The saying you don’t need teeth to eat good barbecued meat can be best said about perfectly cooked beef brisket. While I usually stick with bbq’ing pork, the Memorial Day sale at the grocery store was too tempting to pass up.
I don’t really have a recipe for beef brisket and I follow more of a set of guidelines. If you want even more details, check out this guide to Award_Winning_Competition_Brisket. Trust me, though, unless you’re at a KCBS event, you don’t need such big hunks of meat. A 4-6 pound flat works quite well for the home cook.
Start by looking for a piece of meat that is a uniform thickness and has at least ¼ inch of fat on the top. Do not use a piece of meat that is graded less than choice. If the label doesn’t say, it is probably standard and you don’t want that as it might turn into shoe leather instead of melt in your mouth slices of heaven.
Rinse off the meat and pat dry with paper towels. Add together 3 tablespoons of your favorite dry rub mixed with 1 tablespoon of packed brown sugar and mix with your fingers. The addition of sugar will help form the bark on the finished brisket. Cover the meat on all sides with the rub. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator over night.
When ready to grill, remove the brisket from the fridge and plastic and build your fire. Put a layer of unlit coals along one side of the grill. Light a chimney starter full of coals and pour over the unlit when the briquettes are white and ashy. Place an aluminum pan in the other side of the grill and fill with water. Add a couple of hickory chips to the coals and put the top grill in place. Open the top and bottom vents halfway.
Grill the brisket, fat side up for 2 hours without opening the lid. Add more coals if necessary to keep the grill around 250 degrees F. When the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F, wrap the meat in two pieces of aluminum foil and crimp well to make a tight seal. There is typically a stall where the temperature doesn’t rise for a while – wrapping the meat in foil keeps it moist and tender. This point is where I move it inside and finish cooking in a 225 degree F oven.
Remove from the heat when the temperature hits 190 degrees F. Let rest 30 minutes in the foil packet. The entire cooking process can take anywhere from 5 to 12 hours, depending on weight, thickness and how even you were able to keep the cooking temperature.
Frankly, it always seems to take longer than expected to cook one of these things. Therefore, I recommend you get an early start. Better the meat should wait than your guests, am I right? If the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees before you’re ready to start the party, line a cooler with towels and set the brisket inside for up to 3 hours.
Your finished brisket should be tender enough to cut with the side of a fork and quite juicy. I like mine with white bread.
The is the one time I make sure I have a good BBQ sauce on hand – you can salvage any mistakes with a good sauce and it goes really well on sliced brisket sandwiches the next day. The recipe below is a complex and deeply flavored sauce that is good on more than beef.
Coca-Cola BBQ Sauce
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 cup ketchup
¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 cup Coca-Cola
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon hot sauce – I used Sriracha for added depth
Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan over medium to low heat.
Allow to boil for about 10 minutes until reduced and thickened.
Remove from heat. For added flavor, stir in about 1/4 cup of the defatted pan juices from your brisket. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator for several months or use immediately.