How to BBQ Brisket
With a fat layer that does not render easily and has a tendency to go bitter, brisket can be a tough piece of meat to barbecue. However, succulent barbecued briskets are not part of someone’s imagination, they are very much real - I will show how to prepare perfect BBQ briskets.
Selecting the right piece of Brisket: Like any other meat, how well your barbecued brisket tastes will depend on the meat you select. While choosing briskets, bigger is definitely not better. Larger chunks of the meat come from older cows and hence more tough. Go for a meat cut from a medium size cow, this piece of meat would weigh around 8 to 10 lbs. See to it that the brisket is fresh, pliable, slender, and has consistent fat marbling.
Trimming: Trimming is an important step in preparing a brisket for barbecuing. The top meaty part of the brisket is usually lined with hard fat streaks - cut these out. You will also observe a diagonal strip of fat that runs across the meat; this is the fat layer that separates the 2 muscle pieces of the brisket. You need to trim out as much of this fat layer as possible, usually one might need to cut 2” deep. Trim the fat layer on the fat cap side to around ¼ inch thickness.
Seasoning the Brisket: After trimming off all the hardened fat and excess fat from the brisket, pat dry the meat, and brush it with mustard and lemon. This will prevent the meat from drying up, enhance its flavor, allow the dry rub to stick to the brisket, and tenderize the meat. Now spread the dry rub over the meat. A mixture of 2 tsp salt, 2 tbsp pepper, 2 tsp paprika for every 5 lbs of brisket makes a good rub. Cover and allow the brisket to rest for an hour, this will allow the flavors to penetrate the meat. Your brisket is now ready to be cooked.
Barbecuing briskets: Like all tough meats, briskets are cooked over indirect heat. Since briskets are spongy; they tend to absorb a lot of smoke and turn bitter. Hence, it is recommended to use a charcoal grill instead of whole logs, this reduces the amount of smoke produced. Place the brisket with the fat layer up, this will allow the fat to render and coat the entire meat. The temperature of the grill must be constantly maintained between 200oF to 225oF – anything lower will not cook the meat well, and anything above 225oF will burn the brisket. Some people prefer to wrap their briskets in foil during the cooking process. This helps prevent the brisket from soaking in too much smoke and also makes the brisket more tender, however you run the risk of ending up with a mushy meat. Use your discretion if want to follow this step.
A 5lbs brisket would take anything between 8 hrs- 10 hrs to cook. However, the cooking time can vary depending of the size, shape, and cut of the meat. To check if cooked, press thumb into side of brisket. If meat feels spongy, it is ready to be cut and served.
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