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Top Rated Brisket Recipes
Texas is known for barbecue brisket, which is basically a big hunk of meat slathered in salt and pepper and cooked low and slow in a smoker for up to 10 hours. To get a perfect crust on a brisket, you’ll need a wood fire kept at 250-275 degrees F and you’ll need to tend it every half hour. This brisket recipe is adapted from one created by Aaron Franklin, owner of Austin’s famous Franklin Barbecue. It includes all the tips you need to cook a delicious Texas-style brisket.Franklin uses un-waxed pink butcher paper to wrap his meat after six hours, but aluminum foil works almost as well.
A meatball sandwich never disappoints, and this one has touchdown potential. This recipe comes from Lincoln Financial Field, where the Philadelphia Eagles play.This recipe is courtesy of Aramark.
Add a delicate, floral aroma to your beef brisket this Passover by cooking with lashings of Meyer lemon zest, and serving with a fresh pomegranate gremolata.This recipe is courtesy of Martha Stewart.
This easy recipe is perfect for tacos and will be a dinner home run. Cooking brisket in the slow cooker with salsa verde makes the meat tender and juicy. Recipe courtesy of Seasonal Cravings.
If you are planning on making a hearty meal to go along with your latkes for Hanukkah (or any other festive holiday), this brisket is easy and delicious. Slow cooking is the best way to make brisket as it is usually a tough cut of meat. Ask your butcher for the "flat cut" of the brisket and to trim the layer of fat down to 1/4 inch. This will help to keep the meat tender as it cooks.For more Hannukah tips check out A Gentile's Guide to Hanukkah.
The addition of fresh horseradish to this garnish feels thematically appropriate, and it carries a key flavor of the Seder through the delicious main course.This recipe is courtesy of Liza Schoenfein.
Throw everything in the slow-cooker, leave it to simmer for several hours, and you’ll end up with a perfectly cooked beef brisket.This recipe is courtesy of Real Simple.
This is a perfect traditional pot roast recipe that will make you long for Sundays. We’ve designed this recipe to be made in an Instant Pot, but you can use any brand of multi-cooker. The ingredients are pretty straightforward, and, by utilizing the braising and pressure-cooking functions of the Instant Pot, it will take you just over an hour to create the comforting, earthy flavors of a traditional pot roast.10 Winning Instant Pot Game Day Recipes
These Korean-inspired sliders are popular with the beer served at 508 Gastrobrewery, a gastropub located in New York City. They were also featured at the 2012 Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival at the Grand Tasting.
Brisket is often corned in Ireland, but it is also appreciated in its native form; a tough but flavorful cut, it lends itself particularly well to long, slow pot-roasting. Serve this pot-roast with mashed or boiled potatoes, if you like.Click here to see the Cooking with Guinness story. Adapted from “The Country Cooking of Ireland” by Colman Andrews.
If you’re making a beautiful beef brisket this holiday season, chances are you’re not going to have a ton of leftovers after dinner. But don’t scrap that meat! Make this scrumptious dip instead.This recipe is courtesy of Keebler and Damaris Phillips.
For easy eating during the Oscars, enjoy these high-brow sliders at your next viewing party. For more Oscar-worthy tips, click here!
The Best Passover Brisket
Last Passover was our first zoom holiday of quarantine, and it feels pretty surreal that we’ll be doing it again very soon. Besides my family, the element I missed most was the Passover brisket, which seemed silly to make for just two people.
My Aunt Jennifer is responsible for most of my formative memories of brisket, and most of my positive experiences with Passover. The highlights of the family meal were always the many chairs added year after year to make up for the new additions to the table my undefeated record with the afikomen cousin Holly’s Chocolate Chip Macaroons and my aunt’s brisket, which we would all be hankering for after two hours of bitter herbs, hard-boiled eggs, and plagues.
Passover has always been one of my favorite Jewish holidays, but in college, I couldn’t always make it back to CT to Aunt Jenn’s. My junior year, I was stuck at school and decided to host a seder of my own. My friend Jamie procured the prayer books and plenty of matzoh. Jillian made her mother’s potatoes. And I provided the brisket.
It felt a little strange to deviate from my aunt’s famous dish, but I managed to fill the buffet table with a respectable, if not, entirely perfect, slab of soft, slow-cooked meat thanks to the goyim influence of Mr. Emeril Lagasse.
Going into our second remote Passover, I will be missing these traditions and my Aunt’s brisket even more. So I thought it was the perfect opportunity to resurrect my recipe that was once a staple on my old blog, Big Girls Small Kitchen.
If you caught last week’s post, then you know I’m on a bit of a roll with cooking my way through my own archives from a decade ago. This recipe certainly held up, though SIBO Amigos will gawk at the ingredient list—I certainly haven’t used this much onion and garlic in a WHILE!
My husband was also thrilled to see ketchup back in the fridge. I used an organic brand and worried that without the chemicals, it would be missing that je ne sais quoi. But luckily it held up. Because I’m more sensitive to sugar now, I cut back on the added amount. And if I made it again, I might even experiment with eliminating it entirely and seeing what the ketchup does on its own.
The result is the best Passover brisket you will ever eat: moist, perfectly tangy, and sweet with a slight kick. Stuffing the meat with garlic cloves is my favorite part. This was the technique inspired by Emeril. They melt completely away by the end but make the sauce and meat that much more flavorful.
Read on for the best Passover brisket recipe! Until next year in Jerusalem…or at least, inside our relative’s house.
How do you cook a brisket? That is probably the most common question I receive from readers, right up there with How do you cook ribs? Texas style smoked BBQ brisket is tricky, and if you are new to low-and-slow smoking in general, I recommend you start with pulled pork before tackling a smoked brisket recipe. Pork butt is much more forgiving, and you can overcook it without severe consequences. Not so for beef brisket.
Once you master the basics, however, making this smoked brisket recipe is not as difficult as you might think. You just need a good recipe loaded with proven techniques and useful tips. In this article, you’ll find everything you need to cook a tender barbecue beef brisket, including how to season it, how long to smoke it, how to slice it, and everything in between! Like the sign says outside of House Park Bar-B-Que in Austin, Need No Teef To Eat My Beef ! (Click here to Tweet this bit of wisdom) !
A whole BBQ beef brisket (a.k.a. packer’s cut brisket) is a huge hunk of cow that comes off the smoker deep ebony in color, almost black, looking more like a meteorite than a meal. But it is not burnt, and beneath the crust is the most tender, juicy, meat full of husky, beefy flavor. IF you cook it right. And that’s a BIG IF. Like a Clint Eastwood cowboy, brisket is unforgiving. Cooking it wrong can result in meat as tough as a wrangler’s leather chaps. Now if you are smoking a smaller portion of a whole packer brisket, it can be even more difficult.
That’s why I created a smoked brisket recipe that ensures mouthwatering barbecue brisket every time. Some hot shots may dispute my choices, but if you start here, you can then riff on the options and consider the controversies discussed below the recipe. Your effort yields meat that is a bit dry or tough? Then try again. Sometimes it’s the steer, not the brisket recipe or the cook!
