The other day I was tooling around our local grocery meat counter and I saw a small sectioned Beef Brisket Flat. Immediately, I thought about the smells and tastes of Brisket. I've had brisket in many forms but never in a one or two version fashion. And it's not so much the fact that the meal was made for one or two but that there was a process that allowed someone to make it easily. So, I set out to chronicle my steps in making this mouthwatering Brisket treat. The process is relatively easy but does require time. Brisket in some ways is similar to Tri-Tip but requires even more time in the cooking process to make the meat tender. Follow along as I walk you through my process. I'm also including the ingredients and the listing of spices and rubs that I used as well as the wood and charcoal. Let's get started.
Time and the brisket cooking process
The process will take about 8 hours. We say 8 because first off you'll be cleaning and seasoning the meat. Following those steps you'll need to rest the meat for a period of time. Thereafter you'll be cooking the meat which is in this case smoking the meat so you'll need a minimum of 5 hours. The total number of hours is over 8 but in the case of a quick process you can get the job done in less time just don't expect completely buttery results in which case you'll be fine.
First off in the process I purchased a 3 pound flat of Beef Brisket. Brisket as you may know is a specific cut of Beef from the lower chest and breast area of beef or veal. There are a series of what are considered primal cuts in which the meat is typically separated from the structure of an animal during the butchering process. Some of the primal cuts are the loin, rib, chuck segments, ham or the round. And because of the location in which brisket is derived the meat is also called a working section of the animal where the superficial and deep pectoral muscles reside. Since cows and venison don't have collar bones then this brisket section typically supports the bulk of the weight of the animal as it stands or moves. To make a long story shorter this meat segment is quite tough and requires the right process of cooking in order to make the meat tender.
Now with a clear understanding of the meat in hand let's move our process along. Having purchased the flat section realizing that a full brisket has two primary segments, the flat and the point. As a point of reference the point is typically where burnt ends are made. The meat is cooked then sliced away and joined with a liquid in a container and further cooked until tender.
As for the flat this section must be prepared to make the most of it. Let's start by cleaning the meat thoroughly, and we're just going to do this with some warm not too hot water. Remove any grit or excess segments left over from the butchering process. It's also a good idea to note the direction of the grain of the meat. This will set a mental image for you as to where you will be cutting once the smoking is completed and the meat is covered with bark and seasoning.
Take a paper towel and pat the meat completely dry. Place the meat in a container and hold as room temperature. Now, I've decided that I'm not going to flavor the meat through injection so I'm simply going to prep the meat through a dry rub that will create and nice crust to help preserve the flavors in the meat. I'll need two things to create the flavor level I'm seeking. I'll need a combination of salts and peppers as well I'll need some sugars and herbs to layer over the meat to create the finished taste.
I'll be starting with our Jake's Famous brand Santa Maria Dry Rub. 3 Tablespoons. Why this rub? This rub contains ample amounts of Kosher salt, Coarse ground Black Pepper and Granulated Garlic. In the barbecue world this combination is known as SPG but for our purposes we'll just focus on the fact that we're using Salt, Pepper and Garlic in combination with Parsley, and hints of Onion and Mustard spices. We use this combination of Salt, Pepper, and Garlic because it will draw some moisture out of the meat as well as leave behind a nice familiar layer of savory Garlic and Pepper. We'll let the this combination of salts and peppers rest on the meat for about and hour.
Following the hour of resting you'll notice some of the liquid has been pulled out of the meat. Not to worry this is supposed to happen with the combination of spices and herbs we used. So, let's build some flavor next. We'll want to layer on some sugars and herbs to supplement the salts and peppers and I believe the best way to do that is through the use of our Rib Tri Tip and Steak Rub, 3 Tablespoons. This is a refined steak and rib rub that does quadruple duty as a brisket rub, chicken rub and fish rub. The combinations of the purest brown sugar, garlic, Smoked Salt, additional Black Pepper combined with herbs of tarragon and oregano fully bolstered by onion, mustard, rich, smoky Paprika are quintessential in building the right levels of flavor for our brisket.
With the brisket fully coated it's time to rest the meat and allow the flavors to combine and build. Place the meat in a sealed container and place within your refrigerator. The meat must be in the standard section of the fridge as it does not require overt cooling or freezing. And since I purchased the meat at mid day it's too late for me to get my smoker going considering the number of hours needed to complete the process. So, let's spend the time on the materials needed for the next days barbecue. We'll need at least a 1/2 full bag of charcoal as well as a 1/3 bag full of lump charcoal hickory version preferably. I'll be using my UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker) in addition I'll have a set of remove thermometer gauges which I'll use to accurately reflect the temperature within the grill as well as the temperature of the brisket.
