It’s a barbeque mainstay, and for good reason – the mouthwatering tenderness and juiciness of a perfectly cooked brisket will have everyone begging for seconds. Brisket can be hard to cook and perfect, so how do you ensure that you’ll be serving the optimal cut of beef and not a dried-out piece of leather? Here are some tips to make sure that your smoked brisket don’t end up as leftovers.
Get the Right Cut
To make quality brisket, you have to start with a quality cut of meat. Most of the time if you head to your local grocery store, what they have labelled as ‘brisket’ is actually only half of the traditional cut, called the flat. A traditional brisket is the flat and a portion of the cut called the point, and both are required in order to make the brisket juicy and supple. Most of the time you can find a local butcher or even go only to order the perfect cut of meat for your event. You should also pay attention to the USDA grade of the meat. There are multiple grades that are available, but there are 3 main choices that you’ll need to know. Prime cuts are the top 3% of the cuts which exhibit the best distribution of fat throughout the cut, but are also the most expensive. Choice cuts are more widely available, but have a lower fat content which can affect the moisture of the meat while cooking. Select cuts are the lowest quality with the least amount of fat, but these are also considered ‘lean’ which may be of some importance to a more health-conscious cook. Beware of the meat drying out, though, and these cuts may need additional marinating techniques to prevent the meat from drying out.
Prepare it Well
You’ll need to make sure that the meat is properly prepared before you even think about putting this cut on the grill. First, you must trim the ‘fat cap’ that’s present across the whole cut of brisket, as well as the top side silver skin. Some chefs prefer to also trim off the vein of fat that separates the point from the flat, but this is optional and up to your personal tastes. Once it’s been trimmed, wash the cut with water and pat dry. If you plan on marinating the meat, it has to be done at least 12 hours before cooking, and if you’re using a dry rub it should be applied 30 minutes before it hits the grill.
Wait for the Perfect Temperature
When you put it in the smoker, you’re going to trust in your thermometer to tell you when the brisket is finished. The smoker should be set up at 250 degrees before you put the meat in to cook. Place the meat in fat side up (to allow for the melting fat to marinate the meat even further) and then flip once the meat hits 140 degrees. At 170 degrees, there should be a thick crust over the entire brisket that won’t come off easily when brushed with a fingernail or knife. If it does come off, just leave it for another 15 minutes and check again. Once the crust has set, wrap the entire brisket in foil and make sure that any air in the foil is let out before sealing the foil. Leave the brisket in the smoker until the internal temperature reaches around 200 degrees. Then remove the brisket from the heat, let it rest for at least 20 minutes, and you’re ready to serve it!