First Brisket

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Original poster
Jun 25, 2006
I bought a brisket this evening from Sam's and will smoke it for a Saturday afternoon gathering, along with a couple pork butts. The brisket is a 12 lb'er boneless (no other details on the package). I've read up on the internal temp, resting the meat, cutting against the grain, but I still have a few questions since this will be my first go-round.

Rub - any advice on a good commerical rub that I can get at walmart or price chopper? When should I apply it and how much should I use. Do you suggest any other pre-smoking treatments (marination, etc...)?

Wrapping - When should I wrap the meat in foil?

Fat side up or down?

I plan to spray with apple juice while cooking (good or bad idea)?

When should I start cooking this thing (company arrives at 4 pm and I need to have my attention off the meat and on hosting at this point)? I don't really want to be up all night, so the options are start at 4 PM friday, or early saturday AM.

I'm sure I'll have more questions between now and then so any advice is welcom. BTW, I'll be cooking on a brinkmann smoke'n pit with offset firebox using a combination of charcoal, oak and hickory. Thanks!
I'll just tell ya what I would do...

I would trim the large pocket of fat on the side of the brisket (between the point and flat) and maybe trim some of the excess off of the flat until you have about 1/4" of fat coverage. If this is your first brisket, and it sounds like it may be, take the brisket out of the fridge when you start to prep the smoker and let it sit on the counter to loose some of the chill. I would just season it with course salt and fresh cracked pepper with maybe a bit of garlic powder (you can start trying different rubs later). I would get the pit up to 235° - 250°

On that small offset smoker, I would put the brisket on fat side up on the opposite end from the firebox with the point toward the fire. I don't flip or spray my briskets but on the Brinkman, you may want to turn it end to end to even out the cooking about mid way through.

Since this is probably your first brisket, cook until you reach an internal temp of 160° - 165° and wrap in heavy duty foil. At this time you can add a bit of liquid to the foil. Beef broth, beer, a bit of black coffee... what ever you have will work.

Continue to cook until you reach an internal temp of about 190° or so. You will know when it is ready when you can take a fork, temp probe or the like and stick it into the flat and it pulls out with very little resistance. When you deem it done, wrap it again in foil and then place it into an empty ice chest surrounded by an old blanket or newspaper and let it rest for at least 1 hour.

When serving, I like to seperate the flat from the point (just follow the fat line) and slice against the grain on the flat...

If you wrap, it will lead to much shorter cooking times. I can cook 12lbers at 235° - 250° and wrapping in about 10 - 12 hours.

Hope this helps.
James gives all very good advice. One suggestion though...

I have done many briskets and always followed the conventional belief that they should be cooked fat cap facing up... until last year, that is. when Bill from Chicago introduced a thread that debated placing the fat cap down. I strongly suggest that you review that thread and perhaps even do a google search on "Fat cap Down" I think that you will find some intersting points of view. I know I did...

I have cooked Brisket both fat up and fat down. I prefer the fat down, but it could be that I was looking for something special when I cooked them that way.

As to your 1st brisket, remember to take notes, don't get too fancy with the seasoning. Post pics, send sample to Icemn62 in Socal.

Good luck with the Cook Batman, if you have questions don't ask Alfred, come to us, we will give ya good advice, and will not let the Riddler in the batcave.

Glad that you have passed on the fat down method, I've done 75 to 100 briskets and I will never (unless somebody proves other wise) do another fat cap up. The fat cap does too good a job protecting the meat from temp variations that we should not teach it any other way. I also like a hotter fire but only after you get smoke into the meat. This is also very dangerous if you do not know what you are doing. So low and slow are the best advice.

I cook at least 100 briskets per year! Heck, I did 20 12lbers last weekend... Almost didn't need a fire due to this Texas heat!

The fat cap goes up or down depending on which smoker I'm using at the time. In the reverse flow offset, I cook them fat cap down due to the radiant heat from the baffle plate running under the first rack. In the WSM, I cook them fat cap down due to the heat coming from the bottom of the cooker. In my Big Ugly offset, I cook them fat side up since there is no heat pounding them from the bottom and I do believe that the fat cap helps with self basting the meat (even tho it just runs off the sides of the meat... and that is just what happens when folks mop the meat anyway!)... When cooking briskets directly over coals, I turn the meat to avoid burning...

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