So yeah, I took my smoker on a camping trip. I had originally just put the idea out there sort of half joking but the response was overwhelmingly “Yes”. I was committed.
Fire and Smoke
I’m not reinventing the wheel here. There’s no secret method of preparation or cooking to share. This is just how I do my brisket. Everyone has their own preferences and processes. That’s what this kind of cooking is about. As long as your final product turns out then do your own thing. It’s just food and if you screw it up, oh well. Move to plan B.
My brisket is pretty simple: Kosher Salt, Coarse Black Pepper, Pecan & Post Oak Smoke. Thats it. No crazy rubs. No injections. Patience is the key. Once you have the meat in the smoke leave it alone. Don’t open the door or lid. Let it go undisturbed until you are ready to wrap it. I use on probe to monitor the temperature of the brisket and one to keep tabs on the temperature of the smoke chamber. You don’t want too much variance in temperature. Keep it nice and even.
Get your fire going early. You want to get it established and get a nice bed of coals. I start and finish with lump charcoal. It burns hot, burns long and its easy to keep the temperature where I want it. Once the flames have burned down I start adding wood and let that burn until I get to the blue smoke stage. Thats where you can barely see the smoke coming out. Too much white smoke and your food will taste like it was cooked in a fireplace. That’s not what you want. You want it nice and clean. I use pecan and oak wood. I like the nice mild smoke flavor it produces. The oak is bold but the pecan is sort of sweet in a way. I like to get my smoke chamber temperature up to about 350 then let it come back down. Get all that metal warmed up so it maintains better.
My smoker has a water pan and I always use it. I line it with foil for easy clean up and just use straight water. If it was pork I would sometimes use apple juice or something but I like the taste of unadulterated brisket. The water pan serves 2 purposes in my smoker. One, it diffuses the heat as it comes in from the firebox and two, as the water heats up the steam helps the smoke stick to the surface of the meat. I really like the water pan when cooking turkey. I have yet to smoke a turkey and have it come out dry.
The brisket in the pictures is a glorious piece of brisket from Fresh From OK in Norman, Oklahoma. I was very eager to smoke a grass fed brisket and it was well worth the 8 hours spent. I had brought a standard packer style brisket to smoke and take home. I trimmed about 3 lbs of fat off of that one but no trimming was needed on the gras fed meat. It was just the right amount of fat. I don’t know if they trim them up at the farm or if thats just how it was naturally but it was perfect. I seasoned it all over with kosher salt and black pepper and then into the smoker it went. I put my temperature probe into the point end, closed the door and let the smoke do it’s thing. I kept the temperature between 220 and 250 as best I could. I may have dozed off once and let it get a little lower. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out, pecan smoke was in the air and my chair was extra comfortable that morning. This brisket stalled at 145 for what seemed like a couple of hours. I don’t know if my probe was just not working right or if it really did stall that long. I did bump the temperature up just a little and it began to climb again. I usually wrap at 165 degrees. I use foil. That’s what I’ve always used and it works so I don’t mess with what works. You can’t always rely on temperature to tell when it’s done. Unless you smoke meats regularly and have a good feel for when the meat is done then I would highly recommend using a temperature probe. But, you need to test the brisket before you pull it. If the you can pull the probe out easily and then re-insert in another location without any resistance then it’s done. If not, let it go a little longer. This one I pulled at 200 degrees in the point and then let it sit for about about 30 minutes or so before I touched it again.
Once I unwrapped the foil I could tell this was going to be good. A perfect dark mahogany color, glistening from the moisture and the aroma was turning me into Pavlov’s dog. I grabbed a knife and sliced off the tip of the flat and I swear that meat dissolved on my tongue like butter. It was so soft and tender but not falling apart. I sliced a couple more pieces for sampling then it was time to get serious and slice this masterpiece up and get it on the table. It was absolutely the best brisket I had ever had, no matter who cooked it. It had been over a year since I did brisket and I did have some doubt that it would meet my expectations but this far exceeded anything I had imagined. So to wrap this up:
- Keep it simple. Salt, Pepper & Smoke
- Keep your temperature even and your smoke clean
- Be patient. Don’t let the smoke and heat out of your smoke chamber.
- If you get a chance, use a quality brisket. Grass fed, prime, CAB (Certified Black Angus).
- So your own thing. Don’t try and be a copy of someone else.