I’ve been smoking meats low and slow for a number of years now but have put off doing a beef brisket because I thought that was a cut of beef for only “masters” or “professionals”. I was wrong. My first attempt was last summer while I was doing some pork shoulders on my smoker. I thought to myself at the time, as long as I have the grill going, why not put a beef brisket on and lets see what happens. Well, what happened was the beef brisket was way too tough and I literally threw it out after taking one bite. Good thing my two pork shoulders were awesome. Why did the brisket not turn out? What should be done differently so that this does not happen again? Questions, these and many more haunted my head and kept me from doing another brisket; until just a few weeks ago.
Another intimidating aspect of the brisket is the crazy number of ways folks have prepared them. Google “smoked brisket” and you will see what I mean. There are hundreds of recipes and they all vary with one exception I found, pulling it at a specific internal temp. This was the crucial detail that I paid no attention to on my first try. You don’t do a brisket by time, you do it by temp. Since my first attempt failed miserably, I selected a recipe to follow from the manufacturer’s of my grill, Green Mountain Grills. Feel free to check their recipes HERE. I made a few changes but mostly it was the timing that was different between my version and Green Mountain Grill’s brisket recipe.
My brisket was 7.5 Lbs and labeled “choice” which from what I have read is preferred over “select” beef brisket. Next time I will certainly go with a larger brisket, don’t get me wrong there was plenty for just my wife and I, but we dig leftovers and this was so good that the leftovers didn’t quite go as far as we would have liked them to.
The first step is to trim the fat cap. You don’t want to leave as much of the fat cap on as you would with a pork shoulder, so make sure to trim it to roughly a 1/4″ only. I didn’t want as much so as the picture shows below on a good portion of the brisket I went with no fat cap at all. I would suggest the best of both worlds would be about 1/8″ of a fat cap.
Next, and this is completely optional, score the top in both directions which will allow your favorite dry rub to get directly into the brisket. Next time I will use my own dry rub that I use on my pork shoulders, but for this one we simply used Montreal Steak seasoning. I first coated both sides of the brisket with olive oil then worked the rub into the scores.
I then placed the brisket in an aluminum pan, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight.
The hardest part of this recipe was getting up at 4am on a Sunday morning to pull the brisket out to get it to room temperature while my smoker came to the smoking temperature of 185° Once it is at room temp then place the brisket (remove it from the pan if you used one in the fridge) directly on the grill with the fat side up for 5 hours, then put the fat side down and smoke for two more hours. Here is what it looks like 7 hours in.
I put the brisket on exactly at 5 am which made it easy to remember to spritz it every hour. I use the same spritz as when I smoke a pork shoulder – apple juice and Worcestershire.
After the 2 hours, fat side down you then turn over the brisket once again to fat side up and continue to smoke at the same temp until your brisket reaches 165°. In following GMG’s recipe they estimated that this would take an about 2 hours give or take. I checked mine at 2 hours and was already over 165° – but no worries, again, you can’t go by time. My grill may run a little hot, and I also made a modification to it that equalizes out the temperature evenly. Since making that mod I have seen temps raise much quicker. Please don’t go by time, go by temp.
The next step (10 hours in at this point) is to remove the brisket from the grill and wrap it in aluminum foil. Use the same mix of apple juice and Worcestershire. Create a “boat” of the foil so that you can put a good amount of the spritz mix making sure you pour it on the top of the brisket and have the juice then collect under the brisket. (I always double wrap since I have a tendency to rip a single layer of foil which will release all the spritz juice).
Return the wrapped brisket back to the grill/smoker and turn up the temperature now to 225° until the internal temperature reaches 200°. I pulled my brisket after two additional hours with an internal temp of 208°, again not as much time as the original GMG recipe and pulled when the IT was slightly higher than the target, but again, no worries here. At this point it had been in the smoker for a total of 12 hours.
Next,place the wrapped brisket in a cooler with as little air space as possible. A couple of towels do the trick nicely. Let the brisket “rest” in the cooler for 1.5 hours. As you can see, it looked nothing less than awesome and taste as good as it looked.
Plenty ways to serve your brisket, we simply baked off some fresh rolls and added a little horseradish sauce and made simple sandwiches.
It reheated very well, just like smoked pork shoulder.
I seriously was mad that I waited so long to try this recipe again after my first fail, and now I’m already thinking about doing another one. Next time however I will do two briskets, with the amount of time a brisket takes, you might as well make the most out of it and smoke two of them right away. I used 100% Cherry wood, but any mild flavored wood will work, you don’t need mulch additional flavor as the brisket has plenty all on it’s own.