Briskets are the pectoral muscles from the chest of the steer between the forelegs. Each animal has two, and because cattle have no collarbones, these boneless muscles bear quite a load. There isn’t much fat marbling within the muscle, and there’s a lot of springy connective tissue in and around the muscle fibers. That’s why briskets are so tough.
Much of the world’s brisket is made into corned beef, pastrami, or pot roast, but it is also a fine cut for barbecue, and it is required cooking contests sanctions by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS), about 500 across the nation.
There are two distinct muscles in a brisket that comes from the meat packer whole: a long, flat, rectangular, lean muscle that sometimes comes to a point that is called the flat (pectoralis profundus), and a narrower, thicker, fattier, oval shaped muscle called the point (pectoralis superficialis). Got it? The flat is pointy and the point is oval. Go figure.
When you buy a whole packer brisket, it usually weighs 8 to 16 pounds and comes vacuum packed in an airtight plastic bag. The meat has a cap of fat on one side that can be up to 1″ thick, and it is trimmed pretty close to fat free on the other side. There is a thick layer of fat that separates the point from the flat. Photos featured here show a whole 12-pound packer brisket as it arrived from the packer.
Below, our cutting board is 20″ x 14″. The fat cap is 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick, and the flat is labeled A while the point rests on top of the right side of the flat in the oval marked B. As you can see, the packer trimmed it quickly and left some meat bare. Not the end of the world.
Your butcher probably offers three cuts of brisket, a whole packer brisket, a flat (sometimes called “first cut”), and a point (sometimes called “second cut” or the “deckle”). Larger briskets usually come from older steers and tend to be tougher. Most packages will show the “Packing Date.” After a steer is slaughtered, it is broken down and packed, usually within 24 hours, although if it was slaughtered late on Friday, it might not be packed til Monday.
The best briskets are wet aged 28 to 45 days in the vacuum bag. Enzymes within muscles tenderize meat as it ages, so competitors often wet age their meat in the vacuum bag in the fridge in their basement. Click here for more about aging beef.
Cooking a Hunk O’ Flat (HOF) or Hunk O’ Point (HOP)
A whole packer brisket is a lot of meat! Many grocers cut up the whole brisket into smaller more manageable sizes. I often see cuts from the flat or point running anywhere from three to six pounds. I call them a HOF, for Hunk O’ Flat, or HOP for Hunk ‘O Point. These HOFs seem to be more common than HOPs. If the meat case has both, chose the HOP. It has more marbling in the muscle and will be more tender, flavorful, and juicy. Now if you see only flats, ask the butcher if you can order points. HOFs are usually tough and it is hard to make them tender. But don’t ask your butcher for a HOF: that’s just a term you and I use.
My grocer usually has a number of HOFs in the three to four pound range, perfect for serving a small family. If you are cooking a three to four pound HOF, there is much less waste and shrinkage, so buy 1/2 pound or more for each person.
The HOF is practically pure muscle and has little marbling, the kind of fat that makes meat taste tender and juicy. Most people who buy the HOF are making pot roast by simmering it for hours in liquid. But you want the Texas taste, right? If you must do a HOF, then try really really hard to get Certified Angus, USDA Choice, USDA Prime, or even Wagyu beef. They have better marbling. Choose a thick HOF, and look for marbling and uniform thickness so one edge won’t dry out. If the meat is not on a plastic tray and you can flex it, select one that is floppy. The technique for cooking a small hunk is pretty much the same as cooking a packer.
Tom Hoefer from Allen, Texas, posted this tall tale about a barbecue contest on the net in 2001. It is reprinted here, slightly edited, with his permission. Fact or fiction? Serious or joke? You decide…
A few years back at the Texas State Finals, several of us arrived on Thursday to get in line for the best sites. Thursday night was devoted to serious drinking.
One of the better cooks, Ole Connie Baker of the team “Li’l Pit Of Heaven” was throwing back quite a few of those Mexican beers with a chunk of lime stuck in the neck. Connie had so many of them limeade beers that he was starting to smile with a pucker.
Someone asked him how come his brisket was so tender and always placed in the top three. I thought to myself, boy oh boy, if loose lips sink ships then Ole Connie is going down tonight. All got quiet as he stuffed another lime in a longneck and he said that he “only cooks left-handed briskets”.
He explained that most, but not all, steers rest on their left side, which means when they get up they have to push harder with their right legs. At this point about half the bunch mumbled something to the effect of “bull hockey” and went back to different conversations.
A few of us noticed that Ole Connie wasn’t smirking. Two or three of us moved closer and I said to him, “You can’t stop there. What does pushing up with their right legs have to do with the left brisket?”
Ole Connie stuffed another lime and told us that when they push up with the right legs, it flexes the right brisket muscle more than the left. Therefore the right-handed brisket will be tougher and less marbled than the left. Not always but usually. I asked him, “How the heck do you tell a left-handed brisket from the right?”
He stuffed another lime and told me that, with the fat side down, on a left-handed brisket, with the narrow part closest to you, the point will curve to the right.
Saturday awards time rolled around and Connie took First Brisket and Grand Champion over 180 of the best cooks in Texas. I think that I came in 19th with my right-handed brisket.
This is a concept that I just could not get this off my mind. Then I phoned the kin folk in LaGrange, Texas, and asked if they would check out their herd. Yep, you guessed it. Only three out of 37 consistently rested on their right side. Dangnation, Ole Connie has got it going big time!
I went to five different grocery stores and flexed briskets to see which sides were more limber and more marbled. There are some right-handed briskets that are more limber and marbled than the lefties, but for the most part, the majority of the best are left handed!
Welp, there it is folks. Take it or leave it. As Joe Friday on the 1950s TV show, Dragnet, used to say, “Only the facts, ma’am.”
Most smoke brisket recipes include a dose of controversy
As with anything barbecue, there is controversy surrounding brisket. Pitmasters disagree on several major scores:
Beef is graded based on the age of the animal and the amount of fat marbling. Click here for more about beef grades. The more marbling the better because fat makes the meat taste more tender, flavorful, and juicy. USDA Select, USDA Choice, USDA Prime, and Wagyu are the most common grades, from lowest to highest. Choice or Prime are my favorite grades.
Wagyu is well marbled and will be more juicy, so if you can find it, and afford it, go for it. Most of the top competition teams are now using prime or Wagyu. But it is very expensive. And grade alone will not guarantee that the meat will be tender. Brisket is just an ornery piece of meat, and if you want it tender, you’ve got to work. Tasty is easy. Tender is not .
Let’s get this straight: the thick fat cap does not penetrate the meat when it melts. I discuss this myth here. Some cooks like to leave the entire fat cap on the meat as insulation, trimming what remains before serving. This helps moderate the heat during cooking. Others trim most of it off before cooking, leaving a layer of 1/8″ to 1/4″, reasoning that if you leave the fat cap on, spices and seasoning will never penetrate to the meat, and then the seasoning is wasted when you trim off the fat at the table.
