09 Nov How to best cook brisket (in our opinion)
Avid followers of Angus & Oink will already be aware that we have somewhat developed a passion for brisket. If cooked right, beneath the dusken bark lays tender meat – juicy, melt in the mouth and irresistibly drool worthy.
However, it’s not easy to cook brisket, many have tried and failed (ouch!) especially since it’s usually twice as thick on one side and difficult to cook through evenly. It’s because of this that we thought we’d let you into a few trade secrets to help you enjoy this amazing piece of meat.
Brisket itself is from the tough, muscly part of a cow, located in the lower breast or pectoral area and while it sometimes doesn’t have much fat through it, it is stacked with connective tissue – a great thing in slow cooking as we try and break them down and retain the juicy beefiness of the cut. The muscle itself is weight bearing during the life of the animal and that’s why its such a tough mother. This tissue is a natural self-basting element when the temperature is right – about 135F and up to 200F for melting, and is what helps your meat become so tender and flavoursome.
A brisket itself is formed from two muscles know as the flat and the point. A full brisket is called a packer cut brisket and contains both point and flat muscles. The flat is what you might see in pastrami and lies under the fattier point part of the muscle. It’s much thinner than the point and with less fat and marbling it is less forgiving and harder to cook right and keep juicy.
When preparing the brisket for smoking in a BBQ, it can be a good idea to trim off the excess fat cap with a very sharp knife and also remove some of the connecting fat veins internal to the brisket. Some great videos on You Tube show this is a good deal of detail – Check Aaron Franklin for a start. Some cooks separate the two muscles for cooking as that gives better control overall. We don’t, because that’s the way we roll.
Yet more flavour comes from the delicious bark that forms around the outer layer. To make sure you get the best results, liberally dust your brisket with seasoning such as The General. You’d be surprised how much salt a brisket can take so don’t be shy with seasoning this cut. We’ve been known to inject the brisket with solutions of beef stock, apple juice, pineapple juice and seasoning to give extra beefy flavour.
The bark will form slowly after smoking for the best part of a day – low and slow, 8 to 14 hours is normal! There is a school of thought that lends to hot and fast too, cooking the beef hot and reducing the time. You could also try rolling the cut in American mustard and then loads of cracked black pepper and sea salt for another tasty option.
Now it’s your turn to be the Pitmaster! For us, the best cook comes from our good old faithful offset stick burner – a horizontal offset cooking chamber, which is designed to cook with natural wood logs or charcoal. We like a mix of oak, cherry and lump wood charcoal, to give it a beautiful smoky flavour and an ability to keep some temperature stability. There are a load of different kinds of smokers on the market these days and you can spend as much as you want!
If you don’t have a stick burner, brisket can also be cooked really well on a regular barbecue, with a combination of wood and charcoal. In both cases, begin by sticking the meat straight on the grill, which will help the meat to infuse smoke and obtain that true, authentic flavour. The smoke ring develops straight from the outset using wood smoke as the catalyst. It’s actually not a wood smoke ring, but a chemical reaction to do with the reaction of myoglobin and Nitric Oxide and Carbon Monoxide! You won’t get a smoke ring in the oven or with a pellet smoker, nor if you cook the brisket first in the oven then finish it in a smoker.
While cooking, we recommend sitting down with a few beers, for good brisket comes only to those who wait! Smoke your brisket for 4 – 5 hours at around 220-250F, before wrapping it up in tinfoil (called the Texas crutch) and ramping the temperature up to 300F+ to cook for another 4hrs. Depending on size and type of brisket! Smaller UK breeds are much less able to endure heat exposure and do not have the fat content or connective tissue that protects the cook, they need to be treated very delicately. We try and go for Australian or USDA brisket if we can get hold of them as they are, on the whole, more stable, more juicy and larger!
If you don’t already have a meat thermometer, get one. Otherwise you’ll have no idea what’s going on inside. You can go all our wireless these days and get an app to watch your brisket for you. Watch out for the stall where the meat stabilises in temperature and tries to sweat it out like a fat bloke in a sauna. This usually happens around 165F and can be a painful process to break through. Wrapping the brisket in peach paper or foil will hasten the process and drive the meat to the target around 210F internal. If you want a harder bark finish, unwrap the brisket before the end of the cook and get some heat exposure onto the rub.
When the time comes, your brisket should be deliciously juicy. By this we mean meat juices running like a tap. Check out our video to see what we mean:
Brisket cookin, Australian Wingham Reserve cooked on the offset smoker with oak and cherry. #moist #scotland #brisket #bbq #barbecue #yahoofood #foodporn #bbqporn #lowandslow #smokering
Posted by Angus & Oink on Saturday, 17 September 2016
Let it rest for a little while before slicing and serving. It’s truly one of the best things ever.