Brisket Texas Style

I avoided barbecuing brisket for a long time, mainly out of fear!  The process seemed so intimidating.  But a few years ago I finally got the courage, bit the bullet and bought the chunk of beef.  It was a 16 pound packer and I've been hooked ever since.
For that first cook I tempted fate by hosting a group of my close friends as guinea pigs.  The brisket was so tender, juicy and delicious it was startling!  Everyone raved, and fortunately, they remain friends today.

That recipe has now become my standard.  It was created by taking a bit of this and a bit of that from well-established recipes, rubs, mops and marinades.  I can guarantee that this recipe will create an amazing brisket! (The recipes for the dry rub, injection marinade and mop can also be found in this website.)

Start off by purchasing a whole (“packer”) brisket.  In South Florida I’ve been only able to find whole packers at Penn Dutch and at Wal-Mart.  I've been told that Sedano's carries them but still have not been able to find one there.

 A packer includes both the Point and the Flat sections.  You want the whole brisket because it includes a lot of fat that lies between the sections, and on the cap.  A flat by itself  (the 3lb -5lb briskets) generally will not have enough fat that will render and tenderize while cooking, but it make nice uniform slices. The Point on the other hand is juicier and tastier but is less uniform and more difficult to slice.  But as a total package, the packer makes an incredible and fun meal. 

What you need:
Smoker and lots of fuel
1 whole packer Brisket (10#-16#)
Brisket dry rub (see separate recipe)
Brisket injection marinade (see separate recipe)
Brisket mop sauce (see separate recipe)
Meat thermometer

 The keys to success:  1) Inject marinade and apply dry rub, 2) Cook low and slow, 3) mop while cooking, 4)Wrap in foil at 165°F; remove from smoker at 195°F, and 5) be Patient!

For a whole packer, figure close to a pound per person, pre-trimmed.  You should end up with close to 8 oz. of meat per person at meal time.

Trim some of the fat cap off, leaving a layer of about 1/4” to1/2". 

Inject the brisket with brisket marinade at least an hour before cooking.  This lead time lets the marinade work its magic.

Let the brisket sit at room temperature up to two hours before cooking.  Slather a thin layer of yellow mustard all over the brisket.  This will act as “glue” for the rub.  Then sprinkle a liberal amount of rub all over the brisket and in every crack.  You’ll know you sprinkled enough when you cannot see the meat anymore.  Be sure to get all sides of the brisket, not just the top and bottom.

Cook Low and Slow and Mop
Maintain the smoker temperature around 225°F.  On a pellet grill, just set the thermostat at 225°, put the meat on the grill and close the cover.  Make sure the pellet hopper is filled and check it again half way through cooking.Put the meat on the grill with the fat cap on the bottom. 

Don't let the smoker exceed 250°F for any length of time.  If the temp falls below 225°F that’s OK; it will just add time to the cooking.  But temps over 250°F will cook the meat faster, causing it to be a little tougher than it should be.

To monitor the temperatures, I use a Maverick ET-73 remote temperature probe with two thermometers - one for the meat temperature and one for the oven temperature.  Since it’s a remote thermometer I can monitor from inside the house and  I do not open the smoker.  DO NOT rely on the grill’s built-in thermometer.  It is probably not reliable.  Use independent meat and oven thermometers to monitor the meat and smoker.

Keep Patient!  The meat will be done when it is done.  Average 1 - 1.5 hour per pound.  Have a beer.  Go to sleep.  But be patient!  The meat will reach a “plateau” around 155°-165° and maintain that temp for up to a couple hours before increasing again.  This is normal.  Don’t increase the smoker temp to make the brisket cook quicker.  Keep it at 225°.

This is a controversial area, but I believe in mopping brisket.  A lot of cooks like to keep the cover closed at all times to keep heat and humidity in, with no mopping.  But I’m a believer that mopping about every hour or so helps keep the meat moist and flavorful.

One more way to keep the meat moist and tasty.  When the internal temperature reaches about 165°F wrap the brisket in aluminum foil.  Add ½ cup of mop sauce, and put the tightly wrapped meat back on the grill until done, 190-195°F.  The crust will not be as crunchy as without foiling, but the meat will be juicier and tastier.  Be sure to wrap the meat tightly in the foil; otherwise it will steam instead of cook.  When the meat is done save the drippings.  Pour them over the meat to add moistness and flavor.

A brisket is done when it's done.  Really.  Smoker timing is an art, not a science since you can't predict exactly when the brisket will be done. When the thermometer probe registers 190-195°F in the deepest part of the meat, it’s ready.  Remove from grill and let it sit at least 30 minutes before unwrapping and slicing.  If you won’t be eating for a while, you can leave the brisket wrapped in the foil placed inside an ice chest stuffed with towels.  It should maintain good heat (in excess of 145°F) for up to four hours.  Do not let the internal temperature drop below 145°F or it can become unsafe. 

Slice the meat perpendicular to the grain.  This is important.  If you slice with the grain the meat will be stringy and chewy.  Grains in the Point and the Flat run in different directions, so separate them after cooking and before slicing.  Also, remove the fat cap and layers before slicing.

Buen Provecho!

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