Some cooks also remove much of the fat layer between the two muscles, the flat and point. I trim the cap to 1/4″ or less. A little fat helps retain some moisture in the meat, after the fat shrinks to about 1/8″ during cooking, most people will not trim it off, so the seasoning remains. Also, while slicing, some of the melted fat will run down across the meat, making it shiny and juicy.
Before it is cooked, many of the best Texas barbecue joints simply use “Dalmatian rub” for their authentic Texas brisket recipe: liberal amounts of Morton’s coarse kosher salt and coarsely cracked black pepper. For them, stylin’ is to add some cayenne and garlic powder to the rub. Some leave the rub on the meat overnight in the fridge, but others just season the meat and toss it on the pit. Leaving salt on the meat overnight is a good technique because the salt will start to penetrate. The other spices won’t, but you want that NaCl flavor amplifier down in the meat where it can also help the proteins retain moisture, the basic result of brining.
On the competition circuit, many cooks use a complex secret concoction of herbs and spices that give a little spark to the bark, the flavorful crust that forms after all that cooking. For this smoked brisket recipe, I salt it the night before with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat, thicker on the point than the flat. Nxt I apply my Big Bad Beef Rub while the smoker is heating up, about an hour before cooking. This approach is discussed in my article on the Science of Rubs.
You can put a rub right on bare meat, or you can help it stick by moistening the meat with a little water, or you can put down a slather of mustard or ketchup, or you can use cooking oil. Our SVP, Clint Cantwell, uses mayonnaise because, as he says “mayo is fat, and fat is flavor!”
Don’t get too bogged down in this detail. My experience is that slathers make little or no difference in the final outcome so I tend to skip it with my smoked brisket recipe. Mustard is water, vinegar, and maybe white wine with mustard powder mixed in. The amount of mustard powder is so small that by the time the water steams off and drips away, the mustard powder remaining is miniscule. If you want a mustard flavor, you will do much better by simply sprinkling mustard powder on the meat. I usually use water because spice rubs dissolve better in water than oil. Far more important than what’s under the rub is what is in the rub itself. So use whatever liquid or fat you want for a slather .
Countless competition cooks like to inject brisket with an internal marinade by using large hypodermics and other gimcracks. These “pumps” add moisture, break down tough fibers, and add flavor. Many of the champs have been injecting the meat with a product called Fab B Light or Butcher BBQ Brisket Marinade, both of which are moisturizers, tenderizers, and flavor enhancers.
Fab B contains hydrolyzed soy protein, vegetable oil, sodium phosphates, monosodium glutamate, autolyzed yeast extract, xanthan gum, disodium inosinate, and guanylate. Butcher BBQ products contain hydrolyzed vegetable protein (hydrolyzed soy and corn protein and salt, with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil [cottonseed, soybean] added), monosodium glutamate, sodium phosphate, and xanthan gum.
Some traditionalists think this is way too Barry Bonds and are repulsed by the idea. The results speak for themselves. They are winning. A lot. If you choose to inject and don’t want all the chemicals, don’t use anything that tastes very different from beef. Just use plain beef broth. In most recipes, I specify low sodium broth, but actually the saltier version is better in this case. This is like brining, and the salt helps retain moisture as well as enhance flavor. Insert the needle parallel to the grain so it doesn’t leave tracks in the finished meat. If you inject salt, however, do not dry brine.
Fat cap up or down, on or off?
This argument is as old as Texas. I asked my beef consultant, Dr. Antonio Mata, a meat scientist and a former Consulting Technical Coordinator to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, if fat will melt and penetrate the muscle fibers. His reply was simple and unequivocal. “No way.” I asked him to elaborate. “The fibers are packed too close for large fat molecules to squeeze in. Since about 75% of the muscle is made of water, and oil and water don’t mix, it is just going to melt and run off.” Click here for more on the subject of fat caps.
This melting of fat is called rendering. We know that rendered fat can run over bare muscle, basting it, but very little will go to the underside of the meat. Most of it will just run down the sides and drip off. So the only basting occurs on the sides. We know that:
- All the fat does not render during cooking
- Rub applied to a thick fat cap will not contact the meat because the fat is a barrier. If the fat cap is very thin, some spices might get through
- Warm fat with spice rub is yummy
- Fat can inhibit moisture loss from evaporation, and since the stall is caused by evaporation, a fat cap can slow the onset of the stall and help you speed through it
- Bark will not form on fat because bark is mostly dried surface meat
- When cooking with heat directly below, as with a Weber Smokey Mountain or a kamado, the fat can absorb heat and protect meat from drying out
- Diet conscious diners will trim off thick layers of fat if the meat is served on a plate and not on a sandwich. That means the flavorful rub will be removed
- When cooking two meats, one above the other, the fat can drip down and baste the meat below
- Beans that sit below melting fat are magical and
- That a small fat cap will run down over the meat as it is cut, adding flavor.
So what’s the right thing to do? In this smoked brisket recipe I say trim most of the fat but leave a thin layer, less than 1/4″, so that diners will not remove it and the rub. I put the fat between the heat and the meat, often with beans underneath. Sometimes I even flip the meat midway through the cook just so nobody can win the argument.
Separate the two muscles?
There is a lot of sense in separating the two muscles. When they are together a packer is tear-drop shaped and so the thin end cooks faster than the thick end and tends to dry out. If you separate the two muscles they are more uniform in thickness.
Some cooks remove the point layer by working a knife through the fat layer that runs between the flat and point. They cook both muscles side by side rather than one on top of the other. Since the flat is a pretty evenly thick, it cooks more evenly with only a little bit on the ends overcooking. The overcooked parts can be chopped and mixed with sauce for chopped brisket sandwiches, fajitas, mixed with beans, etc. By cooking the flat separately, you get beautiful symmetrical sandwich slices with a smoke ring all around them.
The point end is usually a bit thinner, but more marbled. Depending on thickness you might want to put it on an hour or two after the flat.
Separating the muscles also doubles the surface area and creates more bark. It speeds up cooking, knocking off about 1/3 of the time for cooking a whole packer. If you separate the muscles and remove most of the fat from on a 13 pound packer, you can expect about 5 pounds of flat, 4 pounds of point, and 4 pounds of trim.
Many competitors swear that low and slow, around 225°F for 18 to 20 hours for a whole packer, is necessary to make the meat tender and juicy. Legendary “Barbecue King” Walter Jetton, Lyndon Johnson’s caterer, advocated cooking brisket at 275°F and up. John Fullilove of Smitty’s Market confesses that he cranks the heat over 300°F and knocks out his briskets in as little as 8 hours.
I have seen competitors take home big prize checks with brisket cooked at 350°F. The bottom line is that cooking temp seems to be less important than other factors. But because it is difficult to make brisket tender, I advocate for low and slow until you have mastered the techniques and are certain that your meat source and methods are superior. I cook at 225°F for this smoked brisket recipe.
