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Brisket a Barbecue Classic

Brisket is a comparatively inexpensive cut of meat. It is usually slow cooked over low temperatures. The result is a tender wonderfully flavored meat….a Barbecue Classic!

History shows that the brisket has long been part of Jewish cuisine served braised for special holiday fare.

Smoked brisket was introduced into Barbecue Restaurants during the 1950’s. However today it has become a traditional Barbecue special.

A quote from Stephanie Pierson (from her Brisket Book)..

“Some foods will improve your meal, your mood, your day, your buttered noodles. Brisket will improve your life.”

Where is the Brisket cut from?

Butchers cut this beef portion from the breast section of the animal. It is usually boneless when purchased.

There are two cuts of brisket :

Flat Beef Brisket:- sometimes called thin cut or center cut. It has minimal fat and is normally the more expensive cut.

Point Half Brisket:-sometimes called the flat cut, thick cut or the nose cut. It has more fat and accordingly more flavor.

Importance of fat marbling in brisket

It is worth paying a little more to get the best quality brisket with extensive marbling. As the brisket cooks these fat streaks will render down causing the melted flavor to moisten and nourish the surrounding meat cells.

The best brisket you can buy is American Wagyu or Kobe beef. However, this is expensive. Prime USDA rated beef is a great second prize!

Trimming the Brisket

It is important to trim off the fat from the outside of the  brisket. It will not render. Most briskets have a layer of fat on the surface. Trim most of this off.

Seasoning the Brisket

 Some prefer a simple olive oil and  kosher salt seasoning. Other a more spicy Texas Rub.

If the rub you use contains a lot of salt, only apply it shortly before you place the brisket in the smoker or barbecue. Leaving a large amount of salt on the meat for too long will cause it to dry out.

If the rub is low in salt, then apply it several hours before cooking to allow flavors to develop.

The actual cook

Obviously, the final cook time depends on the size of the brisket. A good guideline is 90 minutes for every pound. (This includes the resting time ).

Charcoal grill or smoker: Arrange medium-hot coals around the drip pan containing about 1 inch of water. Place the brisket fat side down on a grill rack above the water pan. Cover the barbecue and smoke until the brisket reaches 185 degrees F and is tender. Add more coals and water if required. Do not add any more wood after the first two hours of smoking.

Gas Grill : If you are using a gas grill, then first preheat it. Make sure you adjust the flames for indirect cooking. As in the charcoal instructions above add the brisket on the rack over the water pan. Note: Turn off the burner under the pan. (Use the wood logs as per the manufacturer instructions).

Wrapping Brisket

Many people smoke the brisket for several hours. They then wrap the meat in a suitable butcher paper replacing the wrapped cut back on the grid. This allows the brisket to braise in its own juices. It can also  reduce the overall cooking time. The meat will be tender and soft.

It is not essential to wrap the meat. If you don’t wrap, then a greater bark results, which can also give a delicious texture.

As a guide remove the brisket for wrapping when the interior temperature of the meat is 150 degree F.

Importance of Resting

The perfect grilled brisket can all be undone if there is insufficient time to rest the meat. It should rest for at least an hour. During this time the cooling cells will draw the moisture back into the meat.

If you slice the meat straight away all the juices will just run out! Slice the meat against the grain to serve.

Recipe for Brown Sugar Rub

 ½ cup of light Brown sugar

1/3 cup salt

1/3 cup paprika

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl.

Rub onto the brisket about 45 minutes before smoking. Let the brisket sit covered at room temperature.

1/3 cup mild chili powder. (option to adjust this to your chili taste)


Enjoy this classic Barbecue staple with a delicious BBQ sauce served shredded in a bun or sliced onto a plate. Find more of our Great recipes..HEREPitmaster and the Cook Recipes


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