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Beef Brisket Recipe

By: The BBQ Buddha

Admit it… just admit that you are intimidated by cooking a whole brisket (AKA packer brisket). 

I know that I was the first time I smoked one. Sure, you have cooked a brisket flat before as that is what they normally carry at your local grocery store. But the thought of finding a packer brisket and then smoking one for 12+ hours seems overwhelming. Well, I am here to help you overcome that fear and most importantly smoke the best brisket possible! 

Final beef brisket recipe

 

Step 1 – Meat Selection 

A “packer” brisket is comprised of two muscles: the flat muscle and the point muscle which are separated by a layer of fat. Brisket comes from the breast section of the cow closest to the rib cage. It is important to note this is not as tender as other cuts of beef. The size varies but it typically weighs in between 12-15 pounds. The size of the brisket plus the cut is why you need to cook this low and slow to get the best experience. A packer brisket is covered in a thick layer of fat or “fat cap” as it is often referred to and will be covered later. 

Finding a packer brisket: 

1.A local butcher will be able to get this for you 

2.If you get lucky you can find them at, Costco or Walmart 

3.Several online sources are available to you 

Grade of meat: 

1.Get USDA choice grade beef or higher 

2.You can find American Waygu at inexpensive prices compared to their Japanese counterparts (this is typically what is used in competition BBQ) 

 

Step 2 – Meat Prep 

Once you have the brisket home and unpacked here is how you prep it for the smoker: 

1.Trim the fat cap: 

a.Flip the packer brisket so the fat cap is facing up 

b.With a sharp knife work in sections removing most of the fat leaving a ¼” layer 

2.Trim the other side of the brisket: 

a.There will be fat pieces covering the meat on the other side of your brisket you will need to trim 

b.Work each section until most of the fat has been removed and the meat is showing 

c.This step helps the rub adhere to the meat forming the crust you definitely want to get at the end of this cook   

3.Find the grain of the meat: 

a.As this cut of meat is tougher than most you will want to cut the brisket against the grain after it has cooked 

b.Finding that after a long cook and a thick layer of crust will prove difficult 

c.A little trick is to find the grain of the meat before applying the rub and cutting a small notch to let you know where to slice later 

4.Apply the rub: 

a.Apply the rub liberally to the meat side of the brisket (not the fat cap side) 

b.Let the brisket sit with the rub at room temp while you get your smoker setup 

 

Trimming the brisket

 

Step 3 – Set up the smoker 

This example uses a Large Big Green Egg for the smoker. The techniques convey to whichever smoker you have at home. 

1.Light the lump charcoal: 

a.This will be a long cook so fill the firebox with lump charcoal and chunks of hardwood (a hard wood like hickory works well with brisket though I throw in a little pecan wood as well) 

b.Note: Do not soak the wood before adding it to the firebox as wet wood gives off a funny smell when burned and that is not the flavor you want on your brisket 

c.Keep the lid and front draft door open 

d.Light the charcoal near the front draft door as that will help light the coals during the long cook 

e.Keep the lid open and the front draft door open for 10 minute to allow the coals to light 

2.After 10 minutes do the following: 

a.Add the convEGGtor (legs up) to set the environment for indirect cooking 

b.Add a drip pan filled with water on top of the convEGGtor (important for a long cook to keep brisket moist) 

c.Add the grid on top of the convEGGtor 

d.Close the top of the Big Green Egg 

e.Wait up to 30 minutes for the smoke to turn from white thick smoke to a thin blue smoke and the temperature to stabilize between 225° - 250°   

 

Step 3 – Cooking the brisket 

I would like to tell you how long this will take but I cannot as it is different for everyone. The important thing for you to do is to cook to temp and touch. A 12-15# brisket will take anywhere from 12 – 15 hours at this temp so be patient. Use your digital thermometer, remote probe, and your eyes. 

1.Place the brisket in the Big Green Egg over the drip pan filled with water fat side down 

2.NOTE: There is so much debate over fat side up or fat side down - I place mine down to help insulate the meat from the heat source 

3.Insert your remote temperature probe in to the flat section of the brisket and close the lid 

4.Go to bed or do something else as it will be quite some time before you check this bad boy again 

5.When the temp of the brisket measures 170° it is time to take a look 

6.What you want to see is a nice bark formed on the outside of the brisket (go ahead and touch it or take a little slice to test as that is the best way to know) 

7.When you are comfortable with the bark it is time to wrap the brisket to help tenderize it (aka The Texas Crutch) 

8.NOTE: Some folks use paper and others use foil – I used foil for this cook 

9.Double wrap the brisket leaving the probe in place and place it back in the smoker 

10.When the temp reaches 190° it is time to take another look 

11.You will know when it is ready by touching the flat with a fork and getting little resistance when you do 

12.Pull the brisket off the BGE leaving it in the wrap (foil), wrap a towel around it, and place in to a cooler (no ice – just for insulation) for 2 hours to let it rest 

13.Pull the brisket out a slice to serve 

 

Brisket Point and Flat

 

Step 4 – Slicing the brisket 

Remember when I talked about the 2 muscles in the brisket: the flat and the point? Well here is where they come in to play. The flat is what most people think of when it comes to sliced brisket and the point muscle is where you get the delicious burnt ends. 

1.Looking at the brisket it is easy to see where the flat muscle and point muscle are as the flat looks just as it sounds long and flat 

2.The point is the big round end opposite the flat muscle 

3.Between the two is a layer of fat you can feel holding the brisket in your hands 

4.I take a sharp knife and run it under the point cutting through the fat leaving the two pieces intact 

5.From there you find the notch in the flat and start slicing against the grain to get the long cuts of brisket for sandwiches 

6.The point you can chop in to 2”x 2” squares, toss in BBQ sauce, and serve (these are the burnt ends)

 

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