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OK Texans-who will share their BBQ Brisket secrets [Moved from Texas board]

I usually post to the HomeCooking board, but thought I would go right to the source!

I went to wedding in central Texas last summer and the best smoked brisket and sausage I've ever tasted at the rehearsal dinner. I tried to get the recipe from the cook (Who was a friend of the family) but he wouldn't tell me anything. I live outside of Washington DC and have ordered 2 whole briskets from my local butcher to do this weekend for memorial day and need advice on how long to smoke, the rub, a sauce.... I usually only smoke pulled pork shoulders for sandwiches.

Also, the sausage was unlike any sausage I'd ever tasted. From what I have read over the last few days it might have been beef/pork mixture? I remember it having tremendous flavor. I'm not sure I could even find a product like that in this neck of the woods. Any good mail order services?

Finally, the potato salad served wasn't like potato salad I am used to either. It didn't seem to have much in it other than potatoes and onion - and was a little yellowish/orange in color. It must be typical to Texas b/c the same thing was served when I ordered BBQ on our way home at the Austin Airport.

Lots of questions - but my mouth is watering for that meal!!!!

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  1. JennyHunter, here are some answers:

    First, brisket, pork chops, bbq prime rib, etc. Coopers BBQ, Llano TX


    Second, sausage. Elgin is the Sausage Capital. Southside Market, Elgin, TX


    Third, potato salad. I think Salt Lick BBQ has the concession at the Austin Airport.


    Please note that ALL of these places sell online.

    There are plenty of others, but this should get you started.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Thefoodczar

      I looked up Elgin for sausage and found a few different places that mail order. DO you have a preference? Is Southside Market the best?

      1. Really sad the cook didn't open up with the recipie, but if you had real smoked central Tx BBQ briskit it is very hard to recreate without a real seasoned smoke pit. I BBQ alot but I'm scared of briskit, Getting a briskit smoked to where it is tender,juicy and smoked just right is a gift few Texans have. Just remember low and slow, The best luck I have had is smoking in a water smoker with wood chips for about 8 hours and then finishing off in the oven. It's a great way to spend the weekend, and briskits are fairly cheap this time of year.

        1. Hi Jenny. I am not a Texan, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night...

          Seriously, I have been smoking for many years, and have sampled the main places in TX as well as Memphis, KC, etc., and can offer you some advice.

          First, what smoker are you using? See the pic of a brisket on my Weber Kettle. Whatever the cooker, it must be low (200-250 chamber temp) and slow (about an hour per uncooked pound... yes, 14 hrs or so for a 14-lb "whole packer" brisket). Charcoal... wood... a combo, whatever you like there. TX places use a simple kosher salt and rough cracked pepper rub... I add a little granulated garlic and cayenne. That's all you need. Remember it aint done til it hits about 200 internal temp. It could take faster, or slower... but that's when it will become tender. You can also just stick a fork in, and when it goes in and out easy, you're there.

          First big pitfall is to go X hours (say, 8) and say "wow, it looks done... even over done... and it's tough... I must have gone too far" and then pull it off. Don't do it. Be patient. Wait for it. It didn't get high enough yet for the fat to break down. You will be rewarded. You can also "hold" it in foil for several hours in a cooler (after you wrap it, as stated below)... really... it will come down very slowly from 200 over those hours. You want to keep it out of the danger zone, of course, over 140. But it will tenderize further during that time.

          Second pitfall is having it still come out dry. Don't bother with a mop... it won't help the inside. Some folks (me too) will foil it up nice after it hits about 160-170 internal, when some think that it won't take much more smoke, anyway. Finish in smoker or over, since the foiled brisket dont know the difference :-) That will retain moisture.

          Another thing: The "packer" is comprised of the point and the flat. Some separate them before the cook, others after. You need to separate them, because you need to slice brisket across the grain, and when they're attached, the grain runs in different directions. The point has more fat, and will also actually take longer to cook. Some pull the whole thing off when the flat's done, lop off the point, chop it up with a little sauce, and put it back in the smoker -- that's burnt ends. Here's a link to show how to separate the point from flat.


          Sauce should be vinegary tomato. Not sweet. Try Stubbs original. Dont mess with sauce now... stay focused on the brisket.

          On the sausage, I will say to you that you can buy any old italian sweet or hot sausage. But rather than grilling (direct), smoke it, indirect. 30 mins, turn, and 30 mins. It is a whole other deal. People will go crazy. I gah-ron-tee. See my pic. When they cut into it, and the say "hey, its not done, its pink inside!!" You say, "c'mon Yankee, that's a smoke ring... if it was undercooked, the pink would be at the middle, not at the edge!!"

