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Basic Brisket

disco

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If you have never had a smoked brisket, you are missing a treat. Done right, they are tender, juicy, and incredibley flavourul. Done wrong, they are tough and dry.

People read books, go online, and watch YouTube videos that show you how to make a competition brisket and get scared off. Fortunately, it is easy to make a great brisket at home without having to learn to be a butcher or pitmaster. There are just a few simple steps that will give a great result.

I wanted to do a video for my community TV program, You Can Make It, that showed how to do a basic delicious smoked brisket. So here is the post on that project.

First, I recommend you buy a whole brisket. This is a large muscle of beef that is made up of two muscles. A lean flat piece of beef cleverly called a flat. The other piece is a highly marbled piece of beef called the point. The two are attached but the grain runs at about a right angle to each other.

Basic Brisket 01.jpg


Many recipes you see will call for making burnt ends out of the fatty point. I recommend you cook the whole brisket for slicing to make a basic brisket and skip the burnt ends. You won’t be sorry. A slice of the fatty point is a real treat.

A whole packer brisket is not a nicely trimmed roast from your supermarket. It is a large cut of beef that comes direct from the plant. It has rough edges, silverskin, and fatty pockets that need trimming before cooking.

Usually, at least one edge is rough and brown. Cut this off by taking a 1/4 inch (6 ml) slice off the edge of the brisket. There is also a thin flap of meat on one corner of the brisket. Trim this up as it will cook to tough and won’t give a good slice. The other edge usually relatively clean but cut off any rough areas and the fat flap at the thick end to get a smooth edge.

Basic Brisket 02.jpg


There is a large knot of fat on one edge. Trim it down a little at a time to expose more bare meat.

Put the meat side up and trim off any large pieces of fat or silverskin on the surface of the meat. You want the meat exposed to take the flavour of the rub.

The video shows the trimming process clearly.

Basic Brisket 03.jpg


Most videos and instructions suggest you trim the fat cap on one side of the brisket to 1/4 inch (6 ml) thick. This is necessary if you are competing but it is mostly cosmetic. For doing a basic brisket at home, you can leave the fat cap alone.

I made a brisket rub by mixing:

  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) ground black pepper
  • 9 ml (1 3/4 tsp) salt
  • 9 ml (1 3/4 tsp) beef base
  • 9 ml (1 3/4 tsp) paprika
  • 9 ml (1 3/4 tsp) onion powder
  • 9 ml (1 3/4 tsp) garlic powder
You can use a commercial beef rub if you like.

Rub 1/2 of the mixture on the fat cap and sides. Flip the brisket and spread the rub on the other side. The brisket can go in the fridge for 15 minutes to overnight.

Basic Brisket 04.jpg


I allow one hour 10 minutes for each pound (2 hours 30 minutes for each KG) of brisket. This was a 12 pound (5.5 KG) brisket so I allowed 14 hours for cooking.

No one can tell you how long a brisket will take to cook. Each piece of meat is different. Smokers vary in accuracy and direct heat. Weather conditions can impact your smoke. The idea is to leave enough time to cook the brisket and then let it rest in a towel lined camp cooler. It can rest in the cooler for hours so it doesn’t matter if it finishes early.

I preheated my Traeger Timberline to 230 F (110 C) and put the brisket in fat side down. There are a lot of arguments about whether the fat side down or up. I prefer down for a basic brisket but go ahead and cook it fat side up if it is your preference.

Basic Brisket 12.jpg


I smoked it to an internal temperature of 160 F (70 C) spraying it with apple juice every hour. It took just over 4 hours.

I put two large strips of heavy duty aluminum foil on the works space. I put the brisket in the centre of the foil and wrapped it lengthwise in the foil. I folded one end of foil over to seal. I mixed 175 ml (3/4 cup) of beef stock with 50 ml (1/4 cup) of soy sauce. I poured this mixture in the open end and folded it over to seal.

