Smoked beef brisket… it’s a commitment!
Digging into slow-cooked smoked brisket is incredibly satisfying, but cooking it definitely takes commitment.
For me, making the decision to make this brisket, it was during my drive home from work on a Friday afternoon. I spent half the drive trying to decide if I should drive straight home, or make a right turn towards my butcher to pick up the beef brisket. The thought of getting up at 5:15 am on a Saturday morning, after an exhausting workweek, wasn’t appealing to me.
I guess this post is the clue as to which route I took home that day. No regrets! It was well worth losing sleep over.
Using a pellet smoker and grill
We’ve had our Broil King Baron 400 Pellet Smoker and Grill for almost a year, and we absolutely love it (…and we’re not being paid to say this)!
I used to be a bit intimidated at the thought of smoking a brisket. Pitmasters are called masters for a reason. Using the right wood, maintaining consistent temperatures, and all the physical labour that goes into using a traditional smoker sounded complicated and tiring. Hats off to these smoking masters!
A pellet smoker and grill makes the task of smoking meat, or any other food for that matter, so much more approachable.
First, you set the temperature of the smoker just like you would an oven. The smoker takes care of feeding wood pellets when needed to increase or decrease the temperature of the smoker so it stays exactly where you want it to be. Crazy, right!
Choosing the right wood is also easy. Broil King packages different types of clean wood pellets for all your smoking or grilling preferences. They even make suggestions for which pellets to use for different foods.
With many years of experience, Pitmasters know when briskets are ready just by the feel. That approach isn’t quite as simple for the average home cook. Electronic meat probes and an app makes monitoring the meat so much easier! That’s the route I took.
Using the probes, you can easily check the internal temperate at any time by pulling out your smartphone, and checking your bluetooth and wifi-connected app. Making a delicious smoked beef brisket takes a bit of effort and testing, but these modern-day features definitely simplify the process.
How long does it take to smoke a brisket?
Ours took 12 hours to cook. The timing can change, so you’re better off not giving your guests an exact hour for when dinner will be on the table. Remember, with other foods, there’s an event, and you make food for that event. In this case, the brisket is the event. 😃
Scheduling your brisket cook
I like to serve the brisket for dinner. This means getting up super early and cooking it all day. I’ve done ton of research on this topic. Lots of Pitmasters smoke their briskets over night and stay up during the entire process.
My schedule allowed me to get some sleep at night and wake up early to get started so I could serve the brisket for dinner. This worked perfectly for us, but feel free to cook according to your own preferences and available time.
Spraying and wrapping the brisket. So many opinions.
Traditionally, Pitmasters “mop” their briskets during the cook with some sort of vinegar mixture. This helps keep the meat moist during the long cook.
I decided to go with a different approach that also seems quite popular. I used a spray bottle to spray the vinegar mixture on the meat every hour. The end result was fantastic, so I’m sticking with this easier and cleaner approach for all future briskets.
Wrapping the meat for the final part of the cook keeps the brisket super juicy and reduces the amount of smoke the meat takes in while the fat finishes breaking down at the end of the cook.
Unwaxed butcher paper seems to be the most popular material used for this wrap. It’s a bit hard to find this type of paper near us and it’s quite expensive to order online, especially in small quantities.
I ended up wrapping it first in parchment paper and then an extra wrap of tin foil over that. Based on my research, tin foil alone would steam the meat and ruin the beautiful outer bark. I was very happy with the results, and most people already have both of these materials at home, so it’s a good substitute if you can’t find unwaxed butcher paper.
Do temperatures matter while smoking a brisket?
Yes! There seems to be a magic number that ensures that the fats are broken down, and the meat is tender and doesn’t become dry. For our brisket 193 ºF on the thicker side was that magic number. Obviously, the thinner side is a bit more done. For our brisket the thiner side was at 199 ºF. The entire brisket was so juicy.
The end result… mind blown!
When you cut into the meat, you should see a nice red ring around the edge. This is from the smoking process. The meat should be incredibly tender. If you press the meat a little, you’ll see wonderful juices dripping out. Oh… and prepare to have your mind blown with the flavour!
If you get the chance to make this, and you question, at any point in the 12 hours, why it has to take so long to cook… the moment you see the juices and take your first bite, you’ll understand it was all worth it. And you’ll have made the day yummy. Enjoy!
