Low and Slow Smoked Pork Brisket

Jason Webster
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What is Pork Brisket?

Pork brisket is the cut of tender, flavorful meat from the lower part of the pig’s breast.

Pork is an excellent source of vitamin B3 (niacin), selenium, phosphorus, zinc, and protein, and a good source of protein.

Pork is also delicious! A delicious rich tasting meat for an affordable price!

Pork can be roasted, cured, smoked, or cooked into sausages. The most well-known and popular of these preparations are the pork chops, ham, and bacon.

Brisket is usually smoked low and slow to produce tender, moist meat and is a favorite with those who love barbecue.

Here is a quick brine recipe to make pork brisket more tender, juicy and flavorful.

What is whole-animal butchery?

Whole-animal butchery is a method of preparation that consists of dividing an animal into primal cuts, subprimals and subcuts. Every butcher has a unique way of dividing the animal.

Through this process the butcher or butcher shop creates a wide variety cuts of meat that they then sell to customers and restaurants.

Meat is sold as carcass weight which means that weight can be different from the weight of the individual cuts. The butcher should tell you the cost of the cuts after they have been separated from the carcass.

Some of the butchered animal parts are rarely eaten such as the bone, heart, kidneys, spleen, blood. Heart, liver, tongue and other internal organs are generally not eaten in the Western world, although heart is considered to be a delicacy in some cultures.

A tale of two muscles

The most important muscle of the entire beef animal is the brisket because it makes for the very best BBQ brisket and the delicious smoked pork in this book.

It is called a brisket because its shape resembles a small breast, with the sternum bones clearly visible. The brisket is the front portion of the animal’s chest, and is situated between the front legs. In fact, the front legs act like pectoral muscles with the shank being the clavicle.

While the legs are what helps the animal run, the brisket is what gives the animal its ability to feed its bulk. Thus, it is packed with a huge array of muscles and connective tissues for added strength and support. In other words, it has a whole lot of meat! It is the upper pectoral component of the chest with good amounts of fat.

The area is toughened by a layer of fat that helps add flavor to the meat.

This is the most prized piece of the entire animal, particularly in Texas. To cure it, place it in a salt bath for three days before smoking it. After forty-eight hours, cure it again with salt, sugar and vinegar. Turn it every twelve hours and remove it from the cure if you notice a spike in iodine in the juice.

How to cook pork brisket?

Preparing the pork brisket for smoking

Have your butcher remove the apron of the brisket (the thick butterfly shaped pillar of meat on the bottom third of the brisket).

The apron has no smoke flavor and is just there to protect the tender meat underneath from getting burned.

The apron should be all fat with a thin layer of meat. When the apron is intact, rub a generous 1/2 cup of BBQ rub all over the apron and remove it by slicing downward. The thick layer of fat on the apron can also be trimmed off since it is not really edible.

Some people also cut the small muscle in the middle of the fat layer into small pieces that are also not edible. This is not necessary.

Bend the meat away from the fat and trim most of the fat from the meat. This will make it easier to rub lot of flavorings all over the meat but still leave a thin layer of fat to protect the meat.

A trimmer rack is a very helpful tool for trimming fatty meat. But if you do not have one, use a sharp blade to make shallow cuts holding the brisket flat on the counter.

Hold the brisket in the flat position and make uniform cuts to remove the fat. Attach the slicer to your meat cleaver or large chef’s knife to make the process faster and easier.

Smoking the pork brisket

For several hours will ensure that the meat is tender and moist.

Ingredients:

  • 1 trimmed and washed pork
  • Vegetable oil, salt and pepper
  • 1 cup salt
  • one bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of rubbed sage
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 cup of chicken stock

The process of smoking the pork is quite involved. If you don’t have the right equipment, you can wrap the pork in heavy duty aluminum foil and put it in the cooker for 2 to 3 hours.

To wrap or not to wrap

I have two friends who make brisket for their significant others. Both of them swear that wrapping (or not wrapping) the brisket is the difference between getting a thank you or an earful.

So, the question is: how do you wrap it? There are some food scientists who say the wrapping keeps the meat from drying out, and some barbecue folks who say wrapping is just a waste of time.

Wrapping Brisket in Foil

The foil wrapping technique seems to be a popular one, judging by the number of articles on the Web. To do this, you place a lot of heavy duty aluminum foil around the brisket, then wrap it tightly. You'll need to have the edges of the foil overlap, and you'll put a bunch of butter and/or other stuff to keep it moist. (The stuff you're putting it in will end up dripping out.)

