Cooking Science – Times For Smoking Brisket
Without a doubt, smoking a brisket is a patience-testing task. More than that, the entire process of smoking a brisket requires a great deal of cooking precision and knowledge. However, it is also incredibly rewarding to take out, slice up and enjoy a perfect piece of meat that is crusty on the outside and juicy on the inside.
Such a vision is incredibly tempting, and you very well may decide to go for it and smoke your first brisket sometime soon. If that is the case, this guide will definitely be of great help. By following these step-by-step instructions, you will ensure that, even if it is your very first time attempting this style of meat cooking, the results will be more than satisfactory and worth the real Texas style brisket!
What is more, this guide will provide a clear and straightforward explanation of the times that you should take into account when smoking a piece of meat in order to get the best brisket possible next time you fire up your grill. That being said, let's go right into the important stuff.
What You Will Need for Smoking a Brisket
Step by Step Instructions for Smoking a Brisket
1. Pick the Perfect Piece of Meat
Before going any further, it's important to make sure that the brisket you are about to buy is good enough for smoking. Hands down, the best cut for brisket smoking is the "packer cut" brisket. Essentially, this is a large two-muscle cut with all its fat cap.
This cut should be at least 11 pounds before trimming the fat. Keep in mind that every person you are serving should get about 1/2 pound (or more) of brisket.
The next thing you need to take into account is the quality of the whole brisket. Keep in mind that briskets of higher quality are more marbled than those of lower quality. More marbling also means that the end result will be juicer and flavorful. If at all possible, pick a brisket of the Wagyu or Prime varieties as they are the fattiest and most marbled of all.
Finally, it's important to know the difference between a pasture fed and a grain fed brisket. There will be a difference in flavor, but that is subjective. Cooking-wise, the most important difference is that a pasture fed brisket will cook faster than a grain fed one.
2. Prepare the Meat for Cooking
The first thing you should do is to trim off the excess top fat, also known as "fat cap". Use a sharp knife, and leave a 0.25-inch layer of fat on the meat. This fat will keep the meat nice and moist during the extensive cooking process, so be sure not to leave any less.
Now, it's time to season the meat. To do this, you must first prepare a mixture of herbs and spices otherwise known as a rub. The basic rub consists of a mixture of coarse salt and black pepper. However, you can add to it anything you'd like. For example, a few tablespoons of garlic powder can give your brisket a delightful little kick.
Sprinkle a few generous tablespoons of rub on the meat, rubbing it in vigorously so that it is evenly spread on both sides. After this process, you can go immediately on to the next step. However, it is recommended to let everything sit for anything between 20 minutes and 2 hours. If you decide to do this, make sure to put the meat in the refrigerator during the process.
3. Prepare and Control the Temperature of the Meat Smoker
During this entire process, you should keep an eye on your powered thermostat in order to make sure that the temperature is optimal. In addition, you should have a good understanding of your type of smoker or cooker (a pellet grill? Electric smoker?).
In particular, it's important to know where its hot spots are, how long it takes to reach a stable temperature and how well it is able to maintain said temperature.
Light up the wood so the device begins gaining temperature. The best wood for fuel is a combination of charcoal and wood. Hickory, pecan and oak are good options, but you can use whatever you want for the smoke flavor you want to get. Get your smoker or grill to be running at 250 to 275 degrees.
Once it gets there, keep the temperature stable for a few minutes. The goal is to keep it slightly higher than it should be until the meat goes in.
4. Place the Meat in the Cooker
At this point, you are ready to put the brisket in the cooker or smoker. Place it carefully on the top rack with the fat side up. Make sure the entirety of the meat's bottom is making contact with the grill. Once the brisket is placed, close the lid and bring the temperature down to 225 degrees. You can use the grill's vents to help regulate the temperature. Leave the meat to cook.
Make sure to check the temperature of the grill at least once every hour, making sure it is as close to 225 degrees Fahrenheit as possible. It may be tempting, but do not open the lid unless it is absolutely necessary (for example, to add extra coal or soaked wood chips).
If you have done everything correctly up to this point, it should take about six hours for the brisket to be fully cooked.
When six hours of cook time have almost passed, the brisket should reach its plateau. This is a term that is used to describe the moment when the brisket's internal temperature reaches around 150 degrees Fahrenheit and stalls.
