The Best Smoked Brisket Recipe
Beef brisket is one of those cuts of meat many people are too intimidated to try cooking. Brisket can be a challenge – it is a lean and tough cut that often is overcooked.
Brisket is frequently served boiled and corned at St. Patrick's Day tables across the US, but well-made smoked beef brisket is also delicious. Brisket is a favorite at BBQ joints all over, but is particularly popular in the Southwest. Today we're going to tell you how to smoke a brisket Texas-style for a great meal your family will love.
What is Brisket?
Brisket is one of the nine primal cuts of beef. The brisket is cut from the lower chest and these muscles do a lot of work. So the meat consists of long, strong fibers. The brisket consists of two separate muscle groups identified as the flat and the point. When smoking a brisket, you'll want to buy a brisket that includes both the point and the flat. This is most often called a packer brisket cut. A whole packer brisket will provide juicy and tender smoked meat that won't be dry.
Trimming a Packer Brisket
When you are getting your brisket ready for the smoker, cut most of the excess fat off. You want to leave only about one quarter inch of the fat cap on the beef. If you don't trim the fat on the brisket, the smoke flavor will not get into the meat and you'll end up with a bunch of delicious smelling (but inedible) fat and a bland brisket.
Seasoning a Brisket for the Smoker
Some people swear by dry-aging brisket, but we have found that the process often results in a very flavorful but dry piece of beef. Instead, we brine our brisket in the refrigerator, then let our packer cut brisket come to room temperature before smoking it. A whole packer cut is a big hunk of meat – usually between 16 and 18 pounds of beef. It can take more than an hour to let the meat come to temp.
Brining the Brisket
Brining adds flavor and will ensure your brisket is moist and tasty. Our brine is a simple recipe. Just combine water and apple cider vinegar in a large stock pot, brining bag, or dutch oven. Add sugar, black peppercorns, a couple bay leaves, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Next set the brisket in the brine and place in the refrigerator for about three hours. When the brisket has sat, remove it from the liquid and pat it dry with paper towels. Do not rinse the brisket.
Dry Rub for the Best Flavor
For our brisket, we are going to use our all-natural Bearded Butcher Blend Black Seasoning. This blend has the perfect combination of spicy coarse ground black pepper and kosher salt to provide the ultimate in flavor. We are simply going to rub the brisket completely on all sides with the seasoning.
The traditional, Texas way to season a brisket is to rub it with brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Many smoked brisket recipes also include paprika or chipotle seasoning for a spicy kick.
Smoke a Brisket like a Pro
We are going to preheat our Traeger 885 smoker to a temperature of 225 degrees F. For our brisket, we are going to use Traeger apple wood pellets. Apple wood chips contribute a slightly sweet and smoky flavor that is perfect for a brisket. Place a meat thermometer probe in the thickest part of the brisket, making sure that you don't accidentally get the probe in the fat layer between the flat and the point.
Smoking brisket is a time-consuming process, so make sure you plan ahead. A large brisket can take eight or nine hours to smoke and should be rested after cooking. Smoked brisket usually takes around half an hour per pound to cook thoroughly.
With the Traeger preheated to the correct temperature, place the brisket fat-side down in the smoker and close the lid. Monitor the temperature of the brisket as it cooks, you'll want it to cook low and slow. It will take four to six hours for the beef brisket to reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. You don't need to flip the brisket while it is smoking. In fact, for the best results, don't open the smoker until the internal temperature has hit 160 degrees.
Remove the brisket from the grill and double wrap the brisket in heavy duty aluminum foil. Add about one and a half cups of beef broth to the aluminum foil packet. Return the brisket to the smoker until the internal temperature hits 205 degrees. A full packer brisket is a long cooking process, so it's important to keep in mind that the total time to smoke will likely take all day.
Resting the Smoked Beef Brisket
The brisket is done smoking once the internal temperature has reached 205 degrees. You're going to be tempted to slice up the brisket and eat it right then and there. Don't do it! Resting your brisket will allow the juices to set, making the meat even more delicious.
Our favorite way of resting a brisket is to wrap it in a towel and place it in an empty ice chest. The insulated ice chest will keep the brisket from cooling too much and will trap the moisture inside, ensuring you get the ultimate in moistness, flavor, and tenderness from a packer brisket. The resting time can be as short as 30 minutes, but you'll get better results letting the smoked beef brisket rest for an hour or longer.
Cutting the Brisket
Unwrap the brisket and place it on a cutting board. The brisket should have a nice, dark bark on the outside. The first step is to separate the point and the flat. you'll find a fat seam that easily comes apart to remove the flat and the point. The point and flat have grain running in different directions.
Slice against the grain in 1/4" to 1/2" slices. The bark will give you a nice, dark color on the outside, while the inside will be tender, pink, and juicy. Texas-style brisket is melt-in-your-mouth, deliciousness, and smoking is the best way to cook brisket.
Texas-Style Smoked Brisket Recipe
- 1 whole packer brisket
- 1-2 cups Beef Broth
For the Brine:
- 4 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup whole black peppercorns
- 3-5 bay leaves
For the Rub:
Alternative Rub Ingredients:
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- Powdered onion and garlic to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Paprika, chipotle, or crushed red chili
- Mix brining solution together and place whole brisket in brine for three hours. Drain and pat dry, then allow the brisket to come to room temperature.
- Preheat the smoker to 225-250 degrees.
- Thoroughly coat the brisket in dry rub seasoning.
- Place the brisket fat-side down in the smoker with a meat thermometer in the thickest part.
- Smoke 4-6 hours until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
- Remove brisket from the smoker. Double wrap in aluminum foil and add 1-2 cups beef broth. Return to smoker.
- Continue smoking the brisket until the internal temperature has reached 205 degrees.
- Remove brisket from smoker and wrap in a towel. Place the brisket in an empty ice chest to rest for up to two hours.
- Unwrap the brisket. Place the brisket on a cutting board. Find the silver skin and separate the flat and point.
- Slice against the grain in 1/4"-1/2" thick slices and serve!
Smoking a brisket is one of the more ambitious meals many grill masters tackle. A whole packer brisket is a big piece of meat that can take all day to cook, so you want to make sure it comes out delicious. There are lots of different ways out there to smoke a brisket, but our favorite is Texas-style when we have a whole packer to work with.
Following the recipe we gave you today will make sure your smoked brisket comes out tender and juicy on the inside with the perfect charred bark on the outside. Pair a brisket with steamed vegetables and mashed potatoes, or slice it up on a crusty brioche roll for an unbelievably delicious sandwich.
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