If you read the “About” section you would know, I have been smoking food for over a year now. Up until recently I never wanted to do a brisket, I wanted to wait until I had a good sense of my WSM, temp control, charcoal etc. The other aspect hanging over my head was if you screw up a brisket, that is a lot of money down the drain. I ended up paying $85 for my 15lb brisket. I am not one to throw $85 down the drain, I would assume most people would be on board with that decision.
So, as mentioned this was my first brisket, I did it on my 18″ Weber Smokey Mountain, I used B&B lump and Weber hickory wood chunks. I used a Prime cut brisket from Costco.
We were going to eat this around 1-2pm on Father’s Day, which meant I needed to get this started mid afternoon on Saturday. If you are looking for an idea about how long some will take to smoke a piece of meat, figure 1.5 hours per pound of meat. So for this 15lb, pre-trim (we will get to that later), I was estimating about 22.5 hours start to finish. In addition to that I also wanted to factor in at least 1 hour of rest.
First thing I did was get my chimney started, while that was going I loaded up my WSM with the lump. I filled it to the top, I did not want to have to go back in for a re-fill, if at all possible. While I was getting that going I started working on the brisket. First you need to start trimming off some of the fat. After trim you want to be leaving anywhere from a 1/8″ – 1/4″ of fat. Most of the brisket I felt I did a decent job trimming, there was one section I was not as confident in and sure enough, once the brisket was done and I started cutting it, I definitely left too much fat. I did not weight it once I finished trimming the brisket but I would say I took off easily 2lbs, maybe a little more. At an estimated 13lbs, at 1.5 hours per pound I was now looking at a smoke of approximately 19.5 hours. My take away on the trimming is, definitely get in there and don’t be afraid to take more fat if I think I am leaving too much. My gut was correct.
Midway through the trimming, I got back out, got my chimney of charcoal in the WSM and started getting it up to temp. My goal temp was 225°. While that was working its way up to temp, i finished my trimming and I started with the rub on the brisket. For this I used a Kinder’s SPG rub that I got at Costco. I coated the brisket with olive oil and then started coating it with the rub.
Once that was done, I was about up to temp and so I got the brisket ready to throw on. The brisket was a little bigger than what my 18″ allowed to lay flat so I used a rib rack and propped the brisket up to get it to fit. Once it was on there, I just had to monitor temp, and pretty much dialed it in at 220°. I was hoping for a little higher but was not concerned about the small difference. I got it on at 3:40pm, Saturday. Note, I threw the brisket on the WSM, fat cap up.
The Smoke and Rest
With it now on, it became a waiting game. Temp was good and consistent most of the time, it spiked at one point to about 290° but then started working its way back down, to about that 220° range. Going to assume it caught one of wood chunks and spiked the temperature. Around 12am I actually lifted the lid and it was looking good. It did not appear the bark was exactly where I wanted it to so I did not wrap. IT was right around 170° at that point. I set an alarm at 1:30am to check the temp again. When I checked at that point all was still good. I wanted to give the bark just a little more time to set but I missed my 2:30am alarm. That was a mistake on my part because I did not wake up again after that, until 6am. I fully lay that at the feet of my 1 month old new born who has kept us slightly sleep deprived. You may find this funny but that was actually my biggest concern going in, a new born in the house, sleep deprived and a long smoke that would have me up in the middle of the night. Once I got up, I immediately wrapped in Traeger butcher paper. This was at 6am and the IT was 196° and was probing pretty well but needed a little more time. When I wrapped, I also pulled the rib rack as the brisket had gotten small enough to lay flat. I was still good at 6am on the lump charcoal, although it had burned unevenly on one side but was still staying in that 220° range. I checked back at around 10:55am and it was ready to pull. IT on it was 201° and probing like butter.
I took it off, left the butcher paper on, wrapped in a towel and threw it in my cooler. I left it there until about 2pm when I pulled it for slicing and eating.
The Final Product
Overall I was pleased, the bark turned out really well, I was happy with that as well as with the flavor with the Kinder’s rub and the Hickory wood. I will be interested to see next time how it turns out with getting it wrapped sooner.
I posted some pictures on a couple of FB groups and learned quickly I was cutting with the grain and was getting more of a shredded beef than sliced. You can see the photos below of the against the grain vs with the grain. For good slices you want to cut against the grain. You can see below, the two different cuts and how much cleaner it is when you cut against the grain. One other change for next time was the knife. I was not at home for this and so the knife I was using was not up to par, a good sharp knife always makes a difference in how well it slices.
Earlier I mentioned I felt I did not get enough of the fat trimmed, you can see it there on the lower right hand corner the amount of fat left. My fears of throwing away $85, did not come fruition, it was edible and turned out rather well. I know what I need to do differently next time, trim more fat, wrap earlier, find the grain before slicing. Worst case, if this is what I got again, I would not complain but we all want to get better at what we do and that is the goal.
Also just to show how well the B&B lump burned, here is a picture, after a 19 hours smoke. Still had some left and I think I could have gotten another hour out of it.
Hope this was helpful to those thinking about trying a brisket in the near future. Until next time, keep that smoke rolling!