A beef brisket is a wide flat cut of beef from the chest area of a cow. Because it’s not the most tender cut, low and slow is the way to go, then wrapping and resting is the secret to Smoked Beef Brisket perfection. You don’t need a traditional smoker to smoke meat either.
If you have a barbecue with vertical burners, light one side only and place your meat on the opposite side. Then add a foil pan with wood chips to make the smoke. You’ll go through lots of gas or propane but the end result is worth it. Just make sure you have a temperature gauge on your barbecue and keep an eye on it.
Or maybe you have one of those high tech smokers like a Traeger. Lucky you. Just set the temperature for around 225 degrees and the work is done for you. But using charcoal and real wood chips is the way we do Smoked Beef Brisket at our house.
Beef Briskets range in size from around 8 to 20 pounds. Obviously depending on the size of the cow but also the way the butcher cuts them. For this Smoked Beef Brisket I bought a 5 pound brisket so that means the butcher cut a full brisket in half. I’ve read there are two parts of a brisket, the flat and the point. I don’t know for sure which side I got and frankly I don’t even care because it was so damn good!
Sometimes you need to trim some fat off before cooking but mine came pretty much ready to go. If you get a brisket with a thick layer of fat, make sure you cut that off. Some fat is necessary but too much is just….well too much. Trim down to about 1/4 inch of fat.
Any good smoked meat starts with a dry rub. We visited a very famous restaurant outside Austin Texas called The Salt Lick. We were told that sometimes people arrive by helicopter and in the busy season you could wait up to 2 hours for a table. You wouldn’t believe how good it smelled in there and you also wouldn’t believe how NOT fancy this place was. I’m talking plastic tent walls, picnic tables and not impressive side dishes. (Mine came with a slice of white wonder bread and some other stuff I don’t remember eating). But it’s all about the meat.
So we took home a souvenir – their signature dry rub. I did find it quite salty, hence the name The Salt Lick, I guess. But if you don’t over do it, the dry rub helps add flavour to the meat without making it too salty but it also accomplishes another very important job. Dry rubs keep the exterior of the meat dry, so you’ll get that awesome crusty exterior and juicy interior that smoked meat is famous for.
It’s called bark. Yup, like a tree.
And that red colour just inside the bark is called the smoke ring. Can you believe how juicy this meat is? There are no camera tricks here, this is exactly how it looked after cooking 8 hours. No, really!
So if you’re ready to give Smoked Beef Brisket a shot, here are a few tips for success:
Tips for smoking a Beef Brisket in a Charcoal Smoker
Get your charcoal going and set up your smoker. Use lump hardwood charcoal or good briquettes that haven’t been soaked in lighter fluid. That nasty stuff will flavour your meat. Make sure the coals are well on their way before adding the meat. Be patient. It could take up to 30 minutes to get a good charcoal fire going.
Don’t add the meat until the smoker temperature is between 200-250 degrees. Keep a watch on the temperature and adjust vents to maintain a good constant temperature in that range. You will need to add some charcoal eventually but it’s amazing how our little Weber Smoker maintains constant heat without adding much charcoal. You want to keep the heat around 225. Which means you can’t peek. Taking the lid off lets out a lot of heat.
Soak some wood chips and add them periodically during the first few hours on top of the hot coals to add smoke. You can buy all types of flavours of wood chips. We used hickory for this one.
Plan on cooking the meat about 1 and 1/4 hours per pound. But it’s more important to go by temperature so having a meat thermometer or instant read is important. When the meat is around 160 degrees, take it off the smoker, spritz it with some apple cider vinegar and wrap it tightly in foil. Below is right before we wrapped it. You’ll need about 3 or 4 long sheets crisscrossed.
Put the foil wrapped meat back on the smoker for about 3 hours. Ish. Once the meat is between 195 and 205 degrees it’s done. Take if off the smoker and allow it to rest wrapped at least 15 minutes or up to 30, then remove the foil and let it rest again a few minutes before slicing.
Cut the brisket against the grain for nice tender slices.
You’ll be in Smoked Beef Brisket heaven!
In the south, smoked meat is often served with cornbread. Why not make some Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread while your beef if smoking. You’ve got time.