- 10 lbs or 4.5 kg beef brisket trimmed, but still with the fat cap on
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1/2 cup yellow mustard
- 4 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp garlic powder
- 3 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup beer
The night before smoking the meat, mix together the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika and chili powder in a bowl, and set aside.
Place the brisket on a large baking sheet.
Trim any larger pieces of fat from around the brisket and a little off the fat cap. Note, make sure to leave a thin layer of the fat cap on the brisket.
Using a meat syringe, inject the broth into the brisket. Poke the syringe deep into the meat to ensure that most of the broth stays inside the meat. Some will trickle out, this is expected and okay.
Using clean hands, coat the entire brisket with the mustard.
Sprinkle the seasoning evenly around the entire brisket, making sure to coat it all.
Pat down the seasoning to make sure it’s stuck to the mustard.
Loosely tent the brisket with aluminum foil and place the cooking sheet with the meat in the fridge… now go get some rest. You’ll be up early!
The cook will take roughly 12 hours, give or take an hour or two.
I woke up at 5:15 am to start up our Broil King Baron Pellet 400 smoker and grill.
Fill up the hopper with wood pellets.
Set the smoker to 225 ºF.
Once the smoker has reached its temperature, place the brisket on the grates.
Poke the electronic meat probes into the meat, one on the thickest side and one on the thinest side of the brisket.
Remember, you can monitor the probe temperatures from the Broil King app on your smart phone.
Close the lid and wait for the magic to start happening.
Combine the beer and apple cider in a clean spray bottle.
At this stage you’ll be monitoring the smoker temperature, probe temperatures, and spraying some of the vinegar/beer mixture over the brisket roughly every hour. Make sure to check the hopper to ensure you have enough wood pellets in the hopper. One full hopper should be enough for this full cook.
When the probe in the thickest side of the meat reaches the high 150s ºF, prepare a wrap for the brisket.
Place a large piece of tin foil on a large baking sheet (shiny side down and touching the baking sheet and large enough to wrap the brisket).
On top of the tin foil, place a large piece parchment paper (also large enough to wrap the brisket).
Spray the top of the parchment paper with the vinegar mixture.
Once the probe on the thickest side reaches 160 ºF, quickly open the smoker lid and place the meat on the parchment paper.
Tightly wrap the meat in the parchment paper, then repeat the wrapping step within the tin foil (meat wrapped in parchment, wrapped in foil). Both wraps should be tight, and make sure to avoid any tearing.
Place the wrapped brisket back on the smoker grates.
Stick the probes back into the meet on both ends to help monitor your cook temperature.
Close the lid.
Make sure the smoker is still set to 225 ºF and let it continue to cook.
Once the temperate reaches 193 ºF on the thickest side, remove the brisket from the smoker and let it rest for 30 minutes, while still wrapped.
Slice the meat as thick or thin as you like, but make sure to cut against the grain.
The final result? When you cut into the meat, you should see a nice red ring around the edge. This is from the smoking process. The meat should be incredibly tender. If you press the meat a little, you’ll see wonderful juices dripping out. Oh… and prepare to have your mind blown with the flavour! If at any point you wondered why this took so long, you’ll understand right about now.
- Feel free to use your own favourite wood pellets. We used Broil King’s griller’s select blend wood pellets. Our friend Ben (Culinary Director at Broil King) says he likes using the smoke master’s blend with some mesquite added.
- Many pitmasters “mop” their briskets instead os spraying. This is where you brush the brisket with the vinegar mixture instead of spraying. I’m not a pitmaster and I like the ease of using the spray bottle. Since I was very happy with the end-result, I’ll keep doing it this way. Feel free to use the mop method if you prefer. If you do, you might want to double the vinegar quantity.
- Please use my timing/schedule only as a suggestion, you should do what works best for your schedule. Many of the pitmasters I researched prefer to smoke overnight. For me personally, I like starting it early in the morning so that we can enjoy the brisket for dinner. You may not want to set an exact dinner time for guests, times very quite a bit based on the size of the cut of meat, external temperatures, how many times and for how long you open the lid, etc.
- There are many different theories around the material used for wrapping the brisket. Some say that wrapping in only tin foil helps keep moisture, but ends up steaming the meat and ruins the outer bark of the smoked brisket. Some use unwaxed butcher paper. I did a hybrid of tin foil and parchment paper. This worked nicely for us, but feel free to experiment. Regardless of the method you use, wrap it tightly.
- It may sound like we’ve used a lot of mustard, but you won’t really taste it. Think of it as the glue for the seasoning.