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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Easy, Fast, Barbecue Brisket

Barbecue Brisket
Looking over the menu of the typical barbecue restaurant nowadays one would think that barbecue joints have been cooking briskets for hundreds of years. However, according to Edgar Black, Jr., the owner of Blacks' BBQ in Lockhart, TX, very few barbecue restaurants were cooking briskets when Black's BBQ first opened in 1932. That being said, brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of the cow and it supports about 60% of the cow's body weight. Therefore, it is a tough cut of meat with a lot of connective tissue. And, that is why brisket is a great cut of meat to barbecue. Barbecuing brisket breaks down the connective tissues and leaves a tender and juicy product.

We are told that to cook delicious barbecue brisket it should be cooked for 12 to 14 hours over a low and slow fire. Having visited the central Texas barbecue brisket "Meccas" including Kreuz Market, Smitty's Market, Black's BBQ and Snow's BBQ, I can tell you that none of them cook brisket for 14 hours. Now, they may hold it in a warmer for several hours after cooking it and the cook time plus the warmer time could be as much 14 hours. But, truth be told, you only need five hours to cook a delicious, tender, mouth watering barbecue brisket and here is how to do it.

First of all, you need a BBQ smoker that can maintain a temperature of about 325 degrees F with indirect heat. Second, you need a full packer brisket. A full packer brisket is a brisket that comprises the point and the flat.  It's made up of two muscles separated by a thick layer of fat, as seen in the photo to the left.

Once you have a good cut of meat which is either a choice (very good) or a select (OK cut), you need to season it. Mix up about 1/4 cup of paprika with a tablespoon (TBS) of black pepper, TBS of salt, a TBS of granulated garlic, and a TBS of chili powder. See the little "slit" in the upper right corner of the brisket? That is a small cut I put there against the grain of the meat to serve as a guide when I slice it after it's done.

 Now, let the seasoned brisket hang out on your kitchen counter for about 1/2 an hour to an hour while you fire up your smoker. Bring the smoker up to a temperature of about 325 degrees Fahrenheit with indirect heat. I use Kingsford charcoal with a couple of golf ball sized chunks of white oak for smoke. When the smoker is up to temp and the smoke has reached the sweet blue stage, put the brisket in the smoker with the fat cap facing the heat source. In this smoker, the heat is on the bottom so I cooked it fat cap down.

Let it cook for about two hours. Then, put the brisket in a pan and wrap it tightly in foil.Let the brisket continue to cook at about 325 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit until a knife or ice pick stuck in the meat goes in without any resistance. It should be about 2.5 hours after foiling.

Once the brisket probes like butter, remove it from the smoker and wrap it in a blanket. Let it sit in the blanket for at least one hour. After at least one hour, remove the brisket from the pan, pour the pan juices into a defatting cup, and begin slicing the brisket.

Separate the flat from the point and then remove all of the excess fat that you don't want to eat.

Now, slice the brisket against the grain (that part is very important), put it in a serving dish, pour the de-fatted au jus over it, and serve it with sauce or without sauce. But the brisket will be so good you won't need sauce. In fact, Kreuz Market doesn't offer barbecue sauce at all. They serve brisket with avocado, cheese, sauerkraut, white bread, and a plastic knife and it's delicious.


  1. love your blog man! the first step is admitting you have a problem "obsessive compulsive bbq". hi my name it blake, i am an obsessive compulsive bbq cook. =-)