Let's be honest here -- brisket is mouthwateringly delicious, but it can be hard to find the perfect place to get a good brisket. That is exactly why you should learn how to smoke a brisket at home. The best thing about learning how to smoke different types of meats is the fact that you can play around with different flavors. It is also the perfect thing to make for your friends in the summertime.
Learning how to smoke a brisket can seem like a daunting task. It actually isn’t as hard as most people have come to believe. You can buy a smoker or use your grill; it all depends on what you can afford and how often you plan on smoking meats. There are just five simple steps to smoking a brisket. There are of course other tips and tricks to help it turn out just right, but it’s certainly not too complicated to try at home. Brisket might be the biggest hit on your home menu before you know it. period
5 Steps On How To Smoke A Brisket
Picking Your Brisket
When it comes to learning how to smoke a brisket, choosing the right piece of meat is a crucial step. You need to know a little bit about grades of meat, as well as the checklist that comes with the decision. Keep in mind that these are only tips, a huge part of picking the brisket will probably be the price.
There are a few levels of quality when it comes to meat. You will want to focus on the higher grade brisket options like prime, choice, and select. Prime and choice meats smoke best. They are often the most the most tender and juicy once cooked. However, select meats are the perfect option if you’re learning how to smoke a brisket. They are a bit cheaper but still great quality. Keep in mind if you cook any good meat at a low temperature for an extended period of time you should not have problems making it tender.
A huge factor to consider when picking the right brisket is finding the right amount of meat. In general, briskets contain fat and collagen. So when you initially pick it up from the store, that is going to contribute to the starting weight. You need to remember that it is going to shrink a lot during the cooking process. So you will end up with about 60 percent of the weight you started with. That’s a dramatic difference when you’re feeding a bunch of people.
Marbling is essential when picking a brisket. That will help keep your meat juicy and tender. You will also want to have a nice layer of fat on top. The layer of fat can get a trimming, and you might want to consider doing that if there is a lot. Keep in mind that fat is a good thing. It helps keep the meat moist and contributes to the flavor. You can always trim it off after cooking if you aren’t a fan of actually eating the fat. In general, it’s good to have a decent fat-cap, a layer of fat on top, that is about ⅛ to ¼ of an inch thick.
Flex isn’t always the easiest thing to look for. Most stores like to pack the meat on styrofoam trays. If you can find a brisket that doesn’t come with a styrofoam tray, try testing the flex of the meat. While this might sound a little bit odd if you’re new to the whole experience, it is an excellent way to check how tender the meat will be.
The older the animal was, the more collagen builds up, and the stiffer the meat may be. Stiff, collagen-filled meat may contribute to a tougher or more gristly finished product. So in the end, a soft, tender piece of meat will lead to a delicious, soft, and tender smoked brisket.
Preparing To Smoke Your Brisket
Learning how to smoke a brisket isn’t as hard as you might think. It’s a straightforward process that doesn’t take as much preparation as you might think. The little preparation you can do will help keep the meat tender, juicy, and give it incredible flavor.
Cleaning and temperature
When you’re learning how to smoke a brisket, you will want to clean the meat. Rinse it under lukewarm water and then pat it dry with paper towels. It’s extremely simple and will help a dry rub stick to the damp meat.
Before you throw the brisket in the smoker, make sure it is room temperature. That will help it cook evenly. Never use frozen meat because it will cook longer on the outside than the inside. So by the time it is the right temperature in the middle, the outside may be dry or overcooked.
As I stated before you don’t have to do a whole bunch of trimming, but it is a question on most people's minds when they prepare meat in general. It feels like you should trim the fat off because many people don’t like to eat the fat. It’s gelatinous and isn’t always appealing.
Now, if you have a lot of fat on your brisket, there are handy informational videos that can help direct you. A good reference is to keep about a ¼ of an inch of fat. It’s a good point to remember when learning how to smoke a brisket. You can always trim it away when you’re done cooking your brisket. Keeping some fat on the meat will help keep it moist.
Choosing Your Flavors
Now we’re getting to the important stuff, the flavors. There are a few different options you can choose from and several combinations you can consider. When you’re learning how to smoke a brisket, you should keep it simple. Finding the right wood and seasoning combination will set your brisket apart.
If you want a surefire way to add flavor and moisture to a brisket, flavor injection is a wonderful method of doing so. It enables you to get the flavor deeper than a normal marinade. There are no strict rules for injecting flavor, but there are some useful tips for anyone who is new to the process.
Using a dry rub is the most common method of adding flavor to a brisket. There are so many different flavor profiles you could choose from. The beauty of a dry rub is the fact that you can keep it basic, sweet or spicy. Keep in mind that you can apply a rub and let it sit for a few hours, like a marinade. That will allow the flavor to soak into the meat.
