I’ve been smoking brisket for a while, I think I finally figured out the best recipe and method of cooking. I’ve served my brisket over and over to family and friends, and this last time, they all said it was finally actually very, very good! So here is the secret!
The most important thing is to smoke it, then cover it and let it cook slowly over time on low heat. You can use a grill, a smoker, or even your oven. If you plan to use a standard charcoal grill, put all the charcoal on one side in a small corner and start it like you normally would. Use only enough charcoal to cover half the grilling area. Once the charcoal briquettes are white, spread them out a bit, but keep them to the side. Add in chunks of wood (not the smaller chips, they burn too fast) on top of the charcoal and close it. Let the temperature inside settle at around 200-230 degrees. Then place your pre-prepared brisket on the other side away from the heat. The brisket should be in one of those disposable aluminum pans. Then follow the rest of the instructions. The best woods for brisket are hickory, mesquite, and oak.
Preparing your brisket
A. The marinade and injectate:
Injecting the brisket with liquid marinade seems to make it more moist and adds deeper flavor. You don’t have to do it, but you can easily tell the difference. It makes it more moist too.
1 quart beef or chicken broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp of salt, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, liquid smoke
2 tbsp of pomegranate molasses
Note: Most recipes call for brown sugar, which is white sugar plus molasses. I find that white sugar and pomegranate molasses taste better.
B. The Rub
2 tbsp salt, sugar, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, rosemary, mesquite flavor
Optional: some people like to add cumin to give it a smokier taste and or cayenne powder for more heat. You could even add curry powder to give it a more Indian or Asian flavor
C. Choosing your brisket
Choose a “Choice” cut of meat. Anything less probably won’t be as good. Anything more is overkill. Choice should have good fat to meat ratio and marbling.
D. Trim your brisket
Flip the brisket so the fat side is up. Cut off all the fat. Use a boning or paring knife to cut off the silver membrane too. The marinade and rub can not penetrate the silver membrane and the fat. There is plenty of fat in the brisket, so don’t worry about losing flavor.
The night before your smoke (or 6 hours before) inject the marinade into the beef in as many areas as you can. Inject into every cubic inch. This will be messy, because it will squirt out. Use your other hand to cover the hole and withdraw the needle as you inject. Then leave it in your fridge (or cold garage) for 6 hours. Using those huge trash bags for industrial clean up are perfect for this (or a turkey cooking bag) because they aren’t scented.
E. Cooking the brisket
Prepare your grill as above or put it in the smoker in an aluminum pan. Let it smoke for 3-4 hours, or until the inside temperature of the meat is around 195 degrees. Set your grill or smoker to a temperature of around 200-220. If you want to cook it faster, set your smoker to 350 (or grill) and cook for only 2.5 hours. It’ll still be fine and taste just as good.
Then take out the pan and cover it with aluminum, try to seal it tightly to trap in the juices and to let it steam. Put it back in the smoker (or your oven) at 200 degrees, for another 2-3 hours or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 205 degrees. Then turn off your oven/smoker and leave it in there until you are ready to serve. That’s called “resting”. It needs to rest in an insulated place (like a sealed oven or cooler) for 3-4 hours.
And that is the secret to making juicy, tender brisket. I’ve tried all kinds of other methods. Covering it for the second part of the cooking process seems to be the key to not allowing it to dry out and keeping it tender. This technique works very well.