[ED (Seth): By now you guys know Joe Pichey. You know about his recipes, and his blog, and why Stubb's sponsors them here, and why your doctor wants all this to stop. But I'm here to remind you anyway. Joe's blog is MMMGoBlueBBQ. Stubbs gives us some money to put his recipes here too because their CEO is a reader, and a nice guy, and he wants you to give his sauces a try next time you're in the supermarket.]
It's my favorite week of the year for several reasons. Turkey Day is my favorite day of the year (for obvious eating reasons) and THE GAME is here. We've waited all year for this one, so let's cook something truly special. It's not everyday we get to smoke a brisket, so let's enjoy this day to the fullest. The brisket is one of my favorites to cook, but also one of the trickiest. You can get overwhelmed watching videos on youtube or researching on google, so just search "Aaron Franklin Brisket" if you want. He has some fantastic videos if you want to do some more research or just want to watch some food porn. The biggest game deserves the biggest cut of beef, so grab your smoker, knife and beverages and let's get started.
- 10 - 15 lb Brisket (Packer)
- BBQ Rub
- Butcher paper (Non Waxed) or Foil
[After the jump, set your grill or smoker for indirect heat and prepare to melt]
Set your grill or smoker up for indirect heat. I like to smoke my briskets between 250 and 275 degrees. While your smoker is heating up, we need to do a little trimming on the packer brisket. A packer brisket is the most economical cut you can buy. You should be able to find it at your local big box store like Sams or Costco. I've seen them at local grocers, but they are typically a lower quality of cut. There are 3 USDA beef grades that we need to be on the lookout for. They are PRIME, CHOICE and SELECT. I prefer PRIME of CHOICE grade briskets as SELECT can be extremely suspect. You get what you pay for on these, so treat yourself little. The packer is made up of 2 cuts, known as the "flat" (lean end) and the "point" or "deckle" (fatty end). You can buy just the "flat" if you'd like, but then you will miss out on some of the best meat. When looking at the brisket below, the "flat" is on the left and the "point" is on the right. They are separated by the vein of fat that looks like a giant comma.
When trimming the brisket, you can do it 2 ways. You can just pull it out of the cryovac, rinse it and rub it. This will produce a much fattier end product. I prefer to do some trimming and get rid of some of the "hard fat". Either way is fine, but I prefer to get rid of some of that extra fat. The first piece to remove is the vein of fat between the flat and the point. It's the hard fat area that looks like a comma in the pic above. Make sure your knife is extremely sharp. Remove this with a boning knife and throw away. If you'd like to trim the underside of the brisket (the side covered in fat), trim down to 1/4 inch thick. I prefer to leave mine to act as a heat shield. It's up to you.
Once the hard fat is removed, it's time to look at the "direction of the grain" in the flat. It's very important to know which way the grain is running when slicing. If we slice with the grain, the meat will be tough and chewy. Nobody wants that. In the pic below, you can see the grain is running left to right. Once you cook the brisket, you will not be able to see the grains as well. I like to cut myself a little reminder on the grain direction. When the brisket is done,we will slice against the grain. Slice off the corner of the brisket so we know which direction to cut once the brisket is done and covered with the that dark, tasty crust.
Once the trimming is complete, season with some Stubbs BBQ rub. Cover the entire piece of meat. Don't forget the sides. This is a huge hunk o meat, so go big with the seasoning.
Place on smoker at 250 degrees. I have cooked briskets with the fat cap up and the fat cap down and really have not noticed a big difference. I went fat cap down on this one to act as a heat shield just in case there were any flare-ups. This is a long cook (10 - 12 hours) so these could happen.
Once it's on the smoker, you can sit back and relax. We have some time to get those Honey-Do's done. Let it go until it hits an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
As you can see, it starts to develop that dark and tasty bark that we all love. Once it hits 165 degrees, I like to remove and wrap in butcher paper. I prefer butcher paper over aluminum foil, or "TEXAS CRUTCH" as it's commonly known because it doesn't ruin the bark. The foil turns the bark into mush, while the butcher paper allows it to breathe a little. Wrap with 1 layer of butcher paper and place back on the smoker. This will also help speed up the cooking process.
The butcher paper is non-waxed and can be found on amazon or at your local butcher. I'm sure if you ask nicely, he would give you a few feet at no cost. Just make sure it's non-waxed.
Cook until the internal temp hits 200 degrees. Once it hits 200, remove and place in the cooler that has been lined with towels. I put 3 towels on the bottom and cover with another 3 towels on top. This provides great insulation and will keep the heat in as the brisket rests for 2 hours. This step is very important and helps tenderize the meat.
After resting in the cooler for 2 hours, remove from the butcher paper and grab your favorite slicing knife. Separate the flat from the point by running the back of your knife thru the vein of fat. This should be super tender and will separate easily.
Once these are separated, start slicing the flat, making sure to cut against the grain. That edge we cut off prior to seasoning is our guide. I like to slice about the thickness of a pencil.
Once you have sliced the flat, turn your attention to the point. You can chop this into 1 inch cubes for burnt ends or slice against the grain into fattier pieces. The grain on the point typically runs opposite of the flat grain. The point is my favorite. SHOCKER!!!
After slicing, the brisket should have "floppy factor" and be very relaxed. This piece bent over my finger without breaking.