The Best Way to Cook Brisket

Many cooks are a bit afraid of preparing a beef brisket; the cut is notoriously tough if the preparation is not exact. The meat itself comes from the cow’s chest muscles. As a result, the meat has very little fat and a lot of connective tissue to support the large animal’s movements. This combination creates the tough meat seen as the poor man’s beef cut. However, cooks that follow the correct instructions for creating a brisket will find that the resulting meat is juicy and tender.

Meat Preparation

There are a number of different ways to prepare the brisket before the cooking process begins. One common way to enhance the meat’s flavor is covering it in a rub; this spicy mixture can include salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Some brisket enthusiasts have their own personal combination of spices that they use religiously. Depending on the cook’s personal desires, the meat can sit in the refrigerator overnight with the rub marinating the brisket or placed directly in the heat for immediate cooking.

Another method of keeping the meat moist is injecting it with tenderizers and flavor enhancers. A needle pump is inserted into the meat’s internal structure and promptly pelted with the designated liquid. This process allows more moisture to stay within the meat and subsequently cooking the tough muscle fibers.

Braising

Braising a brisket is a common way to obtain a juicy and tender cut. The process can be done on the stove top; place some cooking fat, like butter or oil, into the pan. The cook should allow the outside of the meat to cook up into an even layer across its entirety. Braising allows the meat to keep its juices locked in during subsequent cooking processes.

Crock Pot or Dutch Oven

The key to a well prepared brisket is retaining the internal moisture. To achieve this feat, either a dutch oven or crock pot should be used to cook the meat further after the braising process is complete. The braised meat should be placed in the oven or pot with a wire rack; the rack will prevent the meat from adhering to the container’s bottom which can cause uneven cooking and possible burning of the meat’s rear portion. Some liquid, such as beef broth, can be placed at the bottom of the container to keep a level of moisture within the oven or pot.

Cooks should not peek at the meat within the container during the cooking process; this allows moisture to leave the container and cause the meat to dry out. In general, the brisket should cook at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 30 to 45 minutes for each pound. The temperature must remain low to slowly cook the muscle fibers into tender pieces.

Smoking

One of the most traditional forms of cooking brisket successfully is using a smoker. These outdoor barbecues offer the closed and heated environment that a brisket needs for proper cooking. The best smoker for brisket should use water; a pan within the smoker can hold water that will evaporate and circulate within the container to keep the meat moist. Cooks can add wood chips for a smoky flavor or remove them completely. The actual smoking taste is a personal choice and is not imperative for a good brisket cooking process.

Cooks should be aware that using the smoker requires an even lower temperature; usually at approximately 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the temperature is lower, the cooking time increases dramatically. Each pound of brisket should cook for about 90 to 120 minutes.

Home Ovens

Although not a traditional cooking method, brisket can be cooked in a standard home oven. Similar to the smoker, the temperature should remain at 225 degrees. A good practice with baking the brisket is having two thermometers: one for the oven itself and an internal meat thermometer. The oven should remain at the designated 225 degrees Fahrenheit while the meat cooks. The brisket will be ready to carve when the internal temperature peaks at approximately 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooks should make sure to retain the moisture within the meat by wrapping the brisket completely with aluminum foil; the foil keeps the moisture trapped inside for a moist final brisket.

Carving

Cut the cooked brisket in the wrong direction and enthusiasts will find that their diligent efforts to cook the meat precisely has turned into a stringy messy. In general, brisket should be carved against the grain so that the muscle fibers are cut into smaller pieces. As a result, the meat will not feel stringy during eating; they will essentially melt in the mouth.

Creating the best brisket requires attention to temperature and retaining moisture. In the end, following the strict directions about cooking a brisket will result in a large and tasty meal for everyone.