Brisket is from the cow’s breast or lower chest and requires a low-and-slow cooking process to relax the muscle, a tenderness that can’t be achieved with a quicker method.
Time 12 hours | Serves 12 to 16
– 1 10-12-pound whole beef brisket, fat trimmed to 1/4″ thickness
– 1/3 cup kosher salt
– 1/3 cup freshly ground black pepper)
– A gas grill with a full tank of propane and a drip tray
– 8 cups all-natural hardwood chips, preferably hickory, for smoking
– A smoker box
– A grill or analog thermometer (we recommend it even if your grill has one)
1 Order the brisket You’ll have to special-order your brisket ahead of time (the brisket already sold at the meat counter is typically not whole). You should be able to do this at almost any butcher shop or at a grocery store meat counter. Ask for a brisket that is as evenly thick as possible, with the surrounding fat trimmed to 1/4″ thick (this protects the meat from drying out while cooking).
2 Season the meat An hour before preparing the grill, place brisket on a rimmed baking sheet. Mix salt and pepper in a small bowl and season the meat all over (it should look like sand stuck to wet skin but without being cakey). Let meat sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
3 Prepare your grill Meanwhile, soak 6 cups wood chips in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Leave in water throughout the cooking process. Keep remaining 2 cups chips dry. Light only 1 grill burner to medium (if using a 3-burner grill, light burner on either end). Make sure drip tray is empty, as a lot of fat will render. Place smoker box over the lit burner, add 1/2 cup soaked wood chips to box, and close grill. Adjust heat as needed to keep temperature at 225-250°F. We recommend using a stand-alone thermometer, even if your grill has one, to ensure an accurate reading. Stick it through the gap between the lid and base of the grill (or set it on the grill’s upper shelf, though this is not ideal, as it requires opening the lid more frequently). The wood chips should begin to smolder and release a steady stream of smoke. How long this takes depends on how wet your chips are and the heat of your grill. To get more smoke without increasing grill heat, add a few dry chips to the soaked ones.
4 Maintain the heat Place brisket, fatty side up, on grill grate as far away from lit burner as possible. Cover grill and smoke meat, resisting the urge to open grill often, as this will cause the temperature to fluctuate. Adjust heat as needed to keep temperature steady at 225-250°F. Check wood chips every 45 minutes or so, and add soaked chips by 1/2-cupfuls as needed to keep smoke level constant.
5 Know when it’s done Keep smoking the brisket, rotating every 3 hours and flipping as needed if top or bottom is coloring faster than the other, until meat is very tender but not falling apart and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of meat registers 195-205°F, 10-12 hours total.
6 Dig in Transfer brisket to a carving board and let rest at least 30 minutes. Slice brisket against the grain 1/4″ thick.