12 Top Tips For BBQ Smoked Brisket - Charlie Oven

12 Top Tips For BBQ Smoked Brisket


If you’ve ever cooked a brisket that’s ended up more like a biscuit … read on!

If you're a fan of smoked brisket, then you know that it can be a bit of an art form to get it just right. Luckily, we've compiled a list of 12 tips that will help you create the perfect BBQ smoked brisket every time. From choosing the right cut of meat to using the right spices, we've got you covered. So fire up your Charlie Oven smoker and get ready to enjoy some buttery soft, delicious meat!

Here are the 12 top tips to make sure your brisket is the most delicious, melt-in-the-mouth thing you’ve ever eaten.  What you’re aiming for is smoky deliciousness allied to buttery tenderness.

A brisket cooked in a way that will make you feel like a chef.

Here’s how.

Tip 1.  First things first, understanding what exactly is a brisket?

Brisket comes from the shoulder, a tough, rugged part of the animal - and it contains a lot of strong, elastic connective tissue. That’s why meat from muscles like this can be chewy and tough if you cook it in the wrong way.

 You simply can’t cook it at too high a temperature or too quickly, as you might with a fillet steak. (Well, you can … but you won’t like the results!)  The tougher cuts, like brisket, work far, far better when cooked low’n’slow.

Tip 2. Select the right cut of brisket: not all are created equal.

Marbling.  That’s the key.  You need a brisket with a good amount of internal fat, marbled, or in layers.  That’s what renders into the meat when it cooks.  Without it, the brisket will be dry.  More biscuit than brisket.  That simple: you must start with the right grade of meat.

Tip 3.  Why brisket needs to be cooked slowly – the science.

Something amazing happens when tough cuts of meat like brisket are allowed the time to cook at a low temperature. After a few hours, the connective tissue in the meat breaks down and renders into the meat. When cooked or smoked slowly, the connective tissue melts, transforming into a tender, silky texture. Note to self … this only happens at a certain internal temperature.  (Read on and all will be revealed.)

Tip 4.  What’s the perfect brisket like?

On the outside, a delicious, smoky, salty, spicy “bark”; on the inside, a texture like silk. I reckon the best brisket I ever tried was at Meatopia 2021, from one of the chefs’ stations there.  It was served in a light, fresh, soft, floury bread roll.  The roll was the toughest bit.  Incredible.

Tip 5.  How to get started and get ahead of the game: preparing the brisket.

First of all, prep your brisket.  I reckon nothing too fancy: the meat should be the star of the show.  A dry rub is best – maybe just sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Maybe a few subtle herbs and spices.  Mustard works brilliantly to help the rub stick to the outside of the brisket.  No need to go overboard … but feel free if you want to!

Tip 6.  Get your BBQ charcoal oven to exactly the right temperature.

You’re going to want to cook your brisket slowly, at an oven temperature of around 105 degrees Celsius.

Put a modest load of sustainably sourced, lumpwood charcoal (like Whittle & Flame) into your Charlie Oven.  Light it and let the temperature rise. When the oven is at about 80 degrees Celsius, close the bottom vent, and throttle the top vent down to about ¼ open.  The oven temperature then will creep up to 105 degrees and settle.  Just right.    

For extra smokiness, add a chunk or two of dried, seasoned hardwood.  You won’t go far wrong with oak.

Tip 7.  Use a meat thermometer or run the gauntlet!

The internal temperature of the brisket is crucial, vital, the sixty-five-thousand-dollar question!  Too high … brisket becomes tough.  Too low and you’re gonna need very strong jaws to cope with all that chewing.  So … before you start cooking, get your meat thermometer (like a Meater) stuck nicely right into the middle of the joint. 

Tip 8.  The right way to put brisket in the oven.

Not too close to the heat source: with a sealed oven, like the Charlie Oven, the temperature is very even throughout the oven, and you can keep the meat well away from the charcoal.  Put your brisket directly onto a high-ish rack, for a belt-and-braces guarantee.

At this point in the cooking process, leave it unwrapped. Some say that fat-side-down is best, but I’m not sure it makes that much difference, really.

Tip 9.  How to get the “bark” just right.

The “bark” comes from the dry rub and the way the cooking process and the smoke caramelises the sugars, evaporates water, and renders the fat on the surface of the meat.  Cooking your brisket with the charcoal oven at 105 degrees Celsius is the way to go – any higher and you’ll char it, any lower and the alchemy just won’t happen.

You’ll no doubt have heard tips about wrapping your brisket – more on this below! – but if you wrap it too soon, you won’t get a proper bark at all.  Wait till the internal temperature of the brisket has reached 65 degrees Celsius, then you’re ready to wrap it.

Otherwise, your bark just won’t be right.

(After all, you don’t want to end up like the owner who fed their dog garlic.  Its bark was worse than its bite.)

Tip 10.  Wrap your brisket at exactly the right time to avoid the “stall”

Listen carefully, class!  When the brisket reaches an internal temperature of around 65 degrees Celsius, the rise in internal temperature suddenly “stalls”.  The cause is water evaporating from the surface of the brisket and – as I’m sure we’ll remember from our school physics lessons - evaporation causes heat loss, as the water molecules become more vigorous as they become a gas, taking energy out of the meat.

(Although this physics lesson may well be making you feel less vigorous …)

This is the point at which … there’s no need to panic.  You just need to wrap your brisket.  The moisture then becomes contained, stops evaporating, and allows the internal temperature of the meat to climb again, to the magic number: 87 degrees Celsius.

Foil or butcher’s paper?  Either one works. But butcher’s paper gets the nod as it allows a bit more of the moisture to escape and keeps the bark in better shape.

Tip 11.  Set and forget – almost - go low'n slow!

Once the internal temperature of the brisket is at 87 degrees, the fat slowly breaks down and renders into the meat.  With your charcoal BBQ oven set low, your brisket should happily bumble along at 87 degrees for hours.

It takes 10-12 hours to get the perfect brisket.

The Charlie Oven’s sealed design and advanced insulation will be able to stay at the right temperature for hours, with almost no intervention.  Apart from a well-earned rest on the part of the chef.

Tip 12.  Rest.  The brisket, that is.

And now it’s time for a well-earned rest for your lovely brisket.

Once it’s out of the oven, rest it in its wrapping, which will also keep all the juices contained, let the meat reabsorb some of them, so you keep all that delicious, smoky sauce.

Just wrap the whole shebang in a tea towel and rest it for a minimum of an hour.  Two hours is even better.

And there you are.  Ready to eat your perfect, delicious, melt-in-the-mouth brisket.

So, these are our tips.  Please share or comment below.  What do you do?  Do you do something different?  

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