Meat lovers all over the country would agree that in the land of barbecue, not all are created equal. A piece of slow-smoked beef brisket is what you’ll be craving for if you want meat flavour at its best. The process of slow smoking the meat for hours breaks down the connective tissue of this tough cut from the chest area of a steer, transforming it into a buttery and candy-like eating experience. The perfect bite of brisket should have a crunchy surface and be soft and juicy on the inside with a smoky flavour shining through all textures.
Having devoured this delicacy at the gourmet grill so many times, why not take your own barbecue game up a level and try smoking this lovely piece of meat heaven yourself?
Indeed, it takes practice and patience to smoke a melt-in-your-mouth brisket, but oh let me tell you it’s all worth the wait. So let me guide you through the steps of creating the perfect treat for your taste buds.
Start off with choosing the firewood you’ll be using for your barbecue. Smoking meat means heat and flavour, so picking the right piece of firewood is essential. Premium firewood like vintage ironbark firewood will end you up with a perfect brisket, as does a combination of flavoured fruitwood.
Choosing hardwood for your brisket will give you the ideal embers to smoke your brisket over since it retains heat much longer and less volume is needed to sustain the low fire. Softwood would just burn to ash and is more likely to give away lots of smoke.
After having chosen your firewood, the next thing you do is, go to your local butcher and buy your brisket. If this is your first attempt to become a gourmet pit master a cut weighing between 3.5-4.5kg is your best choice. Get anything smaller than the above, and you will run the risk of your brisket drying out quickly due to its shorter cooking time.
Keep in mind that when cooking at approximately 225-250f, the estimated time for your brisket to be correctly done is about 3-3.5 hours per kg. Also be aware that a brisket should rest for at least one hour before indulging.
Now that you’re back home with your freshly purchased piece of meat take a look at it and get to know your brisket. A brisket consists of two parts, the so-called point, the fatty region, and the flat, the thinner and less fatty part.
The first thing you do is trim the fat cap on the top of your brisket carefully down to an even coat of around 6-8mm. Not only will the fat help shield much of the brisket from drying, within the cooking process the fat juices are absorbed into the meat making it tender and delicious. The coat also provides a surface for the crunchy exterior called bark that occurs, when meat is roasted or seared over smoke.
Don’t go crazy about the rub. You don’t want anything to distract your taste buds from, so no need for a secret rub. A lot of grill masters only go for a 50/50 mixture of salt and pepper; maybe you want to add a little garlic to enhance the flavour.
When the smoker is ready, and the coals have burnt down, place the grill rack in position and 2 or 3 of your firewood logs on the ember.
When the hardwood chunks start to smoke, place the brisket fat side up on the grill. Maintain the temperature steady between 225-250f by adding firewood and coal as needed. On average most briskets are ready at the approximate temperature between 195-203f, and you should be able to insert the meat thermometer easily. Once your brisket is done, take it off the grill and decide if you want to take your skills up another notch and even make burnt ends.
If you do, cut off the point from the flat and into 2.5cm cubes, soak the pieces with your favourite barbecue sauce, place them back on the grill and let them turn into these concentrated flavour bombs of crunch, tenderness, and fat. While the burnt ends are in the making, wrap your brisket in foil and give it a proper rest for at least one hour at room temperature to allow the juices and flavours be re-absorbed before slicing it against the grain using a ham knife.
Now you’re done. It wasn’t that hard, was it? Crack another bottle and call your friends. After all, a brisket should not be celebrated alone.