Smoking beef brisket, low and slow. I adapted my recipe from Weber’s Smoke: A Guide to Smoke Cooking for Everyone and Any Grill.
Base Camp 02 (morning of the smoke 7:15 AM)
About an hour before you are ready to start smoking, take the brisket out of the refrigerator to let it warm to room temperature. This is going to be a long cook so you don’t want to waste any time getting it up to ambient temperature. This is also a good time to apply the rub with spices.
This allows the rub to change from a dry powder to a sticky glaze that will become what pit bosses call “bark”.
About ½ hour before you are ready to smoke, put a chimney full of restaurant grade charcoal into the smoker ring.
Since you don’t want to flavour the meat with any kind of petroleum starter fuel, I use newspaper knots. Take two sheets of newspaper and roll them up along the long side, then tie two overhand knots in them. Make 3 of these and put them in the bottom of the chimney. Scrunch up another two sheets and put them under the chimney. Fill the chimney with charcoal over the paper knots and then light. By the time we are ready we will be working with embers.
Pour out the embers on top of the other unlit charcoal in the smoker. Assemble the bottom section and insert the water bowl. Put about two inches of hot water in the bowl. On goes the brisket for about 4-5 hours. Every hour add 3 more chunks of hickory, check the water and poke the charcoal to knock off the outer ash and maintain a temperature of 225-250F.
Advanced Base Camp (let the smoke begin 8:30 AM)
Smoke the brisket at 225F for 4 hours and goal is internal temperature of 160F.
When the internal temperature reached 160F then the first stage is done.
Snowed in (afternoon 1:00 PM)
Now I need to employ a little cheat, a Texas Crutch, which is to double wrap the brisket in heavy duty foil with ½ cup of the beef stock we used to inject last night. We want to eat today, right? We are too old and tired to smoke overnight and have to get up for the 3 o’clock feed again, right? So a little cheat will mean that we get past the stall which occurs when the meat starts to sweat and cools (like an athlete). This will just about half the time for this next stage from 8-10 hours to 4-5 hours. Normally on the BBQ circuit teams would cook over night, but I am not into that…yet.
Summit (later on the day 1:00 PM)
Now it is the ascent to the summit of tender smoky spicy beef, and this is where the concept of a recipe all falls apart. Actually that is what you want, for it to all fall apart, the brisket that is. The next stage is to cook at 225-250F in foil for another 3-5 hours until the internal temperature is 190-195F.
Depending on your cut of meat and the amount of fat this can be even longer than 5 hours. A seasoned pit boss will say “he feels when it is done” by using a temperature probe or fork sticking the meat and seeing if it yields easily. My fire in the smoker lasted the 4 hours and the temperature was 190F but it was still not yielding and a bit firm in the thick part of the meat. I wanted to clean up outside so I put the brisket into the oven at 225F (another cheat but it would be dark soon). It was 5:00PM and I checked the meat every half an hour until I reached the summit at about 6:30PM. After about 10 hours of cooking I was at the top. I opened the foil for 15 minutes to let the steam out. But now I had to slowly descend the mountain to dinner.
Descent (evening 6:45 PM)
The brisket has been cooked for 10 hours so now needs to be slowly lowered in temperature, and allow all the juices to go back into the meat and not leak out all over the cutting board. Bring on the faux cambro
Which is a beer cooler and couple of towels. In to the cooler goes the brisket in foil.
After a 2 hour descent the brisket is finally done.
And here it is plated up.
It is 9:00 PM and I am shattered! It tasted really nice and smoky at the beginning and had a soft and moist texture followed by a long spicy flavour. I have now done all the meats required in a smoking competition; ribs, chicken and brisket. Who’s the “PIT BOSS” – me!