Beef brisket is one of the simplest things to cook in your smoker, but one of the most difficult to cook well. Brisket is a tough muscle cut of beef, and because it has so much connective tissue it is difficult to eat if not cooked the right way. Brisket is a triangular or rectangular cut of meat depending if you just get a point or a whole packer cut. If you do buy from a butcher ask him to leave the fat cap on, as this will add more flavor and prevent the meat from drying while cooking.
Prepping the Meat
Before you add the brisket to your smoker you will need to prep it. Trim off some of the fat, but leave enough that the top is still a little white. You need the fat for flavor. Some people like to season there brisket with all different types of rubs and sauces before cooking. I disagree with this and only use a generous amount of salt and pepper. This cut of meat is so flavorful on its own when correctly prepared it doesn’t need the help of a 12 spice blend or any other nonsense like that. Let the brisket rest at room temperature for at least an hour before cooking.
Set up Your Smoker
In my Char-Broil Deluxe I typically set my temp to 225 degrees and give it 30 minutes to get up to temp. I like to use hickory with brisket as the meat has enough flavor to stand up to the taste the wood imparts. Mesquite is also a great option. You will want to have a full water pan (and keep it full during the cook).
Add The Meat
Before you put your meat in the smoker insert a temperature probe into the thickest section. You will know its done when the temperature reaches 190-195 degrees. Place the meat in the smoker with the fat side up. Make sure it has plenty of clearance on all sides.
The Waiting Game
Brisket takes a long time to cook. We are talking 10-15 hours depending on the size of the meat. Once its in the smoker your only jobs are to make sure the temperature is constant (pretty easy with an electric smoker), keep the water pan full (every 2-3 hours), and adding wood chips occasionally. I usually only add chips at the start of my cook since my smoker will keep going for about 5 hours with a full load in its bin. You don’t need to over smoke if you use a flavorful hardwood.
Its Almost Done…
When your brisket hits 190 degrees internally its time to take it out of the smoker. But don’t start eating it yet. Resting the meat before slicing is crucial. Resting allows the juices to reabsorb and brings on even more flavor. Wrap the entire thing in aluminum foil and place it into a oven that is off, or a beer cooler for 1-2 hours.
Because the shape of the brisket its important to slice it across the grain. This allows you to get fat and muscle in every bite and makes for a more satisfying texture. Aim for slices about 1/4 inch thick.
Everywhere brisket is cooked there are different ways to eat it. Some people slather on the BBQ sauce. Some serve it naked between slices of white bread. If you’ve cooked it right it will taste great anyway you want to eat it.