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Smoking a Kosher Brisket

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Hey Y'all,

My second-night seder is Southern-Themed, and since I've been having fun with a smoker for the last year I thought I'd do a Texas-style smoked brisket. The problem is this: virtually all recipes for smoked brisket are for the huge, non-kosher cut, with a ton of fat that keeps the brisket moist while it smokes.

I'm terrified that my kosher briskets will turn out dry or tough! I'm not sure what to do. One suggestion for keeping a less-than-fatty brisket moist and tender is to brine it for a day first - but since it's a kosher brisket, I don't know if that would make a significant impact or not. Another suggestion is that I could smoke it then finish it covered in foil in an oven, but I've heard that doesn't impart a really smoky flavor.

Anyone have experience with this or suggestions?

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  1. "The problem is this: virtually all recipes for smoked brisket are for the huge, non-kosher cut, with a ton of fat that keeps the brisket moist while it smokes."

    There's nothing not Kosher about a whole brisket (point + flat). As for smoking and finishing in the oven, I do that pretty often (today included).

    A brined brisket = corned beef, but to get to that point you'd need to soak it for a week or two. The brisket is dense enough where an overnight brine barely penetrates the meat.
    About an hour per pound in the smoker and then an additional 1/2 hour per pound in a very tightly sealed pan in the oven.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      I guess I should have clarified - I'm using a prepackaged kosher brisket without the fat, it's only a few pounds. I'm guessing it's the "flat" part of the brisket?

      1. re: armchairshrink

        Baste it with kosher suet (or schmaltz if that's easier to find).

        1. re: fiddlr40

          I smoke brisket often and. like ferret, I sometimes do a short smoke and finish in the oven. When I'm really pressed for time I do something which would cause purists to impound my smoker- I gently boil it for an hour. Then I smoke it for about 2 hours, slice it and finish for another half hour or so in a covered bake pan with bbq sauce poured over it. (My only defense is that I didn't make this one up, it's in the old Jeff Smith Frugal Gourmet cookbook.) A happy and kosher Pesah to all!

          1. re: lawmann

            You can also revive a dry brisket by boiling after-the-fact. Certainly sub-optimal, but it can be a lifesaver (if you have a setup where you can steam it, then steaming is better than boiling, but boiling - simmering, actually - will work)

            1. re: lawmann

              It's funny, because I'd considered boiling it beforehand and couldn't find anything online to back me up.

              Too late now, the briskets are in the smoker, but I brined them overnight, have a pan of steaming water/cider underneath, and a mopping sauce. Hopefully this will keep it moist!

      2. If you've already purchased the brisket, I guess you gotta work with it. If not, wagyu is good, or purchasing a whole packer cut with fat cap (Alle USDA Choice is good). The problem with kosher brisket is not necessarily the lack of a fat cap, but the lack of internal fat from marbeling, since most kosher beef is ungraded. Water (and that includes brining) means very little in terms of moist, tender meat, since it is actually the fat that makes meat taste moist. In most smokers, the heat source is below the meat, so you'd want to put the fattiest meat face down. Then, if you can come up with extra fat to put on the top, that's a good way to start- not so much that it keeps the smoke from getting to the meat, but maybe half covered in strips. Then, to keep the meat from gettin tough, you will probably need to put it in foil for at least a little while. I've been experimenting with Uruguay meat, even their grain fed, and that's the only way to get it tender. Unfortunately, at that point, it can still have a dry texture, especially the flat. What you should try to do is get point (second cut), which has more internal fat, but also more collagen, which also adds to the moistness, when it melts. I'm a pro at this. Right now, my supplier's Uruguayan beef was the only one that came in when his American meat had sold out for Pesach, and his Wagyu was not even scheduled until afterwards. While I'm closed for Pesach, I needed some brisket the week before, so I'm in the same boat as you, basically, except mine is well trimmed ungraded whole packer cut brisket. It's not nearly as good, but it works in a pinch.