A lot of cooks like to keep their meat wet by mopping it with a baste. They say the mop replaces moisture that evaporates. Others say mops cool the meat and slow the cooking. The AmazingRibs.com science advisor, Prof. Greg Blonder has proven that wet meat holds more smoke, so mopping or spritzing with water, beef broth, or apple juice will yield a smokier brisket. It also cools the meat and slows cooking, which allows more time for connective tissues to melt. Mopping with flavored liquids has no significant impact on taste. There just aren’t enough taste molecules in apple juice or beer to change the taste of brisket. Not like a sprinkle of a spice. Click here to read my article on basting.
The Texas Crutch is a technique for speeding the cooking and moisturizing the meat. The concept is that you smoke for a few hours, and when the meat hits about 150°F, wrap it tightly in heavy-duty foil or untreated butcher paper (never plastic wrap) and let it braise and steam in its own juices in the crutch in the cooker. Some folks wrap at 150°F, others at whatever temp the meat is at when the stall kicks in, others when the color looks right to them.
If you don’t wrap, when the meat hits about 150°F, moisture rises to the surface and cools the meat by evaporation, like sweat on an athlete. The meat then sits there stuck at an internal temp of 150 to 160°F for up to 5 hours. This stall is a maddening point in the process when it seems like something is wrong. Its temperature just doesn’t rise for hours at a time. This is freaky and a lot of novices panic when it happens. Many people think the stall is caused by melting fat or collagen. It is not. The stall is caused by evaporative cooling. Click here to learn more about the stall.
The negatives of the crutch
The down side of wrapping is that the foil softens the crusty bark. You can overcome that by placing the meat over high heat for about 10 minutes per side just before slicing. I think wrapping in foil and holding in a faux cambro is essential for tender, juicy brisket. Brisket is the only meat I crutch. In competitions, virtually all the teams crutch their brisket as well as pork shoulder and ribs. I think the impact of wrapping is major on brisket, minor on the other meats. But you do not absolutely need to crutch. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a firmer crust, but you risk slightly drier and tougher meat.
Purists say wrapping is not traditional. Spare me. Cooking with charcoal in a steel tube is not traditional either. You want tradition? Go dig a pit in the dirt.
The next controversy over the crutch is whether you should wrap in butcher paper or foil. Brisket master Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin uses untreated pink butcher paper like this. Click here to order some from Amazon if you want to try it.
My experience is that without wrapping you get the best bark, most smoke, and most intense flavors. Wrapping in foil makes moister meat with a hint of pot roast and a soft bark, but it can cut 2 hours off the cooking time. Wrapping in paper cuts about 1 hour off cooking time, lets some moisture escape but traps most of the rendered fat, and tastes very much like the foil wrapped version. Bottom line, the differences are very subtle. And fears of destroying the bark are overblown. If you have a good bark when you wrap, most of it will survive.
When is it done?
Steaks from along the back of the animal are done at 130 to 135°F, at which point they are the most tender and juicy. But that muscle is more tender and juicy because it doesn’t get much of a workout on the animal. The brisket, the pectorals, get a lot more work and have a lot more tough connective tissue that needs to be softened, so you just can’t take briskets off the heat at the same temp as steaks. For more on this dichotomy, read my article on meat science.
Old time pitmasters say brisket is done when it is done. These folks say you really can’t tell by temperature. Each brisket is different. They can tell when it is ready by feel. Some talk about a gelatinous bounce it has when they poke it because the connective tissues have melted. This is referred to as the “wabba wabba” point. Others stick a fork in the side of the flat and twist. If it turns easily, it is ready. Yes, that’s where the expression “stick a fork in it” came from. “Fast Eddy” Maurin says he waits until it is “as soft as buttah.”
The rest of us have to rely on temperature, and despite their bravado, the top pitmasters on the competition circuit all use digital thermometers to help them. A lot will depend on the quality of the meat, how moist the air is in the cooker, if you injected, and how long you crutched. I’ve heard skilled cooks tell me every number from 195 to 205°F. A lot of top competitors swear by 203°F, and I have noticed that something magical does seem to happen at around this number. At this temp, the thermometer probe glides in effortlessly, like buttah (once it gets through the bark). If, despite your efforts, your brisket never gets tender, pull it off before it goes above 205°F because it will only continue to dry out.
Then it comes off the cooker and it gets wrapped in foil and sits in a faux cambro, an insulated box like a beer cooler, for 1 to 4 hours. Holding helps tenderize by allowing some carryover cooking which helps melt tough connective tissue. The foil also captures natural jus for use in a sauce, and holding the meat allows the surface parts that have dried out during cooking to re-absorb some of the juices. This is not the same as resting a steak or other meats, which I do not recommend. Holding is also a great fudge factor that lets you take the meat off when it is ready and hold it for hours until the guests are ready.
Controversy also reigns over slicing. The target temp used by many pitmasters is about 140°F before they slice. Once it’s ready to slice, brisket is easier to chew if you cut it perpendicular to the grain. If you cut with the grain, it can taste stringy and chewy. You’ve come this far, so make sure you slice brisket correctly!
The problem is that there are two muscles, the flat and the point, and the grains run in different directions on them. Most folks slice from the thicker, point end in about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick slices. Some folks run a knife through the fat layer between the point and flat, separating them, and then slice each separately.
Meanwhile, other folks cut off the flat where the point meets it, and then they rotate it so the cut is on the side and they slice through the point and flat from the side. That’s the way I like to do it.
To some people, it’s not barbecue unless it has a sweet red sauce on it. Not to Texans. “In Texas, we celebrate great brisket by not messing with it,” says Daniel Vaughn, the barbecue critic for Texas Monthly. “If it’s done right, then you slice it pencil thick and slap it on a piece of butcher paper. It’s naked, quivering and vulnerable, so it has to stand on its own.” In some places, a thin decidedly not-sweet, tomato-y gravy-like jus is tolerated.
Competition teams go to extremes to make brisket look pretty and to make the one bite taken by the judges taste extraordinary. Check out the Award Winning Competition Brisket Recipe from American Royal champs Clark Crew BBQ.
Cooking more than one.
I frequently get asked how to handle cooking two briskets (or more) or a shoulder and a brisket, or a shoulder, brisket, ribs, and a muskrat. The answer is here, in my article on Cooking More Than One Large Hunk ‘O Meat.
Beef brisket achieves its apogee on the blackened pulley pits of Central Texas, so I always serve it Texas style. The smoky slices of meat from this smoked brisket recipe lounge on a thick slab of Texas Toast with only a few spoons of thin, tart, tomato-soup like sauce, none of that thick sweet Kansas City stuff. Brisket needs sugar like steers need wolves click here to Tweet this bit of wisdom.
On the side, I like to honor the Mexican heritage of Texan cuisine with frijoles, simple pinto beans cooked cowboy style with some fatback or bacon, onion, garlic, and a few chopped tomatoes, scented with bay leaves and cumin, and sprinkled with fresh minced jalapeño. Absolutely positively none of those sweet Yankee beans. The wolf law holds for beef sides too.
