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Day 1: Prep time 30 minutes. Resting time 4-12 hours.
Day 2: Prep time one hour. Cooking time approximately four hours. Resting time up to two hours.
1. Brisket — packer’s cut with the fat cap on — at room temperature. Packer’s cut means you’re getting the whole thing with the point and flat. Get this from a butcher who will give it to you with the proper amount of fat on it.
2. Use enough of a rub to cover the brisket generously on all sides or to your taste. Use any spices you like or my recipe below.
3. Thirty-two ounces of beef broth or au jus from bouillon or concentrate — which means 32 ounces of boiling water in which you dissolve the bouillon or concentrate.
5. Giant plastic brining bag (like the kind you would use for a turkey or to store sweaters).
6. Wood chips, dry. I suggest oak and a little bit of apple, but hickory and pecan are good, too.
7. Fat separator.
8. A blanket, preferably heavy like the kind movers use to wrap furniture. A couple of towels will also work.
9. Meat thermometer.
(Steps 1-4 can and should be done a day before.)
1. Boil 32 ounces of water and put in the number of bouillon cubes or concentrate called for on the container.
2. Trim any excess fat from the brisket so that you’re left with about a one-quarter-inch fat cap on one side. If there is any silver skin and membrane, remove it. The butcher can do this for you.
3. Inject about half the liquid from Step 1 into the bottom of the brisket — the side with the fat cap is the top — making sure you’ve covered the entire area. The fat cap, in addition to serving as a source of moisture, also provides a barrier to moisture escaping.
4. Put the brisket into the brining bag. Pour the rest of the liquid into the bag and seal it, making sure you’ve gotten out as much air as possible. Let it rest in the refrigerator for anywhere from four to 12 hours.
5. When you’re ready to cook, get your smoker to 325 degrees with the cover on. Once you’re there, put in the wood chips. If your smoker doesn’t go to 325, get it as high as it will go and adjust the cooking time. For example, if your smoker only goes to 275 degrees, add 30 minutes or so. (See separate instructions below for wood chips or if you don’t have a chamber for the wood.)
6. Take the brisket out of the bag and put it on a rack sitting on top of a cooking tray. I use a large cooling rack. Allow any excess liquid to drain into the tray. Don’t pat the brisket dry. You need the moisture for the rub to stick.
7. Put on as much rub as you like, but cover the brisket on all sides.
8. When your smoker is at 325 and after you’ve put in the wood chips, put the brisket on the grill fat cap down, put the cover back on the cooker and let it cook for about 2 1/2 hours, assuming it’s at least a 15-pounder.
9. At the end of this time, take the brisket off and put it in a pan. Cover it with foil. Put the pan back on the grill for 1 1/2 hours or until the point reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees. Optional: Since the actual smoking of the brisket has ended, you can move the pan into an oven.
(I’m assuming that you know what the point and the flat of the brisket are. If you don’t, please ask your butcher because it’s easier to show than to describe it.)
10. Once you’ve done all this, take the brisket out of the smoker and out of the pan, but leave the foil on top. Put it on a large piece of foil and wrap it up. Then wrap it in one of those blankets that moving companies use to wrap your dresser and let it rest for a couple of hours.
11. Take the drippings in the pan and pour them into a fat separator. Pour off the fat. Save the rest.
12. After a couple of hours, take out the brisket, slice it against the grain and brush each slice with a little of the drippings.
BBQ RUB AB
4 tbs. dark brown sugar
4 tbs. chili powder
4 tbs. paprika
4 tbs. salt
2 tbs. garlic powder
2 tbs. onion powder
2 tbs. black pepper
2 tbs. cayenne
4 tsps. dry mustard
4 tsps. ground cumin
Put everything in a bowl and mix well. Alternatively, put everything in a plastic bag and shake well to mix. Apply as much or as little as you like to the meat. Put the rest in the freezer.
Wood chips are what you burn to create the smoke that flavors the meat. There are two schools of thought about how to prepare the chips. One says soak them in water for a half hour before you put them on the heat. This will produce a “heavy” smoke.
I do not soak the chips. I believe it is easier to control the amount of smoke that is getting into the meat if the smoke is somewhat lighter. So, take a handful of chips and put them into the chamber of your smoker.
If you don’t have a chamber for the chips, and depending on what cooker you’re using, do one of the following:
If you’re using a grill like a Weber kettle, put a handful of chips right on the coals before you put the meat on the grill. Let the chips start to produce smoke before you put the meat on. Make sure of your temperature.
If you’re using a gas grill, it should have a smoker box, but if it doesn’t, make a small pouch out of aluminum foil and put the chips in the pouch. Put the pouch on one side of the grill, directly on the flame. Put the brisket on the other side of the grill and make sure the burners are off on the side where the brisket is. This is indirect heat.