Grilling beef brisket is one of the more challenging barbecue tasks a person can undertake. While it only involves a single slab of beef, and sometimes not much more than that in terms of spices and marinades, the process can take hours and constant attention to the coals, amount of smoke that’s being produced and keeping the brisket basted with juices, is needed to ensure that your brisket turns out just the way you like it.
Selecting the Brisket
There are two major kinds of cuts to choose from when selecting your beef brisket. The trimmed cut is the smaller of the two, typically ranging from 3 to 6 pounds, with most of the fat removed. It cooks much faster than the larger cut, and must be basted regularly to ensure that it doesn’t dry out since most of the fat has been removed. If you opt to go with this cut of brisket, look for one with lots of marbling, as that will be the juiciest when cooked.
The other type of cut is untrimmed, also called a “Packers” cut. It will be much larger than the trimmed cut and weigh in at around 12 pounds or more. There will be a thick layer of fat on this cut, so it may be necessary to cut away some of it before cooking, but be sure to leave at least a quarter to a third of an inch of fat remaining for the grilling process. Since this cut is so large and most grills will not be big enough to handle the entire thing, it will probably be necessary to split it in half and only cook one half at a time. Freeze the other half for a later grilling date.
Seasoning the Brisket
There are two main ways to season your brisket. The first is to marinade it overnight in an acidic mixture to infuse the meat with flavor and start breaking down the connective tissue of the meat, resulting in a much more tender cut. There are many different marinades out there, so choose one that fits your tastes and prepare in advance. Make sure to avoid storing the marinade and brisket in a metal container, as the acid from the marinade will react with the metal and cause a metallic taste in the meat.
The other way to season the roast is to prepare a dry rub, consisting of salt and pepper as a base, along with any other spices you may like to add in. Again, consult your favorite dry rub recipe for something that fits your tastes. Be sure to place the dry rub on the meat at least an hour before cooking, as the flavor needs time to work its way into the meat.
Grilling Beef Brisket
In order to cook the brisket, you’ll need a large charcoal grill and will be setting it up using the indirect method of grilling. Start by lighting the grill and getting a small amount of coals going. Once hot, move the coals to one side of the grill. Place the brisket, fat side up, in an aluminum foil pan on the opposite side of the grill so the brisket is not above the heat source. Throw some wood chips on the coals to get some smoke going, and then cover the grill and let the brisket start to cook. Periodically baste the brisket with its own juices from the pan, and add more charcoal every hour to keep the heat source going. After two hours, start checking the brisket temperature. Once the internal temperature reaches 185 degrees, then remove the brisket from the grill, cover and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the fat from the brisket, then slice thinly against the grain, and finally serve it.
Photo courtesy of willsfca.