Then, honoring the European heritage of many of the great Texas barbecue joints surrounding Austin, I want a mound of German Potato Salad, warm and pungent with vinegar and dotted with celery seed.
Next to it I want a scoop of fresh, crunchy sauerkraut from the fridge. None of that soggy canned stuff.
To honor the Czech heritage of the numerous Texas butcher shops turned barbecue joints, I chase the whole thing with a tallboy, a simple uncomplicated Pilsner style Texas brew, straight from the bottle.
Dessert has to be crunchy, gooey pecan pie with black coffee. Pecans are a major cash crop of the Lone Star State, and my favorite pie bar none.
Cook today, serve tomorrow
I often get asked what’s the best way to cook brisket Saturday and serve it on Sunday. My answer is “don’t do it”. That’s called serving leftovers.
These meats are best fresh off the smoker. If you have to serve it at noon on Sunday, then start cooking before you go to bed.
If you don’t want to cook this smoked brisket recipe overnight then consider serving something that doesn’t take so long, like smoked turkey or baby back ribs.
Now if you absolutely positively must cook it Saturday to serve Sunday, there is a technique I describe in this article.
What to do with brisket leftovers
If you do have leftovers from this Texas style smoked brisket recipe that you will not be able to scarf down in a few days, mix the leftovers with a bit of barbecue sauce or the jus from the Texas Crutch (if it is not too salty), and freeze everything in zipper bags or vacuum bags. The sauce helps prevents freezer burn. Pop a bag in the microwave and you’ve got a great emergency meal for two.
Leftovers from my smoked brisket recipe are best reheated in the microwave a small amount at a time. But it will be a bit drier and tougher than the first day, so bring it back to life with a splash of water, apple juice, Texas Crutch jus, or barbecue sauce. The best method is in the microwave, second best is to heat it slowly in a pot with the lid on.
Here are some other ideas for leftover brisket:
- Cottage Pie (like Shepherd’s Pie but with beef instead of lamb). Probably the best thing I’ve ever done with leftover meat from my smoked brisket recipe is a variation on Cottage Pie. This classic Irish peasant casserole was a hearty meal for farmers, often served midday. There are hundreds of variations on the theme, but it is essentially meat and potatoes in two layers. Here’s the core concept: Brown veggies and cubes of beef in a deep pan or casserole. Whup up some mashed potatoes, and pile them on top. Put them in the oven and bake. So here’s what I did: On Sunday I did brisket and garlic mashed spuds. I browned carrots, celery, onion, and frozen peas, and then tossed in cubes of leftover brisket, some of the jus that was in the foil when I did my Texas Crutch (not too much, it’s strong stuff), and some beef stock leftover from the last time I did a Prime Rib (any beef broth will do). I topped them with about 2″ of leftover garlic mashed, painted the top with butter, sprinkled on some parmesan cheese and bread crumbs, and baked the whole shootin’ match in the oven until the top was brown. OMG. Substitute BBQ lamb and you’ve got Shepherd’s Pie.
- Brisket enchiladas. Slow’s Bar-B-Q in Detroit is famous for their brisket enchiladas. Folks make the enchiladas by sautéing onions, tossing in some sliced brisket and a splash of hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and their house secret sauce. They then dump it on a tortilla, top it with grated smoked gouda cheese, roll it up, grate some American cheese on top, and give it a squirt of hot sauce for good measure.
- Stir fry. Believe it or not, leftover brisket is great in a Chinese stir-fry with onions, carrots, broccoli, and a soy/sesame oil/hoisin sauce with a splash of hot sauce on a bed of rice.
- Hash. John R. Crowley from Denver (a member of our Pitmaster Club, where many brilliant BBQ ideas are shared) says he likes to chop up leftovers, mix them in beans, or fry them up in some hash.
- On scrambled eggs or salads. Bill Martin likes his leftovers chopped up in scrambled eggs and on top of a salad.
- Sandwiches. Seve Page says “To me there is not much better than a long slice of brisket with mozzarella (or provolone) on a steak roll bun. I microwave gently with some crutch sauce, place on the bottom half of the bun with two thick slices of cheese end-to-end on top and pop into a small toaster oven in the broil mode to melt the cheese and toast the bun (so it doesn’t get soggy). I then drizzle the crutch sauce on the top toasted bun and slap ’em together.”
- Italian beef sandwiches. Lucy Baker says “Make Italian beef-style sandwiches with very cooked (limp) green and red bell peppers, onion, and a little Italian seasoning. Reheat the beef in broth and spoon over crusty bread before adding the beef and peppers. Yikes!”
- Quesadillas. Merrill Powers in Elmhurst, Illinois, makes quesadillas with his leftovers.
- Chili. Dave Frary makes chili with his leftovers.
- Burritos. Danny Gaulden makes burritos.
- I don’t know what to call this but I want to eat it. Rodney Leist from Elfrida, Arizona, kills several different leftovers in one dish. He puts one of those single serving bags of corn chips in a bowl, adds a big scoop of leftover chopped brisket, a similar amount of leftover smoked sausage, and a similar amount of beans. On goes some leftover sauce, chopped onions, chopped jalapeños, and grated cheese. The whole thing gets heated in the microwave. Sort of like a walking taco but in a bowl!
- Trade bait. Buzz Dean in Wisconsin says he takes his leftovers to the pub and trades them for beer!
At a glance: Secrets of success with this smoked beef brisket recipe
1) How do I pick the right brisket? Do not just pick up whatever your butcher has on display. Get USDA Choice grade meat or higher. If you have to special order it, then order it. If you start with USDA Select or below, you will have a hard time elevating it beyond shoe leather.
2) How do I know when brisket is done? Use a good digital thermometer to monitor your cooker and another to monitor the meat. Your smoker’s dial thermometer is wrong. Don’t trust it. The Maverick remote is perfect for this job. Step into the digital age. As a general rule of thumb, aim for a finished temperature of between 195°F and 205°F, though seasoned professional go by feel versus temperature as each brisket cooks differently.
3) What size brisket should I buy? Use a whole packer if you can. Small pieces, like a four pound hunk o’ flat (HOF) or hunk o’ point (HOP) lose a lot of moisture, shrink a lot, and get tough.
4) Should I separate the two muscles of a packer? This topic in a Texas bar will usually end in gunplay. Lately, I have been doing it and I like the results.
5) Should I inject a brisket? Injecting with beef broth, brine, or specially formulated injection helps combat dehydration, and the salt enhances flavor.
6) Why has the temperature of my brisket stopped rising, and why should I wrap the brisket? Wrap the meat in foil or butcher paper when it hits 150°F internal temp. The method tenderizes and moisturizes, but most importantly it powers through the stall, a long delay during which the meat temp stops rising. The stall can last for up to 5 hours. Many people think the stall is caused by melting fat or collagen. It is not. This is caused by the meat sweating and cooling from evaporation. Wrapping the meat powers through the stall and delivers moister meat. Click here to learn more about the stall.
