So I’ve BBQed beef brisket many times before in my smoker, but only flats, because a whole brisket is too large for my bullet-style smoker.
I’ve been wanting to try this ATK / Cook’s Country technique for cooking a whole brisket in a kettle grill using the snake coal method (as seen in video below) for awhile now, and when doing some shopping today found whole briskets at the grocery store for 1/2 off. So I knew that this weekend is finally the time. Going to rub down the brisket soon (simple salt and pepper ‘dalmation’ rub, Texas-style), let the rub do its thing overnight, then fire up the grill first thing tomorrow morning.
Any other BBQers of brisket out there? How do you guys BBQ yours? Brisket is fairly unforgiving; more so than pork ribs or shoulder. When I’ve done brisket flats in my smoker in the past, it’s usually been along with a pork shoulder and the brisket comes out ok, if a little bit dry and overcooked. Some times it’s even been close to brisket jerky. Which is not bad, actually- I do like the bark. But the resulting brisket in the CC video is fantastically moist-looking and tender.
I’ll report back Sunday night or Monday with the results of my brisket experiment.
I’m one of those guys with an offset smoker. I do a few briskets a year, but I’ve been told without prompting that my brisket is as good as any restaurant’s. So, I’m usually doing something right. I use a mix of charcoal and wood. Brisket gets mostly mesquite, because I feel beef’s strong flavor can hold up to being smoked over a wood with that strong of a flavor for that long. Other meats usually don’t get any mesquite, unless it’s a chicken I’m smoking pretty quickly.
And yeah, I highly recommend a wireless thermometer. It makes life pretty easy. I use a dual probe one, one for the grill temp, and one for the meat’s temp.
That video sure puts me in the mood. The 58 briquettes seems oddly specific and particular to a 22 inch Weber kettle. I’m a lump guy, anyway.
I never made a full packer and, not counting corned beef/pastrami, I only have a few points & flats under my belt. While post oak would be The One for Texas smoke, I’ve pretty much standardized on hickory for all my wood. A friend gave me a trove of oak bourbon barrel staves which might be interesting to try on brisket or even a batch of wings.
After 5 hours the brisket hit 172 on the thermometer, just like the video in my OP, and the coal snake was about 75% done, also just like the video. Wrapped in foil, added charcoal, and back in for a couple more hours. So far, so good.
I’m happy to give you a couple, he gave me the better part of a 5 gallon bucket of them. I hope to make some burgers tonight so maybe I’ll kiss them with a little oak. Looking forward to the brisket updates.
Exactly 2 hours after wrapping in foil, the brisket temp was at 205, again, just like the video. So into a cooler to sit for 2 hours while the collagen continues to render and the brisket gradually cools down to about 160 by cutting time.
So far everything’s gone perfectly to plan, so the final test will be the tasting. I could tell when I transferred the foil-wrapped brisket to the cooler it had that ‘wiggle’ that the guy in the video talked about, so things are looking good.
Great work, I’m glad it’s gone so smoothly for you and envy your delicious brisket dinner tonight! I’ve used this recipe a couple of times after seeing it in a Texas Monthly article that’s worth a read. Good results, better than I’ve had with a pellet grill brisket. Not the depth of flavor of a wood-fired offset smoker but a lot less work.
I’ll now follow up in a little more detail now that I’m in front of a desktop computer, not a phone while watching TV.
I’ve made a couple other recipes I saw on America’s Test Kitchen / Cook’s Country, but more in an ‘inspired by’ sense; I never followed the directions as religiously as I did with the brisket, and those guys know their stuff. For anybody who hasn’t seen the video segment I linked to in the OP, the host starts out saying it typically takes 6 weeks to figure out a recipe, but in the case of BBQing a full brisket in a kettle grill, it took 2 years and 500 lbs. of brisket for them to get it just right. That’s some obsessive dedication!
I know, right? It’s the OCD method to BBQ perfection. When I watch ATK / CC, I’m sometimes reminded of an old recurring SNL skit with Phil Hartman-- “The Anal Retentive Chef”
My one minor disappointment, maybe, was that I didn’t get quite the smoke penetration I’d have hoped for. The smoke ring wasn’t even as prominent as it was in the CC video, though I had plenty of wood chunks on the coal snake ring. But this technique only exposes the brisket to smoke for 5 hours. I think in general to get really good smoke penetration you need to go 12 or 13 hours in a dedicated smoker, as Jack_Burden said:
But overall I count it as a win. Looking forward to to a brisket sandwich with pickles and a big slice of Vidalia onion for lunch!
Thanks, appreciate the offer! But keep your staves and enjoy them. Let me know how your BBQ turns out when you use them. I know I’ve seen bags of wood pieces from Jack Daniels barrels in stores, so they’re commercially available-- I’ll have to buy some for next time I cook a brisket.
The bit of barbecue wisdom I’ve picked up – and take it with a grain of salt, as it seems every few years someone proves a bit of accepted food knowledge wrong – is that the meat only absorbs smoke flavors for the first two to four hours max.
I do my brisket pretty simply. Packer cut, dry rub, thrown on a Weber Smoky Mountain, temp of about 275 I’m guessing/ I don’t use thermometers to gauge the heat. I will sometimes use a thermometer in the meat to see how far along I am. They always finish way earlier than I expect, about 9 hours. I usually don’t foil, but sometimes I’ll foil just the flat part. Next time, I want to foil or butcher paper it up with some tallow – supposedly the secret of Franklin Barbecue’s brisket. I pull my brisket when it feels finished, and that’s not a set temperature for me, but a judgement call. I find my brisket finishes to my liking at closer to the 197-202 range. I don’t want it to be quite completely fall apart tender, but real close to it, and juicy. Fall-apart, for my tastes, is overcooked. The few times I’ve done flats, though, I have had mixed results. Those I think I should always foil, but have been stubborn about not doing so.
The day of my wedding (we had a morning wedding and lunch reception), I threw a brisket on the smoker before getting dressed, about 7 a.m. Normally, I refill my coals once during a brisket cook, but this time I used briquettes and filled it up all the way to the top of the ring. Went out and got married. Came back around 5 p.m. and the coals were burnt down, there was still some heat, and the brisket was close to perfectly cooked (about an 8/10 on my scale.) No fuss, no muss. To be honest, I was completely shocked that it came out as well as it did completely unattended.
Oak and hickory are my usual woods. I also like pecan instead of the hickory. I’m not a fan of mesquite for smoking any kind of meat. (For grilling it’s okay.) I usually think of it as an oak and/or applewood base, and then a stronger wood like hickory or pecan on top. To be very honest, I’m not sure it makes a hell of a whole lot of difference unless you overkill on the stronger woods. I sometimes do a hickory-only smoke, but I’ll ease off on the amount of wood there.
Thanks pulykamell, always great to hear from you when it comes to all things food and especially BBQ. You must have the larger Weber Smoky Mountain smoker if you can fit a whole packer cut in yours. I have the smaller 18" diameter WSM, which is plenty large enough for most things, but sadly, not a packer cut brisket.
Thanks for the idea to wrap it with some tallow. I’ll have to google “Franklin Barbecue” and look into that further, though a brisket already comes with so much fat in and around it, it’s hard to believe adding extra could make the brisket even better. Interesting.
Barbecuing on your wedding day-- you, sir, are one dedicated barbecuer! I am impressed.
I should say, as you can tell, I had to bunch that one up a bit. It ended up fine. I tend to buy the smallest packers I can find, and those are usually around 15"-18", so fairly snug, but doable, in a WSM.