Here's the most recent discussion I've seen and written in, if you missed it...covering alot of basics, burnt ends, ect: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/110807/brisket-questions
I trim part of the fat-cap, but not all, unless I seperate thepoint from the flat before smoking. Remove most of the corn (a large chunk of hard fat on the heaviest/thickest end near the corner)...this is the point cut of the brisket. I take off the rougher looking portions of the fat cap and try to estimate and leave at least 1/2 - 3/4", then score the fat-cap with a cross-hatch pattern.
Personally, I don't inject non-cured whole muscle meats...at all. Main reason being, if you inject with marinade or brine (or insert a temp probe too early during the smoke), the meat is no longer considered intact whole muscle meat, and therefor requires a bit more stringent guidelines for food safety.
12 hours might be a bit shy, depending on the individual smoker, weather conditions, elevation (water boils at higher temp with lower elevation, and higher elevation requires more time at the same temp to cook). If it's a whole brisket (untrimmed, with the point and flat muscles attached together as one piece), then it may take up to 2 hours per pound, depending on the finish temp you take it to. 200* for pulling the meat, 180* for slicing, or a combination of 180* in the flat and 200* in the point, or...well, you should read the thread I linked above...covers all that.
Drip pan: you can add some chopped onion, garlic, a bay leaf, water and beef boullion...mix it all up a bit. The steam from this pan will help keep the brisket moist, as well as add a bit of flavor to the meat while smoking. The drippings will add tons of flavor back to the meat when you bring it all together in the end. Defat these liquids and remove the bay leaf while the brisket flat is wrapped in foil/towels and resting. Then, add instant coffee for au jus if you like.
Anyway, the above link is fresh and active, so I recommend you go through it.
See ya soon, with pics??? If you can, no pressure...LOL!!!
Enjoy the forums and have a great smoke!
Edited by forluvofsmoke - 8/30/11 at 9:43pm