How to Cook a Whole Brisket Low ‘n’ Slow with Smoke.
We’re offering more whole briskets to customers than ever before and getting results is not as daunting as you think. Here are some tips on achieving the perfect result every time.
What could be better than the satisfaction you get from serving a whole slow smoked brisket to a group of friends and family? It’s really not that difficult and, considering the amount of meat you get from a whole brisket, it’s not over expensive either as an entertainment option. I smoked a whole brisket for a family party and there were even leftovers. Having said that, I did throw a Boston butt on at the same time.
The brisket comes from way down low on the chest of the animal and carries a large amount of weight. For this reason it has a lot of connecting tissue and fibrous muscle that produces great flavour and texture, but needs to be broken down. The only way to get great results from a brisket is to cook it lo’ ‘n’ slow.
The whole brisket is comprised of two muscles called the superficial and the pectoral. These are known as the point and the flat. The muscles are joined by a band of fat and the fibres run in different directions. When you have your brisket in front of you, take a look at these muscles and note the direction of the fibres. You’re going to cut across the grain of each when you eventually serve it up to your guests.
If you’ve bought one of our SteakHolder briskets it should be trimmed ready for you to go straight to the smoker. If not, you’re going to want to trim any sinew or fat from the top of the flat. You might want to remove some of the fat from the connection between the flat and the point, but leave some of it in for lubrication and flavour. On the underside, where it’s been trimmed from the bone, take away any excess fat, but leave a fat layer on there. Now it’s time to jump into the main event.
Rubs and Seasoning
For my rub I use just a mixture of sea salt and black pepper, but there are endless combinations of rub that you can make for yourself or buy in ready prepared. Give the brisket a good even dusting on the fat side and then flip it over and do the same on the other side. Do this an hour or so before cooking.
Some people like to inject the brisket with stock or other concoctions and there’s no problem with this if you want to give it a try. I’ve always found that native breed briskets don’t really need any added flavour or moisture. The marbling and collagen in the meat should be enough to both add flavour and keep the meat moist.
I usually go for somewhere between 120 – 140c for the cooking temperature, obviously the lower you go, the longer it will take. Put a pan of water in there somewhere so that you have some moisture to stop the brisket from drying out and to help with the smoke.
Get the smoker or grill up to temperature with your wood on producing smoke. The amount of fuel and wood you use will depend on your setup. Put the brisket in and close the lid. I would smoke for at least a couple of hours until a good bark is starting to form. Depending on the conditions it can take longer. Once you get past around 3 hours, I don’t think the meat will take on much more smoke and so it seems pointless to me to keep smoking.
It’s handy to have a spray bottle loaded up with some stock or vinegar to give the outside of the brisket a spritz every so often if it looks dry.
When you think that there is a good dark crusty bark on the brisket, probably 5 to 6 hours, you should think about wrapping it. The internal temperature at this point should be around 70-75c. I wrap mine in some butcher paper that’s been soaked in water. You can use foil for this too. If you’re going to use a BBQ sauce, I would brush some of it onto the paper before you wrap the brisket in it and maybe spritz it with some stock or vinegar.
Put it back into the smoker or if you’re fed up by this point into an oven at the same temperature, it really doesn’t matter once it’s wrapped. You’re looking now for an internal temperature in the thicker part of the flat of around 90-95c. That’s when the collagen breaks down. You should be at this temperature around 3 hours after wrapping, if not put the brisket back in checking every 45 minutes or so.
Take it out of the smoker or oven and let it sit, wrapped up for an hour or so. When you open it, it should be perfect.If you’ve got guests coming it might be worth aiming to get it up to temperature earlier. If you wrap the whole thing in some towels or put it in a cooler box wrapped up (obviously without ice) it will keep warm for hours.
When you’re ready, take your brisket out of its wrapping and separate the point from the flat. You can do this by finding the strip of fat between the two and pulling them apart or cutting with a knife.
At this point you can save the point for later if you’ve got enough in the flat. A popular use for the point is to cut it into chunks and put them back in the smoker in a tray for an hour to make burnt ends. If you want to serve these to your guests, wrap the flat again and put it to one side while you cook the ends.
When you’re ready to serve, slice the flat across the grain of the muscle and mix with the sauce of your choice. Enjoy the expression on your guests faces when they tuck in.