Barbecued Beef Brisket on the Charcoal Grill

Published July 1, 2007.

Why this recipe works:

We wanted to develop a barbecued beef brisket recipe with a deeply smoky flavor, and we wanted the recipe to work on our backyard grill. Our "aha!" moment came when we realized that fire can burn down as well as up. We layered unlit briquettes on the bottom of our grill and added 4 quarts of… read more

We wanted to develop a barbecued beef brisket recipe with a deeply smoky flavor, and we wanted the recipe to work on our backyard grill. Our "aha!" moment came when we realized that fire can burn down as well as up. We layered unlit briquettes on the bottom of our grill and added 4 quarts of hot coals on top. The result? A fire that burned consistently in the optimal 300-degree range for about six hours. To create enough heat to render the brisket perfectly tender, we needed to add just 10 unlit briquettes about halfway through cooking.

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Serves 8 to 10

We prefer hickory wood chunks to smoke our brisket. Pecan, maple, oak, or fruitwoods such as apple, cherry, and peach also work well. It is best to avoid mesquite, which turns bitter during the long process of barbecuing. Use wood chunks that are about the size of a tennis ball. If your brisket is smaller than 5 pounds or the fat cap has been removed, or if you are using a small charcoal grill, it may be necessary to build a foil shield in order to keep the brisket from becoming too dark. (See illustration below.) A 5- to 6-pound point-cut brisket can be used in the recipe, but because it is a thicker piece of meat it may need to be finished in the oven (see instructions in step 5 of recipe). If using the fattier point cut, omit the step of brining. Some of the traditional accompaniments to barbecued brisket include barbecue sauce (see our related recipe for Texas-Style Barbecue Sauce), sliced white bread or saltine crackers, pickle chips (see related pickle tasting), and thinly sliced onion.

Ingredients

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