In this blog post, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to smoke a brisket on a pellet grill, taking you on a culinary journey that demands time, patience, and the appropriate equipment. When it comes to smoking enthusiasts, a pellet grill stands out as a popular choice, offering both convenience and consistent results. Our aim is to help you achieve perfection by walking you through the process of smoking a mouthwatering brisket on a pellet grill, resulting in tender and flavorful meat that is bound to leave a lasting impression on your family and friends.
The Ten Steps to Brisket Nirvana
1. Choosing the Right Brisket
The quality of the meat matters and so does the source. Modern masters insist on natural or organic beef. Ideally humanely raised, hormone-free, and grass-fed. Look for a well-marbled, USDA Choice or Prime brisket. Ideally, choose a whole packer brisket, which includes both the point and flat sections. Aim for a brisket that weighs around 10 to 12 pounds to ensure a good balance between tenderness and cooking time.
In an ideal situation, we would have the luxury of visiting our neighborhood’s artisanal butchers and leisurely exploring their selection for the finest cuts prior to commencing our cooking endeavors.
Regrettably, the demands of everyday life seldom grant us such moments of leisure.
If you find yourself without a spare moment for shopping or lacking access to a nearby butcher, fret not, as there exists an exceptional online butcher that allows you to conveniently order brisket through Snake River Farms
Aaron Franklin, a renowned pitmaster and owner of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas, is widely regarded as a master of smoking brisket. His dedication to the craft and meticulous attention to detail have earned him a reputation for producing some of the best briskets in the world. With his expertise in selecting, seasoning, and slow-smoking the meat to perfection, Aaron Franklin has become a true icon in the world of barbecue.
2. Preparing the Brisket
Before smoking, it’s important to prepare the brisket properly. Start by trimming the excess fat to about a quarter-inch thickness, leaving a thin layer to keep the meat moist during the long cooking process. Next, season the brisket generously with a rub of your choice, combining salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and any other spices you prefer. Allow the seasoned brisket to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes while you prepare the pellet grill.
3. Prepping and Setting Up the Pellet Grill
Ensure your pellet grill is clean and in good working condition. Fill the hopper with high-quality wood pellets, preferably a blend of hickory, mesquite, or oak, for a rich smoky flavor. Preheat the grill to a temperature of 225°F (107°C) for a slow and low smoking process, which allows the meat to become tender while absorbing the smoky essence.
4. Keep the air flowing
It is important to keep the air flowing through the pit at all times. This is the secret to a good clean fire. For even heat circulation, leave at least 3 inches between briskets.
5. Smoking the Brisket
Once the pellet grill has reached the desired temperature, it’s time to place the seasoned brisket on the cooking grate, fat side up. Position a drip pan filled with water or apple juice beneath the brisket to catch the drippings and maintain moisture in the cooking chamber. Close the grill lid and let the magic happen.
6. Monitoring and Maintaining Temperature
Temperature control is crucial during the smoking process. Use a reliable digital meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the brisket. For optimal tenderness, smoke the brisket until it reaches an internal temperature of around 195°F to 203°F (90°C to 95°C). This usually takes approximately 1.5 hours per pound of meat. However, keep in mind that every brisket is unique, and cooking times may vary. It takes a low temperature and long cooking time to melt the collagen, fat, and other tough connective tissue. Is it jiggling: A properly cooked brisket will jiggle when you shake it. With practice, you will learn the right feel, but it is good practice to also check with a thermometer.
7. Smoking time
The smoking time for a brisket on a pellet grill can vary depending on several factors, including the size and thickness of the brisket, the temperature of the grill, and the desired level of tenderness. As a general guideline, you can expect the smoking process to take around 1.5 to 2 hours per pound of brisket. For example, if you have a 10-pound brisket, you can estimate the smoking time to be approximately 15 to 20 hours. However, it’s important to note that these are just estimates, and actual cooking times may vary. Keep in mind that smoking brisket is a slow and low cooking method, where maintaining a consistent temperature is crucial. Pellet grills are known for their ability to hold steady temperatures, but factors like outdoor weather conditions can still affect cooking times.
8. During the smoking process
You may encounter a phenomenon called “the stall,” where the internal temperature of the brisket plateaus for several hours. Don’t panic; this is normal. The stall occurs as the meat sweats and evaporative cooling slows down the temperature increase. Simply be patient, as the temperature will eventually rise again.
9. Wrap it Up
For the last couple of hours, wrap the brisket in butcher’s paper. The paper is porous enough to let the meat ‘breathe’, unlike aluminum foil, which produces a ‘post roasty’ consistency. Once the paper becomes soaked through with the brisket fat, it seals in the juices. A side benefit of the wrapping is that it makes it easier to move the brisket from the pit to the warming box to the cutting board. Another option is to swaddle them in plastic wrap, once removed from the pit.
10. Give it a Rest
Once the brisket reaches the desired internal temperature, remove it from the pellet grill and let it rest in an insulated cooler for at least 30 minutes. This resting period is really important. It allows the meat fibers to relax and retain their juices.
11. It’s not about the sauce
Slice the brisket against the grain for maximum tenderness and firstly try it by itself before you reach the barbecue sauce.
Smoking a brisket on a pellet grill is a delightful culinary adventure that rewards your patience and attention to detail. With the right choice of brisket, proper seasoning, temperature control, and a quality pellet grill, you’ll be able to achieve a tender, flavorful brisket that will leave your guests asking for seconds. So fire up that pellet grill, grab your apron, and prepare to create a delicious brisket masterpiece that will be the highlight of any gathering!
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