Smoked Beef Brisket

Sunday, July 14, 20130 comments

Smoked Beef Brisket
Smoked Beef Brisket
Beef brisket is notoriously slow to cook and even more slow to smoke. In my travels to the southern US I've sampled plenty of of one of my favorite slow barbequed meats. The low and slow method is absolutely necessary to break down all the connective tissue and marbled fat to create slices of tender perfection. I have sometimes smoked it for in excess of 10 hours to create a beautiful tender smoky brisket to thinly slice for the best sandwiches ever.

All that time in the smoker can be a significant investment of time to tend the smoker and keep adding the wood chips for smoke. One alternative method that I've used is to heavily smoke the brisket for a few hours and then finish it in the oven at 225 degrees F for  the last of the cooking time. I've found this works very well even smoking it the day before and finishing it in a slow oven the next day when you plan to serve it. It will still take quite a few hours in the oven but at least you don't have to continuously tend it like in the smoker.

Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich
Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich

I begin by dry rubbing the brisket liberally with my Smokin' Summer Spice Dry Rub all over the outside of the meat. If you can rub the brisket the day before and leave it covered in the fridge, that's even better.
  • 8 to 10 pound beef brisket
Smokin' Summer Spice Dry Rub

Makes about 2 cups dry rub.

  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tbsp chipotle powder
  • 6 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp ground oregano
  • 1 tbsp ground thyme
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander 
  • 2 tbsp dry mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Mix together well and store any unused dry rub in an airtight container in a cool place.

If you are using your gas grill to smoke your brisket, place the meat on one side of the grill and use the burner or burners on the opposite side so that it is not directly over heat. Regulate the gas to keep the temperature at about 225 degrees for slow barbequed flavor. The same technique can also be used with a charcoal grill, just keep the charcoal on one side and the meat on the opposite side. You will only need a small amount of charcoal to create 225 degrees F in a large covered BBQ.

Add the smoke flavor by soaking hardwood chips like mesquite, apple, cherry or hickory in warm water for about a half hour. Several handfuls will do. Wrap a handful of the soaked wood chips in a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and poke only two holes in the foil, one at either end to allow the smoke to escape. On a gas grill, I place the foil packets in a vegetable grill pan so that the packet is not sitting directly on the gas burner. On a charcoal grill, simply toss the packet directly onto the hot coals. You can add more soaked wood chip packets as they burn out, it all depends on how much smoke favor you wish to add. Four to six of these packets should be enough for smoked beef brisket, depending on how long you cook the meat and how much smoked flavor you prefer.

In the last hour or so of cooking time you can baste the brisket in BBQ sauce if you like. I like the recipe below which I have used on the sandwich pictured.

Be sure to let the brisket rest for 15 -20 minutes before slicing thinly against the meat grain to serve.

Molasses BBQ Sauce

  • One 14 ounce can plain tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp ground fennel seed
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground dry oregano
  • ½ tsp kosher salt

Simmer all ingredients together slowly for about a half hour to an hour stirring every few minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens to the consistency you prefer. Remember that it will thicken slightly as it cools.

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