          Let us know how it goes.

          19 Replies
          1. re: woodburner

            Thanks for all of this info. I think I am going to have to wake up very early on Sunday! For the sausage, are you saying you smoke it for 30 minutes, or that you turn it every 30 minutes for how long total?

            1. re: JennyHunter

              One of the most popular places in Houston (Goode Co.) put their method in the Parade magazine a long time ago, and basically it is that you have a really great rub that you coat the brisket in, wrap in foil and let it sit in fridge overnight. Now before you put the rub on you should trim some of the excess fat off the meat, but not too much. You want that layer of fat on the top to keep it moist and juicy. After taking the brisket out of the fridge, let it sit for a bit, and then smoke at a low temp, fat side up, for up to 12 hours. And you do need to use a good mop to baste the meat while it is smoking. Maybe baste like once every hour or 90 minutes. You know when it is done because you can put a fork in it and it will let you turn the fork, meaning it has broken down and is tender. And make sure to cut the meat against the grain starting at the point end.

              Now you could bake in the oven and then put on the smoker, or conversely smoke and then bake. Either way you want the saucy mop. It's not like a bbq sauce though, don't get me wrong.

              If you can find a smoked beef/pork combo sausage that would be really good. My favorite is a pork/venison combo from Chapell Hill Sausage Co in (duh) Chappell Hill Tx, but I checked and they don't send it out. You have to go there or get it in a local store. But if you can't find something like that, smoke it yourself as woodburner said.

              Potato salad - can't help you there, sorry, but I imagine it is just potatoes, onions, mayo and mustard. Pretty basic, simple stuff. Have fun!

              1. re: danhole

                On the potato salad, Boil russet potatoes. Also some egsgs. Chop both. Add chopped sweet onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dress with Miracle Whip and some yellow mustard. Some people add pickles.

              2. re: JennyHunter

                30 min, turn, 30 min, total 60 min. for links as shown in the pic. Perfect. BTW, I stand by my comment on mopping brisket. Waste of time... not absorbed by the meat. All the opening and closing of the smoker does is disturb your fire, you heat consistency, and slow the whole thing down. With the rub, and a smooth cook, you get a wonderful bark on the meat. The fat cap (correctly, on top of the brisket as you smoke) is what protects the meat, and the collagen (tough fat) inside the brisket is what moistens it when it breaks down... nearing 200 degrees internal.

              3. re: woodburner

                Woodburner-you are a lifesaver-I think.

                I'm barbecuing my first brisket as I type. I bought the whole brisket at the SaveMart by my house. 1.29 a pound!! I've always wanted to try one. I rubbed it with mustard, put a rub on it, and let it sit for about an hour. I didn't have any wood, so have used briquettes(?) for the whole thing.

                I'm about 8 hours into it (should have mentioned, it's 10 lbs.), and was about to throw my hands up in despair, because I sliced a piece off, and thought "it's tough, and over-cooked!" Then I read your post.

                I've been mopping it every two hours, and I turned it once, but have pretty much been cooking it fat side up the whole time. (I've kept the temp between 210-225 the whole time)

                Long story short, I'm going to keep hangin' in there, and give it a chance. Which means I'll be barbecuing till midnight or so! Wish me luck!!

                1. re: spanky46

                  8 hours on a 10-lb brisket... definitely not done yet. Do you have an internal probe? Needs to get to about 200 or so before the nasty collagen breaks down. Try foiling it up and finishing that way -- will go quicker and stay moister. Let us know what happened!!

                  1. re: woodburner

                    Hey Woodburner-Well, we finally had to call it quts around 11:00 last night, my husband pulled it out this morning,(we wrapped in foil in the fridge overnight), and put it back on. The coals were still warm!

                    We also figure out that it is closer to 13 lbs... so I guess that's why it's not done. We've still got it fat side up. Should we give in, and wrap? Would that be the best result? Guess I try too hard to be a purist when I cook.

                    1. re: spanky46

                      Hey spanky--I'm not woodburner, but woodburner helped me and mr. diva break in our then new off-set smoker last summer. I say foil it and let it go for another several hours. You need to get it to temp so that the collagen breaks down, as woodburner says. It's done when it's fork tender. Best of luck--I'm always happy to find another woman who's interested in tending fires and big hunks o' meat.

