How To Make The Best Brisket

In Texas, brisket is king. In this blog, we sat down with Bigham's Smokehouse Pit Master, Chad George to learn how to smoke the perfect brisket. 

Let's start with the basics of brisket first.

What is brisket?

Brisket is the front shoulder of the cow. This area of the cow is very well-exercised, so even though the meat is tough, when cooked properly low and slow, you end up with a tender meat. 

What's the best grade of brisket?

In the meat market, there are different grades of meat you can purchase: Grass fed, USDA Rated (select, choice, prime), American Wagyu, etc. Pit Master Chad George explains that USDA Prime is probably going to be your best bet when it comes to smoking a brisket. 

In this next section, we'll dive into how to trim a brisket, what seasonings to use that bring out the best flavor in the brisket, and finally how to smoke your brisket.

How to trim a brisket

Briskets come in two different cuts: the first cut or flat cut, and the second cut or deckle point. The second cut/deckle point is what you want to purchase at your local store or butcher. These cuts of meat will be about 14-17 pounds. This particular cut has more fat marbling in it, making it perfect for smoking. Pit Master Chad George says "It's important to make sure you trim the fat properly to get the best parts of the meat." Chad's suggestions to brisket smokers at home is to make sure you trim the excess fat and parts of the messed up by the packing process, this includes any parts that may have been burned by the packing process.

Start with your brisket fat side up, then carefully with a sharp knife, cut from the flat side to the point. You want to make sure you trim enough fat off to where your seasonings will be able to soak into the meat, otherwise if you leave too much, you won't have much flavor. 

Seasoning your meat

Pit Master Chad says, "You eat brisket for the meat and the smoke flavor." You want to keep the seasonings basic when it comes to brisket to make sure the true flavor of the meat shines through. Chad says you really only need salt and pepper to bring out the best flavor. If you desire, you can add more seasonings, like garlic, but we stick to just the basic salt and pepper. 

Smoking your brisket

Finally, we're to the point where we tell you how to smoke your brisket. If you're wanting your brisket ready for lunch, we suggest starting your brisket the night before. First, set your smoker to 200 degrees. Once your smoker has reached 200 degrees, stick your brisket in for 6-8 hours. And every 30 minutes, you're going to have to check on your brisket. If you notice your brisket is getting dry, Chad suggests spritzing the dry parts with apple cider vinegar to keep it moist throughout the smoking process.

Now, once your brisket hits the stall point, about 150-165 degrees, it will start sweating or pooling liquid. Take your brisket out and wrap it in foil, then stick it back into your smoker at 225 degrees for another 3-5 hours. After the 3-5 hours is up or the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees, you'll want to pull your brisket. If you don't have a meat thermometer, you can tell mostly based on feel; the top will be soft. Once you pull your brisket out of the smoker, make sure to let it rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. 

Trips and Tricks from the Pit Master

We asked Chad to share some of his tips and tricks when smoking a brisket. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you're smoking your meat:

- Every brisket is different

We know smoking a brisket can be intimidating if you don't know what to do. Just keep in mind that every brisket is different and you may have to alter some techniques. You can change anything and everything in order to make your brisket to your liking. 

- Temperature is key

Smoking a brisket can be challenging, especially if your smoker isn't keeping up the temperature or if it's too hot. It's important to remember a consistent temperature is key to making the perfect brisket. 

- Patience

Because every brisket is different, you'll definitely need to have patience when smoking a brisket. Some briskets may take more time than others, or they may not turn out the way you hoped they would. Patience is key when you smoke your briskets.

Whether you're smoking a brisket for the first time or a professional, remember that every brisket is different, a consistent temperature is key and patience is essential when your making your brisket.