Beef Brisket

Junior Burger
2003/08/06 21:53:24
There was a great discussion a little bit ago about the best ways of preparing ribs. Now, I'd love to tap into the knowledge of others tied into this chat-line to hear what they have to say about the best way to cook/smoke beef brisket.

A friend of mine a I will be getting together to BBQ a range of items this weekend, and one will be a brisket of beef. All comments more than welcome.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

Chuck Shields
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/06 23:06:00
two words for brisket - low & slow - that's low temps over a long period of time - ergo smoking is the way to go. Even when cooking in the house I bake it at 325 for a couple of hours wrapped in foil. For the smoking I'd use a good rub & serve the sauce on the side.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/06 23:15:54
I also bake mine at 325 in a very tightly covered pan for about 4 hours. I make a sauce with coca cola, chili sauce and onion soup mix and pour it on before baking.
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/06 23:59:31
the key is even lower and even slower! The way to make the brisket juicy is a 10 lb brisket dry rubbed, then sealed in foil and, if you're in the indoor oven, 250 degrees for 10-14 hours. It sounds like forever but the idea is to turn the fat into collegen, not have it drain away and make the meat dry. Same thing applies outdoors but you have to
be prepared to tend your smoking setup to keep the indirect heat going, also at about 200-250 degrees.
for that long. A basic dry rub would have sugar, black pepper, red pepper, garlic powder, salt if you want and whatever other dried spices you want to experiment with.
Mayhaw Man
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/07 08:29:03
I use a modified "bill voss" method. Dry rub, heavy on the brown sugar and "low and slow" smoked for three or four hours. Really smoky fire, really low temp. I use sweetwoods like pecan and hickory. I then remove it from smoke and wrap it (re rubbed) in foil and cook it in the oven @225 with a thermometer stuck in it. I am going for medium. It usually takes another 4 hours or so to getit to medium. To me, the thermometer, stuck in the thickest part of a whole brisket, is the key to the whole deal.

Once it is done, remember, let the meat rest for a fairly long period. Otherwise, when you make the first cut, you will lose all of the juice and it will not be nearly as tender or as juicy I love whole brisket!
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/07 09:19:05
Similar to the above, I smoked an 11 lb. brisket on July 4th. Took 24 hrs @ 200 deg. in the smoker. Started by slathering the meat w/ yellow mustard, applying a dry rub as above, soaked hickory chunks on the hot coals, and cooked away over mostly oak wood for the 24 hrs., actual "smoke" time was the first 3-4 hours. Let it rest in foil for 30 minutes before slicing -against the grain of course. It was alot of tending to keep the temp. low, but in the end it was worth it. Best brisket I've ever done. Next time, though, I will choose a smaller cut to reduce time. Low and slow is the key.
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/07 10:32:35
I'm not a big fan of anything but salt and pepper on my brisket. If possible, get a packer's cut brisket which includes the fattier point which lies on top of the flat -- it is basically self basting. I like to keep my smoker at between 225 and 250 -- I think 200 doesn't bring the meat to a safe temp soon enough, and you could end up with food poisoning. Oak or hickory for the smoking wood -- i don't like mesquite. Cook to an internal temp of 190 - this way the collegen is broken down. I only foil them after they are done, letting them rest for about an hour.

Sauce is up to you.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/07 10:59:48
Willy, a point on the food poisoning. Most food poison problems occur in gound beef since the contaminated surfaces are ground back into the mixture. Cut surfaces on steaks, and roasts and briskets, if contaminated at all will be effectively heated beyond the 140 deg. necessary to kill toxins. In these cuts, contaminants rarely get below the surface unless kept out of refrigeration for too long.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/07 14:26:37
Originally posted by oneiron339

Let it rest in foil for 30 minutes before slicing -against the grain of course.

The way it is sliced is a major contributor to wether it is tender or not. I always found it hard to tell the grain once it was cooked, easy on the raw piece but often hard to find once done. then somewhere (wish I could credit where) I heard the tip to cut into the meat about 2 inches deep (yeah I know 2 in sounds like a big slash but remember this meat is going to shrink in cooking) on one end, cutting parallel to the grain, after it is cooked you have a built in guide so to speak to get you started, once you start cutting it's easy to follow the grain as it turns.
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/07 16:30:11
Keep the humidity up in the smoker, trim the fat cap to 1/4-1/8"(ideally the fat cap+the rub should form the crust without much white fat in between). Of course Low and slow and I slather mustard and then heavy handed with the black pepper on my rub, something about brisket that just cries out for black pepper. If you feel the need to cheat(ie using the oven after a few hrs in the smoker) I like to use a beer bath (maybe 1/2 beer in the bottom of the container and put the meat on a rack above it).