                      1. re: diva360

                        Yeah... I go with the foil these days... stays moister, and finishes quicker. 13 lbs is a whole "packer" brisket -- both the flat and the point. Did we discuss this before? Debate is whether to separate them before or after the cook. I think after is the way to go. But the flat finishes faster than the point, which is fattier. When the flat's done, separate it, then chop up the point and add sauce, and put back in the pit. It will take another hour or so and you'll have "burnt ends." The best. Check out this link for separating briskets. By the way, when the brisket is done, you can hold it in foil in a cooler for several hours before eating... just gets more tender. Keep the probe in it and make sure it stays above 140. It will take hours to drop from 200.


                2. re: woodburner

                  Is that the point or the flat on your rig??


                  1. re: Davwud

                    That's a med-sized flat, maybe about 6 lbs. I have trouble finding full packer briskets around here (Westchester, NY). Sam's usually has just the flats.

                      1. re: Davwud

                        I usually leave all the fat on... most will trim to about 1/4-in., but I will leave a little more. Fat side up, it makes for a nice baste through the cook. When I slice, I will remove some if it's still too much left.

                  2. re: woodburner

                    I just bought a frozen brisket, it must just be the flat because it only weighs about 8 pounds. I think I know how to smoke it from all your good tips, but I am just a California girl, how do I serve it? On rolls? With some kind of sauce? We don't see much brisket out here, but I am hosting a party in July for some French visitors on Bastille day, and I thought I should do something quintessentially American, which smoked brisket certainly would be. TIA

                    1. re: dkenworthy

                      As others have said, I would caution on "trying" a brisket for a high-stakes type of meal. People do spend years trying to get a good product... sometimes mine come out great, sometimes not so much. Sometimes, blech! It's great to start doing them, but a party for French visitors?? Maybe a nice rib roast, bone out is my preference, several bones worth or a whole roast (up to 14-16 lbs). With a rub of kosher salt, coarse cracked pepper, rosemary and a little cayenne, on the smoker (or indirect on a grill with cover) with charcoal and some hickory/mesquite, about 2-3 hours, depending on size and temp (I run it high around 300), til it hits 125 or 130 internal, rested for 30 min, perfect med rare. A nice creamy horseradish sauce. Sounds American to me...

                      Anyway, if you go with brisket, I like a simple vinegar and tomato based sauce, which is what I found across Texas. Something like this:
                      14 oz ketchup
                      1 cup cider vinegar
                      1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
                      2 tbs yellow mustard
                      2 tbs lemon juice
                      1 tbs chili powder
                      2 tbs paprika
                      1 tsp crushed red pepper
                      1 tsp black pepper
                      1 tsp dark brown sugar
                      1/3 cup brisket or bacon drippings (optional)
                      3 cups water

                      In Texas, sliced across the grain, thin or, if tender enough, a little thicker... served with -- gasp -- a couple slices of white bread on the side. That may be just too darn American for your visitors. Another option is to pile it onto rolls, or just serve sliced on a plate. Beans. Cornbread. Slaw. Berry Cobbler.....

                      Ugh. I'm stuffed!

                      1. re: woodburner

                        Hello WB---if you're still around, I am assuming you put this sauce together in a pan or pot and reduce somewhat, correct???

                        Thx in advance.

                        1. re: mtomto

                          Yes, in a pot, and reduce it a bit, but not much. Really you're just meding it all together fo about 10-15 min. It is a fairly thin sauce, and it is more spicy and tangy than sweet. The brisket cooks only with the dry rub... the sauce is drizzled on at serving, or just offered on the side.

                      2. re: dkenworthy

                        How do you serve it? Sliced with Wonder Bread on butcher paper!

                        1. re: paulj

                          That's how they serve it in the Hill Country around Austin... like here at Cooper's in Llano.

                    2. jenny:

                      the type of wood used makes a big difference. Most central TX places use post oak.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: planojim

                        True... I use a mix of mesquite and hickory. I like mesquite...

                      2. Just my $0.02,
                        I am in no way an expert, simply an enthusiast who lives in Canada. It took me 4 years of experimenting to get ribs to where I want them. Brisket...well I'm still working on that. So what am I saying? Following the suggestions here will probably give you some good results, maybe not that Texas brisket from last summer, but a good substitute.
                        Some things to master (which I begrudgingly had to admit over 4 years) is how to keep your temperature somewhat constant for your particular smoker (and for brisket over 10 hours or longer can be trying), how not to over-smoke (and for brisket....ditto), how to use different fuels to get the desired results (oak, hickory, fruit, lump, brickets, etc etc), nailing down YOUR favorite rub, to mop or not to mop, etc etc.

