Brisket is the pinnacle of cooking outdoors for many Texans. Being the original cattle country, beef is often what is for dinner there, especially on Sundays. The big beef briskets take hours to slow cook which make it a great activity to spend the day drinking beer and having conversation on everything under the sun. Being from Texas I just thought brisket was what everybody barbecued on weekends and special days.
When I first left in 2018 and went to Arizona I was surprised and horrified to find out it wasn’t. At that time it was hard to even find a brisket or the materials to cook one. The briskets and what is takes to make one have been easier to find in my adopted home in Louisiana, but it is still not everywhere like Texas.
The first thing that is needed is a pit, gas grills and charcoal grills may not even fit the big chunk of meat. Though it may, gas grills and charcoal should only be used if you need to survive as it probably won’t work out too well. The big BBQ pits with a firebox on the side are the best way to provide an indirect heat and feed wood as it burns. However, before the pits with a firebox became the rage many people did and still do a great job with the pits made out of a 55 gallon drum cut in half that are inexpensive.
The next requirement is wood, not charcoal or propane, real wood chunks or logs. Did I mention that if you are a tree hugging vegan this article might horrify you? Real wood smoldering gives off a constant cloud of smoke that will give those oh so wonderful smoke rings. For a true Texas brisket there are two primary wood choices, mesquite and pecan. Mesquite or pecan are determined by location and heritage, I tend to make a mix of about 75% mesquite and 25% pecan.
The wood can be seasoned thus getting more smoke by soaking the wood in water in advance. The temperature generally should be around 300 degrees but is usually determined by how the fire looks. Hot spots are cooled down by quick pours of beer.
Picking out a brisket may not be possible if you don’t live in Texas but if you can, see how flexible it is in comparison to the others. A more flexible brisket has more meat than a stiff one with more fat when cold. There is plenty of fat in the average brisket so get the flexible one.
A dry brisket rub is needed next for seasoning and flavor. A traditional brisket rub is best, but I have used a BBQ rub in a pinch. The rub requires what it says, getting your hands dirty and coating both sides of the brisket with dry rub. It is good to let it sit for a couple hours, but as long as you start it before you start trying to get the grill alright you will be ok.
Once the pit is right lay the brisket fat side facing up on the grill. Now it will take roughly one hour per pound to cook. So if you have a 15 pound brisket allow 15 hours to cook. This of course means planning ahead will be necessary, but you have an excuse not to go anywhere.
There are two camps as far as mopping sauce is concerned. My German-Texan friends consider it a sin to use any BBQ sauces at all on the meat. Others choose to use a BBQ sauce to mop the sauce on in regular intervals. I make a BBQ sauce for my brisket but do not mop it like I do some other things. Though the sauce is really good I can see the point of my German friends that when the meat is good, why cover it up.
Why not check out our Texas Style Smoked Brisket Recipe!