Smoking a beef brisket can be a little intimidating for new cooks so we wanted to give you the basics so the next time you throw down on a beef brisket you will have the confidence to make this badass hunk of bovine.
Texas style brisket is very simple seasonings heavy on the black pepper and kosher salt. No sugars or other seasoning that might burn over the long cook giving the meat a bitter flavor.
Texas brisket takes time and patience but overall is a very simple process.
What to look for when buying a Beef Brisket?
When choosing a brisket look for good marbling and a bright red colored meat. Try to look for any gashes or punctures that the butcher might have made and avoid those.
I recommend buying a packer or whole brisket which means that the brisket has both the flat and point muscles attached.
This will give you the best value for your dollar and is more forgiving than cooking a lean brisket flat.
A good packer brisket should weigh somewhere in the 10-15 pound range. You may find bigger briskets but I try not to go below 10 pounds to account for trimming loss.
Trimming the Brisket
When it comes to trimming the brisket less is more. Trim off any big hunks of hard white fat that won't render down during the cook. Look for any pieces of fat that are hanging off and remove them.
The goal when trimming is to make the brisket aerodynamic without removing anymore then you need to. The fat scrapes can be used to make beef tallow or burger grind so don't throw those trimmings away.
Seasoning the Brisket
Because Brisket is a big thick cut don't be afraid to season it. You want a nice even coat of seasoning so every bite of the brisket is well seasoned and develops a good bark.
You can lightly rub the brisket with any oil you prefer to help the seasoning adhere to the meat. Then evenly season the entire brisket making sure to get the corners and sides.
This is a basic Texas Dry Rub Recipe that you can make or you can buy your favorite rub online if you prefer.
Texas Brisket Rub:
3 tbsp Coarse Black Pepper (16 mesh)
3 tbsp Kosher Salt
2 tsp Granulated Onion
2 Tsp Granulated Garlic
Add your ingredients to a jar and shake well to combine.
Smoking Beef Brisket
Opinions will vary on this process so feel free to experiment but this method has worked for me time and time again so I feel confident in sharing with you.
Set your pellet Smoker to 225 degrees F. Place the brisket fat cap side down with the point or the thickest part of the brisket closest to the heat source.
Having the brisket fat side down protects the meat from the heat source and renders the fat much better. Contrary to bbq folklore, fat cannot physically penetrate into the muscle meat to keep it moist. Fat can only baste and protect the muscle meat.
I like to place my brisket on right before bed and monitor the temperature with a probe set with an alarm to go off at 165 degrees F.
If you don't have a pellet smoker or a temperature monitoring system I recommend a comfy chair, a bonfire and a case of cheap beer. You will be babysitting the fire and checking the brisket internal temperature every 2-3 hours throughout the night.
To Wrap or Not To Wrap…
Once the brisket reaches a temperature of between 165-175 degrees F. it should have a nice bark and will have absorbed about all the smoke it can
This is where you decide if you want to continue to smoke without wrapping which will give you a better bark but take longer to cook and also risk burning the brisket which could give it a bitter flavor.
Option two, wrap the brisket in food grade butcher paper, sacrifice a little bit of texture on the bark but be able to keep the brisket moist and tender and be finished hours sooner.
I personally don't like to use aluminum foil for brisket because I feel it steams the meat and doesnt let the brisket breathe.
Once you have made your decision continue cooking the brisket until you reach an internal temperature of around 203-205 degrees F.
How to tell When the Brisket is Done
I always tell cooks you cook to tenderness not time or temperature. Time and temp are great guides to know when you are getting close to done but they will never be as accurate as feel.
This is what truly separates the pros from the backyard enthusiasts. To determine if the brisket is done, take your probe thermometer and sink it into the thickest part of the pont and the flat. The probe should go in with little to no resistance. If you struggle to pull the probe out or the brisket feels tight then it's not done.
Keep an eye on the brisket and let it cook for another half hour and check it again.
Oce the brisket is tender remove the brisket from the pit, leave it wrapped up and let it REST!!!
Resting and Slicing the Brisket
Once the brisket is done it's important to let it rest so that the juices have time to reabsorb. If you slice it right away all of the juices we worked so hard to maintain will spill out onto the cutting board and make your brisket dry.
Wrap the brisket up in a towel and place it in a dry cooler to rest. You can rest it for 3-4 hours and it will still be hot when you slice it. If your patience doesn't allow that I implore you to at least give it one hour of resting before you dig in.
When you slice into the brisket turn it fat side up so you can see where the point meets the flat. Make slices about the width of a pencil cutting against the grain of the flat slices.
Once you reach the point you can either separate the too muscles or cut it down the center and make horizontal slices that will have both the flat and point meat attached.
- Look for a whole packer brisket between 10-15 lbs
- Less is more when trimming
- Season liberally, it can handle it
- Smoke fat side down with the point closest to the heat source.
- Wrap or don't wrap once the meat reaches 165-175 internal temperature
- Use butcher paper instead of aluminum foil.
- Once brisket hits 200-205 degrees F start to check for tenderness
- Rest for a minimum of 1 hour, longer is recommended
- Slice across the grains, pencil thick slices
- Mopping the brisket is optional, I will spray the brisket with cooking spray to add fat and moisture if my brisket looks like it's drying out. You can also use a spray bottle with beef stock id you prefer.
- Make sure your smoker is cleaned and vacuumed out before any long overnight cooks.
- Make sure your hopper is full of pellets before you start smoking. Double check in the morning and refill as needed.
- Get yourself a good instant read probe thermometer and make sure its calibrated.