7) Can I cook brisket in the oven? True BBQ brisket is smoked low and slow on a smoker or grill, so skip the oven if you can and opt for this authentic smoked brisket recipe. Finishing indoors after it has absorbed plenty of smoky flavor is cheating, but nobody will arrest you. If you’re having trouble controlling the temperature of your outdoor cooker, and most charcoal cookers are hard to control for long sessions, cook outdoors until the meat hits 150°F, wrap it in foil, and then move it indoors. It still may stall for an hour or 2 at about 170°F. Wait it out.
8) How do I keep brisket warm after cooking? When the meat in this smoked brisket recipe hits an internal temperature of 200 or 205°F in the flat, hold the wrapped brisket in a 170°F oven or wrap it with towels or a blanket and let it rest in a beer cooler for 2 to 3 hours. The internal temp slowly drops. This helps tenderize the meat but also gives you leeway before serving if the cooking takes longer than anticipated.
9) When should I start cooking a brisket? When it comes to this smoked brisket recipe, start earlier than you think you should. If the meat is ready before the guests, fine. It will be stay moist and juicy wrapped in foil in a beer cooler or a holding oven. Better the meat should wait than the guests. Exact timing is impossible to predict.
10) How long does this smoked brisket recipe take? The most important determinants of total cooking time for a smoked brisket recipe are how thick the meat is and what temp your cooker is averaging. But humidity, ambient air temp, wind, rain, and grade of meat can all play a role. Click here for more about what determines cooking time. There is no precise formula. That said, plan on 12 to 18 hours for a whole packer brisket if you wrap it in foil at 150°F, plus two hours holding time. If you don’t wrap in foil, 16 to 20 hours plus two hours rest is a good estimate. For flats, 10 to 12 hours with foil, 12 to 14 hours without foil.
“I adapted your brisket rub recipe this summer and my customers love it (8,000 pounds served in the past 6 months)! My brisket even won ‘best beef’ in the Sonoma County Harvest Fair this year (2010).” Larry Vito of BBQ Smokehouse in Sebastapol, CA Free Barbecue News magazine every month to members of our Pitmaster Club. Click here for a free 30 day trial. No credit card needed. No spam. Click here to Be Amazing!
Championship Award-Winning Brisket Competition Rub Recipe
As a follower of barbecue championship competitions, I decided to analyze and find the best rub recipe for brisket.
Most of the winning teams from the competition bbq sell their dry rubs online and since they sell commercially, you can see and analyze the ingredients of the each product.
So, the approach I am taking, also inspired by David of BbqDryRubs was:
- Analyze the commercially sold products of 5 of the best competition brisket award winners.
- Since they sell commercially, they must list all the ingredients in the list.
- Analyze and compare all the ingredients to finally put together the Best Championship Brisket Rub.
Ingredients in the Award-Winning Championship Brisket Dry Rubs:
Kosmos Cow Cover
- Chili Pepper
- Dehydrated Garlic
- Dehydrated Onion
- Disodium Inosinate & Guanylate
- Natural Hickory Smoke Flavor
- Citric Acid
Pellet Envy - The Most Powerful Stuff
- Brown Sugar
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Garlic Powder
- Dehydrated Garlic & Onion
- Spices & Chili Peppers
Oakridge Black Ops - Signature Edition
- Sea Salt
- Black & White Pepper
- Chilies (Incl. Paprika & Chipotle)
- Raw Cane Sugar
- Bolivian Coffee
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Other Spices
Slap Yo Daddy Beef Moola
- Sea Salt
- Maple Sugar
- Granulated Garlic
- Cane Sugar
- Chili Pepper
- Black Pepper
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Shitake Powder
- Citric Acid
- Celery Seed
- Soy Lecithin
- Other Spices & Natural Flavors
Plowboys Bovine Bold
- Brown Sugar
- Dehydrated Garlic & Onion
- Spices (Incl. Chili Peppers)
- Celery Powder
- Disodium Inosinate & Guanylate
After we take a deep look at the data below, we can see that the common ingredients are:
- MSG or aka Monosodium Glutamate
- (Worth Mentioning) 4 out of 5 of them contain Onion Powder
What is MSG?
The Monosodium Glutamate or MSG is directly listed as an ingredient only for one of the products but if you take a deep look, you can see that the flavor profile is present in all of them.
Two of the other rubs contain disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate, which when combined together, taste just like MSG.
The other two rubs contain shiitake mushroom powder, which are naturally loaded with MSG.
A few Points to Have in Mind:
- After analyzing the Championship Competition BBQ Rubs, I noticed that the black pepper was not a primary ingredient. It is present in only 2 out of 5 rubs even though online, it is present in 99% of dry rub recipes.
- Also, another issue is to properly know how much of each ingredient to use. Each brisket rub has different amounts for each ingredients, so I decided to keep them all balanced.
Doc Somerville's Brisket Rub
The ingredients below will create a flavor-packed rub which will take your brisket to the next level.
You will get a salty, sweet, smokey and savory flavor, along with a little bit of spiciness, which will definitely grab your attention.
- You are free to use either Kosher or Table salt but I personally prefer Morton table salt for this rub since it mix well with other ingredients thanks to its small particles.
- Try to find fresh or high quality smoked paprika. If it doesn't smell good, don't use it.
- The Chipotle chili adds to the smokey flavor and the ancho contributes to the sweet. Gebhert's chili powder will balance everything.
Better Than Sex Brisket Recipe
Smoked Brisket can be a frightening task. With the right guidance, however, you'll be turning out melt-in-your-mouth slices in no time thanks to our Smoked Brisket Recipe!
To get you started, Grillocracy is turning to one of our favorite BBQ and grilling bloggers, Robyn Medlin Lindars of GrillGirl.com, for her "Better than Sex Brisket" Brisket Recipe.
In it, Robyn focuses on the fatty "point" of the brisket versus the "flat" from which sliced brisket normally comes from. While it can be more difficult to come by unless you have access to full packer briskets which contain both portions of the brisket (if not, you're best bet would be to call your local butcher a few days ahead of time and request that he/she hold one for you), it is more forgiving should you cook it a little too long due to the extra fat content.
I did not grow up eating Brisket. I’m from North Carolina and BBQ was pork- period! But, since the inception of “grillgrrrl” I’ve come to learn more and more about all types of BBQ and low and slow. To a Texan, brisket is BBQ. And you don’t mess with Texas (or so they say!).
Anyway, I digress. The point of this post and recipe is that brisket is the bomb. I made brisket on my BGE over a year ago for the first time and Scott has been asking me about making it again ever since. brisket is an aphrodisiac for my husband, hence the title of this post!
For my "better than sex" brisket" smoked brisket recipe, I consulted 2 of my favorite chefs in “Que”: Chris Lilly and Adam Perry Lang, for cooking direction (both times). Let me tell you- a combination of their techniques and recipes and YOU CANT GO WRONG. It’s a recipe/technique hybrid of two of the smartest and “winningest” guys in BBQ – need I say more?! - Robyn Medlin Lindars, GrillGirl.com
GRILL GIRL'S BETTER THAN SEX BRISKET RECIPE
2 tbsp. beef base such as Minor's Beef Base or Better Than Bouillon
2 tbsp. fresh ground pepper
Wrap Sauce, aka The “Texas Crutch”
2 tbsp. light brown sugar (I used bourbon barrel smoked brown sugar)
2 tbsp. apple juice OR 2 tbsp. sweet tea
3/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Meat: removed fat cap/very fatty areas and score the meat on both sides so it can absorb more rub.
