First Brisket

by zydecopaws on May 31, 2009

In the tradition of trying new things, today I smoked my first brisket.  Sort of.  Technically I have been doing this with corned beef to make pastrami; those are actually brisket flats, but brined and otherwise processed before they show up at the house.  Today was all about making a nice Texas-style, slow-cooked brisket on the WSM.

Armed with way too much information, I secured a nice 4.25 pound flat cut brisket and proceeded to spice it up using a recipe from a friend (thanks Jane!).  The rub consisted of chili powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, fresh ground black pepper (is there any other kind?), sugar, dry mustard, and a crushed bay leaf.  She gave me actual measurements on the spices, and as usual, I pretty much ignored them (other than proportionally) and dusted both sides of the brisket, paying more attention to the side without the fat cap.

Of course, since her version is cooked in a traditional oven, I had to modify the cooking instructions in order to adjust for cooking on the smoker.  I fired up the WSM about 08:30 using the Minion Method with about a gallon of water in the pan, and had it up to a nice 250°F by 09:00.  On went the brisket, not to be seen again for several hours.

At around 12:30 I finally decided to be brave and check the brisket.  Much to my surprise, the internal temp was in the 170+°F range, so I pulled it, foiled it, and stuck it in a cooler to finish.  About 14:00 I stuck the Thermapen through the foil, and the noticed there was still some spring left in the meat and that the internal temp was going down rather than up.  So back on the WSM goes the brisket, and sits there until about 15:30.  I tested it again, and not only was the temp up where it needed to be, the probe went in like it was being stuck in butter.  This was what I was looking for, so off it came again, rewrapped in the foil, and back in the cooler to rest while the rest of dinner was cooking.

We ate about 16:00.  The results?  More than half the brisket is gone.  Seconds and thirds were happening all around, so apparently the cook was a success.  The meat had a great smoke flavor, nice smoke rings, and was real tender.  It was a bit drier than I had hoped, but I think that was a result of letting it rest too long while the rest of the meal was cooking (brown rice takes awhile to cook).

There will be a next time, and likely soon.  I have a bigger flat in the freezer, and if I can find a local source I’ll pick up a full packer if for no other reason than so we can have some burnt ends, which judging from the Twittersphere are the bomb.  Next time around I think I will also spice it up a bit more; there was nothing wrong with this one (nice complement to the smoke flavor) but we all prefer a little more kick in our meat around here.  Also, before Larry from BBQ Grail can show up and start adding comments about Brisket Helper, that ain’t happening, no way, no how…

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