The Perfectly Smoked Brisket
Choosing the Meat
Every successful cook begins, of course, with selecting the right cut of meat! When choosing a brisket, time and commitment must be considered. A large packer brisket combines two different muscles, the pectoralis superficialis, also known as the point, and the pectoralis profundus, known as the flat. These muscles are connected by a seam of fat and are loaded with tough collagen-rich connective tissue that requires at least 12 hours of low and slow cooking to break down the collagen and create tender, juicy meat. If you don’t have that kind of time to invest, a great option is to go with the brisket flat, which is usually 4 to 5 pounds and takes significantly less time to cook.
The choice of meat grade is also a consideration. A prime grade brisket is costlier, however, there is usually better fat marbling and a more consistent cook. Choice grade brisket is less expensive, but the meat can be tougher. For the ultimate brisket experience, choose a wagyu brisket from a premium meat supplier such as Snake River Farms or Kow Steaks. No matter which brisket you choose, getting it properly prepped and seasoned is a key step in creating a great result.
Trimming and Seasoning
If cooking a packer brisket, there is a large amount of fat, called the fat cap. A lot of the fat is hard and will not render, so this must be trimmed off, but leave at least a quarter-inch layer to keep the meat moist during the cook. Also make sure to cut off any silver skin.
A simple coating of salt and pepper is most common for a smoked brisket, however, there are a myriad of techniques and seasonings you can try. Your favorite BBQ rub, steak seasoning, a jar of jalapenos, or even coffee are other options of seasoning the brisket.
Starting the EGG
Load the Big Green Egg with natural lump charcoal and top with either wood chips or wood chunks for the true smoke flavor. If using chips, soak in water for 30 minutes prior to use, in order to slow their burning. Oak, hickory, cherry, apple, or mesquite wood are just a few of the options for flavor, but any hardwood will work.
Once the EGG is lit, put the convEGGtor in place for indirect cooking.
Tip: We recommend using a drip pan to catch all the drippings of the brisket and keep your convEGGtor clean. Set the temperature of the EGG between 250ºF and 300ºF by adjusting the top and bottom vents. An EGG Genius is a great option to use to keep the precise temperature for the duration of the cook and to monitor the internal temperature of the meat right on your phone!
Set the Bark
The first phase of cooking a brisket is to set the bark, the crispy outer layer. You’ll also flavor the meat with smoke by creating a smoke ring, the reddish band just inside the bark. Place the brisket directly on the EGG grid fat side up or down is based on your personal preference. It’s argued that the fat side up allows rendered fat to flow over the meat and create a juicier brisket. The flip side of the argument is that putting the fat side down creates more of a barrier between the meat and the fire, creating more tender meat. With the convEGGtor in place, and the EGG set at the right temperature, either option will produce wonderful results.
Once the brisket is on the grid, smoke the meat until it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF to 170ºF. During the cooking process there could be a “stall” in which the internal temperature plateaus around 150ºF to 160ºF. In this case be patient; the temperature will rise eventually. Once the optimal internal temperature is reached, remove the brisket from the EGG.
The second phase of cooking the brisket is rendering the fat and tenderizing the meat. This is accomplished by wrapping the meat in butcher paper or aluminum foil. Make sure the brisket is fully wrapped on all sides so the juices are unable to escape. If a digital temperature-control system is being used, make sure to put it back into the brisket through the butcher paper. Place the wrapped brisket back on the cooking grid and cook until the internal temperature reaches 200ºF to 205ºF.
This is crucial step in having the perfect brisket – be sure not to skip it! Allowing the brisket to rest for up to 2 hours lets the juices to redistribute creating a more tender piece of meat. It’s best to keep it wrapped in the butcher paper and placed in an insulated cooler.
The most important part of cutting a brisket is the direction of the slices. Before slicing, cut a corner of the brisket to find the direction of the grain. The grain is the alignment of the muscle fibers. If the muscle fibers remain intact the meat can become strong and chewy. To separate the muscle fibers and ensure a more tender bite, slice against the grain.
Carving a brisket flat is simple – cut it against the grain about ¼ inch think slices. A packer brisket is more difficult to carve because the grain of the point is different than that of the flat. Slice the packer brisket in half across its width, which separates the point from the flat. Carve the flat diagonally from one corner to the other. For the point, slice from the cut edge to the back or cut into chunks to be used for burnt ends, (also known as meat candy!)
BIG GREEN EGG COOKING TEMP
(Times are approximate; cook by meat temperature, not by time)
Times are based on an 8 lb. brisket flat; cook time is approximately 1 hour per pound.
- Remove the brisket flat from the fridge and trim excessive fat leaving a quarter-inch of fat. Bring to room temperature.
- Set the EGG for indirect cooking with the convEGGtor at 250oF/121oC with smoking chunks or chips (hickory, mesquite, oak or apple).
Season the brisket generously with the Big Green Egg Classic Steakhouse Seasoning on all sides.
Place the brisket, fat side up, on the cooking grid.
To remotely manage and monitor the cooking temperature of the brisket, use the EGG Genius.
Check the internal temperature of the brisket; when it reaches 165°F to 170°F remove it from the EGG, wrap the brisket in butcher paper and place it back on the EGG.
Once the internal temperature reaches 200°F to 205°F remove it from the EGG and let rest in the butcher paper.
Take the brisket out of the butcher paper and slice in 1⁄4 inch thick slices cutting against the grain.
Take photos to post to Facebook, Twitter & Instagram of the sliced brisket. Remember to tag @BigGreenEgg and #BigGreenEgg on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so we can see your brisket pics!
THE PERFECT BRISKET
- One 8 lb. brisket flat
- Big Green Egg Classic Steakhouse Seasoning
- If you plan to soak your wood chips, start the night before.
- Load the charcoal into the EGG the night before, so everything is ready in the morning.
- Big Green Egg Classic Steakhouse Seasoning
- Smoking Chunks or Smoking Chips
- Butcher Paper
- Drip Pan
- Instant Read Thermometer or EGG Genius
That’s it! With enough time and a little patience, you can master the perfect brisket. It’s time to invite some family and friends and enjoy this mouthwatering feast! By the way, if you are looking for the perfect complement to your brisket, check out these amazing sides!