THE SECRET TO A PERFECT, TENDER BRISKET

  • Apr 15, 2019
  • Mary Cressler and Sean Martin from Vindulge

In the barbecue world, brisket reigns king. When chatting with our readers, the same question tends to arise...What is the secret to that perfect tender brisket? Our response focuses less on a recipe, and more on technique. And no matter how much you practice the technique; it all starts with quality meat like Mishima Reserve.

The Cut
The brisket is a pectoral muscle on the front of the cow which gets a lot of use when the cattle moves around, so there is a lot of intra-muscular fat. Brisket has two components, the point and the flat separated by a large pocket of fat. When still together those two muscles make a “packer” brisket versus the store where you often see just the flat. The flat is a leaner cut, and the point is much more marbled. The marbling and breeding quality of Mishima Reserve American Wagyu Beef is the perfect combo for an incredible cut that will do well low and slow in your smoker.

Trimming
Don’t be afraid to remove fat. When smoking, the airflow and smoke circulating around the brisket is what connects the smoke to the meat, giving that flavor. Too much fat, and you won’t penetrate smoke flavor to the meat itself. It is not uncommon on a 12 to 14-pound brisket to remove up to 4 pounds of fat.  If you consider two sides to a brisket, a fat cap sits atop the point, and on the other side the flat will have some silver skin. Remove all the silver skin and small bits of fat from the flat. On the point, trim most of the fat cap. That fat won’t render out over a long cook, so trim back most of it, leaving roughly a ¼ inch layer of fat on the point. To even out the side, trim back ½ inch so the fat is removed and more of the meat is exposed.

Seasoning
We season the day before we smoke, but recommend a minimum of four hours. Consider a simple seasoning for brisket to let the beef flavor shine. We recommend equal parts kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and granulated garlic. Be liberal when applying a rub. The rub will actually help in creating that bark, or dark crust, the brisket develops over the cook as the air and smoke flow around it. Just when you think you added enough, consider adding a little bit more. Remember this thing will be sitting in a smoker for at least eight hours. We will use a cup or more of rub for a 12 to 14-pound brisket.

Smoking
We cook our brisket at 250 degrees Fahrenheit (F) using cherry or apple wood from the Northwest. This temperature will break down the connective tissue, rendering some of the intramuscular fat, which in turn keeps the tenderness, and juicy flavor. That is why it is so important to use a brisket cut of the highest quality like Mishima Reserve American Wagyu Beef. 

Wrapping
After five or six hours of smoking and looking at the color, the brisket has typically darkened and you see that bark form. The internal temperature is typically around 165 degrees F. This is when we use peach butcher paper to wrap the brisket and let it finish. And if you don't have butcher paper on hand, foil works just fine. This is also when to consider doing burnt ends. Separate the point from the flat, wrap the flat, and cut the point into cubes for burnt ends, place cubes into a pan with sauce, and place back into smoker with wrapped flat. For a full packer, wrap the whole thing tight and put right back into the smoker. Visit our blog for more information on how to make the ultimate brisket burnt ends.

The Finish
After the wrap, wait for the stall to kick in. As the brisket temperature increases, rendering fat and the heat balance each other out, actually cooling the brisket and preventing the internal temperature to rise, like sweating. This is normal when you see incremental increases in the internal temperature for a couple of hours. It will pass as internal temperature of the rendering fat begins to equalize. Once the stall is done, you will see a much more rapid increase in temperature. When the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F, that is when to start checking if done. Using an instant read thermometer – probe the brisket in the flat and the point, look to see how easily the probe inserts into the meat. It should almost feel like inserting the probe into butter. This can happen anywhere from 190 to 205 degrees which is why it is important to check the temperature starting at 190 for that feel. Remember no two briskets are ever the same.

Resting
Rest that brisket. Keep it wrapped and place in a cooler with no ice for at least an hour. The resting period is important to slowly let the temp come down, and let all that moisture from the brisket get reabsorbed into the cells. Cut into the brisket too soon and it will be tough and potentially dry, even if you pulled at the correct temperature.

Pop open a nice Washington State rosé wine, which is a great pairing with brisket, grab a brisket from Mishima Reserve, and get cooking! Practice is the only way to master brisket, why not buy two? Want to learn more? Come on over to Vindulge and visit. And tag us in your photos, we want to see your cooks!
 

About Vindulge: Vindulge is an award-winning wood fired food and wine blog based in Portland, Ore. Founded by Mary Cressler in 2009. With hundreds of recipes and videos, Vindulge seeks to educate and make the outdoor wood-fired cooking experience fun and easy. You can find Mary and her husband Sean chasing their twins around town, and occasionally a few wineries. You can follow along at www.vindulge.com