I will also be using wood smoke to build the flavors of the brisket. I'll be using about 15 ounces of Red Oak Wood. This will be placed in the charcoal basket in the form of 4 or 5 chunks and cut segments. Place the wood around the basket so as the charcoal burns from center to outside the wood is consumed along with the charcoal driving wood smoke upward.
Arrange the charcoal briquettes around the outer edge of the basket. Place the hickory lump charcoal in the center portion of the basket surrounded by the charcoal briquettes. I'll be using some starter lighting cubes so I would need any harsh chemical starters that may affect the final taste of the meat. Position the smoker away from any wood sources like trees, wood planks, paper or sides of houses. Now seal up the unit until it's time to use it on the next morning.
One thing I like to do before the next morning is consider the last thing first. This may seem odd but what it means is let's consider when we want to be eating this brisket. Ultimately calculating time in this way will determine the best and most appropriate time for starting the grill. So, let's think about this.
- I'd like to be eating somewhere around 4 or 5 PM.
- I know I will rest the brisket for a minimum 2 hour period which puts me back around 2 PM.
- I will have wrapped the brisket with a steaming liquid and allowed the meat to steam on the smoker for 2 hours at least.
- So, with the steaming time and preparation time that moves me back to 11:30 AM.
- My Brisket is approximately 3 pounds so I'll need to smoke the meat for at least 1-1/2 hours per pound or until it reaches as least 162 degrees before I consider the wrapping process.
- So, this smoking process may take up to 2-1/2 hours as I will be seeking a smoking temperature of about 225 to 250 degrees on average.
- Now working backward from 11:30 AM for 2-1/2 hours puts us at around 9 AM.
- Last but not least is the amount of time it will take to get my charcoal up to temperature.
- I would expect that my smoker will take about 30 minutes to regulate the temperature so overall and considering the fact that I filled the charcoal the night before I'll need to start the fire around 8:15 or 8:30 AM.
The overall efficiency in this process is knowing beforehand how much time will be required to complete all the tasks then working efficiently within those time-frames to get things done.
Next day. It's now 7 AM I'm up and ready to get the smoker going. I've checked my brisket and it looks very good. I've checked the charcoal combination and it looks very good as well. One other thing to focus on is the external temperature, is it sunny or cold or rainy. If rainy or cold add 3 minutes to the cooking process. The cold or moist temperatures will slow down the smoking process extending the time by at least 30 minutes.
Now it's 8 AM and with everything ready let's go ahead and start the charcoal basket. With the starter lit and charcoal combination slowly starting let's go ahead and remove the brisket from the fridge and allow it to rest on the kitchen counter while the charcoal is starting. The resting process will bring the meat to room temperature which can reduce the amount of heat and time required to cook the brisket.
One thing on the lighting of charcoal. I am reminded that I often use a Chimney Starter to get my charcoal going. I could of course use this but by doing so I'm forcing a lot of heat into the smoker all at one point. Our object here is to smoke the meat for a considerable time-frame which will help tenderize the brisket. So, for this purpose I will use my Chimney Starter at some other time.
Make sure the vent door is wide open which will allow maximum oxygen to the charcoals as they burn. Also ensure that the top of the smoke is off for at least 15 minutes as the charcoal gets started. After 15 minutes place the grill plate in the smoker followed by the addition of a heat probe. Place the smoker lid on the unit and begin taking note of the temperature as the smoker settles into it's standard smoking range. As the temperature notches upward closer to the 225-250 degree range begin adjusting the vent door to about 1/2 closed. This will further moderate the temperature and will ensure that our readings are accurate. It's now 8:20 AM let's confirm that our temperature is at the right level and that the wood is burning evenly. If all is right it's time to get the meat on the grill.
Insert your second probe sensor into the brisket about 1/2 way into the meat. Key point we will be inserting the probe on the top of the meat with the fat side on the bottom. If you do not have a heat diversion plate on your smoker you can set the brisket to the outer side of the grate so as not to sear the meat while it's being smoked. Place the meat on the smoker fat side in contact with the grill plate. Confirm the position of the meat, connect the sensors and place the lid on the grill. Now comes the monitoring process. This stage is focused mainly on ensuring that the temperature remains level within the range.
Note the initial temperature of the brisket, remember we are looking for a temperature of about 162 degrees within the center of the meat. It's a good idea to do a temperature check about every 15-20 minutes. If you have an alarm setting on your remote thermometer set the gauge for the 162 degrees then go about your business.
