This year for Easter we hosted a pot luck for our friends in the neighborhood and it was my pleasure to cook the majority of the meat for this occasion. I actually have a tendency to go overboard and try and cook all of the food but my wife put her foot down this year and told me to just stick to a couple of things. So aside from making some salsa and BBQ sauce I smoked a brisket flat and baked a ham. See I scaled back a bit. LOL.
Today however I am going to go over how I made the brisket for this years Easter event. Now I know that a lot of people have their very own specific way of making brisket and I am not going to tell you that my way is better and you should throw your method away in favor of this. But If you are new to using a smoker and want to give it a try, you cant go wrong with what I’m about to tell you.
From choosing specific wood to enhance the flavor of the meat, to having their own method for times and temperatures that the meat should cook at, smoking meat can be quite an art form to those people who really get into it. There will never be one real winning method, but like everyone else that loves firing up their smoker I have my own way that I like to do it and am going to stick to it.
Lets go ahead and get started
Here are a few things you will need before you get started: sharp knife and cutting board, long handled tongs, disposable roasting pan, aluminum foil, and of course a smoker or large charcoal style grill with a top rack.
Brisket flat (at least a 10 pounder)
Yellow mustard bbq sauce (or plain yellow mustard will do in a pinch)
spice rub (I make my own but you can find some pretty good spice rubs at the grocery store too).
BBQ sauce (again, I like to make my own sauce but something like Stubs, or Sweet Baby Rays works just fine).
Wood chips or chunks (Hickory is my preferred wood but I do like to mix in a little oak from time to time)
Prep the brisket (the day before cooking)
Most brisket flats come already trimmed with a thin layer of fat on them. So you may not need to do any extra trimming but if yours is not trimmed you will want to trim off some of the fat down to a little over a quarter of an inch thick. Some people will go up to half an inch but I prefer a little less. It really is all up to you.
Now that your brisket is trimmed you will want to get out the yellow mustard sauce. I make my own with a combination of yellow mustard, apple cider vinegar, black pepper, sugar and butter). However in a pinch just regular old yellow mustard will do. Put the brisket in a deep baking pan or bowl and pour out some of the mustard sauce on to the brisket and start rubbing it into the meat. You want to get a thin layer over the outside of the entire brisket so that it turns it a nice yellowish color (don’t get it too thick because a little goes a long way). You also may be worried about the taste of the mustard on the brisket, but don’t. As it cooks the flavor changes completely. It is now time for the spice rub. Sprinkle a nice thick coat all over it and rub it in good. Cover it and let it sit in the fridge over night.
Get the smoker ready.
There are tons of smokers out there that people use. I like my Masterbuilt gas (propane) smoker. Simply because I can better control the temp throughout the day and don’t have to keep as much of an eye on it as other more traditional smokers. I have however used all wood smokers and even converted my charcoal burning grill into one in a pinch. If you are using a grill then you will want to get a nice pile of coals burning and then on the main cooking grill place a disposable aluminum pan full of water. Then you will want to place you brisket on the top rack directly over the pan. This way you are not cooking with direct heat and drying out the meat. You will toss in a handful of wood chips/chunks when you first start and again as the smoke dies down.
No matter what type of smoker you are using there are a couple of important things to remember. You do not want to cook with too high of a temperature. For this one I fluctuated between around 175 and 225 degrees throughout the day. Its natural for the temp to go up and down a little so you will just need to keep an eye on it. If it gets too hot you can open the grill up a bit so some air can get in and flow through or if the temp starts to go down you can stoke the coals or add a little more wood.
For my brisket I smoked it for right about 7 hours. I added wood for the first 3 hrs so that it would get a nice smokey flavor. After 4 hrs I removed the brisket and completely wrapped it in aluminum foil and put it back in. The pros call this method of cooking “the crutch” but I have found it to be a very useful trick to get a nice tender hunk of meat. What this does is lets the brisket heat up inside of the foil and since the natural juices have nowhere to go it just sits in there and cooks in its own juices and gets nice and tender.
After about 7 hrs you will want to remove it from the smoker and set it out to rest (do not remove from the foil yet). Let it rest for about 15 minutes in the foil then remove it. Let it sit for another 5 to 10 minutes and you are ready to cut it.
When you cut the brisket you will want to cut it against the grain of the meat. That means if you look at the meat you can see the way the grain runs in the tissues. Cut across that when you are slicing. If you cut with the grain then you can get a tougher unpleasant to chew piece of meat.
And that is how you smoke a brisket flat. The spices you use along with the type of wood will go a long way in creating the over all flavor of the meat, so once you have done this a time or two feel free to change it up and try out different things and come up with your own signature flavor.
This brisket is good many ways. You can stick it on two pieces of Texas Toast (garlic bread) with some BBQ sauce and make a great sandwich. You can eat it on a small tortilla with salsa for a great taco. Or even try shredding it up and putting it over some tortilla chips with cheese, BBQ sauce, salsa and jalapenos for some great BBQ nachos. Its up to you. There really is no wrong way to eat it.
I hope that you all enjoy this one and remember to come back often to see what I cook up next.
Thanks for reading,