The Beginner's Foolproof Guide to Perfect Brisket EVERY TIME!

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MileHighSmokerGirl

Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
Nov 29, 2019
387
1,060
Denver, CO
The Beginner's Foolproof Guide to Perfect Brisket EVERY TIME!

I was asked by a beginner to smoking brisket how I smoke my brisket, so I thought I'd make a how to guide and share my method with those of you who are new to smoking brisket that need some confidence. Maybe you have ruined a brisket or two and are scared to try again.

This is to help you establish a baseline and you can fine tune from there.

The one big warning!!! Dont run off somewhere and forget to take it off the smoker or out of the oven. And dont let your fire get too hot! This is the only way you can mess this up. Follow my instructions snd it will be amazing and you will build confidence.


1.) Go to Costco and get a nice 14-16 lb full packer brisket. They're USDA grade.

NEVER buy a brisket from King Soopers, Kroger or Safeway. They're awful and overpriced.

Not sure about Sam's club. Never bought meat from there.

A local butcher shop will work too but they might be super pricey, so I'm not sure but the quality should be as good as Costco.

2.) Buy black pepper and kosher salt in bulk or in the big containers. (Nothing else needed...BUT you can use your own rub, create your own, experiment with different spices or try other's brisket rub recipes if you wish. Kosher Salt and Black Pepper is truly amazing just by itself.)

3.) Beef bullion cubes OR beef broth in a can (get the MSG free cans at Wal-Mart). Sometimes guests have digestive issues related to msg.

4.) A heavy duty stainless steel meat injector from Amazon

5.) Hickory wood chunks (charcoal/wood smoker) (Home Depot or Wal-Mart) or hickory pellets for a pellet smoker.

6.) Kingsford charcoal (Hardware Store/Wal-Mart)

7.) Reynolds Turkey Bags (Wal-Mart/Grocery Store)

Personal note: I always cut my brisket in half when I get home, rinse each half and revacuum seal them separately. Why? It's EASIER to smoke a half of a brisket than a whole one. The results are much better and much more consistent AND it doesn't take as long. You will need a 16" wide vacuum sealer to re-seal half a brisket. They are wide.

I toss them in the deep freeze until 2-3 days before the bbq.

2-3 days before, get them out and let them thaw in the sink. 7-8 hrs is usually good or until thawed. Then toss them in the fridge.

24 hours prior to the time you plan on putting them on the smoker, remove them from the vacuum seal pkg and rinse with cold water, then get 2 pans (13x9) out and put each half in a pan.

Rub both sides of each half down with kosher salt and black pepper. You wont need a binder. The cold water will be enough.

Now prepare two cups of beef broth. Usually two cans boiled on the stove or two cubes with two cups of water, bring to a boil.

Take your stainless steel meat injector and inject both halves of the brisket with the beef broth as generously as possible. Once they cant hold anymore (you'll know it by sight), take some press n seal or saran wrap (I prefer the press n seal) and cover the top of each of the pans and stick them in the fridge.

This is called a dry brine. Kosher salt will help tenderize the brisket. Black pepper establishes the bark while giving it a little kick for taste. All the beef broth does is keep the meat moist during the smoking process.

Now it's time to prepare your smoker so all you have to do is start it and put the meat on the smoker. Do it after you prep the meat that way you're not scrambling the next morning and everything is ready to go.


Charcoal/Wood Smokers
Prepare your smoker. Minion method is the best and longest burning. You can look it up on YouTube or google it. Basic you line the outer edges with charcoal and leave a hole in the center (for your basket of glowing coals).

I use about a third or slightly more of a bag or charcoal and about 3-5 fist size chunks of hickory wood. Place the hickory on top of the charcoal.


Fast Forward 23 Hours
Douse a basket of coals (A charcoal basket can be bought from Amazon for $18-$30.) with lighter fluid and light them. Once they are glowing red, dump them in the center of your charcoal pile. Push your hickory wood chunks towards the glowing pile of coals in the center. Open your vents and adjust for necessary airflow and maintain a steady pit temp of 235° - 250° F.