You only want to do that if there is little to no salt included in the rub. If you let salt sit on the meat for too long, it will begin to cure and may suck the moisture out of the meat. That will give you a drier finished product. That’s a good tip for beginners who are learning how to smoke a brisket because it’s an easy mistake to make. If your rub contains salt, I would recommend either applying the rub directly before you put it in the smoker. No longer than an hour before.
Marinating your meat
Marinating your brisket is a great option for anyone learning to smoke a brisket. It’s simple, and you could add a dry rub as well when it is finished marinading. An acidic marinade will help break down the meat. That will tenderize it, and give it more flavor.
That is also a reason you should avoid leaving it in the marinade for a long period of time. If you are using a marinade that contains vinegar, lemon juice, or other acidic substances, it will break down the meat too much overnight. Then you will run the possibility of making the meat mushy because it broke down too much. So it is highly recommended to marinade the meat for only a few hours if you are using anything acidic.
Choosing wood to compliment your flavors
Picking the right wood to compliment your chosen flavors can be confusing when you first learn how to smoke a brisket -- but it isn’t hard at all. There are some guides on selecting the right wood. Remember, this could be another area where you could experiment with flavor.
Oak, applewood, and cherry are safe choices that go great with a sweet rub and barbeque sauce. You might even want to be bold and try mesquite or hickory, both of which would pair nicely with the right barbeque sauce. Don’t be afraid to mix, match, and test out different options.
How To Smoke A Brisket: Time And Temperature
So far learning how to smoke a brisket hasn’t been too hard, right? Picking the flavors can the most difficult part of the process. Once the brisket is on the grill, it becomes a pretty hands-free process. You will need to prep the smoker, and that may depend on what kind of smoker you happen to have. There are a plethora of different smokers on the market. So I’m not going to list all the different ways to prepare different types of smokers. The preparation process all depends on the tools you chose.
Control the temperature
The goal when learning how to smoke a brisket is to keep it low and slow. Preheat your smoker to between 225 to 250 degrees. That is the temperature you are going to want to keep the smoker at throughout the entire process. You will need to avoid checking the meat too often. You will obviously have to check it every now and again because you may need to add more coals or replenish the burnt up wood chips.
How long should you smoke a brisket?
Learning how to smoke a brisket depends on the size. Some people like to sear the outside over medium coals before beginning the smoking process. If you want to do this all you need to do is cook it over medium heat for about 20 minutes per side and then put it in the smoker. You will want to allow about one hour per pound of meat. Briskets typically run at about 5 to 8 pounds in size.
You will also want to remember to flip your meat. It might not be a something everyone teaches you when you’re learning how to smoke a brisket. Other types of meat may not need to flip. If this is your first time learning how to smoke a brisket it is crucial. Otherwise, it may begin to dry out on the bottom.
You should flip a smaller brisket about every hour. A larger brisket can wait about two hours. When flipping your meat, avoid piercing it, which will let the juices flow out. Instead, you should have tongs or insulated gloves on hand. You should also do it as quickly as possible, so you don’t let too much heat out of the smoker.
You will know the brisket is ready when it has reached an internal temperature of 205 degrees.
To wrap or not to wrap
Most people don’t worry about wrapping their brisket in foil. If you have a small grill and still want to smoke the meat, it might be a good idea. It’s an especially good idea if you don’t have room for a drip pan. It will be easier to keep the meat from drying out. Wrapping the meat will also inhibit the smoke from penetrating the meat, and it probably won’t have the same satisfying flavor or bark that most people are looking for when they smoke a brisket.
Letting It Rest
One of the most important parts of learning how to smoke a brisket is also learning to let the meat rest once it is finished cooking. When you cut the meat too soon, you will notice that there is a lot of juice that flows out. Those are some very important juices that contribute to making the meat moist and tender.
The key to the perfect brisket is wrapping it up after you take it off the grill. Then allow it to rest in an empty cooler for around two to four hours. That will keep your brisket the perfect temperature to eat safely, and it can rest long enough to avoid moisture loss.
It can seem like an annoying extra step. By the time it comes out of the smoker, you will probably be ready to dig right in. If you want to learn how to smoke a brisket, you should not skip this step by any means. If you want to learn more about letting different kinds of meats rest, I highly recommend checking out this website.
Learning How To Smoke A Brisket Isn’t Only For Experts
Image via Flickr
Learning how to smoke a brisket might seem like a daunting task, but it isn’t as hard as you might think. Picking the flavors is often the hardest part for beginners who are first learning how to smoke a brisket. There are basically five simple steps to learning how to smoke a brisket and the prep time is nothing to be scared of. As long as you remember these important tips you’ve learned, it will turn out perfectly. The only thing you need to focus on now is finding the right flavors for your first brisket.
I would also recommend researching tips people might have on how to smoke a brisket in the specific type of smoker you have. That might be the key to the whole process. As long as you choose the right meat, cook it low and slow, and let it rest, you are going to have a delicious dinner fit for kings.
If you have any experience smoking a brisket and want to share your favorite tips and tricks, feel free to drop a comment below.