Brisket is a cut of beef from the chest area of a cow. It is a muscle that supports over half of the animal’s weight, which results in plenty of connective tissue and fat running throughout.
A full brisket has two sections, one is referred to as ‘The Point’ which is larger and contains a higher fat content. The other section is referred to as ‘The Flat’ which is the thinner and leaner part.
When smoked low and slow, the internal fat renders and the connective tissues break down which creates tender, juicy, flavoursome meat.
If time permits, remove brisket from its packaging, pat dry and leave uncovered in the fridge overnight/during the day to ‘firm up’. This will make trimming the brisket into shape and removing any excess fat much easier. If time doesn’t allow this step, trim as soon as the meat is removed from the fridge. Remove any excess fat from the top, bottom and the point, leaving roughly a ¼ inch layer of soft fat on the top. Remove any thin pieces and round off the edges. Reference photos for shape.
Brisket Not Trimmed
Once trimmed, the grain direction of your brisket will become clearer. This is an important step to make note of now, so when you reach stage 8 (slice & serve) you cut the brisket correctly, against the grain. Each brisket is different, so the grain direction will vary. Use the photo below as a visual guide. Tip – Take a photo of your own Brisket for accurate reference
Once happy with your trim it’s time to season. We recommend applying 2 rubs, the first being a ‘base layer’ containing more salt & garlic to work on the meat first. These are finer rubs to be applied lightly all over the meat and left for 5-10 minutes to begin drawing the moisture to the surface. Then it’s time to apply the second rub being the ‘Flavour layer’, either your favourite beef rub or one of our recommendations. Apply a light covering, especially if it is a new rub that you haven’t used before, all over the brisket. Not forgetting the sides! This rub will be drawn into the meat and give it the colour and flavour profile you want to achieve.
Ensure your meat is out of the fridge at this stage, allowing it to reach room temperature. Get your BBQ of choice running consistently at 250f/120c. Achieving a clean burning fire is important to ensure the meat absorbs a clean smoke flavour during the cook.
Once the meat is at room temperature and your BBQ is running cleanly at 250f/120c, it is time to put the brisket on. Depending on the type of BBQ will depend on the position of the brisket on the grill. The general rule of thumb is the point end of the brisket is faced closer to the heat source as this is larger and adds protection to the flat. Allow to cook untouched for 2 hours, ensuring a consistent BBQ temperature is maintained.
After 2 ½ – 3 hours, check on the brisket. If it looks dry anywhere, use a spritz bottle with water to cool down these areas. This will create a more even cook and maintain the bark formation.
Around 6 hours into the cook, it’s time to check the internal temperature of the meat. This can be done with an instant read thermometer, or a temp probe supplied with your BBQ. It should be around 160-165f/71-74c, which means it is coming out of the stall (explained in the notes below). At this stage, the bark should be ‘set’, the surface a nice, dark colour and the fat on top rendered down. If any of these elements need more time to develop, raise the temperature of the BBQ to 275f /135c and continue cooking, checking at 30 minute intervals until each element is achieved. Once happy, it’s time to wrap
This can be done a number of ways, for the purpose of this recipe we will explain the 3 most common methods.
I. The first one is using butcher’s paper. Cut 2 pieces to approximately 70cm long x 45cm wide and spray lightly with water from the spritz bottle to make it more pliable. Remove the brisket from the BBQ, lay onto the paper and fold over tightly. Wrap the rest of the paper as tight as you can and it’s ready to continue cooking.
II. The second method is using foil, making sure it is heavy duty, thick foil is important! Cut 2 pieces to the same length as above and wrap the same way.
III. Alternatively use the foil for the third method, ‘the foil boat’. Place the brisket onto the foil and scrunch it up tightly around the edges of the brisket, leaving the top exposed. This is preferred by people who like a crunchier bark.
Once wrapped using your preferred method, place back onto the BBQ and increase temperature to 275f /135c if you haven’t done so already. Check the brisket internal temperature approximately every hour until it reaches around 200f/93c. Once it hits this figure it’s time to feel for doneness. Make sure to check both the flat and the point at this stage.
Any resistance on the probe when inserted into the meat, it need’s cooking longer. The 2 main signs the brisket is ready to come off are 1. The probe slides in and out like a hot knife through butter or 2. picking up the whole brisket (with heat proof gloves) and checking it is loose and flexible in the hands. These are the signs that the connective tissues have broken down, the fat has rendered, and the brisket is ready to come off the BBQ. Because each brisket and BBQ cook differently, it’s hard to put an exact time on when this will happen. It could be as soon as 8 hours or as long as 10+, but do not remove it from the BBQ until it reaches this point.
Rest: This step is as important as the cook itself. Once happy the brisket is ‘done’ then take it off the BBQ. Place on the side at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to stop the cooking process and allow the meat to cool down and start relaxing. Check the internal temperature and once it reaches 200f/68c, either wrap in a towel and place in an esky/Cambro or preheat an oven to 200f/68c and place directly on the top shelf with a tray below for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably 4 if time allows.
Take the rested brisket out from the esky or oven, place on a large cutting board and remove from the butcher’s paper or foil. Starting from the flat, use a long, sharp knife to cut the brisket into 1/4inch thick slices. When you reach the point, rotate this section 90 degrees and continue slicing, discarding any large internal fat. Serve the classic way with pickles, onion, bread and BBQ sauce or however you prefer to enjoy!
(IMPORTANT – The brisket must be cut against the grain to ensure tender, pull apart slices. Cutting with the grain will present meat that is tough!)
Choose your Brisket: Depending on how much time you have and how many people you want to feed will help determine what size/cut of brisket to choose. An average 7-9kg Full Brisket will take longer to cook but feed a large crowd whilst an average 2-3 kg Half Brisket will cook quicker and feed a family with leftovers or a small group. We recommend cooking a full brisket and storing any leftovers in vacuum seal bags in the freezer.
Season your meat: We recommend using 2 rubs for maximum flavour and here are some well paired combinations to try out.
Smoke Flavour: Depending if you are using a Pellet, Charcoal or Offset smoker, you will have different options regarding smoke flavour profile. For pellet smokers, our range of Hardwood pellets work really well with Beef, or maybe try something new with our charcoal hardwood blended pellets for a unique flavour and colour.
If using charcoal, our range of slow burn wood chunks work really well when used during a cook. 2 to 3 chunks is normally enough to get good smoke flavour for a full cook.
Wrap: A common thing is to add tallow (rendered beef fat) or butter to the wrap to keep the brisket moist and add extra flavour. It also provides a way to stop the brisket drying out whilst slicing and serving.
Doneness: The best way to judge is by feel. The probe will give you an indication but feel will tell you for sure. A reading between 200-208f/95-98c is normally when the brisket is ready to remove from the smoker.