Pellet Smokers
(If you have a pellet smoker, set your smoker to 250° and put your hickory pellets in. Then put your meat on the smoker).


Stick Burner/Offset Smokers
If you have a stick burner smoker (Offset/Traeger, etc) you will need a LOT of hickory wood. Get your temps to 250° and feed it as necessary to maintain temp. Put your meat on the smoker.


Time to Get Our Smoke On!
Once you've put the meat on the smoker, leave it until the internal temp (IT) of the meat hits 165° F. Usually about 3-6 hours depending on the smoker and the meat.

You can use a standalone digital meat thermometer to check the meat every 60-90 mins. Or you can use a digital thermometer that connects to your phone and the probe stays in the meat and you can set a temp alarm in the thermometer app for 165° F.

165° F is typically where brisket will hit "The Stall". The IT will stop rising and STALL. It can take several hours to break through the stall, so this is where I like to call it quits with the smoker. Why? We've already established the bark (outer texture of the brisket which will appear dark brown, almost black like it's burnt, but it's not burnt! Don't worry!) and the smoke flavor has already penetrated the meat. Why continue to waste wood and charcoal? Let's save some more time and get to the good stuff.

So now I go grab my two pans and pull the briskets off the smoker and take them inside. Turn the oven on to 275° F. Now, I wrap them in foil making sure to cover both briskets completely and place them on the top rack. Stick a cookie sheet below them to catch any dripping juices. You'll want to check the internal temp (IT) of the briskets every 20-30 mins until they hit 199° F. +/- a degree or two is ok, any longer than that and they will dry out the meat.

Now pull them out and DON'T unwrap them. Take one and put it in a Reynolds Turkey Bag as far to one side as you can and then stick the second one right next to in the bag. Suck all the air out of the bag, twist it then use a zippy tie or just tie the end in a knot.

The turkey bags keep the juices from escaping into the towels and losing precious moisture from your briskets.

Take a big towel and fold it in half long ways. Put the turkey bag on one end of the towel and roll it up in the towel. Take a second towel and roll the other towel and briskets until it's completely covered. All you should see is towel. No bag, foil or brisket should be visible. Stick it in a larger cooler and close the lid. The meat will continue to render and cook. This is called "resting". Let it rest for at least two hours.

When you are ready to eat, pull them out and put on a cutting board. They should be jiggly like a jello mold. Slice and serve with sides.

All Done!

Check my various brisket threads for pics.
 
Not a bad writeup.
Several things I'd disagree with, e.g. your 199° IT limit, and some technical nomenclature used.
But overall there's some helpful pointers for bbq chefs new to brisket.
The only reason I say the 199° IT is because while it's resting in the cooler it will continue to rise and keep cooking and render.
 
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Not a fan of lighter fluid….id rather use tumble weeds or a veg oil soaked paper towel to start my coals. Otherwise a decent set of guidelines.

Jim
 
There are vegetable oil based lighter fluids and such.

I personally have never had any lighter fluid taste in my meat but I let all the coals get super red hot and the outer portion of the coal completely gray, no black left before I put them in.

To each their own. A trivial and minute portion of what was written.

The objective is to help the beginners who are struggling and can't get their brisket to a tasty and consumable point.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JLeonard
There are vegetable oil based lighter fluids and such.

I personally have never had any lighter fluid taste in my meat but I let all the coals get super red hot and the outer portion of the coal completely gray, no black left before I put them in.

To each their own. A trivial and minute portion of what was written.

The objective is to help the beginners who are struggling and can't get their brisket to a tasty and consumable point.
I think your write up was fine. I don’t agree with some of it for me, but I thought that it was very good for those with less experience. Nice work there Hanna. I can see where you are getting a very nicely done brisket. Keep up the good work, and thanks for trying to help others.
 
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