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Is My Barbecue Ready Yet? Cooking Beef Brisket

July 25, 2008 by  

Click Author Nickname for Bio > homebbq

brisketBy Kevin Bevington
Now that we have our rub, the right equipment, and we are able to control a consistent temperature, we are ready to attempt the toughest meat to cook, Beef Brisket. Lets first discuss how to select the meat you are about to cook. Beef Brisket can typically be sold in 3 different size cuts.

First, is the whole packer cut, this whole cut includes the 2 very distinctly different muscles that make up the entire cut, you have the flat which would be considered the flat long piece of meat, the point, which includes the nose end, and the meat layer underneath the flat, which is separated by a layer of fat which is also known as a deckle layer. The whole packer cut is the most desirable cut to cook in your smoker, the main reason being, the tremendous amount of fat that can be left on this cut to give it plenty of moisture to draw from while cooking.

The next cut would be just the flat cut. The flat is exactly that, if you buy this piece of meat, it will likely be closely trimmed, and that makes it more of a challenge to cook in your smoker, without drying it out.

Ok, now lets discuss the grade of meat you will need to choose, I will only touch on this briefly, because this subject could easily be an article of its own. The 3 beef grades we will discuss here are as follows;

Select – This grade is a leaner animal, and with beef brisket you need marbled fat to help get this fibrous cut tender, without falling apart, and being dry. This is not the grade to choose.
Choice – There is actually more than 1 level of choice, however, as a whole, choice has more marbled fat, and would be the one to pick, based on availability. You can cook a choice brisket until it is tender, without it falling apart, and without it being dry.
Prime – This grade has the highest level of marbled – This grade has the highest level of marbled fat, and as a result, if cooked properly can produce a brisket of extreme quality. However, it can be very difficult to find.
Based on what is available to you, you need to select your brisket based on marbling (a web like appearance) of fat, and size. I would normally choose a heavier whole packer brisket, my favorite size somewhere between 14 and 16lbs. I would not cook one under 10lbs.

Now that we have our meat selected, you will want to marinate this piece of meat, either using a dry rub, or a combination of a marinade and a dry rub. You can also inject this piece of meat, however because it is so fibrous you will have to be very careful injecting, the majority of your injection could end up everywhere, instead of inside the brisket. If you do decide to inject, I would inject in the same direction as the grain.

Once you have placed your desired rub, and or marinade on your brisket, let this piece of meat marinate for at least 6 to 8 hours. I prefer to give it 10 to 12 hours marinate time.

Here is my recommended method for cooking this piece of meat. Your cooking temperature should be between 225 to 250 degrees F. Place the brisket in your smoker, fat side down, and cook until it the bark reaches the desired color. The internal temp at this point should be between 150 – 170 degrees F. Double wrap in aluminum foil, and put it back into your smoker, and continue to cook until tender in the thickest part of the flat. Using your instant read thermometer, the internal temp should be between 190 – 196 degrees F, and your thermometer should slide easily in and out of the meat. Then remove from your smoker, and let rest in a warmed environment, for a minimum of 1 hour. Then remove the brisket from the foil and slice against the grain, to a thickness of 3/8 of an inch. Serve immediately with your favorite bbq sauce.

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