Rub the beef base into the brisket on all sides. Combine the garlic salt, pepper, chile powder, brown sugar and smoked paprika and generously “rub” into the meat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Prepare your smoker to 225 degrees. If using a grill, you will need to prepare for indirect heat by creating a direct/indirect zone.
Once the grill comes to temperature, add smoking wood to the fire. I used a combination of 1 part hickory and 2 parts apple.
Put your brisket on the smoker and let smoke for 5 hours or until the internal temp reaches 170 degrees (NOTE: We recommend using a quality instant read thermometer such as the super fast Thermapen available here).
Brisket and Pork Butt on the Smoker
Once the brisket hits an internal temperature of 170 degrees, wrap it in foil (aka the Texas Crutch). Roll out a large sheet of foil and double it up so that you can fold the brisket into a foil “packet”. Remove the brisket, put it on the foil and pour on the wrap liquid. Seal up the foil packet and put it back on the smoker/grill.
Remove the brisket/foil and put the brisket back on the smoker/grill. Brush the brisket with theglaze and let the meat continue to cook for 30 minutes to absorb the glaze.
Once you pull the brisket off, “tent” it in foil for 30 minutes. Cut against the grain into 1/4” slices. Serve and experience brisket ecstasy!
The science behind the best smoked brisket rub recipe
When you’re scouring the web for a good recipe to rub down onto your big brisket, you should be on the lookout for the four S’s. They are: sugar, spices and herbs, savory, and spicy. When used together in harmony, these four components can yield a fantastic brisket rub.
Both brown and granulated sugar help form the coveted “crust” for which brisket is so well-known. At this time, there is no readily available substitute that will give you the same flavor and texture as sugar.
Spices and herbs are helpful in customizing your brisket flavoring, and beef brisket makes the perfect canvas for a wide array of flavors.
Savory flavors, like garlic and green herbs, are also good components to add to your brisket rub.
If spicy flavors are what you desire, a blend of dried hot pepper spices could be an excellent way to turn the heat up a notch.
What makes the BEST Smoked Brisket recipe
Because I couldn&rsquot stay in Texas forever, I knew that I would have to learn to make my own smoked brisket recipe at home. I was used to making Slow Cooker Barbecue Brisket but now I wanted to use my smoker.
As the smoker heats up, bring the brisket to room temperature.
And I was very fortunate to have found a pit master who was willing to share his recipe with me.
I was shocked to find out how simple the recipe was.
It really is more of a technique and process, than a true recipe.
Yes, of course there is a homemade dry rub to be made. But after that, it really is the smoking process that makes the best smoked brisket recipe.
Ingredients in Championship Winning Brisket Dry Rubs
All five brisket rubs have the following ingredients in common:
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Four of the five rubs also contain onion powder.
The MSG is Tricky
MSG is only explicitly listed as an ingredient for one of the products (The Most Powerful Stuff) but the flavor profile is there for all of them.
Two of the rubs contain disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate. When these two ingredients are used together they taste just like MSG.
Two of the rubs contain shitake mushroom powder. Dried shiitakes are LOADED with naturally occuring MSG.
What About Black Pepper?
I was shocked to see that black pepper was not a major ingredient. Black pepper is only listed as an ingredient for two of the five rubs. Maybe it is lumped in there with the generic terms “other spices”
The folks down in Texas swear that all you need for brisket is salt and pepper. I guess that’s a major difference between Texas barbecue and Championship Competition barbecue.
How Much of Each Ingredient?
So now that we know the important base ingredients to use in the rub the question becomes, “How much of each?”
We get a big clue when we go back to the product labels and look at the sodium content. I will save you from doing the math on this one. These rubs range from 27% salt (Black Ops) to 42% salt (Most Powerful Stuff). I used these guides and dialed my rub into one that is 37.5% salt.
I kept the other ingredients relatively balanced. I didn’t want any flavor to dominate the others and I sure as heck didn’t want any flavors standing back and being wall flowers.
Doc Somerville’s Brisket Rub
- 6 Tablespoons salt
- 2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 2 Tablespoons granulated garlic
- 2 Tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 Tablespoon granulated onion
- 2 teaspoons ground Ancho chile pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground Chipotle chile pepper
- 2 teaspoons Gebhardt’s Chili Powder
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Accent (MSG)
This rub is a flavor backed beast that will take your brisket to the next level. You get salty, sweet, smokey and savory along with a spiciness that builds in layers and grabs your attention.
About the Ingredients
Salt: I use Morton table salt, not kosher. Kosher salt particles are much larger than the particles from the other ingredients and don’t mix as well.
Chiles: Chipotle for the smokey heat. Ancho for the sweet earthiness. Gebhert’s chili powder for the balance of chilis and the extra spices that come along for the ride.
Smoked paprika: If it doesn’t smell amazing then don’t use it.
Sugar: I use turbinado because I like it. You can use white or brown. If you want to make this really good then try using maple sugar.
If you want to learn more about the award winning brisket rubs I modeled my recipe from then keep scrolling. In the paragraph below I share the credentials from the teams/individuals and a few links where you can purchase their competition battle tested rubs.
The products listed below are the award winning brisket rub recipes that some of the best pitmasters in barbecue have bottled up and made available to the public. These rubs have helped HUNDREDS of people take walks on the championship stage at KCBS events. The rubs are listed alphabetically….they are all amazing.
Smoked Beef Brisket Recipe
Brisket cutting is to a great extent disputable – with numerous brisket sweethearts in one of two camps-those that affection the additional flavor leaving the fat top of brisket on gives a brisket (I am without a doubt a devotee to leaving the layer of fat on a brisket, however, incline toward it to be cut equally and cut a touch) – and those that trim a brisket of the abundance fat for an all the more notwithstanding smoking and uniform surface with almost no fat top left on the brisket.
In numerous supermarkets, you can discover pre-cut brisket that is ideal for a family supper (which I utilized in the photographs in this post) – no additional work required – however pre-cut briskets do will, in general, convey somewhat more extreme sticker price than the one you can trim yourself. When I am arranging a significant gathering or picnic, we’ll go for the pointcut and keep the fat to some degree untrimmed, so we can gradually allow it to render and discharge the majority of the astounding flavor into the brisket.
In case you’re keeping fat on your brisket, I locate its best to trim it down a piece to all be even so the brisket cooks equitably and you don’t have excessively out of shape pieces (however, those are very heavenly when done right). Cut back the excess top equally and evacuate any messy bits for the best outcomes – however, you don’t need to go too over the edge when cutting your brisket.
