Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Day Brisket

After the exhausting but successful outcome of last weekend's catering event, I decided we'd do something a little less demanding for New Year's Day. I had a "special" USDA Prime brisket I'd ordered for the holidays. Actually I ordered two and smoked one on Christmas for Sharon's family. This one was just for us, and it was pretty incredible.

I decided I'd keep it simple and not amp up the flavors too much. In other words, I was shooting for "good eatin'" as opposed to intensely flavored. With that in mind, I went with Pork Barrel BBQ rub. I like Brett and Heath's rub because while it's not overpowering, it's got good complexity of flavor. And it always gives me awesome bark. That's some good stuff you've got there, guys. I used pecan wood chunks for smoke and basted with a Paul Kirk Red Eye rub.

After having some issues with temp control on my Caldera Tallboy last weekend, I got in touch with Bob Trudnak at BBQ Guru to make sure I didn't burn this brisket up. Bob gave me a few tips on how to utilize the drip pan, and thanks to his suggestions, I kept the Tallboy rock steady at 225F for the whole cook.

A few pics of the brisket and observations:

Right out of the cryo-pac. This is without a doubt the most beautiful brisket I've ever seen:

Seven hours into the cook. I foiled and basted with the red eye mop shortly thereafter:

Finished brisket on the cutting board. The color was awesome in person!

Sliced point showing the smoke ring:

  • The simple approach allowed us to taste the flavor of the meat, which was different from other briskets I've been cooking recently. However, I think it would've benefitted from an injection marinade of some sort. I injected a USDA Choice brisket with Kosmo's Q Beef Injection on Christmas Day, and it certainly added extra flavor. Perhaps next time I'll give this a try.
  • I'm getting a better feel for assessing proper cook time beyond just watching the meat thermometer. The meat had hit 188F when I pulled it, which was right where it should be. Based on the texture I observed from moving the meat probe, however, I thought it would've benefitted from another hour on the smoker. This was borne out when I cut into the flat, as it was certainly tender but the slices didn't quite pull apart the way I wanted.
  • I am going to drain the juice from the foil a little earlier. I think this is going to help the bark stay firm and crunchy.


  1. What was the overall cooking time? I haven't experimented with the foil. Down in Austin I smoke with pecan and hickory in an offset firebox smoker. It has taken up to 22 hours, though I need to get better at trimming down the fatcap and get some of the internal fat removed.

  2. It was 11 lbs. untrimmed, and I'd estimate around 8.5 lb trimmed. Used to cook with no foil but I started experimenting with foiling at 160F internal. I cooked for around 11 hours, but like I said I think it could've gone a little longer. Trimming down the fatcap and the harder fat deposits seems to make it cook a little quicker as well as facilitating absorption of rub and bark formation. This was an akaushi brisket, which I consider the Rolls-Royce of beef. It's got intense marbling, so I try to keep a close eye on it so it doesn't overcook and kind of crumble apart.

    I like pecan, too, but until recently had trouble getting it in Virginia. Wouldn't be a problem back home in Lufkin, but here I have to buy it online or now I can get it through Weber. I also smoke brisket with a 75/25 oak to hickory mix when I'm not using pecan.

  3. Where do you get your prime brisket? I'm in Virginia, too, and have been looking for years with no success. Any tips are appreciated.

  4. Happy to help Steven. This was a special order from out of state. Pricey, but so worth it. Great texture and unbelievable taste. Give me a shout at and I'll hook you up. Don't wanna sound paranoid but there's lots of shiggin' goin' on out there.......