Introduction: Smoked Brisket on BBQ Pit Without Smoker Box
Second Prize in the
I've never met a carnivore that didn't love a good smoked brisket. It's the grandest category in smoking competitions carrying as much prestige as whole hog.
This is a tutorial on smoking a brisket with a regular barbecue grill. I will be as detailed as possible. It may seem intimidating, but with a little time, dedication and practice... you'll be giving those "pro Pit Masters" a run for their money in no time.
You don't need to be a Texan or even own a smoker do cook up your own killer brisket at home. My first taste if brisket was in Texas (wife's a Texan) but now this Florida boy can make brisket with the best of them. Stick with me and I'll show you how simple it can be. There's more than one way to do it, but this is what works best for me.
Play with making your own rub, mop, or wood combination. Your family and friends will rave, your taste buds will sing, and you'll be hooked. One thing is for certain, you cook one of these bad boys and there will most certainly be another... and another... and another. You get my drift.
Step 1: Rub
1/4 cup paprika
1/8 cup Kosher salt
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup cumin
1/8 cup chili powder
1/8 cup garlic powder
1/8 cup onion powder
1/8 cup fresh cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
Take all the dry rub ingredients and combine into a bowl. Whisk them together for use later on making sure that you break up any clumps. The brown sugar always causes clumps. I put my rub in a big spice container. I always double up on the measurements to make an extra batch of the next brisket.
Step 2: Marinade and Mop
1 bottle beer
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 minced garlic cloves
1/8 cup brown sugar
Combine ingredients to be used for flavor injecting during prep. This mixture will also be used for moping during the smoking process.
I love using this beer as it is one of my favorite. It is an ale that has been aged in bourbon barrels and has tons of flavor. I'm a big barrel aged beer fan. It has become one of my favorite styles and this one is a winner.
Step 3: Trim Brisket
This is the only step of this process I don't like but absolutely has to be done. The brisket has a fat cap that has to be trimmed down significantly. I like trimming a ton of it off because I want most of that flavor on the crust to be on the meat... as opposed to it being on an inch of blubber. I also want that rub to penetrate down into the meat. The excess fat would make this impossible.
There's gonna be a layer of fat separating most of the flat from the point. The point is where "burnt ends" comes from. The flat is where you get your long slices from. I like to separate the point from the flat before smoking for a few reasons.
1st - I do this out of necessity. I have a barbecue grill, not a smoker. The length of the brisket is to wide to fit on my grill without separating it. Later on I will show you the set up for converting a regular grill into a smoker.
2nd - I don't like a layer of fat running through my flat.
3rd - The grain on the flat runs in a different direction than the point. Once cooked, you would separate the flat from the point anyways.
4th - Doing this beforehand cuts your cook time down significantly.
I separate flat from point by allowing that layer
of fat dictate where I'm running my knife. Yes I'll get some flat on my point but it's my brisket and I do what I want with my brisket. If you cut to get more flat then you get that fat layer running right down the middle. I really hate that fat layer in the flat.
The brisket I purchased weighed in at 14.5 pounds. I trimmed 4.5 pounds of fat off the brisket. This brings my total weight to 10 pounds.
Step 4: Wet Base
1 cup mustard
1/8 cup worcestershire
Combine ingredients to be used as wet base before applying dry rub. This will help dry rub stick to brisket and add another layer of flavor.
Step 5: Flavor Injecting
Use flavor injector and marinade before applying rub to brisket. This will help deliver flavor and tenderness to a very tough and thick cut of meat. Inject flavor in multiple areas.
Step 6: Apply Wet Base and Rub
Roll up your sleeves and use your hands for this one. Make sure you apply wet base to both sides. Don't forget the edges too. I always apply the wet base to the fat cap side first. I then flip and do the bottom. With bottom side up, I apply a generous layer of rub. Then I flip it so that it's fat cap side up again. I apply a generous amount of rub again, making sure to get the sides as well.
Step 7: Rest
After rub is applied, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Let the marinade and dry rub do it's thing overnight.
Step 8: Setting Up BBQ Grill - 7am
You want to smoke and cook your brisket with indirect heat. This is the way to achieve this without a smoker that has a dedicated smoker box. I utilize the left size of my grill for my coals and wood. I put a water pan and my meat on the right side. I put my point thick end to the left on the top rack. I put my flat on the bottom. I do it this way because some of the point will leaning toward being over the direct heat. With the fat marbling and thickness of the point, it will be fine.
