How To Smoke A Brisket On A Charcoal Grill

If you love BBQ, then you know what a beef brisket is. However, if you are unfamiliar with texas barbeque, then chances are that you are unfamiliar with brisket too. A well-cooked brisket is a king in Texas, and it is the best recipe ever when paired with the Texas-style barbeque sauce. In easy words, you have tasted brisket if you have eaten pastrami or corned beef. Cook your brisket correctly, and you will realize that there is hardly anything as delicious as a brisket. It takes a lot of time, hard work and cares to create the best brisket. 

Brisket is tough, but it gets a soft texture and immense flavour when cooked low and slow. However, the texture of your raw brisket will differ according to the cut you purchase. It has to do with the amount of intramuscular fat and freshness of the beef brisket. Always try to avoid the brisket from a supermarket, because it will not be as fresh as it should be. Slow cooking a beef brisket causes the collagen in its tissues to break apart, bringing out the soft goodness. Smoking, braising, or slow roasting a brisket will all achieve good results, as long as the process is correct. Because this article is about barbeque, we will be focusing on smoking the brisket on a charcoal grill.

What region of the cow is the brisket?

Brisket comes from two overlapping regions from the breast of a cow or veal, making it one of the primal cuts. Because it is a pair of working muscles, it is quite dense. There are three kinds of cuts for beef brisket, known as a full packer, flat cut and point cut. The full-packer includes the other two cuts as well, each separated by a layer of fat. On average, a full-packer weighs from eight pounds to twenty pounds. The layer of fat on a full-packer gets trimmed to a quarter of an inch before cooking. The flat constitutes the crucial, most worked part of the brisket. Hence, it is lean, tough with little fat in it. The flat cut is ideal for preparing corned beef and pastrami. Lastly, the fatty end of the beef brisket is called the point. It is a lot more tender than the flat cut due to the high intramuscular fat content. 

The cooking equipment for a brisket.

Now that you are familiar with some facts about brisket, we will understand how to work with it. This one is a basic recipe for smoking a beef brisket on a charcoal grill. This grilling method is known as the indirect grilling method, which allows low and slow cooking. The only equipment you need is a good-quality charcoal grill and some good quality wood chips. Cure your beef brisket for 6 to 8 hours before cooking, and expect the cooking time to be around six hours. You will also need six cups of hickory, mesquite or wood chips/chunks soaked in cold water for an hour. You do not necessarily need to stick to a particular type of wood because it is better to stick to your local variety at the start. However, the amount of heat emitted differs for each kind of wood, and some wood chips may also have an overbearing scent to them. The layer of fat on your brisket must be at least a quarter an inch thick, preferably half an inch. 

Preparing and cooking a brisket

Rinse your brisket in cold water for some time and marinate it with any spice mix you prefer. Wrap the brisket in foil or plastic wrap and let it cure in the refrigerator for the time given or overnight. It will allow the flavours to blend with the brisket. However, this step is optional because the brisket will taste good even if you do not place the brisket in the refrigerator. The truth is that the brisket alone is so delicious that even a simple salt and pepper seasoning will do the trick. However, using a custom blend of spices and condiments is always a good idea. Here is a marinate you can try for your first brisket.

  • One tablespoon of coarse kosher salt.
  • One tablespoon of red chilli powder.
  • One and half a teaspoon of sugar.
  • One teaspoon of black pepper powder.
  • One teaspoon of cumin powder. 

All you have to do is mix all these condiments and rub them all over your brisket. Add more spices and sauces to this mix, but more importantly, have fun with it. 

When your brisket is ready to cook, add 1 and ½ cups of wood chips to your charcoal grill. You have to preheat your charcoal grill to 225 – 250 degrees before placing your brisket in it. Place the brisket fat side up in a heavy-duty aluminium foil pan, and let it smoke. Make sure to place the brisket in the centre of the grate and cover the charcoal grill. Your brisket should be soft and tender after 6 hours, but it may take more depending on the size of meat, heat and weather conditions. After every hour, add more coals to the charcoal grill and put wood chips on them. Ensure that you baste the brisket from time to time so that the fat and juices accumulated in the foil can cover the whole brisket. You can also spritz your brisket once in a while to keep the surface from getting charred. Using liquids such as apple juice or Worcestershire sauce to spritz your brisket will add depth of flavour to it. 

After you have finished cooking the brisket, remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for at least 1 hour. It will allow your brisket to reabsorb the juices. If you have one, then use an insulated cooler for this process. Carefully place the brisket on a plate and slice against the grain using a sharp knife. Your brisket will be tender enough to get torn by your fingers by this time. Lastly, pour the juices accumulated in the pan over the brisket and serve it hot with some barbeque sauce. 

Storing the brisket (raw and cooked)

Now that you know the cooking process for a brisket, we deal with storing the brisket. Being able to preserve meat for the long term is a hard job unless done correctly. A good quality brisket is easy to store, so pay attention to what you are purchasing. Fortunately, brisket is evolving into quite a popular dish as restaurant chains are getting on it. It is easy to find in any grocery store, but the popularity makes it expensive. To get the freshest, humanely raised meat, you should check-in with the local farmer’s market or butchers. 

A high-quality raw brisket can get stored in the fridge for 5 - 8 days in its packaging. If encased in airtight packaging, you can freeze it for 6 to 12 months. If you plan on freezing your brisket, then let it thaw in the refrigerator for a few days. If you want to store a brisket after it has cooked, you have to wrap it up. It can be stored like that for 4 days in your refrigerator. If you want to keep it for longer, then freeze it in an airtight container, and it will be safe for 2 months. 

Now that you know most things about handling a brisket, you should go out there and have fun. This recipe can be incredibly delicious when executed correctly, and with a few personal touches, it will be even better. So go and make a brisket with your twist in it. Keep practicing, and one day you will have the perfect brisket. You will get better at playing with the fire every time you cook your brisket. After some practice, you will begin to understand the nuances of different cuts, and their effect on the cooking process and taste of the brisket. The only tip to keep in mind is that high-quality ingredients translate into good recipes. A low-quality brisket will never be as tender, juicy or satisfying as a high-quality one. The same rule applies to your cooking equipment, which is charcoal grill too.

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