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Feb 18, 2012 07:22 PM

Best advice for a novice smoker?

I really want to smoke some brisket. I've never smoked anything before. If I were to read one set of instructions and recipe on this, who should I read? Raichlen? Cooks Illustrated? Someone else?

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  1. Go here
    do a site search for 'brisket'

    Site is the best for bbq & smoking info

    3 Replies
    1. re: subal

      I used this site extensively as I bought a smoker last year and didn't know much about smoking. Not sure what kind of smoker you have (I have a Weber Smoky Mountain) but this site and the one suggested by cameraman are extremely valuable.

      If you are looking for a cookbook to add to your BBQ/smoking reference, I suggest Smoke and Spice by the Jamiesons.

      1. re: subal


        I am a regular reader and poster on TVWBB as well. Though my advice would be to do pulled pork before you tackle a brisket. It's a very forgiving meat, which will allow you to learn the ins and outs of your cooker and still turn out good product. Brisket is very difficult, and it would be a good idea to build your skill set with an easier-to-cook meat.

        1. re: bagofwater

          That is excellent advice, bagofwater. I would suggest breaking in the smoker with a couple of whole chickens, perhaps the pork shoulder as you suggest, and graduate to ribs then brisket.

          The trick to smoking is understanding the equipment being used, how hot it gets, how quickly, how quickly it cools down, how much venting you need, etc. Then, getting to understand how different meats and cuts react.

          Learn the equipment, learn the meats. Once you figure that out, the recipes and rubs and so on are really just a matter of taste, but that can take time.

          Oh but brisket IS the best BBQ!

      2. is an incredible barbecue forum. One of it's most active members is an unusual pit-master from Texas who may be the leading source of brisket wisdom. This is a link to his introduction to brisket. Be warned this is no straight forward post. It is an experience. It helps if you like Prince.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Cameraman

          BBQ Brethren is a good place to start. Serious BBQ (by Adam Perry Lang) and Smoke & Spice (Jamisons) are both excellent books.

          The real trick with smoking a brisket is having control of the fire in your smoker. This is more practice than anything. Your smoker will be different from mine, and the weather outside determines the size of the fire (in the winter in Massachusetts, I put a pretty big fire in my smoker to keep the smoker at 200F).

          Practice, practice, practice!

        2. Stay far far away from Cooks Illustrated for bbq and smoking instruction. They do most of the cooking in the oven. What are you smoking with?

          2 Replies
          1. re: rasputina

            As much as I love CI for most other things, I couldn't agree more about their take on bbq and smoking. They FAKE it in the oven!

            1. re: rasputina

              Nonsense. Cooks Illustrated simply explains the science behind smoking and provides the home cook with reasonable alternatives to traditional smoking for the home cook. Many cooks have neither the time or the equipment to perform long term smoking.

              FWIW, the amount of pseudo-science, witchcraft and flat out foodie elistism associated with smoking/Southern BBQ can get pretty comical... and yes, I do smoke the old fashioned way, and I've actuall tried CI's version and they do a decent job. Thus, do not dismiss something that you haven't tried.

            2. This is the most comprehensive explanation of how to properly prepare a Texas-Style brisket I have seen ...

              1 Reply
              1. re: hawkeyeui93

                Great site. I usually by American Wagyu brisket (surprisingly, not much more expensive than Prime), but because it has SO much fat (the fat layer between the point and the flat can be 3-4 inches thick), I separate the point and flat before smoking and trim out much of the fat.

              2. Here is a good site for all things Texas cooking.