                        For what its worth, I agree that wrapping with foil on the finish is handy to retain moisture. I see how some guys would scoff at this, but it works great for me.
                        I also like to use lump charcoal for the heat source (maple is local for me). I add wood chips (apple or cherry or hickory) for the smoke. As time goes on in the cooking process, I use less smoke and straight charcoal - keeping the heat steady (the lump will add a bit of its own smoke anyway).
                        Not great BBQ secrets, mind you, just words of encouragement to keep on with your cue.
                        Let us know how they turn out!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: porker

                          Hi Porker. Good comments. One thing is that I find lump to burn hotter and faster than briquettes, so for me it's much better to use briquettes for long smoke sessions (lower and slower), with chunks of wood. Usually, only a few chunks are needed, as you note, to get enough -- but not too much -- smoke.

                          1. re: woodburner

                            Again, its a case of prejudice, on my part against briquettes. I don't mind the burning faster, although it takes more babysitting, but yeah, I've often times had problems with keeping the chamber (I have an offset smoker) lower in temp.
                            For my next brisket, I'll try the briquette route.
                            Thanks for your insights. As I said, lotsa trial and error over 4 years (going on 5). The learning curve would have been quicker had I spent more time looking for advice!

                        2. I would keep your expectations low in trying to duplicate your bbq experience.

                          Some people literally spend a lifetime perfecting their bbq cooking skills and that's because of all of the variable factors like equipment, meat, seasoning, smoking methods, etc. I'm a good cook and even to me, this is a daunting task.

                          1. I have alot of the tips you are looking for and have spent most of my lifetime perfecting it but I am a horrible typist and it would take me half a day to diatribe my techniques and tricks.


                            There is really no secret to this rub except leaving out the Lemon peel, sugar (tend to scorch), MSG, and the White Pepper (I hate white pepper). This rub is good on just about anything fish to brisket. I buy my spices in bulk and grind them (especially the peppers - black, cayenne, and chili) the other ones you can buy from your local spice dealer.

                            As for the sausage the sausage you order online is going to have the preservative and goign to be finer ground than the suasage you had at the cookout. I have had the Southside Market brand in the actual location and bought it at the local grocery store (HEB in Waco) and they were two different sausages. I am sure if you put on a charming voice and call down to several BBQ places (i.e Smitty's in Lockhart, Kreuz in Lokchart (both the same family...and long story on why there is two BBQ places, Southside Market in Elgin) they might give you some tips on the kinds of meat and what grinding level to make it a more coarse blend. As for seasonings they won't help you there b/c that is their trade secrets.



                            The potato salad sound like a simple yellow mustard potato salad and if it came from Salt Lick is more than likely has a bit more tumeric in it as they have quite a bit in their BBQ sauce. Below is a supposed recipe from Salt Lick for their potato salad from the Horns Fans website (UT Longhorns) - Hook 'Em.

                            5 large Baking potatoes
                            Salt and pepper
                            1 teaspoon Celery seed
                            1 large Onion diced
                            ½ cup Juiced drained from dill pickles
                            1/3 cup Barbecue sauce - just order it from Salt Lick see below
                            1/3 cup Vinaigrette salad dressing - who knows what that is....probably the cheapest you can find
                            1 cup Mayonnaise, or to taste


                            I will work on getting some way for you to contact me

                            1. Another great sausage place is Meyer's in Elgin (I believe they have a website). Great sausage, not so much for other stuff. We thought Kruetz had the best brisket.

                              1. Jenny, here is how we do brisket in texas. I use a Meco water smoker with the electric
                                heater attachment. Rub brisket with salt, black pepper, red chilli. Place oak limbs on
                                electric element. Three pieces 10 inches long, 2 inches thick. Fruit wood also works
                                fine. Set automatic control for 190 degrees. This setting corresponds with the m in
                                warm on the temperature gage. I check this with one of the thermometers like chefs
                                use with a round dial on top. Cook for 16 hours with out opening the cooker.

                                1. Another displanted Texan here. I am still working on my brisket--pulled pork is much easier. I use a rub with chile powder in it, because I like it, and some cumin. My last one I smoked for about 16 hours. My temperature probe said the meat was to 195, but I actually think it needed a little longer. I used hardwood briquets and lots of mesquite. It was very smoky, but not quite as tender as what I was going for. I used a mop that was mostly vinegar. I don't mop my pulled pork, and I may try not mopping the beef next time. I cooked it on a rack over a drip pan, but I also may try setting it in a pan next time--it was a little dry. if that doesn't work, I would try try wrapping it in foil after many hours after that.

                                  I actually start the meat late at night-11 p or midnight. It works best for me. I have a big green egg (ceramic smoker/grill) and it retains heat so well I don't need to feed the fire.

