A Tasket, A Tisket, I Just Cooked My First Brisket

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that this weekend would be the weekend that I would cook my first brisket.  And as it turned out, the weather could not have been more perfect!

The brisket was an 8 1/2 lb whole packer brisket — small by normal standards, but plenty for just two of us.  Because this was my first brisket, I knew better than to get a Wagyu brisket, so mine came from the glorious meat market known as Wal-Mart.  Yeah… I know what you’re thinking…  but it’s my first, and I’m not gonna buy a $50 piece of meat for my first trial run.

I took it out of the freezer Wednesday evening and put it in the refrigerator to thaw out.  Last night was prep night for me.  I attempted to trim up the brisket without taking out too many hunks of meat (which I feel I did an adequate job).  After trimming, I patted the meat dry, seasoned it liberally with Strawberry’s Shake-On Bar-B-Que Seasoning, and put it back in the refrigerator.

This morning, I fired up the smoker (a New Braunfels Bandera vertical offset) and got the brisket in by 8:15am.  After a lot of research, I decided to go with a little higher cooker temperature, keeping the smoker between 250 and 300 degrees.  As a treat to myself, I also put some pig candy in the cooker a few minutes after noon today.  As a result, I took the opportunity to get a sneak peek at my experiment:

Brisket @ 4 hours in.

Brisket @ 4 hours in.

So far it was looking tasty.  At around 4:15 this afternoon, I took a temperature reading.  The thermometer shot up to 185 degrees, and the probe slid in like butter, so off it came!  After resting a few minutes, it was time to slice.

Brisket sliced

Brisket sliced

Single Slice

Single Slice

Multiple slices

Multiple slices

Then it was time for the taste test.  I gave two pieces to my wife — one closer to the thinner end of the brisket, and one closer to the point.  She noted that the outer bark was a bit salty (probably a product of using too much rub).  In her opinion, both slices were very tender.  The slice closer to the point was much more moist, but the other slice had more flavor.

All in all, the brisket turned out about as well as I expected it to.  While it was not a competition-winning brisket, it didn’t completely suck either. The encouraging bit of information from today was that my wife (a self-professed non-fan of brisket) said she would eat it again.

It’s progress, but back to the drawing board…

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  • Richard Swords

    Looks like a good first try, nice smoke ring. :) I don’t claim to be an expert, but I can offer a little help.

    - You want the fat 1/4″ all over, and if you’re not sure how deep it is, leave it. Up to 1/2″ won’t hurt, but over that can really slow the cooking for that area. Works really well to trim right out of the fridge. That’ll help with the uneven moistness.
    - Another thing that would help is a good mopping sauce once an hour (not sure if you had one?), to really wet the outside and seal in the juices. Plus, the layer of sauce will fall right off when you’re serving it, leaving behind the benefit of the spices.
    - If you have the time, slow it down more. Lower fire, longer time, or if that’s not an option, heavy smoke. Definitely a strong wood like mesquite, though you can also mix in some hickory for that pork you mentioned without hurting the brisket.

    Hope it helps! :)