Basic Brisket 06.jpg


At this point, you can put the foil package back in the smoker but realize that it will not take on any more smoke flavour as it is wrapped in foil. You can just as easily put it in a 230 F (110 C) oven. I used an oven because it is still cool here and my oven is cheaper to operate than my pellet smoker.

I cooked it to an internal temperature of 203 F (95 C) in the thickest part of the brisket. Push a probe into the brisket. It should go in very easily, like pushing it into butter. If it doesn’t, cook to 204 F (96 C) and probe again. Continue cooking until it is probe tender.

Line a camp cooler with an old towel. Put the foil wrapped brisket in the cooler. Cover it with another old towel and close the cooler. The brisket must rest for at least an hour but will keep hot for four hours or more.

Basic Brisket 07.jpg


When ready to serve, open the foil and put the brisket on your cutting surface. Save the liquid from the foil.

Basic Brisket 08.jpg


Cut 1/3 of the way down the brisket on the thick end. Cut the lean flat meat across the length to pencil thick slices. Cut the fatty point at a right angle to the cut edge.

Basic Brisket 09.jpg


Spoon the liquid over the slices or dip them in the liquid.

Basic Brisket 10.jpg


Basic Brisket 11.jpg


Here is my video of this cook.


The Verdict

Although this is a simple basic brisket, there is nothing simple about the big beef taste and wonderful texture. The meat is fork tender and so juicy. It is a favourite!

Disco
 

DRKsmoking

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Done right, they are tender, juicy, and incredibley flavourul. Done wrong, they are tough and dry.

Thank you for the step by step way to do a brisket. and to ease my mind about tempting to try one

David
 

disco

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Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing
Thanks for commenting!

Thank you for the step by step way to do a brisket. and to ease my mind about tempting to try one

David
No problem. I think the biggest mistake I made when starting out was not getting the meat probe tender. You should stick a probe in and be amazed at how easily it goes into the meat.

Let me know if you you have any questions.
 

Bearcarver

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Darn You, Disco!!!
Now I'm hungry again!!!
Nice Job!
Like.

Bear
 

lilhef

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This is awesome! Nice work and now I have a blueprint for this weekends smoke. Thank you!
 

smokerjim

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great step by step disco should help a lot of us out, brisket looks great!
 

Winterrider

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Very nice tutorial, thanks Disco!
 

disco

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Darn You, Disco!!!
Now I'm hungry again!!!
Nice Job!
Like.

Bear
Har! Don't lie to your friends. We are all the kind of guys who are hungry all the time!

This is awesome! Nice work and now I have a blueprint for this weekends smoke. Thank you!
Thanks! I hope you like it as much as we do.
 

jcam222

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Looks nice and juicy and has a hell of a smoke ring too. Nice work.
 

yankee2bbq

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Awesome job! Appreciate the in-depth write -up and video!
 

pc farmer

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Another great thread Disco. Nice job
 

Fueling Around

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Oh Yes!
Thank you for emphasizing that wrapping stops the smoke.
My only change is to use a covered foil pan instead of wrapping, when sending to the oven. A pan is so much easier to collect the drippings
 

disco

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Awesome job! Appreciate the in-depth write -up and video!
Thanks! It was a fun project.

Another great thread Disco. Nice job
I appreciate that , Adam!

Oh Yes!
Thank you for emphasizing that wrapping stops the smoke.
My only change is to use a covered foil pan instead of wrapping, when sending to the oven. A pan is so much easier to collect the drippings
I have used a foil pan many times. It is easier, however, I do think I get more flavour from the marinade when I wrap tightly. I will admit that is likely more in my mind! However, I still use a pan when I am feeling lazy.
 

WaterRat

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Great info! Thanks for putting in all that work to post, this should be made a sticky!
 

daspyknows

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Looks great and very useful info. Market it as Brisket For Dummies like the books. I remember the trepidation before my first one.
 

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