Prepare for Smoking Session
When you have your brisket, the subsequent stage is to plan to smoke. With regards to marinating, you’ll accomplish the best outcomes via flavoring one day before you intend to burn. When it’s all said and done, and you’re in a period crunch, 2-4 hours before will be alright.
Expel the brisket about an hour or two preceding you’re prepared to fire up the smoker with the goal that it can adapt to room temperature. Some open-air gourmet specialists utilize this opportunity to infuse a marinade into the meat. However, we like to give the smoke a chance to season our brisket.
- Fill your wood chip box with mesquite, hickory, apple or cherry wood chips.
- Apple and cherry woods include mellow, sweet flavor.
- Hickory wood will add a trace of bacon to the brisket.
- Mesquite wood is a conventional smoking wood however, it very well may be substantial. Take a stab at including a little apple or cherry to mitigate it.
- Mixing apple or cherry wood with hickory will help equalization out the sweet and bacony flavors.
Charcoal can likewise be utilized however, wood chips are wanted to give a better flavor to the meat.
Here’s how to smoke a brisket in an electric smoker:
- Select brisket. Make sure to get one that curves and has a thick covering of fat.
- Marinate your brisket one day ahead of time. If you don’t have time, 2-4 hours will work.
- Give it a chance to sit out and acclimate to room temperature for 1-2 hours before setting in the smoker.
- Burden wood chips. The charcoal will work however, wood chips give more flavor.
- Warmth smoker to 200° (Initial objective temperature will shift contingent upon smoker model)
- Burden brisket in the smoker.
- Trust that brisket will smoke.
We hope our article on Smoked Beef Brisket Recipe for 2020 will be helpful for you. Don’t forget to check out our list of best pellet smoker.
Nach Waxman's Beef Brisket
- Quick Glance
- 40 M
- 4 H, 10 M
- Serves 10 to 12
Ingredients US Metric
- One (6-pound) first-cut beef brisket, trimmed so that a thin layer of fat remains
- All-purpose flour, for dusting (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons mild olive oil or vegetable oil
- 8 medium onions, peeled and thickly sliced
- 3 tablespoons store-bought or homemade tomato paste
- Kosher salt
- 2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
- 1 carrot, peeled and trimmed
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Be ready with a large ovenproof enameled cast-iron pot or other heavy pot that has a lid and is large enough to just barely (or snugly) fit the brisket.
Lightly dust the brisket with flour, if desired. Sprinkle the brisket with pepper. Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Add the brisket to the pot and cook until crusty and browned areas appear on the surface here and there, 5 to 7 minutes per side.
Transfer the brisket to a platter. Increase the heat under the pot a little, add the onions, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot, until the onions have softened and developed a rich brown color but aren’t actually caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Place the brisket on the onions and pour any juices that accumulated on the platter over the brisket.
Spread the tomato paste over the brisket as if you were icing a cake. Sprinkle the brisket with salt and pepper and then add the garlic and carrot to the pot. Cover the pot, transfer it to the oven, and let it cook, untouched, for 1 1/2 hours.
Transfer the brisket to a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, thinly slice the brisket across the grain into approximately 1/8-inch-thick slices. Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice. The end result should resemble the original unsliced brisket leaning slightly backward. If absolutely necessary, add 2 to 3 teaspoons water to the pot.
Cover the pot and return it to the oven. Lower the heat to 325°F (163°C) and cook until the brisket is fork-tender, about 2 hours more. Check once or twice during cooking to make sure that the liquid hasn’t bubbled away. If it has, add a few more teaspoons of water—but no more. Also, each time you check, spoon some of the liquid on top of the roast so that it drips down between the slices so that the juices infuse the meat with flavor.
It’s ready to pile on a platter or cutting board and serve right away after you spoon just a little of the pan juices over the brisket to barely moisten it, although truth be told, it’s even better the second day after you let the brisket cool, cover it loosely with foil, and refrigerate it overnight. To rewarm, skim any fat from the surface of the juices and gently reheat the brisket in the juices, in a covered Dutch oven, in an oven preheated to 325°F (163°C) until warmed through, about an hour.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This has to be one of the best brisket recipes that I have tested. Easy, right to the point, basic cooking methods and a normal cut of beef all combine for a really outstanding taste treat. The flavors are fully developed, and each one compliments the others. It is comfort food — and yes, “soul food” as well. It is the chicken soup for the beef lovers amongst us.
I had never made a brisket before, but always thought of it as a dry, tough cut of beef — this recipe proved me wrong.
I do not own a cast-iron pot with lid or any pot with a lid that can go in the oven, so I had to switch from a pot on the stove to a casserole dish that I covered tightly with aluminum foil for the oven, and it still worked great. The entire process was unlike any other meat I have fixed — from icing it with the tomato paste to cutting the meat before it was done cooking — but it worked great. I never had to add liquid, and the meat came out so moist and tender. I make pork barbecue a lot, and I made the sauce I use for that to have on the side. With or without the sauce, the meat was a hit.
We’ve tried various brisket recipes over the years. This was the best brisket I’ve had since my dad’s brisket, and that was too long ago. I’ve even tried making my dad’s recipe, but it’s never turned out the way it did when he made it.
I can’t single out one part of this recipe that makes it a winner. I think the secret is that everything just works together beautifully. The ingredient list is short. So much so that I wondered how much flavor the finished product could possibly have. Doesn’t 8 onions sound like a lot? But after tasting the succulent, rich, caramelized onions in the finished brisket, you may make a note on the recipe similar to the one I did. “Use even more onions next time.” I’m looking forward to the “next time” being sometime soon.
As for my fear about the short ingredient list, there was no need for it. The flavor is great. And don’t shy away from making a recipe that calls for a 6-pound brisket and advertises that it feeds 10 to 12 people. You can make it, like I did, for 2 people. We portioned the leftovers, vacuum-sealed them, and stashed the packages in the freezer. The brisket froze perfectly. How great it was to have such a wonderful meal on a night when there wasn’t much time to cook.
What an easy brisket to make, filled with flavor and tenderness. The brisket was so tender it fell apart once fully cooked, so I understand why you cut it prior to the end of its cooking time—this way, we were able to serve it as slices and not all shredded. We served it with plain mashed potatoes, and I would fully suggest that as the potatoes help soak up the pan juices. This is definitely a hearty meal, perfect for a weekend lunch—followed by a nice long nap. Thanks, Nach Waxman!
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
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Can’t wait to try this recipe for our Passover Seder. I was not able to get a six pound brisket. I bought three briskets, each over 2 pounds. Should I cook it for the same time as one six pounder? Thanks!
Fran, if you’ve got them all snuggled together in the pot, then yes, just follow the recipe. Do let us know how it turns out!
I made this a day ahead, to bring to my seasonal campsite. I filled fresh baked hoagie rolls with the onions and brisket with some of the juice, then topped with cheddar. Wrapped them in foil and grilled them until warmed through.
All 20 went in minutes!
I’ll bet they did! That sounds incredible, Mary. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. It’s now on my list for my next camping trip!