rub on all sides of the meat.

Now you fire up your smoker to a temperature of about 140ºC (284F). It’s good to know where the hot spots of your smoker are. Every smoker is different. The thickest part of the brisket has to be on the side of the hottest part in your smoker. This way, the brisket will cook more evenly. Stick a thermometer in the brisket and close the lid. When you are serious about barbecue, you have to have a good digital thermometer.

What is a simple spray recipe for brisket

While the brisket is in the smoker, you can make the spray. As a base, we use beef broth. Take a spray bottle and pour in 350 ml of beef broth. If the broth is really thick, you have to use a sieve to make the liquid thinner. To the broth, we ad two shot glasses of bourbon. We finish the spray with a couple of teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce. This adds to the umami flavours of the spray.

After a couple of hours of smoking, you check if the dry rub has formed a bark that sticks firmly to the meat. If that’s the case, you can start spraying the brisket. The bark will not form if you start spraying too soon, and the dry rub will flow away with the spray. You spray every half an hour or when the bark turns dry. With the spray, you build extra bark and flavour.

When to wrap a brisket

When the meat reaches a core temperature of 70ºC (158F), it is time to wrap it. At this temperature, the famous stall begins. This means that the meat is sweating out moisture that evaporates on the surface. This causes the beef to cool down, so the core temperature stops rising. This can take hours.

When you wrap the brisket, the cooling stops, and the temperature continues to rise. You can use butchers paper and aluminium foil. Pitmasters typically use butchers paper because it leaves a better bark. But aluminium foil works good enough to avoid the stall.

Stick the thermometer through the foil and back in the meat and place the package back in the smoker. Let it sit until the brisket reaches a core temperature of 94ºC (201F). This is the temperature necessary to break down all the connective tissue in the meat, so the tough meat becomes amazingly tender.

What to do when a brisket is cooked

When the brisket has reached the desired temperature, you take it out but keep it wrapped for at least half an hour. This way, the brisket can cool down a little, and the moisture on the outside of the meat can redistribute back in.

As you unwrap the brisket, you have to make sure you save the liquids in the foil. This is pure gold and can keep the brisket juicy if you have to reheat the leftovers. You can also use the liquid to spice up beans, roast some potatoes, or starter for soups.

How to slice a brisket

When you start cutting into the brisket, it’s good to first cut it in half at the point where the brisket starts getting thicker. After that, you cut down the thicker part to the same size as the other part.

After this, you can cut the brisket into 1 cm thick slices. The thicker piece that was on top you can slice in cubes and make burnt ends with. Just put them back in the smoker with some bbq sauce and wait until the sauce starts to caramelize and becomes sticky.

When you did all of the above, I’m sure you will be as happy as Morrison and enjoy the best brisket you’ve ever smoked yourself, which is not too difficult because it was your first one, of course. There will be certainly some points to improve the next time, but that’s the fun of barbecue. You can always do better.

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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you click on them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. I link these articles because of their quality.

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