Texas Smoked Brisket 14.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Smoke Signals Feb 25, 2015

Briskets are often sold in two kinds of cuts: the lean, trimmed flat part, called the first cut, which is typically used for braising, and the "packer cut," which includes both the flat and the thicker, untrimmed fatty section called the point. Commonly vacuum-wrapped, the packer cut is the one you want for low-and-slow smoking.

To promote the development of a good crust, or "bark," trim the fat to 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

Whole briskets weigh between 6 and 15 pounds. In a smoker, plan on about 1 hour to 90 minutes per pound. In a grill, plan on 30 to 45 minutes per pound.

If you're using a smoker, you'll need one chimney-full of charcoal, or about 85 standard-size briquettes. Use oak for its mild flavor and slow burn. It is also fine to use a combination of hardwoods, such as oak, hickory and pecan.

Make Ahead: The smoked brisket needs to rest for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours before serving.

14 - 16

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Tested size: 14-16 servings

  • One 8-to-10-pound whole brisket, with fat cap
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper


If you're using a smoker, start a charcoal fire in the firebox.

If you're using a charcoal grill, prepare the grill for indirect grilling: Light the charcoal in a chimney starter and let the briquettes burn until the flames subside and a light layer of ash covers the briquettes (about 20 to 25 minutes). Dump the lighted coals into 2 mounds (or, preferably, into 2 half-moon-shaped briquette baskets) on opposite sides of the grill. Place a drip pan between the piles of coals and fill it a quarter of way with water.

Trim the fat on the brisket to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Season the brisket liberally with salt and pepper (to taste), so the meat is well coated and textured.

To cook in the smoker: When the coals turn ashen, open the chimney completely and add 2 split logs or 6 hardwood chunks. Let them burn for about 10 minutes or until they start to flame for a couple of minutes; close the firebox door. When the logs or hardwood chunks start smoldering and smoking, about another 10 minutes or so when the thermometer reads 225 degrees, set the brisket on the grate in the cooking chamber, as far from the fire as possible. Close the chamber door; close the chimney one-half to three-quarters of the way; adjust to maintain the temperature inside the smoker between 225 and 275 degrees. Add two logs or 6 hardwood chunks as needed after about 2 hours. Smoke between 1 hour and 90 minutes per pound (timing may depend on brisket thickness, weather conditions), making sure to keep the fire as steady as possible. If the fire gets too hot (325 degrees or higher), close the chimney completely until the temperature falls to about 250 degrees. If the fire falls below 225 degrees, add another log or two, and make sure it catches fire before you close the firebox.

To cook in the grill: When the grill is set up as directed above and the coals are ashen, place 2 or 3 hardwood chunks on the coals, place the grill rack in position and cover the grill. When the hardwood chunks start to smoke, place the brisket on the grill rack above the drip pan. Maintain the temperature inside the grill between 250 and 300 degrees. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes per pound; add charcoal and hardwood chunks as needed.

The brisket is done when a meat thermometer registers between 190 and 195 degrees when inserted into the thick end of the meat.

Lay a large piece of aluminum foil on a clean work surface. Transfer the brisket to the foil; wrap the meat in the foil. Place the wrapped brisket in a room-temperature cooler; cover with a couple of towels (for insulation). Let it rest for at least 1 hour, and up to 3 hours, before slicing against the grain.

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Recipe Source

From Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.

Tested by Andrew Sikkenga.

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