Brisket Part 3 The Cook
In part one of this three part blog series I detailed how I fine-tuned my brisket cooking method without breaking the bank. In part two I discussed how to select the perfect brisket and the process of wet aging. In todays post I will detail how I attempt to make the perfect brisket. Now lets get the smoke rolling!
Smoking a brisket is a tedious and time-consuming process. A whole packers brisket can take between 10 and 14 hours to cook. I primarily use Traeger Grills. Before I smoke something that’s time consuming I clean my grill; I vacuum the barrel, firepot and replace the liner on my drip try. I wipe off my thermostat probe with a wet cloth and put my grill back together.
The final step in preparing my grill is loading the hopper. I like to smoke my briskets in a blend of Hickory and Mesquite woods. Hickory adds a robust flavor and Mesquite compliments the hickory and beef flavor of the brisket. I mix my pellets and fill the hopper completely.
I then completely cover my prep surface with plastic wrap. This prevents contamination and makes for easy cleanup. Remove the brisket from the packaging and discard. Use paper towels dry the brisket.
Once the brisket is dried it is time to get trimming. For the record I am no butcher and know the very basics. Before you get to trimming do some research and watch a video or two. The legendary Aaron Franklin has a few videos on Youtube, and I highly suggest you take a gander at them before trimming your brisket.
I start with the fat side of the brisket and trim it down to ¼ inch. I trim the deckle and the fatty area that separates the flat from the point. Trim off the thin side of the flat. This makes the flat equal in thickness and will cook evenly. It will also acts as a guide when slicing the finished brisket. Make a mental note as to the direction of the grain and use that cut as a guide when slicing the finished brisket. When the brisket is finished, you will slice the brisket against the grain.
Flip the brisket and trim off the excess fatty patches and as much silver skin as you can. It is important to trim the brisket while it’s cold. As the brisket gets warm the fat will start to render and it becomes a slimy, slippery mess.
So you trimmed you brisket and have pounds of trimmings left. What do you do with them? Do not throw them away. Set them aside because they will be used in the cooking process.
After the brisket is trimmed it is time to inject it. I inject my briskets with Butcher BBQ brand Brisket Injection or Minors Beef Base. If using Minors mix according to label and inject. Both of these can be purchased on Amazon.
Inject your brisket in the same direction of the grain. You will see the injection move through the brisket. Stop when the injection starts to come out of the brisket or you see it stop moving through the grain. Start injecting again where you last saw the injection moving through the grain. Continue to do this until you have injected the whole brisket. I use the whole bottle of Butcher BBQ Brisket Injection. Injecting a brisket adds flavor and moisture to the brisket. Think of it a seasoning it from the inside.
Once the brisket in fully injected, rub the excess injection over the entire brisket. The injection will seep into the brisket and help the seasoning stick to the brisket.
Season the fat side of the brisket to your liking. I use coarse sea salt and coarse pepper. I make a 50/50 blend and place it in a shaker bottle. When seasoning the brisket keep the shaker bottle moving. The salt is heavier than the pepper and will fall to the bottom of the shaker bottle.
After the fat side of the brisket is seasoned place it in large disposable tin pan fat side down. This is where you are going to put the trimmings to use. You will notice the point is much thicker than the flat. Place the trimmings under the flat elevating it off the bottom of the pan. This creates an equal thickness across the entire surface of the brisket and will help cook evenly. This also elevates the brisket off the bottom of the pan away from where the juices will gather. This will help get an even dry bark. Make Sense? Huge shoutout to BBQ Pit Master Chad Ward for that tip. It blew my mind.
Season the top and sides of the brisket, coating evenly. Place a temperature probe into the thickest part of the brisket flat. It wouldn’t hurt to put a probe in the flat and another one in the point if you have them capabilities.
Prepare you pit. If using a Traeger, open the lid and turn it to the smoke setting. Once a fire is established and heavy smoke starts to roll from the barrel close the lid and set to 225 degress.
While the grill is warming prepare your wireless thermometers and set the alarms. I set my low temperature grill alarm to 180 degrees and the high temperature alarm to 275 degrees. I set my internal temperature probe alarm somewhere in the area of 160 degrees and 165 degrees. Once the grill reaches temperature place the pan in the pit and wait. When you’re done waiting wait some more. You are going to want to open the grill and check on the brisket. Fight the urge and keep the lid closed.
When the internal temperature of the brisket reaches your desired temperature remove it from the grill. Increase the temperature of the grill to 275 degrees. Cover the pan with tin foil and place back on the grill. The other option is to remove the brisket from the pan and wrap it in a couple layers of pink butcher paper before placing it back on the grill. I have done both. Play with this process and form your own opinion.
Reset you grill and internal temperature alarms. This varies based on how much time I have to rest my brisket. If I think I am going to have an abundance of time to rest my brisket I will pull it at 202 degrees. If I think am going to be pressed for rest time I will pull the brisket at 204/205 degrees. Ideally you are going to want to rest the brisket for 2 hours. Use this two-hour window as a guide as to what temperature you pull the brisket. If you think your are going to have more than two hours to rest your brisket you may want to consider pulling it off at 202 degrees.
After you remove the brisket from the grill let it rest 10 to 15 minutes. After the brisket has rested place it in a towel lined ice chest and cover with another towel. Rest the brisket in the cooler for two hours. While the brisket is in the cooler it will continue to cook. This is called the carry over.
After the brisket has rested removed from the cooler and unwrap. Admire your work and snap a few pictures. Slice against the grain and enjoy.
Not all briskets are the same and they will all vary in time. Depending on your grill weather elements will affect the temperature, time and fuel consumption.
A huge shoutout to Traeger Grills, Chard Ward and many other Professional Pit Masters and backyard BBQ enthusiast from around the world. You have all helped me fine turn my brisket method and it gets better with each one. This process is what I have found to work from me. I hope everyone who read this picked up a tip or two and added it to your BBQ toolbox. Use this as a guide to develop your own Brisket method. By any means I am not trying to take credit for this cooking process. It’s simply the process that I have found that works best for me. BBQ Pit Masters have laid the foundation and set the blue print for this method.