Perfecting the Art of Smoked Brisket

I’ve heard about brisket.

I’ve been eating all of my life and I have never eaten brisket. Or, if I have, it was called something else.

After reading this I now know what it is and how to smoke it. We have a smoker and it sounds wounderful.

The next step, of course, is to find out if I can get brisket in France. Beef is cut differently here so one never knows. (no flank steak….)

I googled.

Yes, it is possible to get brisket here in France. It’s called poitrine.

I’ve seen poitrine in the supermarkets: in thick slabs like sliced bacon….

This will need further research and perhaps a discussion with Steve the Butcher.

However – we have a smoker and I’m going to do this when the weather warms.

Read on for inspiration:

There is no denying that smoking brisket can be a pretty intimidating task. To begin with, you are working with a considerable chunk of meat. Furthermore, cooking this particular cut can take some time. There’s no need to worry, though. Below, you will find all the tips and tricks that you need to get this just right:

Choose Your Brisket Carefully

The key to perfectly smoked brisket is choosing the right cut. As Brent Young, advisor to the notes, you have two options – either the flat or the point cut. Now, the flat tends to be the more popular option as there is more lean meat and, as such, more to enjoy.

This doesn’t mean that fat is all bad, though. What the point lacks in meat, it makes up for in flavor. If you don’t want to choose between the two, you can go ahead and choose a full packer brisket. Be warned, though, these can be pretty big which brings you to the second point…

Start with a Smaller Cut

Briskets can be sold in cuts as large as twenty pounds! These can easily feed dozens of people, however. You are far better off with a smaller cut, particularly if you are smoking this meat for the first time. A larger cut may need to be smoked for up to 12 hours at a time and you don’t need this hassle with a trial run. Instead, select just enough meat for your family – about pound of raw brisket per person should do.

Keep Your Dry Rub Simple

It can be tempting to add as many ingredients to your brisket as possible, but resist the urge. At the end of the day, you need the smoky flavor from the smoker and natural juices and flavors of the meat to shine through. This is why it is best to stick to just a rub made from kosher salt and pepper with a ratio of 1:1.

If you feel like you have to get fancier, then you can add in some brown sugar, garlic powder, and paprika. It is a good idea to keep it simple for your first time and then to gradually build up the recipe with later tries.

Low and Slow is the Way to Go

When smoking brisket, it is best to stick to a temperature between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, this does mean that the brisket takes longer to cook. At the same time, it also preserves the juiciness of the meat and prevents it from drying out.

Monitor the Internal Temperature

Don’t time the cook when smoking brisket and instead, pay attention to the internal temperature. According to Kristy Norton chef and contributor to, brisket is done when it registers an internal temp of between 195 and 203 degrees Fahrenheit. As the meat continues to cook after it’s removed from the heat, it is best to take it off before it hits the 200 degree mark.

Wrap Your Brisket

One of the reasons that brisket can take so long to cook is because it can hit something known as a stall. This is a point during the smoking process where the meat ceases to cook for several hours at a time. Fortunately, this can be overcome by wrapping the meat.

Once the brisket hits around 165 degrees Fahrenheit, tightly wrap it in butcher paper. Then, place it back in the smoker until it is done. This method has the added bonus of keeping the meat nice and juicy.

Rest Your Brisket

Last, but certainly not least, let your brisket rest once it has been taken out of the smoker. Unwrap the meat and place it on a cutting board. Then, let it sit for around two hours – an hour at least.  This gives the meat the opportunity to absorb any moisture that has been expelled during the cooking process, leaving the meat moist.

These are the top guidelines to follow when smoking brisket. It can sound overwhelming and demanding but once you try it for the first time, you will realize that you are a lot more capable of making brisket than you thought!

4 thoughts on “Perfecting the Art of Smoked Brisket”

  1. I actually follow HeyGrillHey and AmazingRibs. Probably two of the very best sites for smoking and BBQ on the web. We have a CampChef smoker and while I’ve smoked just about anything you can including a prime rib I wasn’t completely thrilled with (but live and learn) I haven’t tried brisket yet. I’ve eaten a lot of it, but haven’t smoked it. So far, I think I like the pork butt roast the best but it was a rather large one and we left it on for 15 hours. It was amazing! And we got six dinners out of it so it was very worth it. Brisket here has always been very expensive though which is part of the reason we haven’t done it yet. Almost $15 a pound but since everything is over $8 a pound now including ground chuck, I might have to break down this spring and just buy one. 🙂

    • Ours is an old smoker we brought with us 25 years ago – but it works and we like it. Not something one sees here. I think Europe is about 20 years behind on barbecue cooking. In Spain they cook outside – but on slate tiles over wood fires
      As to the brisket – we’ll talk to Steve lol

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