Although I’ve had my Big Green Egg for several years, I’d never tried to make a brisket. Go to an Egg-head site or a serious BBQer site and you’ll find elaborate recipes with equally elaborate techniques to produce a quality brisket. It was intimidating and I didn’t feel like I had the time or the patience to fuss with it. Hell, I was making excellent rib-eyes, what else did I need to do?
The curiosity just kept gnawing at me, though. I had spent a lot of money on the BGE and was avoiding one of its trademark outputs.
Finally, I could avoid it no longer. We had invited friends over for the long 4th of July weekend and I decided it was now or never.
So, I began to review the websites for techniques and recipes…quickly reminding myself of why I had been avoiding the brisket all along. After looking at a variety of rub recipes, it became clear that I was going to have to buy more spices. Since I am on a wife imposed freeze on spice purchases, it appeared that these recipes were currently out of my reach. A trip to the grocery store spice aisle proved that there are many pre-made rubs these days but many had ingredients I wasn’t keen on eating. I remembered a nearby liquor store that specializes in hot sauces but also had a few rubs available, so I decided to give them a try. They had a rub that the owner highly recommended and, although it still had some things in it that I would prefer to avoid (hydrolized proteins), I bought a pack. This is the rub I chose:
This is a good rub but, as I said, I don’t like the hydrolized proteins in it. Moving forward, I WILL start making my own.
A friend cooks brisket regularly but he only does the first few hours on the BGE (with a pie pan of beer under it to provide additional moisture); he then finishes with 4-6 hours in the oven. Hey, I’m lazy and I’m not toeing the line on brisket prep, but that sounds sacrilegious, even to me. Others do a graduated heating process where they start low and increase the temp in steps over time. Still others pull the brisket after it gets to 160 or so, wrap it in foil, then put it back on the grill to finish.
From all of those various sources, I put my own plan together.
The First Attempt
That first weekend, I applied a heavy dose of rub to a 3 lb grass-fed beef brisket, wrapped it several times in plastic wrap, then put it back in the fridge for 20 hours. The next morning, I started up my grill, got the dome temperature to around 270, and dropped the brisket on. I left it alone for 6 hours. Anyone who has cooked brisket is already thinking, “What a dumb-ass! He didn’t check the temperature of the meat for 6 hours?! On a measly little 3 lb brisket?!”
Yeah, point taken..
The internal temp was around 220 but I couldn’t turn back now so I double-wrapped it in foil, threw it in a cooler (an Igloo Playmate type container, not some sort of refrigerating device) for several hours, and let it rest while I jacked up the heat of the BGE and cooked the rest of my sides.
Aside from a 1/4 inch layer along the bottom of the brisket that needed to be cut off, the brisket was quite good. It was a bit embarrassing that I had to take some of the meat away but everyone liked it. The meat was fairly moist and nicely tender, but not as tender as I would have liked.
The Second Attempt
This past weekend, I tried again with a 5 lb brisket and a modified technique.
The day before, I again applied a heavy coat of the Char Crust rub to the brisket and wrapped it multiple times with plastic wrap. (For reference: there is enough rub in the pack to do 2-3 briskets…at least with a smaller briskets I used).
The next morning, I got the BGE up to 270, placed a pie tin of beer on the plate setter (but under the grill), and placed the brisket on a moistened hickory plank.
At 4 1/2 hours, we began checking the temp occasionally. At 5 1/2 hours, the brisket was at 200. We double-wrapped it in foil and threw it into the cooler for the two hour rest, then kicked the BGE to 350 to cook the sides.
My friends, this brisket was absolutely incredible. It was perfectly cooked. The meat was juicy and was so tender you could cut it with a fork. Unfortunately, a dead camera battery prevented a shot of the final product but you can believe me when I say it was a gorgeous piece of meat with beautiful bark. My guests raved about how good the meat was.
This won’t satisfy the purists, but this was a “quick” and easy way to enjoy some of the most amazing brisket you’ll ever eat.
One Day or More Before Cooking
- Make or buy your chosen spice rub (if you don’t have it already)
- Get a hickory plank on which to place the brisket (my local farmer’s market has a family who makes fine wood cutting boards…they also offer grilling planks of a variety of woods for $2-$3 each)
- Get yourself a nice, grass-fed beef brisket. If you’re not sure where to find it, look here.
The Day Before Cooking
- Apply a heavy coat of the rub to all sides of the brisket and wrap several times in plastic wrap. Place back in the fridge.
The Day of Cooking
- 2-4 hours before you start the grill, begin soaking the hickory plank in water (or the liquid of your choice…please choose something that won’t ignite).
- 8-10 hours before you intend to serve the brisket (assuming a smaller brisket…the serious folks cook briskets that are 10 lbs or larger…this will require more cooking time) start your grill. Get it to 260-280 degrees Fahrenheit (127-138 Celsius).
- Put a tin of liquid under your plate setter (assuming you have one…if not, you may have to set it on the grill itself).
- Put the hickory plank on the grill and the brisket on the plank.
- Monitor the temperature to make sure it stays in range, adjusting as necessary.
- After 4 hours or so, begin checking the internal temperature of the brisket (unless you have the wireless probe…mine no longer works)
- When the internal temperature hits 200 Fahrenheit (93 Celsius), pull the brisket off the heat. Wrap it in two layers of foil, then set lovingly to rest in a cooler for two hours.
- Take advantage of that 2 hour window to prepare your other goodies.
- When ready to serve, cut the brisket across the grain, starting at the smallest end.
Enjoy some seriously good eating.
As an aside, my BGE was humming for over 11 hours that day. The next day, when preparing to light it up for another meal, I saw that I had burned less than half the charcoal I had put in there. Kamado style grills are incredibly efficient! If you haven’t seen it, here is a previous write-up related to the Big Green Egg.