Texas Beef Brisket
Serves 14 - 16
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 12 - 16 hours
Ingredients8-10 lb. packer brisket
1/3 cup fresh ground black pepper
1/3 cup fine grain Sea salt
AccessoriesPink butcher paper (aluminum foil may be substituted)
Metal cup or small bowl (water pan)
Aluminum drip pan
2 wood chunks of Oak (palm sized)
2 wood chunks of fruit wood: Apple, Cherry or Peach (palm sized)
Choosing a Brisket
A brisket is the muscle located in the chest area of a cow. It was originally considered as one of the lowest quality cuts, because the muscle has a lot of connective tissue and there is very little marbling (fat content) in the flat portion. You have two choices when it comes to the type of brisket, and many choices when it comes to quality.
A brisket has three main parts: the flat, the point and the fat cap. The flat is the most common cut available with a thickness that tapers lengthwise and a layer of fat covering the bottom. The point is a separate muscle that sits on top of the flat and the fat cap is a layer of fat between the flat and point. When you purchase a brisket your choices are a “flat” or a “packer” or “full packer” brisket which includes the point and fat cap.
We shopped at local grocery stores, a warehouse club and a butcher store. The grocery stores we visited only offered the flat portion (we want a packer). The warehouse club did offer a choice selection of packer briskets at a reasonable price. Finally, we stopped by a local butcher and their briskets were noticeably higher quality with more marbling in the flat. We chose a packer cut from the butcher that was just under 10 lbs at a cost of just under $60.
Trimming the brisket
Some trim the fat on a brisket and others do not. The last one we smoked we did not trim at all and there was far more fat than we wanted at the end. For this recipe we decided to trim the fat down to about 1/4-in. of thickness on the top and bottom of the brisket.
Pink Butcher Paper
For this recipe we’re using pink or “peach” butcher paper. It is unbleached, unwaxed and made from natural, food safe components. The benefits of pink butcher paper are its resistance to heat and moisture. Unlike aluminum foil, it is porous so the brisket is still being influenced by the smoke. If you opt for aluminum foil you can expect your brisket to finish earlier than using butcher paper. Finally, trim any silver skin off the top portion to allow the rub and smoke to penetrate the meat.
Remove the cooking grates, light the charcoal mound on the bottom left side. You want to the embers to feed across the charcoal from left to right. Heat the grill to 225-250°F (107-121°C). Expect the cooking time to be 60-90 minutes per pound at this temperature range. The 10 lb. brisket we smoked took 13 hours to get to an internal temperature of 203°F (95°F).
Place the wood chunks at different lengths around the lit charcoal, so they will produce wood smoke over the next 3-4 hours and not all at one time. Insert the heat deflector racks and plates, add the drip pan on top of them, then insert the cooking grates.
Place the brisket on the grill “fat side down” with the thickest part of the brisket on the left-hand side. You want the thickest part over the lit charcoal and the thinnest portion of the brisket on the cooler side, since it will finish earlier.
Place a metal cup or a small metal bowl of water on the cooking grate next to the brisket to create a moist environment.
If you are using a remote thermometer, insert the probe into the thickest part of the brisket. Another option is to use an instant read thermometer after 4-6 hours of cooking, then every hour until the target temperature is reached.
Cook to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). The temperature will “stall” at 160-170°F (71-77°C). You will notice that the internal temperature will remain the same or even lower slightly for 1-3 hours. This occurs when the moisture in the meat is forced to the middle of the cut. Do not increase the temperature of the grill.
Remove the brisket and place it on butchers paper (long enough to double wrap). Remove the water bowl. Place the brisket back on the grill and cook to an internal temperature of 200-205°F (93-96°C). Aluminum foil may be substituted for the butcher paper.
Remove the brisket from the grill and wrap with an additional layer of butcher paper or aluminum foil, then wrap it in a bath towel and place it in a cooler.
Allow the brisket to rest for at least one hour to allow the juices in the brisket to distribute evenly. You can rest it 3-4 hours if time allows.
Cut the thinnest part of the flat cross-grain in 1/4-in. slices. You can remove the point and cut into 1-in. cubes or continue to cut the remaining flat and point together.