Smoked brisket is king in the state of Texas. There has been even a debate if it should be the official dish of the state. I have done brisket in the electric smoker before, but it was time to try to do it the more "traditional' way. The first time I smoked a brisket I had no idea what I was doing. My thought was to cook it well-done like most cuts of beef and hit 160 degrees. Nope. It was terrible. It was really chewy and some of it was not edible. I did not give the fat time and heat to render down correctly. I have smoked a few since then so I have it "down."
I was going to smoke a brisket for my coworkers for a potluck. I normally get my brisket at Costco, but they were out of the choice grade. They had prime, but it was $3.78 a pound. I like my coworkers but not that much plus the smallest package was 15 pounds. If I was smoking it for friends, I might have reconsidered. I ended up finding choice for $2.48 a pound at H-E-B. Brisket prices have been increasing as of late. You might start to see BBQ joints charge more for it. This bad boy weighed in at 13.5 pounds. Here is an article on brisket grades and another on increasing brisket prices.
I did not trim the fat in the past. I was lazy and did not know any better. I left the thick fat cap on it. I ended up cutting a lot of it off after I smoked the brisket. There was so much fat. Yes I know I lost a good piece of the bark, and that is why I bought a boning knife to fix this. I trimmed the meat up a little bit and tried to leave a quarter inch of fat. Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue has an excellent series of videos (BBQ with Franklin) on YouTube that offers tips and pointers for us amateurs.
I was going to keep the rub real simple this time. Salt and pepper. I have also added brown sugar and cayenne pepper in the past.
The brisket I got was on the bigger size. I normally like it around 10 pounds. I put the brisket in the smoker at 8pm. This one barely fit in there. I was able to control the heat and fire a lot better than my other attempts with this smoker. The temperature only got up to 300+ degrees a couple of times for a few moments. I checked on the temperature every 30 minutes or so. I loaded more oak into the firebox throughout the night. I am not a fan of my combo grill/smoker. There is a cold spot about two thirds away from the firebox. The grill is boxy and not cylindrical so the flow is not the best. I need to get a new smoker. I had to turn the brisket for a little bit to heat the flat/lean side.
I pulled the brisket off the smoker around 7:30 am when the temperatures were around 190 degrees. I wrapped it in butcher paper first then plastic wrap and then a towel and threw it in a cooler. Lunch was 11:30 am so I hoped the meat would stay relatively warm. The meat was still at a good temperature when I pulled it out of the cooler.
I bought a long knife online just to slice brisket. It cut the meat pretty well.
The brisket was good. It was moist and had the right amount of fat. I wish I used more rub though. I wish I also got a better bark on the top side of the brisket. Yeah I do not like my smoker. It has cast iron grill plates which holds heat well but also cooks the meat faster. The bottom of the meat was a little charred because of it. I need to bring the smoke down to cooking surface as well. Overall I was satisfied with the results.
I have modified my smoker since. I put some aluminum roof flashing in the chimney to draw the smoke lower. I also added a baffle by the firebox to help with temperature control in the cooking chamber. I got a nice bark on the brisket the next time I used the smoker. I want to buy a new smoker, but I am not ready yet. I might take some welding classes so I can build my own. I have no idea what I am smoking next. Beef ribs? Make my own sausage?
Until next time, happy smoking...