Brisket is a large piece of beef taken from the chest region of cattle. Briskets are usually cooked whole or half-cured.
After being cured, the brisket is packed into a casing and hung to dry. The end product is called a ‘packer’ because it is packed into a casing.
The ‘flat’ is a leaner cut of the brisket while the ‘point’ is a more fatty cut. Both cuts need to be cooked slowly over low heat in order to render out the fat.
The flat is a tough cut of meat but the point is more tender. Both cuts come from the same part of the cow.
A flat cut is made by cutting across the grain of the meat. This causes the muscle fibers to tear apart and separate. The result is a leaner piece of meat. Fat pockets are created when the muscle fiber tears away from the bone.
When the muscle fibers pull away from each other, there is an opening between them.
The fat that was inside the muscle cells is pushed out into the space between the muscle fibers. This makes the meat look thicker than it really is.
Briskets are usually cooked at low temperatures. This allows them to cook slowly without drying out. Most people cook briskets at around 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, this method can dry out the meat. In order to make sure you get the perfect texture, you need to cook at lower temperatures.
Cooking briskets at 210 degrees Fahrenheit allows them to cook more evenly and gives you the chance to control how long they take to finish cooking.
Depending on the size of the packer, it takes up to 18 hours to smoke a packer. If you are smoking or grilling a whole packer, you should raise the cooking temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (F).
This will help you get the best results.
In Texas barbecue, you’re going to take one of the worst parts of an animal and turn it into one of the most delicious parts.
You’ll need to get the temperature of the meat correct because if you get it too hot, it will burn and be tough.
You should always use a thermometer to make sure you’re cooking the meat correctly. Probes with thermistors are accurate and fast.
Thermometers can also store data about the maximum and minimum temperatures of each channel. This allows you to know exactly what the internal temperature of your meat was while cooking.
Many smokers feature rugged industrial housing, that is both splash proof and shock-resistant, and will last a long time.
Smokers often have a remote receiver that keeps tabs on your target temps every 15 seconds, so you can relax without risking overcooking the brisket.
With what you spend these days on meat and smoker upkeep, and with how crucial temperature control is to your success, investing in the proper instrument to measure your target temps makes perfect sense.
Where To Buy Brisket
Briskets that weigh less than 5 pounds are too lean and won’t hold up well during cooking. Briskets that weigh more than 6 pounds are also tough and dry out easily.
Buy a brisket that is about 5-6 pounds in weight. Look for brisket that is USDA graded Choice or better so there is plenty of fat to render.
A select brisket should be cooked low and slow over indirect heat for about 12 hours before being sliced.
Briskets are usually sold as whole muscle pieces, but if you want to get the most tender meat possible, ask your butcher to cut them into two halves.
You can use a culinary syringe to inject marbling into the meat. There are many great online retailers who can ship you flat cuts of meat directly to your door.
Texas barbecue expert Aaron Franklin, creator of Austin’s world-famous Franklin’s Barbecue, cooks briskets using a two-stage method called the ‘Texas Crutch.’
He wraps them in butcher paper to prevent sogginess and then unwraps them to let the crusts breathe. A good top tip to try for the perfect brisket.
A useful tip for the perfect brisket is to create a humid environment. A pan full of water is used to create a humid environment during the first stage of the cook.
This keeps the brisket moist while it cooks. Tackiness is preserved on the surface of the brisket, making the smoke penetrate better into the meat.
The brisket should be wrapped in peach paper. Water in the pan should be mostly evaporated by the end of the cooking time.
Briskets should be drained of any liquid before cutting them up. You should also pat both sides of the meat dry before slicing it into pieces. Firm, dry fat is easier to work with than soft or wet fat.
Wrapping the brisket helps prevent it from drying out. Wrapping it in butcher paper gives it more time to cook evenly without becoming soggy. Using foil makes it harder to get the bark as crisp as the butcher paper does.
Pink butcher paper is a popular product that comes in different sizes and colors. The paper is strong and easy to use. And does not affect the taste of the food.
Briskets have a thick layer of fat on one side. low-and-slow cooking helps the fat render, adding flavor and keeping the meat moist. Depending on the leanness of the meat, not all of the rendered fat will render.
Trim the fat cap to a consistent thickness of ¼ inch. Remove any large nodules of fat or chunks of fat. Remove as much of the silver skin as possible as it will not break apart during the cook.
A traditional brisket rub is made up of equal parts of kosher salt and ground pepper. This allows the flavor of the meat to come out more than if you used too much salt or pepper.
Briskets need to be rubbed before cooking because it helps prevent them from drying out during the long smoke time.
Brisket is usually cooked by first applying a rub, then an injection marinade.
After adding the salt, pepper, and garlic powder, beef broth can be used in the rub while the injection marinade includes beef broth, spices, and a food-safe meat injection device.
When cutting brisket, remember to separate the flat from the point, and slice your meat evenly across the grain. Cut thick slices of the flat, and thin slices of the point. Cube the point if you want to make burnt ends.
As already mentioned brisket needs to stay moist during the long cooking period. To achieve this it should be sprayed with water, apple juice or apple cider vinegar to prevent it from drying out.
You can use a small brush to apply this solution to the brisket.
Dry woods like hickory or apple are better choices than green wood or overly-cured wood. Smoked spices are also great substitutes for smoked meats. Liquid smoke is a great alternative to smoking meat.
The End Result
Brisket should be cooked to 180 degrees F (82 C) before resting. To ensure tenderness, the meat must reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (71 C).
A thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the brisket should read 165 degrees F (74 C), but if you’re cooking a whole brisket, you’ll need to monitor the temperature over time.
You may want to start checking after about 2 hours and again every 30 minutes until the brisket reaches 170 degrees F (77 C).
Inserting the temperature probe into the beef should be easy. Ignore the reading and just look at how easily it glides into the meat.
So long as it glides into the beef like soft butter, you have just smoked a masterpiece. But if the probe has some resistance or if it takes too much time, then you need to slow down.
After wrapping the entire brisket in plastic wrap and transferring it to a cooler without ice, wait for at least an hour. Three hours is even better.
This will allow the juices inside the meat to settle and give your smoke rings more definition.
Remove the brisket from the pan and reserve all of its juices. Use two forks to shred the meat. Discard any large pieces of fat and return the shredded meat to the skillet with the juices.
Let soak for 15 minutes before serving. Serve pulled brisket on sandwiches or as stand-alone meat alongside sides like potato salad and beans.
So, there you have it, the ultimate guide to the perfect brisket, enjoy!