                                  1. I havent ever done a brisket yet, but today, all the posts that I am reading, I am gonna do it this weekend.
                                    As far as potatoe salad, I usually just use potatoes, onion, carrots & eggs. I use mayo, mustard & sugar to taste. I like to take about a 1/3 of my boiled potatoes & mash them and then put back into everything else. Makes for real creamy & around here in Indiana, it is real close to Amish potatoe salad that you can get at the store.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: thecountryrose

                                      Carrots? I never heard of them in potato salad before. Cooked or raw?

                                      As far as brisket goes, all of woodburner's guidelines above are good ones. But don't be intimidated by the piece of meat; as long as you follow the one cardinal rule of LOW and SLOW, you'll end up with something that's quite tasty, whether or not it rises to the level of the great pit masters of Texas (a very high standard!)

                                      1. re: Bat Guano

                                        raw, i julianne them and it has the perfect crunch.

                                    2. V & V Sausage in Cistern, TX makes some of the best sausage in TX. This is the factory not a restaurant. http://vandvsausage.com/


                                      1. Jenny I am from Texas and grew up eating brisket from all over the hill country, backyards, ranches, cafes etc.I know live in South Carolina but in any case here is a link to little video I did http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wArp8...

                                        It explains how i prepare a brisket, smoke it, store it and cut it. In any case I have quit using the v-rack. My brisket is always moist. grin....

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: migosurf

                                          One tip I heard from a very knowledgeable Texan is that leaving the brisket in the smoker for more than 5-6 hours is ridiculous. It will not take any more smoke than that, and you're just wasting wood and driving yourself crazy. Smoke for 4-6 hours, than simply finish it in the oven for another ten hours or so.

                                          1. re: MarkC

                                            Brisket, like just about anything else, will continue to take on smoke, with all due respect for this person who happens to live in Texas. That's why people can end up with over-smoked meats. Finishing in the oven is perfectly acceptable and easier, as you suggest. With most home smokers, 3-4 hours of smoke is plenty for a brisket, so the oven doesn't take anything away from the final product.

                                        2. From Heidi - Spring, TX
                                          I can share a way to make it in an oven. It's super, I just cooked one yesterday! It's soooooooooooooo yummy!

                                          This is how I do it.
                                          Medium sized brisket. I keep all the fat on it. All I do is slice the fat diagonal both ways to get the smoke and spice in it. (It keeps it moist). I don't cut it off.
                                          I wash it with water, I put it in a big roaster oven (table top like for doing turkeys) I put outside so the heat stays outside!
                                          I preheat it at 350 for 20 minutes then turn it down to 250 degrees when you put the brisket in.
                                          Here are the spices I put on it:
                                          Bubba's Bar-B-Q Rub (I get it at a Texas store but you can get it from the company's own website) which is bubbasbarbqrub.com. Just tell them I sent ya, maybe they will send me a free bottle! (smile).
                                          I first pour vegetable oil all over the raw brisket, I pour all over Colin's Liquid Smoke (Original ONLY). I don't substitute any other brand you can also get it from their website. I pour on a lot cause it give it the "smoke" taste. then I add the the Bubba's Rub, Lawry's Salt, Pepper, Little Regular Salt, Garlic Powder and Onion Powder.

                                          Then I put it into the Roaster. With guidance from a friend at work "Jan", she said to put it on a four rolled pieces of foil to lift the meat off the bottom of the roasting pan. Then I add water on the bottom, just about a cup so that the oil doesn't burn. Then I set it at the 250 for about 5-7 hours until it's done. Make sure it's covered.

                                          I got my roaster for $29.00 at Wal-Mart several years ago. It's the best for roasting outside!

                                          I just did one yesterday. It's soooooooooooo good! Today, I am reheating it and having family over for dinner.

                                          Let me know how it turns out for you. It's great cold!

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: Heidi Johnson

                                            OH MY!!!???

                                            I'm betting some experienced Texas 'Qers will soon be offering their commenrs about your cooker device and method.

                                            Watch out below!!!

                                            1. re: Heidi Johnson

                                              While this may be delicious........it aint barbeque

                                              1. re: sdv231

                                                Liquid smoke??? NEVER!!! You can never duplicate the flavor of real smoke from real wood.

                                                Smoking a brisket is not as hard as some people make it sound. It doesn't take a lifetime to learn. Just stick to the basics, use quality ingredients, take your time and have fun.

                                                I will agree that you would not want to serve your first brisket at an important dinner without having something else prepared as a back up.

                                                Everyone has their own way of doing it, here's what works for me....

                                                The Brisket...choose a brisket between 8-12 lbs, bright red, with white fat and it should be fairly flexible not rigid.

