- 12 pounds all-natural beef brisket, trimmed of excess fat
- ¼ cup paprika
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
Thomas Boemer: For the meat, you want to get as close to prime grade as possible. And look for beef that has never been treated with hormones or antibiotics.
The night before smoking, mix the spices together and spread evenly over the brisket. Refrigerate the brisket overnight, uncovered, on a wire resting rack over a sheet pan. Plan ahead for 11–14 total hours of cooking time before serving.
TB: You want to use wood. In true barbecue form, you’d burn down wood in a fire pit and transfer the coals to the firebox or Green Egg. I use hickory or oak, or a blend of each. Burn the wood down to coals, chop them into smaller chunks if you need to, and add them as needed.
Early in the morning, heat your smoker to 350°F, making sure there’s no direct heat on the brisket, and smoke the brisket for about two hours.
TB: You’re trying to get the outside hot as quick as you can, to get the internal temperature to where you’re breaking down the connective tissue. Then it can just coast at a lower temperature after that.
Drop the temperature of the smoker to 300°F for the next four hours, or until the meat reaches about 150°F.
TB: When you smoke brisket or shoulder, it climbs up to about 150°F at a steady, predictable rate. But then what happens is called “the stall”—the meat starts to lose moisture and the evaporation stops the temperature from rising. It might only go up 10 degrees in two or three hours. Some people wrap their brisket in foil with beer or apple cider to push through the stall. I don’t like that, because you lose the crispy bark—and that’s a very precious thing.
Turn the smoker down to 275°F and cook until you feel a loose jiggle in the brisket (or until it reaches an internal temperature of roughly 200°F). This step may take 3–6 hours, depending on the size of the brisket.
TB: It’s all about that jiggle. That’s the most important thing when you look for doneness, that signature jiggle. There’s a certain amount of relaxing the meat does. You’ll poke one side and it’ll go from tipping back and forth like a rock, to jiggling like a Jello mold. I pull out brisket at 204°F. Someone once told me that’s the temperature to look for, and I’ve done that ever since. It just works.
Finally, let it rest for two hours in a 140°F environment before slicing into it. (If you leave it in your smoker, turn off the smoker and shut all the vents, killing the fire.) Make sure to slice against the grain.
TB: Just make sure that it’s cool enough when it’s resting. Those Green Eggs retain heat so well, that if you just leave it in there, you’re done for. It works to leave it in a big barrel smoker, but make sure you’re around 140°F. I’ll even rest my briskets in an Igloo cooler.
Enjoy! See the Creamed Swiss Chard recipe on the next page for a side dish, or get some other ideas from the below photos.