The best place for advice on the web is over at Ray Basso's forum, those guys know their stuff.

Oh yea and start the brisket first it typically takes longer than shoulder, and much longer than ribs(of course it depends on size).
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/07 16:41:26
I don't worry about food poisoning in intact beef - it's just too rare to bother worrying about. I try to keep my smoker temp at about 200-225, and I make sure the meat stays at 210 internal for one hour; that temp, in a moist environment, is where protein degrades into collagen, that lip-smackingly succulent gel of goodness.

If your smoker isn't good at temperature control, you might smoke long enough to get a bit of flavor on it, then bundle everything up in a few layers of heavy-duty foil and pop it in the oven. Sad, but workable.

RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/07 17:12:03
VibrationGuy is 100% right. The slower done the better. Forget any temperature higher, then 225 will not be as effective. Keep the Fat Side up, as the juices from dripping fat, enhance the character. Both in the oven or smoker, may I recommend that you keep a pan, under the Brisket, partially filled with water, to catch the drippings, keep the moisture or smoke circulating, plus to make a great dipping sauce or enhance your favorite barbque sauce. After removing from the fire or oven, let meat rest on a board about 30 to 45 minutes to permit the meat to set. At that point it will be better then you imagined. The only difference in the meat is that most professionals allow the Briskets, before being boned and trimmed to "Packer Trim". They dry age the Whole Bone/in Plate, Brisket for 2 to 5 weeks, to allow natural enzyme action to improve flavor and expedite collegin breakdown.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/07 21:15:58
This is only a little off topic, it is about brisket, but corned not fresh. While I love a good piece of corned beef, I hated to cook it. I had always done it by boiling with cabbage, potatoes & carrots. The veggies always came out great but the meat was always tough.Then I thought, my baked fresh briskets always come out tender & moist, why not cook my corned beef the same way. The brisket came out great & when I opened the foil I had wrapped it in, I had more than enough liquid to use to flavor the veggies! I now have corned beef whenever I can pick up a piece at a good price!
Filet Mignon
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/07 21:34:24
Originally posted by ocdreamr

This is only a little off topic, it is about brisket, but corned not fresh. While I love a good piece of corned beef, I hated to cook it. I had always done it by boiling with cabbage, potatoes & carrots. The veggies always came out great but the meat was always tough.Then I thought, my baked fresh briskets always come out tender & moist, why not cook my corned beef the same way. The brisket came out great & when I opened the foil I had wrapped it in, I had more than enough liquid to use to flavor the veggies! I now have corned beef whenever I can pick up a piece at a good price!

Excellent, OC! I'll do that next time. I always boiled the corned beef and added the rest later, but I'll bet the baked beef tastes better. Thanks!
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/07 22:18:54
OK, Bushie and OC....

You guys are technically making pastrami...smoked corned beef. You are is MUCH better when cooked like a brisket! Just make sure to soak the corned beef and to get the final meat temp above 185º - 190º. Unless you have a deli slicer, any temps below this level will result in very tough beef.

Here is my recipe for making this delicious cut........


2 tablespoon(s) Peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon Coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon Onion powder
1 teaspoon Thyme, dried
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Garlic powder

Soak corned brisket for 2 hours.
Grind peppercorns and coriander seeds. Add remaining ingredients.
Rub this on the corned beef brisket.
Wrap and let sit overnight.
Slow cook brisket at 225º(uncovered) for about 1 1/2hr./lb - 2 hr/lb.
Meat temps need to be near 185º or above.

RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/07 23:15:04
Great discussion! I long ago realized there is no 1 perfect way to cook a brisket.

Brisket is about the hardest meat to get exactly least when competing. The judging test is as follows........slice a piece about 1/4-3/8" thick(NO thicker!). Then, hold between thumb and forefinger in each hand. At this point the meat must stay in one piece. Next, pull the meat apart by gently tugging it. It should separate with little effort. That is VERY hard to do!

There are so many ways to cook a brisket, but low and slow is where you must start. Most competitors will cook the entire brisket, many do NO trimming whatsoever to their Packer cuts. When finished cooking, they will cut very select pieces from the flat to turn in to the judges.

