Updated: 2 days ago
When we think smoked meats, brisket is one of the first things that comes to mind. Sometimes it’s even thought of as the pinnacle of smoking. Add to this the fact that most tales of smoking brisket include humble brags about waking up in the wee hours of the morning to put it on, and spritzing it every hour with some special concoction – it can make the idea of smoking a brisket daunting.
But you’re not gonna find that here. We like to keep things as simple as possible. And with the busyness and unpredictability of farming, it’s a bit of a necessity that we keep this efficient. Minimum effort for maximum result! And you'll still end up with a brisket that looks like this:
So obviously first thing to do is thaw your brisket. Most of our briskets average around 8-10 pounds for a whole, and 4-5 pounds for a half. It’s not uncommon for us to have briskets in the 12-13 pound range as well, and we even had one that was 16! Regardless of how many mouths you’re feeding (or how much you want for leftovers), it’s a good size chunk of meat so make sure you give it time to thaw.
Now into the actual cooking. First you want to trim the brisket to remove any straggly pieces of fat and silver skin and clean it up nice. Make sure to leave the fat cap on though – that will render down and is what makes the brisket so juicy and flavourful. If the fat cap is quite thick you can trim that down to a 1/4" thickness.
Then, season the brisket. We use our favourite steak seasoning, but even salt, pepper and garlic powder would be fine. Season liberally, and let sit in the fridge for a few days (if you can - but it can go on the smoker right away).
How long your brisket takes to smoke will of course depend on its size. An 8-10 pound brisket will probably take around 8-10 hours total cook time. So no crazy early mornings required.
Have we mentioned how great a meat thermometer is before? Oh yeah…like nearly every blog post? Well we’re not kidding! If you have one that will transmit the temperature reading without you having to open the lid like an instant read one, you’re golden. Those things are lifesavers. If you only have an instant read one no problem, but you will need to keep a closer watch on your brisket as it gets closer to being done.
We have a Traeger smoker that we use, so these directions will follow those settings, but of course adapt to whatever you have for a smoker! Put your smoker on the smoke setting (low heat), and place the brisket on the smoker, with the fat cap up. This is important because as the fat cooks down it will soak into the brisket.
Then walk away. Go do yard work. Go run errands. Go have a waterfight. Whatever you want, because you can leave this alone for the next 6 hours without a worry. Make sure you have enough pellets though!
Once the brisket reaches between 150-170 degrees, wrap it in tin foil. If you have that special paper for smoking that’s even better, but foil does the trick just fine. Best to pull your meat thermometer probes out, then wrap it, and stick them back in. Don’t try and wrap around them, it’s just not worth it.
Turn the smoker up to about 225 degrees and then let the brisket finish cooking. Once it reaches around 205 degrees, you’ll want to begin checking for doneness. When you can push a table knife through easily like it's butter, your brisket is done!
Now, you may be wondering how the heck you are supposed to plan to eat when the cook time can range a bit. But not to worry! All you have to do is find a cooler (the one that isn’t filled with beer), lay a couple hot pads or an old towel in the bottom, then a small cookie sheet and place the brisket on the cookie sheet. This allows the brisket plenty of time to rest and keeps it warm. At least 45 min to an hour of rest time but if it comes off the smoker earlier than that no harm - the cooler will keep it warm and a longer rest definitely doesn't hurt!
And voila! That’s really all there is to it. If you want a story to tell your grandkids about how you were the ultimate pit master, this isn’t the recipe for you. But if you’re looking to keep things simple and focus on keeping a drink in your hand instead of the brisket, we got you.
- Cara and Jolene