How to Cook Brisket - The Ultimate Guide

How to Cook Brisket – The Ultimate Guide

Your Brisket is trimmed and you have applied the rub (if you have not done this check here). Now it’s time for the next stage (and for some the best stage) which is the cook. There are two types of people in this world. The ones that cook their brisket fat side up those that cook their brisket fat side down. When I cook a brisket I like the fat side up and I put the point towards the fire because it’s got more fat. Let’s get straight in and learn how to cook brisket.

It is important to use a water pan as it will keep a lot of moisture in the cooking chamber. This is going to help it not burn quite so easily. With the brisket in place, its time to shut the lid and watch the fire for a long time! How long is a long time? Well long enough to drink beer and need a koozie to keep it cool.

There is Nothing Like a Good Brisket!
There is Nothing Like a Good Brisket!

A good rule of thumb to go by for how long a brisket is going to take to cook is generally about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes per pound. Work to this sort of timeframe when you are setting your alarm clock. Cooking brisket always requires an early start or a late finish!

You should aim to keep the temperature low at about 250 degrees. Keep it really really steady and watch the fires to make sure they stay clean. There is a little-term people throw around, it’s called if you’re looking ya ain’t cooking and that’s very much true if the lids open you’re losing heat and you’re losing smoke. It’s going to take a certain amount of time to recover that heat and that really gets people in trouble a lot of the time.

Good BBQ Requires Patience!

Good barbecue just takes a while and you just have to be patient. That being said there’s a balance between spritzing and mopping and actually opening the lid.

Check it as little as possible and when the brisket starts looking a little bit dry on the surface you can hit it with a squirt bottle, you can mop it or whatever, but you really want to try to avoid opening up the lid really really often. The biggest key to having a good brisket, or a good rack of ribs or a good chicken or good anything you’re cooking on a barbecue is fire management. The last thing you want to do is have fluctuating fires. You don’t want it to get too hot and you don’t want it to go low. This is going to add a lot of cook time. I guarantee that if you keep a good steady temperature it’s going to cook way faster and more consistently across the board.

Brisket ready for consumption
Brisket ready for consumption

Fire management

You don’t want a dirty fire, when you burn a dirty fire that means that you’re choking off the oxygen supply to it and it’s going to create a lot of creosote. This is going to give bitter smoke and it’s going to be over smoked. If you look at your smokestack and you see that it’s just pouring out gross looking smoke you need to open it up. You need to maybe think about what kind of wood you’re using. Different woods burn differently! You don’t want to use greenwood, For certain types, you don’t want to use overly cured wood. You really want to be able to look at the smoke and see clean heat coming out of it. Not a lot of smoke, especially with an offset cooker.

When you shut off the air supply, you’re shutting off the airflow to the cooker and you need a certain balance of radiant heat versus convective heat. All that kind of stuff and that really comes into your cooker and just knowing how well it cooks. Know where the hotspots are, knowing how to manage your fire and all that stuff! There’s a lot of different ways to retain moisture in brisket or anything else you’re cooking.

Keep the Moisture In!

One way that I really like is to have a water pan in there. I always keep a water pan unless the humidity is really high. Spritzing generally means that you’ve got some type of thin liquid and a squirt bottle. It could be water, it could be apple juice, you could put hot sauce in there, you could do apple cider vinegar white, vinegar anything you want the world is yours. A lot of people think it adds a lot of flavor. I use it more to keep meat moist and to keep stuff for burning.

Another method is mopping and that essentially is just some type of liquid. It could have onions, garlic, oil, butter, all kinds of stuff and it literally means a mop. You’ve got a pot, it’s staying hot and you mop the top of the meat. I don’t like to do it I think it’s messy. You’ve got to clean a pot you’ve it just makes a huge mess in the cooker.

The Wait was Worth it! Brisket perfection
The Wait was Worth it! Brisket perfection

To Wrap or not to wrap

A lot of people claim to wrap briskets, a lot of people claim to not wrap briskets. I really try not to wrap but sometimes you just have to, and what that accomplishes is it retains the moisture, it’s going to help it cook a little bit faster and if your meats getting a little too smoky you’re going to want to wrap it. If it’s also getting too dark and certain woods tend to get dark a lot faster than other woods so you can either burn a really clean fire and not wrap it or you could use butcher paper or you could use foil. If you are getting in trouble and maybe your brisket wasn’t going to get done on time you could wrap it in foil and really accelerate the cooking time. It really comes down to taste!

The Stall

Another thing to be mindful of is a little thing called the stall, and that really messes up a lot of people that are trying to cook brisket. But if you know it’s coming, it’s really not that big of a deal. The hotter you’re cooking the less it’s going to affect you. The lower your cooking the more it’s going to take to kind of get past that hump.

The brisket is going to be cooking it’s going to be going up and when it hits about 160 to 170 it’s going to stop and that’s where the stall happens. It’s tightening up, it’s squeezing out the moisture and without moisture the heat is going. That’s the stall and then it’s going to keep going up and you got to think of it. Kind of like a train, it builds up so much momentum. It depends on how hot you’re cooking it and how quickly it’s cooking, but if you’re going hot enough and fast enough and if your fires steady it’s going to be like a train. It’s going to have momentum it’s going to hit the stall and it’s going to plow right through it and keep going.

That’s how I like to think of it. That being said when the stall has to happen it’s going to be a while before it’s done. Don’t pull it off yet it may look pretty but it’s not ready

The Finish

You are looking for the ideal temperature internally of 195 degrees. But, remember once it’s removed from the grill it can still rise another ten degrees. Another option is the feel method. If you stick a fork in and it twists around easily then the brisket is done!

After you have eaten all the brisket you can handle in one sitting you might have some leftover. Why not make this incredible brisket pie! I promise its amazing!

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