I start off with coals stacked in a pyramid and paper underneath. I use 100% natural coal and yes I use lighter fluid to get the fire going. Make sure all of the lighter fluid has been burned off and the fire is glowing white hot before putting your brisket on the grill. Add your wood and water to your water pan. I start off with chunks of mesquite and will later incorporate some apple wood.
Step 9: Get to Smokin - 8am
I started prepping my grill at 7am. Make sure you pull your brisket out of the fridge while you prep your grill. I put my brisket on at 8am. I like to dust it with a light coat of rub, especially on the underside right before it goes on the rack.
I have cut my brisket into two sections. My total weight is 10 pounds making my weight per piece approximately 5 lbs each. What I'm looking for is a cook time of around one hour and 15 minutes per pound at the temp of 250 to 275. With this smoking setup, it's damn near impossible to keep the temp at around 225 for "low and slow".
I'll be looking at a total cook time of about 7 hours. 6 hours of smoking and then I foil. Back on the grill for 1 hour foiled and then it rests for 1 hour.
Step 10: Hour 1 - 9am
Your gonna wanna check your brisket every hour monitoring the temp, to add more wood, and add more water if needed to the pan. I usually throw in 3 to 4 chunks of wood. I start mopping after the second hour. I don't mop after hour 1 because I really want a nice crust to developing.
Step 11: Hour 2 - 10am
Start mopping. Be careful to not over-mop. Dab it on avoiding to smear so that you do not ruin the formation of the crust. You may not need to add water to the pan as the pan will catch the drippings. Continue to add wood as needed.
Step 12: Hour 3 - 11am
Repeat the steps and keep an eye on your temp. It's almost about that time that you can start cracking open some beers. You know what they say, as long as it's after 12pm you don't have a drinking problem :)
Step 13: Hour 4 - 12pm
Woohoo!!! It's drinking time! Ok stay focused. Still have a brisket to tend to. As you can see, the dripping from the point are preventing a good crust from developing on the flat. I move the flap to the top back and the point to the bottom to correct this problem. You need gloves to handle the brisket. Please don't stab your brisket to move it. Use rubber gloves specifically designed for handling hot meat.
This is when I begin it add the apple wood to the mix. I like the combination but you experiment with it and find your favorite. I have not had to add any water to my pan yet as the brisket continues to render and contract.
P.S. The beer used for hydration purposes is one of my favorite easy drinking all day lagers. Best of all is that I find it tastier than some of the leading lagers in the market and it's only 4 bucks for a 6 pack.
Step 14: Hour 5 - 1pm
You can see a nice crust now developing on the flat since I moved it to the top rack. Add more apple and continue smoking. Enjoy another beer :) You deserve it.
Step 15: Hour 6 - 2pm
It's time to wrap in foil. Make sure you mop before foiling. Your gonna wanna make sure you don't tear holes in the foil. I always use a couple of layers of foil. Wrap it as tightly as possible.
Set it back on the grill and cook for an additional hour. At this point, it makes no sense to continue burning wood. I switch back to lump coal because the smoking is done once you wrap in foil. The foil method is known by some as "the Texas Crutch". This is done to prevent surface evaporation from the meat. Before and after wrapping, evaporation cools the meat, and that is what is responsible for the infamous "stall" a period of several hours where the meat's internal temp plateaus. With the crutch, the meat finishes cooking faster.
Crutch for too long, and you will extract flavor from the meat, remove all the rub, and cause the proteins to get their undies in a bunch, forming tight knots that will make the meat tough and wring out moisture, and then eventually make the meat too soft and mushy.
Step 16: Rest
Off of the grill and into the cooler. Keep the brisket in the foil and wrap it with a towel. Stick it in the cooler to keep the temperature regulated as the meat rests.
Step 17: Carve Flat
Unwrap flat from foil. Cut against the grain in nice even slices. Admire your smoke ring and beef brisket mastery!
Step 18: Carve Point
Pull point it of foil and crop up into cross sections or pull beef apart. Admire your burnt ends and bask in the glow of BBQ glory!
Step 19: Share With Family and Friends
Hope you enjoyed my instructable and be sure to share the love of real BBQ with others. Remember, with time, patience and practice... anyone can be a pit master.
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