Notes on Brisket
I mostly do brisket the way I do pulled pork, though I don’t pull it in
the end as I prefer serving it sliced. I have tried, just as for pulled pork,
to balance getting great taste with not having to babysit coals.
My steps are:
- Buy a brisket with a good fat crown. It’s useless to
attempt to smoke a brisket without fat.
- Marinate the brisket over night. Do not brine.
(Why not brine?)
- Rub the brisket and keep it refrigerated with the rub
until time to smoke.
- Smoke for as many hours as you can in a smoker with water
under the best, possible conditions (see my
pulled pork recipe and my
- Remove and, if you choose to finish it in the oven or in a
crock pot, finish according to the pulled pork recipe. Do not add barbecue
sauce, but do add a little bit of meat stock to keep it from drying out.
- Slice brisket thinly and across the grain.
Another method is:
- Prepare brisket by applying rub and refrigerating.
- Place hickory wood chips in an aluminum foil packet with
holes punched in. Set the pack on the coals to one side of the grill and
put the meat to the other, colder side. Leave for a couple of hours.
- Wrap brisket tightly with aluminum foil, place in pan or on
cookie sheet in 300° oven for about 3½ hours. You want the meat
to reach 200°, but you don’t want to be poking it with the
thermometer probe or it will lose juices.
- Let brisket rest 30 minutes, then carve by cutting very
thin slices against the grain.
The smoke ring...
The pink ring inside smoked cuts of meat is called the “smoke
ring.” In fact it’s the area where, because of the smoke, complex
chemical processes have taken place similar to those that produce nitrates
inside meats treated for preservation.
Technique for smoking in a small grill...
The difficulty of smoking in a store-bought gas or charcoal grill leads to
dried out, under-cooked, tough meat. This can be overcome by the following
method according to some research I’ve done:
- Prepare the brisket according to the foregoing discussion.
- Prepare grill by loading a quart or two of hot briquettes
(or coals) on another two or three quarts of cold ones. This will give
heat (you’re looking for about 300°) for a long time burning
down into the unlit coals and starting them as they become needed. This
stretches out the cooking time.
- Bank the coals to one side of the unit, the meat to the
other. You might cover the side of the meat facing the coals to keep it
from drying out too much.
- You may find that about 3 hours into cooking, you need to
add another quart of hot coals very quickly—not giving the unit
time to lose all its heat.
- You may find you can get the brisket up to an internal
temperature of 195° and allow it to rest on a plate for half an hour.
Or, you may find your meat still drying out and opt to follow what I do.