Admittedly I have not done nearly as many beef briskets as I have pork butts. I think I have only ever tried to do 2 briskets on the Big Green Egg since I got it and I have only done 2 on gas grills before that, which would make this one Brisket #5. Brisket is and has been a challenge for me and I hope that I can break the brisket curse with this one!!!
My first ever brisket was done on a gas grill before I knew the concept of what true low and slow was about. I put it on at 6 in the morning and thought it would be done in 12 hours. Well I think at 9pm it was still tough as hell!!! It had a good flavour but I did not even use a meat thermometer nor did I really know what I was doing. I watched a couple YouTube videos and thought I could do it too… I was so wrong.
My second attempt was also on gas, but this time after I smoked the meat for about 5 hours I threw it in a pan with some beer and wrapped it in foil and finished it for 4 hours as a braise. This worked as the meat this time was juicy and more the way a brisket should be… but hell, I could have done that in the oven.
The 2 times I did brisket on the Big Green Egg I had moderate success. By now I knew the concepts better. I actually USED a meat thermometer. I knew that I had a target temperature north of 195F. I knew about the plateau that smoking meat goes through as it breaks down the connective tissue, where you might actually see your meat temp DROP!!! Don’t worry, it’s all good, it’s supposed to do that! My problem was the grade of meat I bought. We were down in North Dakota and their Wally Worlds down there sell brisket. So I bought some thinking this was cool… well big mistake. I didn’t know the USDA meat grading system and what I bought was the lowest quality meat you could get. Even the Big Green Egg couldn’t fix that!!! These 2 were closer to what I wanted but still missed the mark as they were still tough at 200F.
I popped into my butcher shop and I asked Steve the butcher if he had any brisket. Sure enough he pulls one out and asked me if I wanted it trimmed up. For sure I said, your knives are way better than mine!!! 🙂
So I brought home this 10 pound bad boy of Certified Angus Beef. This time I have quality going in, so I am off to a good start!
Now there are a bajillion ways to cook a brisket and all of them can give you some great results. I have tried some more complex rubs and marinades and injections and mops in different combinations on the 4 briskets that I have done. But my Egging buddy Jason who writes Griffin’s Grub down in Texas recently wrote a blog post about going back to basics… salt, pepper and smoke and that’s IT!
To read Jason’s blog on Brisket click here
It looked like it worked so well for him that I thought I would give it a shot! Here is my brisket with just salt and pepper…
As for the smoke, I also took Jason’s advice and I used a combination of Hickory, Mesquite and Cherry wood. I am out of wood chunks but used probably about 8 cups of wood chips with about 6 of them being soaked in water for 4 hours. I mixed in some dry chips when I put them on the Egg.
I am aiming to run the Egg with a 250F grill level temperature and my DigiQ should help hold it there. The DigiQ is awesome because even though I had to get up at 3am (the cost of great BBQ!!!) it now allows me to go back to sleep knowing the temperature will remain stable. At this temperature I am shooting for 1 to 1 & a half hours per pound to cook, which would be 10 to 15 hours of cooking time.
Well, I put it on the Big Green Egg at 4am and I took it off around 7pm, so it was on there for 15 hours and I did not open the lid once to sneak a peak. This is what it looked like when I finally did open the lid…
The Point, (the thicker part) was super tender and the flat was fork tender on top but a bit dry on the bottom. I think I could have taken it off a bit sooner.
It was interesting to watch the meat thermometers go. At one point the Flat was 20 degrees out in front of the Point, but then when they were both in the plateau, the Point caught up and by the time I took it off, there was a 2 degree difference. The flat was 196 and the point was 194.
After I got it off I wrapped in foil and then in some kitchen towels and I put it in a cooler to rest for 30 minutes.
This last one was separating the Flat from the Point, but at this time my hands were too briskety to carve it up and continue to take pictures…
I can say without a doubt it was the BEST brisket I have ever cooked!!! However, that isn’t to say there isn’t some room for improvement.
The point was perfect and super juicy but the flat was a little dry. I think next time I might try a water tray below the grill so that it helps diffuse some of the heat off the plate setter so that the bottom of the brisket doesn’t dry out like it did a little with this one.
I will also be a little less afraid to open the lid and check on it. I think once the flat hits 190F, I will check how tender it is. I was waiting for the point to catch the flat, but the flat was done first and could have come off sooner.
The basic flavour of just using the 3 types of wood for smoking and the salt and pepper was very good and I think I would stick to that for the next couple of attempts so that I can get my cooking method down. I did like the fact that the brisket itself had a very meaty flavour without a lot of extra complexity so that those people that like a ketchup based sauce could use that and those that like a mustard based sauce could use that and you didn’t have a lot of conflicting flavours. The brisket itself was simple but lent itself to whatever else you wanted to do with it.
Overall I was quite happy with the result and the DigiQ worked great, even in the rain. I just put a ziplock bag over it to keep it protected and it kept my Egg a solid 250 for most of the cook, except near the end when I set it to use Ramp Up Mode, which drops the temp of the cooker as the meat temp rises.