Real Recipe: How to BBQ Brisket

By Mario Fiorucci, Co-Founder of The Healthy Butcher

This article was originally published in Tonic Magazine Summer 2011

 

Introduction

If you find yourself in America west of the Mississippi, the word “barbeque” refers to one thing and one thing only – a good ole’ fashioned, slow smoked, pit-barbeque style beef brisket.  Personally, I think making a damn good barbeque brisket is easy , even on a simple gas BBQ, and I will explain how below.  But before southern snipers are aiming at my forehead, I will say this – perfecting barbeque brisket requires a lifetime of experience and is far more complicated than the recipe below.  I bet that even professional multi-award winning barbequers who compete in big circuits and win big money for their barbequed briskets would freely admit they haven’t perfected the brisket; it is simultaneously the easiest and most challenging cut of beef to cook over direct heat (which is one of the reasons the recipe below cheats by using aluminum foil).NewZealandGrassfed-Brisket-Front-FatDown

Before providing the recipe, I need to give credit where credit is due, to The Healthy Butcher’s Head Butcher Dave Meli, who has on multiple occasions, cooked briskets that are beyond words heavenly, and has provided the guts of these instructions.  Even following his every word, my briskets never turn out as good… but I guess it’s the cook’s hands that matter… I still can’t make a tomato sauce as good as my Mamma’s either.

Ingredients.

  • 10lb. whole double brisket, with fat cap
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or yellow mustard
  • 1 cup of spice rub fitting for beef
  • 1-2 cups of barbeque sauce
  • Time
  • Beer to drink while eagerly waiting

 

Preparation and instructions.

  1. Select Your Brisket:  Start with a properly raised beef, and you are half-way there.  Next, make sure it’s fatty!  Order from your butcher a “whole double brisket with a fat cap at least ½” thick”.
  2. Rub your brisket down with olive oil, then rub it with your dry spice rub.  Alternatively, rub the brisket with yellow mustard, then your spice rub;  the mustard helps create a flavourful “bark”.  There are a gazillion spice rubs out there that are great.  I think The Healthy Butcher’s Toronto Steak Spice is the best, being a combo of organic paprika, onion powder, granulated garlic, coriander, sugar, fennel, chilli flakes, salt, & black pepper.  You can buy pre-made rubs everywhere or just google a recipe and make your own rub.  If you have the time, refrigerate the brisket for 4 hours up to overnight.
  3. Preheat BBQ on high for 20 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium, then with lid up, sear your brisket for a good 20-30 minutes per side.
  5. Remove the brisket from the grill, brush it generously with BBQ sauce, then wrap it in aluminum foil.  Serious Texans will say it’s sacrilegious to use foil, to which I would say using foil ensures awesome results, and it makes the process EASY!  Essentially you’ll be braising your brisket in the foil after the initial sear.  If you have a good quality charcoal cooker that enables you to keep the temperature very low, like a Big Green Egg, you can keep the heat low enough to avoid using foil.   I say just use foil and you know the result will be great.  And it’s EASY! (Did I say that already?)
  6. At this point you have the choice of keeping it on your grill or placing it in your oven.  If your grill is large enough, use indirect heat.  If you’re cooking over charcoal, a little wood flavour is great, but brisket can easily absorb too much smoke so don’t add wood chips; an issue you don`t have to worry about in a gas grill.  Whatever you use, keep the temperature low at about 225F.
  7. Cook until super duper tender, about 6 hours, but it could be more or less.  Remove from heat and allow to rest for 20 minutes.  If you really want to go over the top, then about 30 minutes before you plan on removing the brisket, make a slit along the top of the foil, open it up and brush more BBQ sauce on and keep it open to let the sauce caramelize.

Enjoy!  I would suggest thinly slicing pieces across the grain.  That said, any self-respecting Texan would simply use a fork… Either way, a properly barbequed brisket is heavenly.

For a complete reference guide to roasting, click here for our Ultimate Roasting Chart.