                                                The Seasoning...Whether you choose a rub or a marinade it is all personal preference. I prefer a rub because it leaves the brisket with a nice crusty "bark." (fresh ground pepper, kosher salt, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder) Make the rub or marinade yourself in your kitchen. It will ensure that you have the freshest ingredients and also gives you a chance to add some ingredients of your own and create a "secret recipe." Apply the rub or marinade and let the brisket soak in all the flavor.

                                                Fire up the smoker... Start your fire with newspaper and a match. Never use lighter fluid because you dont want the brisket to taste like lighter fluid. Use lump charcoal or small peices of natural wood to get your fire going. Never use charcoal briquetts because they are made with glue and other additives that can alter the flavor of your brisket.

                                                Warm it up...Get your smoker to your desired temperature. Remember...BBQ is low and slow. Brisket should be cooked between 200 and 250 degrees farenheight. Get a good base of coals and you should be able to keep a constant temperature with fine adjustments here and there. Be aware that if it is cold or hot outside, the thermometer on the outside of your smoker may give you a false reading. Eventually you will know your smoker, it takes a little practice.

                                                Putting the brisket on...Let the brisket rest until it reaches room temperature before you put it on the pit. A frozen brisket can lower the temperature of the pit. Put it as far away from the heat source as you can. Put the point ( the thicker end) towards the heat and the flat (the thinner end) furthest from the heat. There is much debate about whether the fat side should be up or down. It has turned out great for me both ways so dont worry about it too much.

                                                Start smokin... Add chunks of wood to the fire box. Use wood that came from fruit bearing trees ie; oak, mesquite, pecan, apple ect. Some people think mesquite makes the meat taste bitter...thats because it got too much smoke and mesquite is a strong flavored smoke. Oak is more mild. It is ok too mix them. Again, have fun with it. About 4-6 hours is plenty of time for the meat to soak up the smokey flavor. Whether you chose to flip the brisket is up to you, I do.

                                                Smoke ring myth...You can have a delicously smoked brisket without a smoke ring. It all depends on the moisture content of your brisket whether you get a smoke ring or not. More moisture equals more smoke ring, don't sweat it.

                                                The Plateau...the brisket will reach a certain temperature around 160-170 degrees and stop rising for a while, not to worry, this is a good thing. At this point the tough connective tissues in the meat are breaking down, now its getting tender :) This could take a while, keep your temperature low and constant.

                                                Mopping...a mop is used to moisten and tenderise the brisket, never a bad idea.

                                                Wrap it... to avoid over smoking and drying out the brisket, double wrap the brisket in heavy duty aluminum foil after you have smoked it for 4-6 hours or your desired amount of smoke time. Form a 'boat" shape with the foil so that the juices wont leak out of the bottom and you can open it from the top to check the brisket.

                                                Be patient...keep it the heat low and wait until the brisket reaches between 185 and 200 degrees farenheight. At around 185 the brisket will be great for eating in slices. Up around 200 it will be able to be pulled apart. Idealy a slice of brisket should stretch a little when you pull it apart and then break.

                                                Let it rest...take the brisket off when you have reached your desired temperature and wrap it in towels (keeping it in the foil) and put it in an empty cooler for at least 30 minutes. This will allow the fat and juices to spread out and soak back in.

                                                Cutting...Use a sharp knife. Seperate the point from the flat by cutting along the flat where the point meets the flat. Cut the brisket against the grain. The grain are the lines you see in the meat, cut perpindicular to them. This will help with tenderness too. I dont trim the fat because it is my favorite part. If done right the fat will melt in your mouth.

                                                Serve..I like to pour the drippings from the foil boat into a bowl and use it as a dipping sauce. Its pure goodness! Good BBQ doesn't need BBQ sauce but if you must...choose wisely.

                                                1. re: GTOWN BBQ

                                                  Nice post.

                                                  I will concur that it's not as hard as people make it out to be. In fact, it's easy to make a good brisket. From there you can start to hone your skills and make great brisket.

                                                  FWIW, I put mine fat up. It may not make a difference but if there is a problem, I'd like the fat melting down through the meat.

                                                  The last one I did, which turned out amazing, I put it in a large cooler bag. It came off well before the time I needed it. It rested in the bag, double wrapped in AF for almost 4 hours. When I took it out, it was still very warm and when sliced it was very moist.


                                                  1. re: GTOWN BBQ

                                                    Yep, that's a mighty fine primer.

                                                    I wrestle with the moral dilemma of wrapping in foil, but I agree that it does produce tasty results.

                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                      I know some people think it's cheating. I know it's called a "Texas Crutch."