Don't worry as this is perfectly normal, and it only indicates that it is almost time to wrap the piece of meat. After six hours, you may open the lid and check everything out. In particular, make sure that the bark is nice and crusty. Smoking times may differ depending on the size of the brisket, but a 6 hour mark is a good place to start. This will give you plenty of time to cook sides, other dishes or do other preparations for your dinner.
5. Wrap the Brisket
If you are happy with the brisket's bark, it is now time to wrap it. Add the half a cup of apple juice and wrap the brisket tightly using two large sheets of aluminum foil. Alternatively, you can use peach butcher paper to wrap the meat. Once it has been wrapped, put the brisket back in the smoker or grill, maintaining the device's cooking temperature at 225 degrees.
Once it has been wrapped, the brisket's internal temperature should start to slowly rise. The goal is for it to rise to around 202 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, brisket cooks for anything between five and eight hours. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.
However, the safe thing to do is to leave it for cooking time of full six hours. Just to be sure, try to have at least a couple of hours extra planned for the brisket to continue cooking if necessary.
6. Let the Brisket Rest
Once another six hours have passed, it's time to take the brisket out of the smoker or grill and leave it to rest. Even though it may not seem important, letting the meat rest is a crucial step. This process allows the hot and bubbly juices to settle down and redistribute, ensuring that the meat will be evenly juicy and flavorful.
What is more, letting the brisket rest also allows it to come down to the perfect temperature for slicing and serving. In order to make this happen, simply leave the piece of meat in its wrapper while you set the table or have some pre-meal drinks.
7. Test the Brisket for Doneness
Before slicing and serving the brisket, it is important to test it in order to find out if it's properly cooked. Ideally, the temperature of a smoked brisket is about 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Its internal temperature, however, should increase by 10 degrees if the piece of meat is thoroughly cooked, so take that into account.
At any rate, you can find out whether the brisket is well done without having to slice it by using the "feel" method: Simply stick a small fork in the brisket. If it goes right in and twists with ease, the meat is done.
If, on the contrary, the fork meets some resistance, it means that you need to cook the piece of meat a bit further, depending on the size of the brisket. Make sure not to overdo it, however, as this could result in a dry, chewy and tough brisket.
8. Slice the Brisket
Finally, the time has come to slice the tender brisket for serving. Slicing a brisket correctly requires a certain amount of knowledge and practice in order to be done correctly.
However, you can do it right if you follow these steps. First, slice against the grain to achieve maximum tenderness. Remember, however, that briskets have two overlapping muscles with different grain directions.
Did you enjoy this brisket recipe? Personally, I love a good brisket, this perfect cut of meat, and knowing how to smoke brisket to perfection is a source of great satisfaction in my life. Do you have any additional tips or comments? Personal preferences? Leave a comment below or share this article!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there different kinds of brisket?
The brisket is almost always sold as a boneless cut, although it may come packaged under a few names. A flat cut brisket is just the thin piece of muscle found at the bottom half of the brisket. The flat doesn’t contain the large fat cap you’ll find at the top of the brisket. There is also the point, a thicker piece attached to the flat with a layer of fat. It’s unusual to find the point sold alone. If you want the entire brisket, look for the packer cut, which contains all the pieces along with all the fat.
What is prime beef brisket?
Prime is a USDA classification for meat, along with Select and Choice. With Prime brisket, you’ll find more fat marbling throughout the meat. This helps keep the meat juicy and moist as it cooks, resulting in a superior flavor. Choice is also a good cut of beef, as it has less marbling than Prime but is still fattier than Select.
How much brisket do I need per person?
In general, you’ll lose about 50 percent of a brisket’s weight while cooking. This loss is due to water and fat loss. Because of that, it’s best to estimate 1/2 pound (uncooked) weight per person.
Do you have to remove the fat from brisket before smoking it?
There are a few types of fat in a brisket. First, there’s the intramuscular fat, which keeps the meat juicy as it cooks. You should not remove any of this fat. Then, there’s the deckle, the fat that attaches the point to the flat. If you remove this fat, you will also remove the point muscle, so that choice is up to you although we usually leave it intact. Finally, there’s the fat cap, which is the thick layer that runs along the top of the brisket. We like to trim this to 1/4 inch for best results.
How long does it take to smoke a brisket?
In general, it should take about one hour and fifteen minutes per pound of uncooked brisket at 225 degrees F. We like to cook it to an internal temperature of 150 degrees F (which usually takes about six hours) before wrapping it and cooking it to its final temperature of 195 degrees F (which will take another five to eight hours).