Smoked Brisket

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Thankfully the weather is getting nicer. We learned the hard way (at a BBQ rib competition BTW) that cold blustery unforgiving weather plays HAVOC on a smoker. The ribs turned out great – our sanity on attempting to make the ribs turn out great was pushed to the breaking point. However we are like the USPS of BBQ. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night, neither typhoon nor hail storm nor hellfire and brimstone stays these BBQ pit masters from their calling of the perfect BBQ!

But what I am really trying to say is OMG SPRING IS FINALLY HERE!!! Finally BBQ and BEER time. Time to relax when the smoker is going with our faces pointed to the sun enjoying the sweet breeze. It is perfect BBQ weather now and here is yet another perfect BBQ recipe to make your friends throw money at you.


Smoked BBQ Brisket

The first step in making a brisket is choosing the proper brisket. We normally gravitate to flats (about 10-12 pounds is the norm) for this since they are more readily available and usually there is minimal to no trimming required. The other option you will normally see in your butcher’s cabinet is full untrimmed briskets. These require a little bit more work and we will detail those in an upcoming brisket post when we go through a full competition style brisket cook.

Once you have your brisket flat you will notice one side is covered with fat. The only trimming we usually do on these is trimming the fat cap down to 1/4 inch even thickness. Not the end of the world if you skip this step but for us there is something therapeutic about sitting around and ripping chunks of fat off of the meat.

The one trick we have learned over the years is brisket is best cut against the grain. This can be difficult to figure out when the brisket is cooked with the rub so in the corner we chop off a small section, cutting against the grain. This makes it so when we are ready to slice into the smoked brisket goodness, we can quickly glance and know exactly where we need to start slicing.

After you have trimmed up the fat and cut the corner, give the brisket a good rub down with Worcestershire sauce and then cover generously with the rub. Oh you did make sure to bring your smoker up to 225° right?

The rub we use is as follows:

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After the smoker has stabilized at 225° we throw it on the smoker grate, fat side down. This is the first major debate people will get into is fat up or down and there is no right or wrong answer. Personally I like fat cap down because the fat cap will act as a heat insulator. My suggestion is try both and see which way you like better.

After the brisket is on the smoker, it is time to do my favorite part of BBQ which is open a beer (or soda if you prefer), sit around, and do absolutely nothing but make sure the smoker maintains 225°.

Once the brisket hits 160° internal comes the second greatest debate in brisket and that is to foil or not foil.

If you foil you can expect a faster cook time; at the expense of a mushier crust. If you do not foil you can expect slower cook time but a crunchy crust. Personally I like my briskets not foiled.

Once the brisket hit 195° to 200° –  go ahead and pull it off the smoker.

If your guests are staring at you salivating the best option is let is rest for 20 minutes (if you foiled remove it from the foil so it does not over cook), slice against the grain (use your cut corner as a guide), serve and enjoy the pats on the back and the raising of glasses and the wadded up 20 dollar bills being thrown at you from your friends..

If your guests are still a couple hours away fear not,  brisket holds very well. If you foiled the brisket open up the foil pouch and vent for 10 minutes (this will prevent carryover heat from overcooking your brisket), wrap back in foil, and shove in a cooler. If you did not foil then wrap it in foil and shove in a cooler. It will stay warm in the cooler for a couple hours without a problem.

As a time guide you can expect:

Foil: 1 to 1.5 hours per lb
No foil: 1.5 to 2 hours per lb

Smoked BBQ Brisket


Meet Jeff & Heather. The dysfunctional duo that make up the cooking team of He Cooks She Cooks. They have a weakness for feel good, down to earth, amazingly tasty eats that almost always include the addition of beer. From growing their own tomatoes to brewing their own beer, they like to cook from scratch as much as possible. When they aren't feeding their friends they are geeks of the computer kind. They share their home with Bacon the lovebird, the insane kitten duo of Voodoo & Hops, and a motley bunch of friends who won't stop drinking all their good beer. They know what's important. Love. Food. Beer.
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