Tired of turkey for Thanksgiving? Are you looking to shake things up with another delicious protein that's an amazing alternative to the seasonal staple? A smoked brisket might be just what you're looking for. Make this Thanksgiving one to remember by changing the rules and making a unique dinner that's all your own. If you've wanted to learn more about BBQ brisket and how to prepare it for the big day, we've got everything you need to know right here. Make this year's holiday one to remember by starting a new family tradition.
What is Brisket?
Located on the cow's breast or lower chest, the brisket is a sizable cut of meat. It is one of the four primary barbecue meats and one of the nine primal cuts of beef. If you were to cook this cut like a typical steak, it would be a fairly tough cut of meat. However, it becomes incredibly tender and moist under just the right cooking conditions. Because brisket has a lot of connective tissue, it needs to be cooked for a long time at a low temperature to break down the tissue without overcooking the meat. Many consider brisket to be top tier among slowly cooked barbecue meats. When prepared correctly, it boasts an unrivaled taste and tenderness combination.
There are two distinct portions in a cut of brisket that one should be aware of before cooking it. The "point" is a thickly cut portion where the meat and fat are the densest. The "flat" consists primarily of meat and tissue and is commonly sold by itself. If you want something fatty, go for the point. If you prefer your meat to be leaner, get a flat cut. Both are delicious portions of meat but are ultimately suited for different tastes and preferences.
Similar to lean steak, brisket has a rich, delicious, beefy taste. It is similar to a fattier steak in that it is quite tender and filled with natural, rich, juicy flavor. If you choose to smoke brisket, you can also infuse it with other flavor accents of your choice.
Finding and Buying Brisket
Most butchers carry good cuts of brisket and will cut it to your specifications. Some supermarkets may carry brisket, but your chance of finding the perfect cut drops the smaller the market is. If you're looking for the perfect cut of brisket this Thanksgiving, Wholey has you covered. In addition to high-quality brisket, we have meats for just about any occasion. You can learn more about our fantastic meats by searching our website for brisket or any of your favorite cuts. We think you'll love the selection that we have to offer.
Keep in mind that the best cuts of brisket are firm to the touch. If the packaging looks like it is filled with excess liquid or the cut itself feels soft, find a better option elsewhere. The higher grade of cut you find, the better it will cook and taste.
Planning Your Brisket
Before you smoke your brisket, you'll want to pick the right rub. A very common rub is a combination of cayenne, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. If you salt your cut a day before you smoke it, in addition to seasoning, it will improve how the brisket cooks and help it maintain moisture. Feel free to experiment with your favorite herbs and spices. Did you know that there are brisket smoking competitions throughout the United States? If you're looking for some rub inspiration, do some research on past victors and try out their award-winning combinations. You can also find pre-made rubs that are available for sale at markets or online.
Keep in mind that a great brisket can take up to 12 hours to smoke properly, and larger briskets can take even longer. Be prepared for the time commitment; a brisket is worth the wait.
Preparing Your Brisket
Begin your brisket preparation by trimming the fat from your cut. It's best to leave about a quarter inch of fat. You can save the excess that you've removed for other meat dishes and ingredients, like burgers or lard. Brisket is often layered with silverskin, which is a shiny membrane that is tough to eat. You'll want to trim this thin layer, as well.
Separating your point and flat is optional. It is more traditional to leave them connected, but if you separate them, your flat will be easier to apply rub to and will cook more evenly. These portions can be cooked next to each other in your smoker.
Some choose to inject briskets with broth. It's a helpful practice, as the moisture keeps the meat from dehydrating. If you choose to salt it the night before, the brisket will better retain this moisture, which will produce a fantastic and flavorful result. Aim for one ounce of broth per pound of meat.
Now is the time to rub, but make sure that you've properly salted your brisket first. Note where the grain of the brisket runs before you rub. You'll know that once it's cooked later, so know how to cut it perpendicularly to the grain for the best result at the table. Slather every square inch of your cut with your chosen rub; you don't want to miss a spot. Make sure you get the rub into every nook and cranny! Briefly chill your cut before you cook, as chilled meat will attract more smoke.
Smoking Your Brisket
Your smoker should be running at about 225 degrees Fahrenheit. As you place your meat in your smoker, you might also want to include an oven temp probe next to it. Keeping track of the meat's temperature will be much easier with one. Place about 4 ounces of wood when you begin to smoke your meat, and 4 more every time the smoke starts to die down. After about three hours, you can turn your brisket. The ideal internal temperature for your brisket will be between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll know it's ready if you poke the brisket and it jiggles. As mentioned previously, this process can take 12 hours or more, depending on the size of the brisket.
Serving Your Brisket
Brisket dries quickly when it's cut, so it needs to reach someone's plate almost immediately after you've made the first incision. Cut around 3 centimeters from each end, then find the fat layer separating the flat and point. Cut there and trim excess fat. Slice against the grain and serve a cut of meat that's so premium that you and your guests will forget all about Thanksgiving turkey.