Brining Brisket for BBQ?

Does anyone ever brine their brisket before smoking it? I am going to be Barbecuing a beef brisket this weekend and I did one last weekend and found that it was a little dry. It certainly needed sauce and I don’t think good BBQ should need sauce. I was loosely following Alton Brown’s Boston Butt recipe, but I left out the brine as I have only heard of that for corned beef. What is the answer here?


How long did you cook it for? One thing I’ve noticed about brisket is that most smokers wrap it in aluminum foil after 6 hours since twelve hours of smoke is way too much. I wonder if that also helps to bathe the meat in the rendered fat for the last half rather than letting it drip off the meat.

I smoked it for three hours and cooked it in the oven wrapped in foil @ 300 for four hours. That is from the AB recipe, BTW.

This would NOt be legal in a restauraunt or other food service situation, but a trapper i know told me about this.

Brine recipe for Brisket

Molasses (about 1 cup)
Salt petre (about 1/2 tablespoon
I quart hot water
1/4 cup salt
spices (He used white pepper, celery salt and cumin)

disolve materials in the water (should be just under boiling)
cross cut/score brisket (45 degrees against grain in both directions, about 1/8th inch deep)
let water cool til luke warm

Soak in brine over night

Smoke slowly at low temp for 4-6 hrs.

I have had this, and it is so good I remember it mouth watering after 12 yrs…

In my experience, meat seems to stop absorbing smoke after about 5 or 6 hours. I never ever wrap my smoked meats in foil, as that tends to give them a steamed texture, which I don’t like.

Brisket is one of the tougher cuts to get consistent. I usually use two fist-sized chunks of mesquite (not too much, it’s powerful stuff) with white oak and lump hardwood charcoal. I smoke at 225-250 for anywhere from 8 to 12+ hours. Each cut cooks differently, and there’s no exact set time for when your brisket will be done. It’s done when it’s done.

When you do your brisket, if you buy a full cut (called a packer cut), it consists of two parts: the flat and the point (aka the “deckle.”) The flat is leaner and meatier, while the point is fattier. Some cooks spearate the point and flat and cook them separately, as they tend to get done at different times. I don’t. The flat, because of its leanness, is most sensitive to overcooking. With the point you have some room for fudging. I perfer the point, or a mix of flat and point.

Also, make sure you cut the meat against the grain. The grain shifts along the meat, so pay attention to it.

As for brining, everything I’ve ever heard on the BBQ forums tend to be against it, as they say it changes the texture and flavor of the beef too much. I personally never brine pork or beef before smoking. That said, you can give it a shot. I guarantee it won’t be bad, just different. I have smoked corned beef (which is sort of like brined brisket, except for a much longer period of time) to get “fauxstrami” and it worked out quite nicely.

The most important thing is choosing your brisket. Get a full packer cut (avoid the super-trimmed small briskets) with a fat cap that hasn’t been too trimmed. (You will trim some of the fat cap off when prepping the brisket.) Presence of hard, white fat (as opposed to yellowish fat) is also desirable. When trimming the fat cap, trim it down to about 1/4 or 1/8 of an inch.

Oh, also, aim for a target temperature anywhere in the 185-205 degree range. The higher end for more tender, fall-apart meat, the lower end for “tighter” meat. I aim for around 190.

Actually, I do have a caveat to my foil statement in the previous post. At the end of cooking, I do loosely cover my meat in foil and let rest for 20-30 minutes before cutting into it.

The meats that benefit best from brining are very lean cuts of meat, pork loin and poultry especially. The meats that benefit best from barbequeing have tons of fat and connective tissue that melt and keep the meat moist during the hours of cooking, cuts like pork butt, brisket, or ribs. That doesn’t mean that you can’t smoke a lean piece of meat, but you do need to be careful it doesn’t dry out and more often then not - that means brining.

I’m from California so here, throwing something on a hot grill for 10 minutes is “barbequeing” :frowning: A year ago for 4th of July, we hosted a party and we told them that we were barbequing. Four hours for the ribs and two hours for the brined, bone-in, skin on chicken breasts (applewood chunks) and my friends said that they had never had barbequed ribs that were so tender and flavorful. :wink:
But they still put sauce on them :eek: