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May 9, 2011 09:13 PM

Smoking a small brisket and had some questions.

I bought a small brisket (6.5 pounds) because my dad and I would be eating it and had it cut in half. I think I'm gonna smoke it in our little weber grill using sme charcoal and hickory wood. I've had it seasoned and thawing and I'm wondering how long it should be smoked for since its smaller? I also plan on putting a pan in with water, but do you guys suggest any other liquids that I might want to use and that could be used as an ingredient for a sauce?

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  1. I would cook it at 225 for 12 hours or so with the fat cap on top. Beef brisket is very tough and needs to go low and slow with the fat basting it. They make corn beef and pastrami from that cut of meat. That gets tender by braising it. Being that you are using Weber kettle it’s going to be hard to keep really low for a long time. Maybe start it in the oven and finish it in the WK.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Woodfireguy

      Actually, do the opposite - smoke for as long as you can on the Weber, then finish in the oven at 300 wrapped in foil. You want the meat exposed to the smoke while it's still raw and wet on the exterior, as that's what will absorb the smoky flavors and form that delicious "bark" on the outside. After a few hours, it's not going to absorb any more smoke flavor, so you don't lose too much by finishing it in the oven. (When smoking my first brisket I couldn't get it tender enough, so I called the Kansas City BBQ Society Hotline - no joke! - and that's what they said to do. It worked great.)

      The key with brisket is you have to cook it low and slow with the fat on top until it will pull apart fairly easily (not falling apart on its own, but getting close). Any earlier and it'll be dry; you need all that connective tissue and fat in there to melt down to make it moist and tender. That takes a long time with brisket, longer than most other meats. I'd probably plan on at least 1.5 hours per pound, and finish in the oven if necessary.

      Make sure to use natural lump charcoal (not briquettes, since they have chemical binders and fillers in them that can give an off flavor when meat spends that long over them).

      1. re: monopod

        Agreed. Hey I'm a memeber of KCBS, I didn't know they have a hotline. Cool.

        I would skip the water/liquid. Its only use is as a heat sink. I will not add any moisture or flavor to the finished product. I've done briskets in a Weber kettle, Make a small fire on one side with lump, add your hickory on top. Only a chunk or two, any more and your meat can get bitter.

        Control your fire with the amount of fuel rather than closing the top vent. Leave that open for a clean burning fire.

        Good luck.

        1. re: monopod

          Hmm, already started it and used briquettes but I have a ton of hickory on top. Hopefully that will balance with the off tastes in some kind of way. The piece I used is probably about 3.5 pounds and I started at 10. Do you think I should take it off at around 4 or 5?

          1. re: 7speter

            briquettes are fine as long as you use the pure hardwood type, and avoid the bag light type as well.

          2. re: monopod

            Well, we disagree. I don’t wrap anything in foil until its done especially if you want the bark to taste like bark. I’m happy you like what you’re doing and that’s all that matters. For me, wrapping in foil during any part of the cooking process will only soften and steam the meat or bark. I don’t know of any competition BBQ-er that would cook brisket over 225, but I could be wrong.

            1. re: Woodfireguy

              I've tried using foil for brisket and I don't really care for it.

              The last few competitions I've done there were more and more teams that cooked their barbecue at high temperatures. Like 400 or more. One guy told me, "A brisket is a big steak, we cook it like a big steak.". They won Grand Champion the week before so......

              I'm still a low and slow guy however.

              1. re: chileheadmike

                Did you get a chance to taste the brisket that was cooked at 400? I’m with you, low and slow. I just can’t get my head around 400 for brisket

                1. re: Woodfireguy

                  Yes. Good stuff. I'm too old and too ornery to change though.

        2. Brisket it done when it's done. 1-1.5 per pound at 225. When it hits 160 internal, wrap it in brown butcher paper (3 layers thick) and put it back on the smoker until it's 195 internal. Pull it, put it in an ice chest wrapped in old towels. Let it rest for at least an hour.

          The paper won't burn (flash point is 451) but it'll get greasy as hell. Unlike foil, the paper will let steam escape so your bark will still be crusty but it will turn out much more juicy than if wrapped in foil. This is the roughly the method used by the best BBQ joint in America - Franklin BBQ in Austin.

          7 Replies
          1. re: achtungpv

            Hmm, I don't have any butcher paper, nor do I know any place that sells it locally

            1. re: 7speter

              You can do foil and it'll turn out good but the bark just won't be awe inducing.

              1. re: Woodfireguy

                I just got home (had my dad watch it as I took an exam today). I was a bit afraid, but I cut two pieces off and I'm impressed/satisfied. The top had a bark, but the bottom didn't, probably because there was a pan with water under it. The meat as amazingly tender, but it didn't have that super red luster that I've seen on pictures online. Otherwise, I'm very happy with my first effort.

                1. re: 7speter

                  Great.....that's all that counts. I think your right in that water steamed the bottom.

                  1. re: 7speter

                    To help get the red smoke ring, make sure you have rub on the brisket a day ahead of time and in the fridge. Salt and time help the smoke ring develop. Also, try putting the brisket on the smoker straight from the fridge when it's still very cold and before the smoker is up to temp. Make sure you have a couple of chunks of smoking wood (oak, mesquite, etc) smoking on top of the lump. Doing this cold smoke at the beginning seems to create better smoke rings for me. Anytime I've let the smoker get to temp first or let the brisket warm up a bit on the counter, I've had little to no ring. Dunno the science behind it but that works for me every time.

                    1. re: achtungpv

                      Ah... I didn't put too much salt onto the brisket because I was afraid that it might dry out the meat. I also let the grill heat up and didn't light the wood chunks I had separately from the charcoal (I put them on top of the burning briquettes). I will have to try this all next time.