Recipe Source (Rub): Jamison, Cheryl and Bill, Smoke & Spice p. 105
For some reason, getting BBQ-sized beef briskets in the Boston area is a problem. The local grocers and box stores only sell small 3-4 pound flats, if they have any at all. Whole Foods will order you one, but charges a pretty hefty price per pound for it. Our local butcher shop won’t stock them, as they don’t sell enough to make it worthwhile. However, slow smoked brisket is one of my favorite barbeque dishes, and I was determined to make at least one this summer. One day, I had some free time and decided to venture afield and see if I could find someplace that stocked usable briskets. My search led me to a butcher shop called Roxie’s in Quincy, MA. They didn’t have any brisket in their meat cases, and I was about to leave when I decided to ask one of the employees if they could order me one. He went in the back, and emerged with a 13 lb. gorgeous brisket, which was also a reasonable price! I grabbed it and decided to cook it for our 4th of July celebration.
For this brisket, I decided to prepare it simply. I wanted to try a different flavor than I had done in the past, and after perusing several of my BBQ books, decided on the Jamison’s ‘Wild Willy’s Number One-derful Rub’ from their book Smoke and Spice. I was originally going to marinate it, but the brisket was too big to fit in a Ziploc bag and our fridge was too full to put it in a pan overnight, so I decided to skip the marinade this time. I also decided not to baste, as my Big Green Egg smoker tends to keep food moist without basting, and I didn’t want to have to stay up all night basting during the 18 hour cook. We had some frozen Dinosaur BBQ Mutha Sauce from a previous cook, but some of our guests are spice-averse and I wanted to make a milder sauce as an option as well, so I also went with the Jamison's Smoked Onion Sauce from the same book.
Smoking brisket is a time consuming affair. To reach the appropriate level of tenderness, the meat must be slow cooked at a low temperature to break down the connective tissue in the meat. The general guideline that I’ve found to work is about 90 minutes per pound of meat. For my 13 pound brisket (12-ish when trimmed), this translated to an 18 hour cook. However, this timeline is approximate. To get this right, you want to go by the internal temperature of the meat, which should be between 190 and 200 degrees when done. Each piece of meat will cook differently, so you want to leave yourself some leeway in case yours decides to cook more slowly. As a result, I aim to be done approximately 2 hours before I plan to serve, and I adjust my smoker’s temperature in the last few hours of the cook to speed up or slow down the process as needed. Once the brisket is done, I wrap in foil and a few towels, and put in a cooler until I’m ready to carve. This keeps the meat hot, and the extended rest ensures that it will remain moist when carved. I use a Maverick ET-73 remote thermometer to monitor both my meat and smoker temperatures while cooking. This reduces the need to open the smoker, keeping the moisture in, and also eliminates the worry that the fire will get too hot or go out in the middle of the night.
This was the best brisket I’ve prepared yet. The meat came out tender, moist, and with a great smoke flavor. It really didn’t need the sauce, though it tasted great with the sauce too. One note: The recipe for the rub makes more than you’ll need for even a large brisket. You could either halve the recipe, or just make the full amount and keep it for later as I did.
Smoked Beef Brisket (Serves 2-3 per 1b. Approx. Cost Per Serving Not Available)
_ Big Green Egg or other smoker
_ Wood chips or chunks for smoking
_ Meat thermometer
One large beef brisket – 8+ pounds – either a large flat or a full packer cut
3/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup ground black pepper
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- At least 2 days before serving, determine your approximate cooking time. Although you will be cooking to internal temperature of the meat, not time, you can approximate 1.5 hours per pound of brisket. For my 12 pound trimmed brisket, this meant starting my smoker 18 hours before my planned completion time.
- At least 2 hours and up to 24 hours before cooking, trim the fat from the brisket, leaving about 1/4 inch of fat around the outside of the meat. While this sounds like a lot, it will largely melt away during cooking, and will help to keep the meat moist.
- Find the grain of the meat, and make a small guide cut perpendicular to the grain. This will help you find the grain in the cooked meat.
- Mix together the ingredients for the rub, and apply to all exposed surfaces of the meat and refrigerate until ready to cook. As my brisket was too big to fit in a Ziploc bag, I wrapped it in plastic wrap, then wrapped that in tin foil.
- Prepare your smoker for a long cook. Light your fire, and stabilize the temperature between 235 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. In my large Big Green Egg, I cleaned out my firebox thoroughly and followed Elder Ward’s directions for building a successful fire for a long cook. I used hickory wood chunks for smoke, and used my plate setter with the legs facing up and a drip pan inside to set up for indirect cooking. I filled the drip pan about halfway up with water to prevent the fat from burning and causing an unpleasant type of smoke, and to help provide moisture during the cook.
- Before putting the meat in the smoker, apply a second coating of the rub to the meat. This will help create a nice bark on the outside of the finished product.
- Put the brisket in your smoker, with the fatty side up. If you have a remote thermometer, I strongly suggest using it. My Maverick ET-73 works great for these types of cooks. If your smoker doesn’t require basting, leave the lid closed until it is done (at 190-200 degrees Fahrenheit internal temperature).
- Remove the brisket from the smoker when the internal temperature is between 190 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes. If your brisket gets done early, you can keep it warm by wrapping in a couple of layers of tin foil. If it gets done really early, wrap the foiled brisket in a bath towel, and put it in a cooler. It will stay warm for 3-4 hours or more this way.
- When you are ready to serve, slice the brisket thin across the grain, using the guide cut you made earlier as an indicator. Serve on a plate with your favorite BQ sauce, or use for brisket sandwiches.