Now, I learned to cook brisket using the whole cut...flat and point. The point always takes longer to cook(twice as thick as the flat), so you will end up separating the flat and putting the point back on the smoker for another couple of hours.

Since those many years ago, I now separate the point from the flat BEFORE cooking and cook each piece separately. Nowadays, most of the time I buy only the flat, especially when catering. Sam's carries them in Choice grades for a very good price and the entire fat cap is intact. Avoid the cheapies at Wally World as they will be Select grade.

Fat side up or down??? That is changing in the last 2 years. Used to be everybody did them fat side up. Now, most will flip them half way thru the cook. The theory is that they will simmer in their own fat when the fat side is down.

To trim or not? I have cooked brisket every which way including trimming ALL the fat cap and then using toothpicks to secure back in place. Why do this? There is NO spice on Earth that will penetrate a fat cap. So, I cut it off, season the meat and then replace it. Lots of work, but effective.

My most recent method is to leave the entire fat cap in place with NO seasoning on that side of the meat and then AFTER it reaches my internal temp and BEFORE I rest it, scrape that fat off and season that side. Then rest for about an hour or 2. Much easier and much more flavor.

If you decide to trim, you are walking a fine line between trimming too much and not enough. Your type of smoker will make a difference as well. Water units will NOT melt that fat cap..even just 1/4" of it. Whereas, the offsets will melt most of it away.

Timing? I have had briskets cook in as little as 45 min/lb. and take as long as 2 1/2 hrs/lb. The difference? THICKNESS. The weight is important for timing, but the thickness is the key. Briskets come in greatly different sizes, so you must pay attention to the thickness. Sorry, no general rules as to this, just experiment and take good notes.

Foil or not? Again, no 1 correct way to do this. In the early 90's the winningest brisket cook foiled his briskets when they hit 165º, let them cook to about 188-190º, remove and let rest for 1 hour. Today, the best brisket cook does NO foiling, except at the end to let it rest.

Final temp? It has to be above 180º, but below 200º. Too low and it will still be tough, too high and you have yourself pot roast and it falls apart. No such thing as Rare, Medium or Well Done!

You should try and avoid using foil at the start of the cooking process. This will prevent any type of bark from forming and like other BBQ, the bark is where the flavor is most intensified. I like to layer my seasonings and always apply more rub after mopping.

Me personally, I have won with foil and without foil. The one common thread is near the end let it rest for at least 1 hour. Foil it, wrap in towels and place in a dry cooler. Be sure to KEEP the juices and add them to your sauce.

OK, here is my recipe. I took 3rd Place last year in Minnesota and placed in the Top 10 in other contests with this combo.......

Worcestershire sauce or A1 Sauce....I use Country Bob's All Purpose sauce
Yum Yum Steak Seasoning(see below)

I first trim fat cap to about 1/8" or thinner. Apply rub, slather on sauce, then apply horseradish and again sprinkle with rub. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit overnight. Before cooking, 1 more application of rub. I mop after about 3 hours and after mopping apply salt and pepper. I do this after each mopping. I use NO sauce, but keep the juices from the resting period and brush onto the beef slices before turn-in.

Yum-Yum Steak Seasoning

4 tablespoon(s) Salt
2 tablespoon(s) Paprika
1 tablespoon Black pepper, coarsely ground
1 1/2 teaspoon(s) Onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoon(s) Garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon(s) Cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric

Mix together and use on any beef.

Makes about 1/2 cup.

RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/08 00:20:45
wow stogie, you just gave a master's course in brisketology. thanks! Are you sure you're comfortable giving up all those secrets?
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/08 11:22:21
Thanks, Bill!

Not really many secrets are there??? LOL

The one "secret" I did learn, and it made a huge difference in my scores, was using about 1/2 cup of good strong beef broth poured over the meat before resting. You need to rest it in foil so the foil catches all the fats and juices from the brisket. Then, after resting for a couple of hours, using all that juice either by itself or mixing it in with your sauce.

The one thing I AM sworn to secrecy on.....excatly where and how to cut the best meat from the full brisket. Of course that is for competitions only so not really needed in the backyard.

Thanks again for the compliment!

RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/08 16:40:32
Stogie: Your meats have the personality, taste and care that makes something extra special. My one observation with a Brisket Competition, was Won by a Vietmanesse French Chef, who just had to prove that it's timing, attention and knowing the meat well to win. He selected 3 Briskets Packer cut from the Wholesaler. Then, showed me his sure way of winning. He Defatted and prepared his Briskets Flat and Proportional. Dry Rubbed them, Them covered them completely with a cover 3/4 inch thick of Suet Fat tied loosely to hold to Briskets. He smoked them at low temperature, turning meat about every 2 hours. when temperature was 150 degrees he removed from heat to rest, turning twice for one hour, then back to smoker. When Briskets were 175 Degrees he removed from smoke and took off the Suet that remained on meat. Brushed the surface with Glace de Villande on both sides, let stand 15 minutes, then Seasoned with his Spicy Barbque Sauce, raised the heat in the smoker so as to put a BARK on the meat, about 20/30 minutes each side and won first prize. This was in Las Vegas in a competion between local Chefs. I'm sure that the Butchering, Suet Fat and the Glace de Villande unstead of Beef Broth made the difference. Suet Fat is used all over Europe to control, moisturize and give flavor on Beef, Pork, Poultry and even Fish.
Filet Mignon
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/10 18:44:11
Originally posted by Stogie

OK, Bushie and OC....

You guys are technically making pastrami...smoked corned beef. You are is MUCH better when cooked like a brisket! ...

Well, now I know the difference between corned beef and pastrami!

Thanks, Stogie, for all the knowledge and experience you share. I'm a much better BBQ'er since following your advice.
Junior Burger
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/11 12:23:01
I agree with the very first thing Stogie said..."there is no 1 perfect way to cook a brisket." The one thing I would add to the excellent advice he gave though is about foiling. I usually cook my brisket on a water smoker for 8 hours or so...I then wrap the meat in commercial plastic wrap available at most of the big box stores...Costco, Sam's, etc. Foil will occasionally develop pin holes which will allow the juices to leak out. Commercial food wrap will withstand temperatures up to 225 degrees and will seal everything inside. Put the meat in an oven at 200 degrees for another three hours. This steams the meat and tenderizes it. Do all your cooking the day before you wish to serve the brisket so that the wrapped meat has time to rest in the refrigerator overnight. You'll notice that a dark gelatin has formed on the outside of the meat. Scrape this off and add to your sauce along with any juices that may collect. Slice the meat cold. You may warm it in a 200 degree oven in a covered container or in your sauce. This same technique works well with pork ribs as well.
Filet Mignon
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/12 23:02:09
Originally posted by bill voss

wow stogie, you just gave a master's course in brisketology. thanks! Are you sure you're comfortable giving up all those secrets?

Here Here!Thanks!
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/08/13 08:12:49

Saran plastic wrap can actually withstand heat as high as 265º(directly from the company). Many, many folks use it when competing and they love it. I have had it crinkle on me a few times so am a little gun shy. It doesn't just hardens and crinkles. Also, be aware that ovens constantly cycle......up and down all the time. My oven when set at 250º will reach temps above 275º and go as low as 240º. It IS a rather inexpensive gasser, but all ovens do this from the reports I have heard.

I agree when using foil, you need to be careful! Any holes and you will need to re-wrap.

Thanks for sharing your technique!

Junior Burger
RE: Beef Brisket 2003/09/06 15:33:03
I appreciate all the good ideas. Last winter I built a smoker out of a scrounged 9'x28" dia. pipe with 1/4" wall. Cut off 2' for an offset smoke box. Nothing fancy compared to what you see at cook-offs but it works. The only local wood we have is mesquite unless somebody cuts down an old orchard, so we use it for all meats except fish.

I've never had much luck with dry rubs on brisket. I use a paste of undiluted concentrated orange juice, coarse ground red chili, onion and garlic flakes, black pepper and Lowery's season salt. Glob it on the brisket and wrap tightly in plastic wrap overnight.

Having a smoker with lots of iron makes heat control much easier. Having a heat source in addition to wood would be great but I don't.

I smoke a 10lb. brisket uncovered, fat side up for about 6 hrs. then double wrap it in heavy foil and let it cook for another 6 hrs. or so. Again fat side up. Isn't it amazing how many friends you have when they see smoke on your patio?

My cookin' buddy and I are fixing a dinner for 70 antelope hunters the middle of this month. Brisket, chili, slaw and red beans. Cooking for hunters is easy. By the time they get out of the field they are so damm hungry they will eat nearly anything....except Yankee food.