Texas Smoked Brisket

Uncut Brisket
Brisket

Brisket (give at least 60 minutes per pound, though thicker or larger non-point cuts might take as much as 90 mins / pound) 4 Pounds is a good base point. You should bring the brisket up to room temperature before anything else

Prepare the spice rub and a mop

Spice rub: Salt (smoked salt better) and coarse ground pepper in a 3:5 ratio, with a few other spices like onion and garlic powder, a dash of cayenne, ground mustard seeds and even a few ground juniper berries to taste.

Mop: I start with 1 bottle of Stubbs' Moppin' Sauce, adding ~1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar and 1/2 Light Beer, along with a dash of stronger vinegar (malt), a spoonful of sorghum, a dash of liquid smoke, a dash of hot sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce.

Prepare the brisket

Let the brisket come up to room temperature, apply some salt by itself and then a bit of the spice rub to the room-temperature brisket. It should adhere like wet sand on skin, but not cake-y.

Preparing the grill

You should have about 3 cups worth of wood chips (mesquite) and a larger chunk of hardwood, well soaked.

You'll need at least two rounds of charcoal, estimate 1 round every 3 hours. Build the fire on the far side of the grill, away from the stovepipe exhaust. I usually only have two grates in my 4-grate grilltop, to provide ledges for the drip and steam pans, below, and allow easy access to add wood chips and charcoal.

Bring the grill up to 220F ambient temperature, and try to maintain it between that and 250F.

Getting down to business

Sear the fat side above the hot coals, then place the brisket itself, fat side up, on the "warming" rack, opposite from the coals.

Place the soaked hardwood chunk between the fire and the brisket to deflect some heat and smolder.

Underneath the brisket, place a disposable pie tin or rimmed baking sheet with a bit of leftover marinade and a beer. Rendered fat and, eventually, mopping sauce will also drip into this, causing a tasty steam to help maintain moisture and a dredge sauce for the meat.

Above the coals, place another disposable tin with beer, vinegar, mopping sauce, and some water from the soaking chips, this part really adds a lot of moisture to the smoke and dramatically improves the juiceiness of the end result.

Drink beer, apply mop, repeat

You want the first round of the brisket to absorb a lot of smoke while it's just covered in salt and pepper, so try and let this happen as long as you can wait before the first mopping.

Maintain the grill's temperature around 225F, adding soaked hickory chips and rosemary branches. Mop no more often than 45 minutes, and refill the steam pan (empty your warming beer, get another cold one!) every time. Otherwise try not to disturb the grill.

Foiling the Stall

At some point around 150-160°F internal, the meat will stall out and stop heating up quickly. This is a great time to break out the Texas Crutch. (what? : http://www.amazingribs.com/tips_and_technique/texas_crutch.html). Wrap the brisket tightly in heavy-duty tin foil with a splash of liquid inside it to steam/braise the brisket. Instead of apple juice, I recommend beer and mopping sauce.

Make sure you save the jus that is in the bottom of the foil at the end of this process; it is liquid brisket heaven. I don't do the fancy faux cambro step, just keep the brisket wrapped up for ~1 hour, then take it back out and place it back sans-foil for the last 30 minutes to 1 hr more to re-harden the bark.

More notes

Aim for 195F internally.

A 4 lb top cut took 8 hours to reach 190. The crutch method helps with the moisture. It's a bit messy, but the jus it creates is amazing.

http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/beef/texas_brisket.html is a great guide and explains his choices of which tools and tricks to use.

Further tips here , especially regarding smoke, wood/fire usage, and timing:
Bon Appetit channels Austin's Franklin's BBQ pitmaster: http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2013/06/t...

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/recipes/2010/05/26/classic-st... , with backstory here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/a-texas-barbecue-pa...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/what-are-they-smoki...

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Brisket notes, 2016

I prepared a mop roughly following
http://amazingribs.com/recipes/BBQ_sauces/texas_BBQ_mop-sauce.html
(subbing beer for all the water, adding in last year's brisket butter and rendering some trimmed fat, and using both ketchup and kraft bbq; also adding way more apple cider vinegar and pepper, light on other spices, molasses instead of sugar, no onion or bell pepper, but added paprika)

I trimmed and pre-salted my brisket the night before with smoked and kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

put on at 9:15
crutched at ~noon, spiked it up to 195
removed crutch, dropped to 180
re-foiled, slow rise back up, 190 by 3p
maintaining fire at or under 300F

No smoke ring, a bit dry.

Brisket notes, 2017

6.55lb. Air-age/dried overnight

On at 9:15 with just dry rub

drip pan but no steam pan at start

grill temperature fighting to stay above 300

10:45 - meat got to 150, crutched in foil

12, meat in crutch got to 190, removed from crutch, drained liquid into drip pan, removed steam pan

By 12:30, meat dropped to 180, 12:45 => 175, continued to drop to 170 by 1p via evaporation.

fire registerin at 250

By 2 the meat had recovered back to 185 as the fire (re-stacked) moved back towards 300

3:30, 190

4:00 got up to 194, re-wrapped and cambro'd in place (coals were almost dead)

6p took off and carved, dry, not a lot of flavor, but a little smoke ring.

Notes for next year:
Salt the night before, don't air-dry though.

Get a "Point" ("second cut) cut of hoice or prime grade (Whole Foods?)

Faux cambro? http://amazingribs.com/tips_and_technique/faux_cambro.html

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