There are many ways to do a beef brisket, and none of them are fast. First thing you have to decide is if you are going to cook a full Packer brisket, or just the flat. I tend to go with the full brisket, and if I can find a USDA Prime brisket, I stock up. A full brisket will allow you to separate the point from the flat after cooking so you can turn the point into burnt ends.
Trimming the brisket is a science in itself. You don’t want to trim it of all the fat, but leave about 1/4″ on. Especially the white, fluffy fat, which will render nicely during your cook.
Next, you want to season the brisket. There are many commercial seasonings on the market and complicated recipes that use a dozen spices. The simplest, and most tasty solution, is one I picked up from Aaron Franklin in the Masters Series of videos. He uses equal amounts of salt and pepper. That’s it. This should produce a nice dark bark. When I serve it, people are beside themselves that it only has salt and pepper as a rub.
Did I mention cooking a brisket is not a quick ordeal? Mine will typically go 12-14 hours on the grill, before a 2-4 hour rest. Makes for a long day, or, you can cook overnight while trying to catch a few Zs between mops. One rule of thumb I’ve seen is about 1-1.25 hours/pound.
Set your smoker for 250. When placing your brisket on the grill, you must make a decision between fat up or fat down. People are as opinionated about this as they are Republicans or Democrats. I always go fat up. My theory is that the fat will render during the cook and permeate the meat. I actually experimented once with two flats, cooking one up and one down. The one I cooked fat up was much juicier and more tender than fat down.
Just let it go for the first 3 hours. No peaking. This is the critical time for the brisket to absorb smoke and create a bark. After 3 hours, I will spritz it with an equal mix of apple juice and apple cider vinegar. I do this every hour until wrapped.
At 165F, wrap the brisket in foil and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 198F. At that point, remove the brisket from the smoker. If you want to make burnt ends, cut off the point and see my recipe for burnt ends. Rewrap the flat in butcher paper nice and tight. Wrap it then in a blanket and place in a cooler to rest for 2-4 hours.
Your going to want to slice the brisket against the grain. It’s easy to figure out the flat, but the point gets tricky. Just like with rubs, there are a number of different ways to do it. Some get really anal about what they keep and what they toss while slicing, and how they do it. I just want to get the meat to the table so we can eat!