                                                      The thing is, I visited the Jack Daniels Distillery for a BBQ lunch a few years back. I was amazed at how good their pork was. I asked how they did it and they wrap theirs.
                                                      For a place that has about as prestigious a BBQ tournament as there is, for them to do it, to me, makes it okay.

                                                      There is also the fact that if I wrap it, I can then put it in the over since at that point, heat is heat. Then there is no more having to tend to the fire.

                                                      Also, it works and it works well. I'm more worried about the result, not how I got there.


                                                      1. re: Davwud

                                                        I don't dispute the results at all. As I said, it's a moral dilemma - like passing through a red light at an abandoned intersection in the middle of the night - no one gets hurt, no one need know, hell, you even get home faster . . . but, it still don't feel right.

                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                          So I'm immoral. Not the worst of my problems I guess....



                                                          1. re: Davwud

                                                            Indeed . . . ain't like I'm in a position to be casting any stones.

                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                              Thanks! When I saw the post about using liquid smoke and cooking it entirely in the roaster my heart sank. BBQ brisket is a true Texas tradition and I wanted to uphold that tradition by explaining how real Texans do it! Don't mess with Texas!

                                              2. I am from Texas and cook brisket all the time and would like to help clarify the confusion about wrapping with foil or not. This depends on the wood you are using to smoke with. Most Texans wrap in foil after 6 hours or so because most Texans use Mesquite to smoke with. Number one Mesquite burns very hot and number two the smoke is very strong. So if you smoke the whole time using Mesquite your brisket will become very smoky and bitter and pretty much taste like crap. If you are using Pecan or Apple to smoke with then it will not have to be wrapped at all and will taste fine because they are both cool burning woods and the smoke is not as harsh. I think Gtown gave you the perfect way to cook brisket and is pretty much the norm for anyone I know in Texas that makes a good brisket. The only thing I do different is I cook with the fat up for the first 6 hours then wrap in foil and cook 2 hours with fat up and then flip it and cook the rest of the time with fat down. This seems to keep the meet from setting in the fat that drips and pools in the bottom of the foil and makes the meat taste less fatty and greasy. But I don't like the fat some people do so it is your preference. They say if the heat is directly under the meat then you should cook fat down. I use an offset smoker so have never had to try.

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: jacalope22

                                                  I've been puzzled about the mystique of Mesquite smoking and grilling. Years ago I spent several days cooking over a wood fire in the Texas hill country. The smoke from that mesquite fire was particularly acrid. I was using deadwood from the surrounding forest.

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    Mesquite smoke is particurly strong and is best when used for grilling so that you don't get all of the smoke. It smokes fine you just have to be careful that you keep a hot fire and don't oversmoke with it because it will become bitter if too much smoke gets in the meat.

                                                  2. re: jacalope22

                                                    I was under the impression that Texans do not use mesquite because of the harshness of it. I was told it was a myth.


                                                    1. re: Davwud

                                                      I usually here about the places in/around Hill Country using oak.

                                                      1. re: tommy

                                                        I like to cook with Oak, it is just hard to find a lot of oak or people willing to let you cut down their oak trees.

                                                      2. re: Davwud

                                                        Well if you go to any big stretch of land in Texas like on most deer leases and such from Central Texas and All the way South Mesquite is the number one tree that grows so almost everyone I have met know in texas uses Mesquite because it is readily available and in most peoples backyard.

                                                        1. re: jacalope22

                                                          If I recall correctly Mesquite is scrubby tree with a hard brittle wood. So it is not good for much more than shade for cattle, firewood, and maybe fence posts.

                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                            Yeah pretty much that and cooking. It is also covered in thorns. It is almost like a giant bush. It cannot be used in fireplaces though so it doesn't make good firewood unless open fires. It burns too hot and will burn the bricks up in a fireplace.

                                                            1. re: jacalope22

                                                              I steer clear of it. I like hickory and particularly like apple.


                                                              1. re: Davwud

                                                                lately i've been doing hickory/apple/pecan (2 hrs each, with apple extending through to the end of pecan) and turning out nicely. mesquite is tricky, in small smokers it's best blended.

                                                    2. If you were in Central Texas, you were almost certainly eating Elgin hot sausage (pork) from Southside Market in Elgin, Texas.

                                                      Texas brisket is prepared with a rub. It is smoked at low temperature (around 200 degrees) for at least 12 hours especially if you are using a whole untrimmed brisket. Use a pan of water in the smoker to keep the meat moist.

                                                      Most people think Texans use mesquite but they use hickory. Keep at least some of the fat cap on. When serving the fat cap is removed and most of the rub is usually cut off but that is a preference. Some don't.

                                                      If you want to cheat a tiny bit, after 4-6 hours of smoking, you could transfer the brisket to a low oven for the rest of the time.

