Making a brisket can be very intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. With the proper technique smoking a brisket or any cut of meat can be done relatively easy. The first time is always the hardest and most nerve racking.
Where to get your brisket:
I always recommend either finding a local butcher to get one or ordering one from your local meat counter at a store you trust. The reason I don’t ever buy one straight from the meat counter is that they usually trim most of the fat off of them. Trust me, you want the fat. It is my favorite part of the brisket. It tastes and has a texture like foi gras to me. (Your whole nervous system is made of fat and all your cells are covered in fat. The best way to nourish and feed this important part of your body is with healthy fats. And animal fats are healthy fats contrary to popular opinion! That includes bacon!!!) So when you order your brisket make sure to tell them to not trim off the fat!
Once you get home with your beautiful brisket you need to think about the cooking process because it is very lengthy. I usually start mine around 7am so that it is finished around 6pm and that includes a rest period at the end of the cooking process. You will also need to decide what type of spices you will use in your rub. There are a million different ways to do it. I like to keep it simple and let the smoke do all the work. Here is my base brisket rub recipe.
1 tbsp. - Cumin
1 tbsp. – Paprika
1 tbsp. – Garlic Powder
1 tbsp. – Onion Powder
1 tbsp. – Dried Oregano
1 tbsp. – Sea Salt
1 tsp. – Ground Fennel
1 tsp. – Dried Mustard
1 tsp. – Cayenne (optional)
1 tsp. – Coriander
1 tsp. – Ground Pepper
This is usually enough to thinly coat the brisket. Before you place the rub onto the brisket you will need to cover it in a liquid. I usually use White Buffalo Kitchen honey simple syrup with just a splash of apple cider vinegar. But you can use water or any kind of simple syrup or none at all. Mustard also works really well. I put the rub on about 30 minutes before I start smoking the brisket. This whole process is going to take around 11-12 hours so make sure you plan accordingly and can be present throughout the day, especially if you are unfamiliar with your smoker.
Knowing your smoker is very important. Mine is just a cheap one that I made out of a metal trashcan. It is a hot smoker that uses a propane fueled flame to heat the woodchips. It doesn’t really matter what kind of smoker that you have just keep it around 200 degrees for the entire cooking process. I use different kinds of chips. They are always wood and most often hickory or apple. I like the kind that is large and chunky. I soak half of the ones that I will be using in water over night.
So you have your smoker going and you are up early in the morning and ready to place the brisket in the smoker. Place it in the smoker fat side up directly onto the rack. Some say smoke in a dish but I find that this doesn’t allow the meat to be exposed to the smoke enough. The whole reason of smoking meat in my opinion is to have a nice smoky flavor and a good bark (thick flavorful crust which is the product of a good smoking session). The reason you place the fat side up is so that while the brisket is smoking the fat melts and drips all over the meat.
So you will have to play will your smoker to figure out how to get it to maintain a constant temp around 200 degrees F. I let it cook for a minimum of 5 hours on the rack. Then I will take it off and wrap it up in foil and cook it another 3-4 hours until it reaches an internal temp of 190 F. Then turn your smoker off and remove the covered brisket and place onto a sheet pan. I use a sheet pan with sides so that in case you have any leaks it gets trapped in the sheet pan and not all over your counter or floor. You should let your brisket sit covered on the counter for 1 hour. Resist the temptation to take a peak or sample the goods.
After an hour you are ready to slice and enjoy. I enjoy dipping my brisket in some kind of sauce. Usually just a homemade mayonnaise does the trick! Just know that the more you smoke meats the better you get at it. Don’t get discouraged if the end product doesn’t live up to your expectations. Like anything in life, you will need to practice and build up knowledge and experience over time and it will reflect in the taste and texture of your smoked meats. Smoking meat can be an expensive endeavor as well. So do your homework or practice on smaller less expensive cuts of meat.