Prior to reaching the 162 degree temperature we will be preparing a steam bath for the smoked brisket. Pull two large sheets of aluminum foil enough to completely wrap the meat with about 5 inches left over on each side. Place one sheet lengthwise and the other at 90 degrees underneath the top sheet. Set aside 1/2 cup of beef broth and about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. These will be used to steam the meat and add just a slight sweetness to the overall taste.
At 162 degrees remove the brisket and place it on the top sheet. Fold the foil inward on the sides and the ends then pour in 1 tablespoon of brown sugar per lengthwise side next to the brisket. Follow that with 1/4 cup of beef broth per side. Fold over the foil to catch the liquids. Fold over the 2 piece of foil to seal in the first piece and the liquids. Return the sealed brisket to the grill. Now pierce the foil with the temperature probe and again place it as close to center of the meat as possible without pushing through the meat. Place the lid back on the smoker and note the temperature of the heat from the smoker as well as the temperature of the meat.
One thing that can and does happen is the uneven burning of charcoal in the basket. You may notice a dip in the overall temperature of the smoker. If your smoker drops below 210 degrees you will need to add some charcoal briquettes to keep the heat up. Note, place the charcoal in areas where you see red zones this means that charcoal is avidly being burned and by adding your units this will shorten the time toward keeping the heat at the right level. As an option this is where the use of the Chimney Starter is desired. In the starter place 10 charcoal cubes. Light the cubes and allow them to burn for at least 10 minutes. Once burned you can carefully remove the grill place with the brisket wrap on it and pour the charcoal near the center of the basket. If you have flip grates on your grill turn the grates and pour the charcoal into the basket. Be careful not to get burned. There's a lot of heat from the starter and embers will move upward with the flow of air so keep an eye on things and wear heavy protective gloves.
Now our final smoking temperature of the meat is 200 degrees. Early in the process you would have reset your remote gauge to accept the new temperature reading. After the reading is reached remove the brisket in foil and place in a metal serving tray. Cover the tray with a large towel enough to full cover. Place the tray and towel on a rack in your oven with the oven off or in a large cooler. Keep in mind the tray will need to remain undisturbed for 2 hours before even thinking about serving. If you need your oven during that two hour period try to find some other location in which the tray can be sealed undisturbed.
After the 2 hour resting period remove the brisket from the foil and place it on a cutting board. Use a large serrated knife and first find the direction of the meat grain pattern. Cut slices approximately 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch across the grain and layer out. Note how the fat at the bottom has rendered into the meat. You can leave the fat on or remove it depending on what you or your guests desire.
Collect the liquids into a container with a lid. When cooled the fat will solidify near the top of the liquid. Remove the fat from the liquid and hold aside as an amazing au jus pour over. To reuse just microwave about 20 or 30 seconds then pour over the meat.
The results of your Smoked Brisket should be awesome. The meat should be tender and extremely pliable. Those are the signs that the brisket was cooked at the right temperature and that the seasonings used did their jobs. In addition the meat will have a savory, subtle peppery finish that complements the smoked brisket and is just wonderful.
We hope you've enjoyed how we explained making a 3 pound brisket using a UDS. Often times it's hard to keep up with all the items and ingredients used in the process so I've captured that list below. Be sure to checkout our vast array of amazing products and use code: Barbecue10 for an immediate 10% savings on all items on our Jake's Famous Foods. website.
Brisket Preparation and Smoking List:
- 3 Pound Brisket
- Paper Towels
- Santa Maria Dry Rub
- Tri Tip Steak and Rib Rub
- UDS Ugly Drum Smoker
- 1/2 bag of charcoal briquettes
- 1/3 bag of Hickory Lump charcoal
- 15 Ounces Red Oak Smoking Wood
- Lighter cubes
- Aluminum Foil
- Beef Broth
- Brown Sugar
- Remote Sensing Temperature Gauge and Probes
- Heavy Gloves
- Chimney Starter
- Metal tray
- Cutting Board
- Serrated cutting blade
- Container for Au Jus storage
- 8 Hours minimum for preparation and smoking
I've enjoyed my 55 gallon drum grill. I've enjoyed it so much so that I've commissioned an additional grill. This grill is a vertically standing UDS Ugly Drum Smoker unit that I used to make this wonderful brisket. In this unit the charcoal is lit and the heat rising along with smoke from wood chunks delivers and enormously flavorful result. To get an idea of what I've actually done see the picture below.
This product was added to our catalog on Monday 17 December, 2018.