                                                      Texas bbq sauce is usually pretty sweet but some prefer a spicy sauce. Use the sauce at the table or the last 30 minutes. The sugar in it will burn if you use it sooner.

                                                      You can mail order Stubb's or Rudy's or Southside markets bbq sauce. You can probably find an acceptable recipe on line if you prefer making your own.

                                                      Oh the best barbecue in Texas is of course a source of argument but all agree that the Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas (about 20 miles out of Austin) is one of the best. The Salt Lick has been featured on many food network shows such as "The best thing I ever ate". It has been endorsed by Bobby Flay, Rachel Ray and Duff Goldman. If you are ever in Austin, make a point of checking the place out.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                        Not to start a fight or anything, but it's interesting you like Salt Lick... their sauce is a bit sweet to me. While I like their J&R Oylers in the back, I didnt care for their BBQ I found most places I've been to offer a more vinegary, less sweet sauce. Oh well...

                                                      2. Not to be the fly in the ointment here, and I love Texas brisket, but I live in Nashville and have a BBQ food truck. I would put my brisket up against any Texas brisket. I have been to Lockhart, Elgin, and Taylor (Louie Muellers). From Rudy's, to Franklins, to Salt Lick in Driftwood, I have tasted truly great brisket. But Texans eat at my truck and state "Man, are you from Texas?", along with "bestI ever had" comments.

                                                        I used to crutch mine years ago, and will still one in a pinch. Follow the cook tips, and use science, (the stall (155 degrees), the break (196 degrees), the rest (2 hrs or more), and you will get tender brisket. The rub I make is the difference. Most rubs you cannot taste, and mine enhances, not overpower. I would share, but it is a trade secret.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Vikinglord

                                                          Viking, I've been to the best central Texas joints, the best of Kansas City, and many throughout the Carolinas. I've yet to eat Memphis style 'Q. How does it differ from the above?

                                                        2. Jenny,

                                                          I too was intimidated by my first brisket, but I have to say, mine came out really, really well - and I've had the best that Central Texas offers. Not to say mine was that good, but it sure held its own. It's very doable.

                                                          My 2 cents:

                                                          -Get a brisket around 13 - 14 lbs.;
                                                          -Trim off the big hard pieces of fat, especially between the point and the flat, since they won't add anything but time;
                                                          -Inject it with plain, canned beef broth (not the low sodium stuff);
                                                          -Rub it very generously on all sides with Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

                                                          You most definitely need a good instant read digital thermometer, or a good keep-in thermometer that accurately register the meat's internal temp.

                                                          Shoot for an internal temperature of 200, but don't just go by temp for doneness. The probe should slide in and out like buttah.

                                                          Definitely let the meat rest for at least 45 minutes before slicing across the grain.

                                                          It's all about temp control. Keep the smoker between 225 - 250. And patience, grasshopper.

                                                          Take a look at this website, which is fantastic:


                                                          Good luck!

                                                          1. Ok you had to bump this thread up, didn't you LOL. Now I'm craving brisket. Must run to Costco for a packer now. I'm sure my husband won't complain, he hasn't smoked one in a few weeks.

                                                            1. My first time smoking a brisket. Followed Gtown's advice. Took a huge risk on doing this since I was making it for an Easter dinner.

                                                              Thanks for all y'all saying it's not as hard as it sounds because I almost chickened out and went with burgers instead. Not sure if it was beginners luck or what happened but man o man it was good.

                                                              The night before I put my favorite rub on it and put in zip bag. Next morning I covered it again in rub and let stand to room temp. I just went with slow and steady. Watched the grill temp around 200. Tin foil wrap when the meat got to about 170. Then took it off and wrapped in a towel and into a cooler for another hour.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Texastough

                                                                The towel likely tasted pretty good too.

                                                                1. re: porker

                                                                  Funny enough, I used the technique to save a giant smoked turkey breast, after mis-gauging the time it'd take to cook. When I pulled the 5 lb breast off the smoker at 155-160F, it was 3 hours before dinner. Wrapped it in foil, then towels, then into the cooler- 3 hours later, it was still nice and hot!

                                                                  Sometimes the difference between a home cook and a good home cook is knowing how to repair your own fuckups. :)

                                                                2. Depends what kind of smoker you are using. Brisket is best smoked with mesquite. I star my fire with mesquite charcoal and then put three or four pieces of mesquite on top after the coals are all white( about an hour) get the smoker up to 225 and place the brisket fat side up maintaining the fire with WET mesquite this adds smoke and helps maintain the 225 temp. I soak it overnight.
                                                                  Hope this helps