My First Time — Smoking Brisket that is: Preparation

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I never smoked a beef brisket before.  It takes quite a bit of time and that tends to be something of which I am short.  I decided to tackle the task on Labor Day weekend.

Probably the only thing on which BBQ enthusiasts can agree is that BBQ enthusiasts can agree on nothing.  When it comes to brisket, there are devotees on both side of every issue:  whole packer, flat or point; trim the fat cap or leave it be; smoke fat up or fat down;  dry rub or not; dry rub the day before or just before slapping the meat on the smoker; mop or don’t mop; use the Texas crutch or not; sauce or nekked; and the arguments go on.  I guess the good thing is no matter what you do, someone will call it genius.  It also leaves plenty of room for experimentation and that means many good and possibly some bad meals to come.

Whole packer, flat or point was decided for me by Wegmans.  They only had flats in the case.  I probably could have ordered a whole packer, but that would have taken planning ahead and inspiration hit too late.  Trim or not:  I like the argument that leaving the fat lets it melt and baste the brisket as it cooks.  I cross hatched the fat layer down to the meat so that I could get some dry rub on that side, but left it intact this time.  Once cooked, I will trim off the fat.  My only fear is that some of that smoky goodness will disappear when I trim the fat.

I always dry rub my smoked meat.  My ribs need no sauce because the rub adds so much flavor during the cooking.  Pork and beef are different beasts so the rub should be distinct.   In particular, a beef dry rub should have less sweetness.  I lined up some popular brisket rub recipes and did some compare and contrast.  There were ingredients on which all agreed.  They went in.  There were differences that I judged on personal preference and then I added some of my own.

My rub ended up as below:

  • 2 tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Maple Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoon Black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Chipotle chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons Mustard Powder

I like my rub to have time to permeate the meat so I did it 36 hours in advance.  I rubbed the brisket with some EVOO, rubbed in the dry rub, wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator.  There it sits getting happy until I fire up the smoker tomorrow morning.


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