Introduction: How to Smoke a Brisket

This is my first instructable so bear with me as I guide you through how to smoke a brisket. Now before we get into how to smoke a brisket know that there are many different ways to do this, this just happens to be the way I smoke my brisket. I find this way to be easy and turns out very good at the end.

Step 1: Step 1: Gather Materials

For this instructable you will need the following items:

1. A Smoker (Any type will do, but a few steps will be different depending on the smoker. I am using a Webber Smokey Mt. Which is a bullet charcoal smoker.)

2. A Brisket

3. Wood for smoking (Many choices of wood I use hickory a lot because I like the flavor.)

4. Sharp Knife

5. Large cutting board

6. Injection needle

7. Beef Broth

8. Spices or commercial rub of your choice.

9. Lump charcoal (Use lump over briquettes if you can)

10. Thermometer here is the one I use

11. Heavy duty Aluminum foil.

Step 2: Step 2: Selecting Your Brisket

Now when it comes to briskets there are several things you want to look for we grabbing one. First there are really three main types of briskets out there vary on price, also the way it is package will effect the price. The types are: your standard brisket, Angus, and Wagyu. These are packaged two different was either already trimmed of fat or not trimmed at all called a packer. If you go with standard brisket packer it will be the cheapest. You can also buy only the flat of the brisket if you want just a couple of pounds. I always trim my own brisket and am including that in this instructable. I usally go with Angus but in this instructable I have a standard because I had someone else grab it for me.

Now what to look for on your brisket. Fat. You can't be afraid of fat when it some to brisket. That is where you get you tenderness from and you want it. You want to look for a brisket that has about a 1in Fat Cap(Fat on top of the brisket) and good marbling of fat (fat running through the brisket). You also want to think about time and how many people are you trying to feed. In general it is about 1 hour per pound to cook if you want it low and slow. You can cook it hotter and faster which I will talk about in the cook section.

Step 3: Step 3: Preparing Your Meat

This first thing I do is inject it with some beef broth. This will help keep it moist during cooking and also add to the beef flavor. I do this the night before I want to cook my brisket. I put the brisket in the big pan and start injecting. I leave the plastic packing on to keep all the juices in. I will inject until it gets to plump to keep much more in. Usually about two quarts for a 17lb brisket. After injection I put it in the fridge over night.

The next morning you want to take it out of the package and start trimming. There are two sections to a brisket: The point and the flat. I always start trimming on the back side of the brisket first. On the back side you want to trim away most of the loose fat the is hanging on. There will also a section of hard fat between the flat and the point. You want to remove as much of this as you can without separating the point and the flat. Any hard fat should be removed because it will not render well and make your brisket chewy.

Once the back side is complete you want to move on to the fat cap. Here you want to trim it down to about 1/2in and cut holes in the fat for your rub to penetrate. Once you are done with all your trimming you are ready to rub your meat.

I make my own rub and I am not going to share what goes into it. It is one of those things that you worked really hard on for a while and now don't want others to know. You can make your own run or go with a commercial rub. Once you have your rub you want to liberally apply it starting on the back side. Pat in your rub do not rub it in. Once you have a layer down you want to let it sit for about 30 mins. While you rub is soaking in time to start your fire.

Step 4: Step 4: Lighting Your Fire

Now I go with lump charcoal because I find it burns longer and more consistently then briquettes. You want to start with a good amount of charcoal and light it up. I use a propane torch over lighter fluid. It does not leave a taste and is more fun. If you want to do your brisket low and slow you want your temp to stay around 220 F. This will give you a moist brisket and is less hard to mess it up. If you want your meat a little faster you can cook it around 300-350 F. This is harder to mess and and if you do you are done and your brisket will not turn out good. My suggestion is start low and slow and then work your way up if you want.

Now that your fire is started go back and rub down the other side of your brisket. Wait some more time. About 5 mins before you throw your brisket on you want to add some wood. You can pre soak your wood and it will smoke without catching fire. I suggest doing this if your smoke does not have vents and you can't cut of air flow to control the fire. If you have vents then pre soaking your wood does not do much.

Once your brisket is all rubbed down and your fire is smokey put your brisket on. Put it fat cap up so when it cooks all the fat juice runs thru the brisket. Plug in your thermometer and set it to 195 F. I know what your thinking 195 that beef will be ruined. This is not a steak you have to go this far to make it super tender.

Step 5: Step 5: the Long Wait

Now all you have to do is two things. One make sure you maintain your cooking temp and smoke. Two DO NOT OPEN YOUR SMOKER TO LOOK AT YOUR BRISKET. You want to keep heat in. If you keep looking at your brisket it is going to take you longer to cook. When your temp reaches about 160-170 F (Usually after 4+ hours) You can look at your meat. You want to see if 1. Is there a good dark bark color. (Bark is your run getting crisp and hard) and two is to starting to look a little dry at the top. If either one of these are true it is time to wrap.

You want to wrap your brisket loosely or you will ruin your bark. I usually toss on some butter to help keep the brisket moist. The point of the wrap is to keep it moist, not ruin your bark, and speed up the cooking. Briskets like to stall around 160-170 F and slow up. Wrapping will help kick start them back into cooking.

Once your brisket hits 195 pull it off. Now comes the hardest step of them all.

Step 6: Step 6: the Longer Wait.

The first thing you want to do when you pull your brisket off is let it rest. You either want to put it in the oven or a cooler to keep it warm will it rest. This lets the meat pull all the juice back in that are at the bottom of the foil. The minimum time you want to rest it is 30min but I suggest letting it sit for an hour.

Once you can stand it no more it is time to slice your brisket. The first thing you want to do is separate you point and flat. The flat is going to give you your slices and the point will give you burnt ends and also slices. Burnt ends are the ends of the point where the get a little burnt. These burnt ends are packed with flavor and should be reserved for the cooker. Your slices should be about 1/2in thick and you should see a nice smoke ring. A smoke ring will be red and should come up about an 1/8in or so. Always cut against the grain of the meat to ensure it is not chewy. The way to tell if you brisket is done perfectly is your slices should pull a part easily. If they tug to much they are under cooked. Your slices should fold over and not break. If they break you are over cooked. Dont worry if it fails one of these test on your first go I will still be delicious and you wont really notice.

Now enjoy your brisket. Comment on different ways you guys smoke your briskets and I hope I have encouraged some on to try smoking a brisket.

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