Brisket 101

Doesn’t that brisket look awesome?!!

Luckily, you can smoke up some awesome hickory smoked brisket ourselves in your SmokinTex Smoker.

Here is a great refresher on how-to-smoke and prepare a brisket.

What Is Brisket?

Brisket is a beef cut taken from the breast section beneath the first five ribs, behind the fore shank. Fresh brisket is an inexpensive boneless cut that requires long, slow cooking to break down the collagen in the connective muscle tissues to achieve tenderness. In Texas, the whole brisket is known as “Texas BBQ.” In other parts of the country, the long piece is cut in half for marketing. You’ll find it sold as a flat cut or a point cut. The flat cut is leaner, but the point cut has more flavor due to a bit of extra fat (called the deckle). Where BBQ isn’t a big thing, like the North East, they use brisket for things like corned beef and pastrami.

When picking out a brisket, you will want to choose a “Packer Trimmed Beef Brisket.” Your butcher will know. Pick one between 10 & 12 pounds. The fat protects and flavors the meat during the long slow smoking /cooking process. It also prevents the meat from drying out while the tenderizing process of breaking down the collagen in the connective muscle tissues inside is taking place.

An 11 pound brisket will net you approximately 6-7 pounds of useable meat. If you’re planning a BBQ or dinner party, plan on using 1/3 lb. of smoked brisket per person. That is if you’re only serving brisket. If you’re also serving, say ribs and/or sausage, you would cut back to 1/4 lb of brisket per person.

Now it’s smoking time. Load your wood box with 3 pieces of your favorite hardwood. If you want a smoke ring on your brisket, add a few lumps of charcoal to your wood box. The nitrates in the charcoal will give you the ring. Now you’re going to say, “They don’t put charcoal in an offset BBQ pit.” You’re right, except after the first few hours of smoking in a pit, the wood becomes charcoal and thus the smoke ring.

Now that you have smoke-cooked the briskets for 12 hours at 200º using no more than 8 ounces of your favorite hardwood not soaked in water, it’s time to clean and serve or freeze.

A good test to see if it’s done is to press your finger into the fattiest part of the meat. If it is soft and your finger doesn’t have a problem penetrating, it’s ready! After the brisket has cooled down a little, it’s time to clean it.

Some people up in Oklahoma we hear eat the whole brisket – fat and all.

In Texas most of the BBQ joints clean the brisket of all the fat. The brisket is in two pieces separated by a layer of fat. Lay the meat down fat side up. Position your index finger on the flat part of the brisket, now move your finger under the fat layer and towards the back of the brisket. You will be able to feel where the two pieces are joined and in fact you will be able to separate the two with your hand part of the way. Then you will need a good knife to finish the job. If you look along the side of the brisket, you will see where the two are joined. After the deckle is separated from the flat part, clean both of fat by pulling it off with the knife blade. ( both sides of the deckle)

After they’re cleaned, put them back together the same way they came off and wrap in restaurant quality plastic film or vacuum-pack. Now you’re ready to serve or freeze. Keep warm, 150°F, if you’re going to serve it.

You can find other helpful information from our SmokinTex Forums and Manuals.

Delicious brisket image courtesy of The Travel Channel.