If you’ve been reading my recent posts on slow smoking using a gas grill, it may seem like I’m stuck on this subject, but I really do think that you can enjoy “real” slow cooked, smoky, savory barbeque…even if you’re cooking with gas.
We’ve already talked about pork shoulders, so let’s take a look at other big gun of old-fashioned bbq…the brisket.
Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of the cow (its pecs, in other words). Since cows don’t have collar bones, these muscles support about 60% of the body weight of standing/moving cattle. In fact, the name brisket comes from the earlier Old Norse brjósk, meaning cartilage…so…yeah, it’s a tough piece of meat.
Like many other great foods, brisket started out as a cheap and unpopular cut that was sold to the “poor folk” who couldn’t afford the “prime cuts.”
As usual, they then turned it into something so dang good, that the rich folk have been buying it back from them ever since.
If you watch as much food television as I do, you’ve probably gotten the idea that you have to have a hundred year old brick pit, a big ‘ol pile of red oak logs, and a couple of threadbare pairs of overalls to get the flavor of “real bbq.”
Here’s how to make amazing, melt in your mouth, smoky-heaven brisket with the gear you’ve probably already got in your own back yard.
Overalls are optional.
Smoked Brisket on a Gas Grill
- 1 packer brisket (6-8lb)
- ½ cup coarse sea salt
- ½ cup coarse black pepper
Rub the brisket with salt & pepper. Set it aside for a few minutes and rub again over any wet spots. This makes the “bark” of the finished brisket. Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge for 12-24 hours.
Take the brisket out of fridge and let sit 60 minutes to bring the temp up.
You want indirect heat for cooking, and you can easily do this on a conventional gas grill. Just keep the meat as far from the heat source as possible, as it’ll burn during the long cooking time, otherwise.
Put the brisket on the “cool side” of the grill, and place a disposable pan underneath it to catch the drippings. For brisket, I like to use oak chips, soaked, for smoking. Add 1/2 cup of chips to a disposable tin pan, or wood chip box, over the “hot” side of your grill, every 30 minutes for the first 3 hours.
If you don’t trust your on-board thermometer, get a cheap instant read, or better, a digital probe, and stick the probe all the way through a halved potato. Set the potato cut-side down on the “cool side” of the grill. (The potato keeps your thermometer off the grates.)
I like to smoke my briskets in the 240°F range at 1 hour per pound.
At the halfway point, when the brisket has reached an internal temperature of about 150°F, pull your brisket off the grill, wrap tight in a double layer of heavy-duty foil and put it back on the grill (or in the oven,) and continue cooking at a temp of 225F.
Once the brisket has reached an internal temp of about 195°F, take it out of the oven, being careful not to puncture the foil. Wrap the whole kaboodle in a big towel, put it in cooler, close the lid, and let ‘er rest for another 2 to 3 hours.
Resting allows the meat to relax and reabsorb its own juices back into the muscle fibers, as they cool. This means that the whole cut is going to stay moist. Tenting the meat loosely in foil, keeps the surface temperature from dropping too much faster than the internal temp, which can lead to drying, as well.
But Perry, (you might ask)…what if my gas grill just isn’t big enough to create an “indirect” cooking area for a big ‘ol beef brisket?
As my late father, Chef Frank Perkins, might have said, when faced with a cooking dilemma, “When in doubt…cheat.”
Here’s what you do:
Pre-heat your grill to high heat, and your oven to 250F. Allow brisket to come to room temp (about an hour), remove from plastic, pat dry, and rub generously with salt and pepper. Add your wood chip box, directly on your gas jets, filled with pre-soaked oak chips, and let ‘er start smoking, the drop the heat to medium. Place your brisket over the fire and sear, on all sides, until beginning to char, the drop heat to low for about an hour. Add woods chips as needed, to keep a steady smoke.
Remove brisket to deep sheet pan, fat-cap down.
Roast brisket in the oven, uncovered, 12-14 hours. At 7 hours, begin flipping and basting every two hours until internal temp reaches 160F in the flat end. Remove from oven, de-fat the juices, and mix 1/2 cup of de-fatted broth with 1/2 cup of bbq sauce (optional), reserving the rest of the broth.
Place the brisket fat-side down on a double layer of foil (large enough to wrap the whole brisket) pour the broth/sauce mixture over the meat (get it all covered!) and wrap the whole brisket tightly in foil. Place it back in the pan, fat side up, and return to oven. Roast to an internal temp of 190F (a couple more hours).
Remove foiled brisket from oven (and pan) and wrap in heavy towels. Place on the counter, or (better) in a cooler, and allow to rest for a least an hour.
If you do finish your brisket in the oven, or wrapped in foil in the smoker, read on…
I was smoking a couple of briskets, and making a batch of our infamous brisket beans for a get-together and, after prepping the beans, I realized that I had a half-a-dozen sweet onions left over.
In an inspired moment, I sliced the onions into 1/2 inch rounds and covered the bottom of a full steam pan with them.
Next I added a handful of whole garlic cloves (peeled), and finally, placed my smoked brisket on top of it all to finish in the oven its remaining hours.
When the brisket was done, and ready for resting, I moved it to the cooler and there, beneath that beautiful piece of meat, was a layer of smoky, beefy caramelized onions and roasted garlic, soaking in a bath of brisket broth.
I defatted this elixir, added the onions back in, and served these with the brisket’s burnt ends on halved potato rolls, with a little extra sauce. People freaked out!
Not only did this make an amazing slider topping, but the onions and garlic flavor subtly permeated the brisket to add an amazing depth of flavor. It was a great addition to the brisket beans, as well!
Just one of those “I wonder what would happen” moments that will now be a permanent part of the recipe!
Perry Perkins is a Grilling is Happiness sponsored writer.