To cook it, you have to wrap it, cook it slowly, and then unwrap it to serve. The problem with all this, of course, is you have to wait even longer to eat it.

Brisket Wrapped in Saran Wrap

I'm not a huge fan of the saran wrap method either, because I think it's a waste of time when all it does is keep it from drying out. Saran wrap also slows down the cooking, while foil speeds it up, which you might or might not like.

Serving the pork brisket

Once the The brisket is done, it is ready to serve.

Serve the shredded pork with your choice of side dishes. Typically, I serve it with a spoonful of barbecue sauce on a plate with a pile of white or mashed potato and a few fresh steamed vegetables of your choice (e.gcauliflower), and sprinkle it with chopped parsley.

Slicing the Meat

Once the pork is done, you can slice it. Using a cleaver or a big knife, slice the flat end into smaller portions (if you have just one piece), and use a BBQ or other big knife to slice the point into smaller pieces.

Serve

We serve our pork on a plate with a spoonful of BBQ sauce per portion, but depending on your preference, you can serve it with your choice of sauce, or without any BBQ sauce at all, with just mustard.

The payoff

For a long and slow smoked brisket is juicy and flavourful, smokey meat.

Pork brisket comes in two cuts: the deckle (the fatty side), and the flat. The flat tends to be a lot leaner than most cuts of cow. Be sure to have a fatty piece of meat so that your brisket isn’t completely dry when it’s cooked. The deckle is the more traditional cut, and will give the brisket a delicious crisp layer of fat over the meat. It’s well worth it to do a little research and splurge for the deckle piece!

{1}. Trim the excess surface fat, leaving about 1.5cm of fat covering the surface of the meat.
{2}. Place your brisket in a pan with the fat-side down. This prevents the fat from melting and gives you a nice base to use for the rub.
{3}. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 a cup of dark brown sugar, 1/2 a cup of kosher salt, 1/2 a cup of white sugar, and 6 tablespoons of Montreal steak rub, until fully combined.

Fat-side up, apply rub liberally to the entire brisket, covering as much surface of the meat as you can. Put a good amount in between the point of the deckle and the flat.

Smoked BBQ Source Pork Brisket

Recipe:

  • 3 pound pork brisket
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon saltpeter
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup cold water

Brining

Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Yield: Enough for 10 to 15 people

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup Brown Sugar (or White Sugar)

Cooking Tips:

Having A Party?

  • Be sure to calculate the cooking time of your brisket before breaking it down into serving pieces for your guests.
  • Try estimating the temperature for a more consistent outcome.
  • Remember that the longer you smoke this cut, the more moist and tender it will become.
  • For the perfect smoky taste, use your smoker to its full potential by using indirect heat to aid in the smoke process.
  • For optimum results, use a combination of charcoal and smoke wood.
  • If you are using charcoal, light it at least 15 to 20 minutes before you plan to begin smoking. This will give you sufficient time to assemble your smoker, get it warm and ready for use.

Ingredients

For the Brine:

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups cold water

For the Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons oregano, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

Instructions

Smoking the brisket isn’t difficult but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the best results.

Always start with a cooler temperature, anywhere in the range of 150 F to 160 F. This will ensure that you have an even smoke all the way through the meat. It will also help to ensure that the fat in the brisket renders out while the muscle fibers break down in a uniform manner.

Apply a good amount of wood chips at the beginning and replenish as needed. After a few hours, your smoker should be at the temperature you want and the chips should be slightly burnt. You can also use the wood as charcoal (they’re already burnt down) to give you a couple of extra hours of smoking time.

Turn the brisket often to ensure equal smoking and even cook. You should start to feel a smokiness on your skin and see a hint of smoke in the air. This is a sign that the brisket is close to being done.

There are many ways to tell if the brisket is ready; the most reliable method is to use a digital thermometer. Insert it in the thickest part of the meat, making sure not to poke through the other side; this should result in an internal temperature of 190 to 195 F when the brisket is ready to eat.

How to smoke on a gas grill

You might choose to use a charcoal gas smoker like the Weber Smoky Mountain (WSM) to smoke your food, but you can also make it work if you’re trying to be “green” and are concerned with the wasteful, polluting effects of charcoal.

If you consider that most people use their gas grill as a smoker, you may not even realize that they in fact, are a smoker because you don’t have to purchase an additional smoker for smoking foods.

Gas (propane) grilling or smoking is often accompanied by a distinct smell, and if you want to use your gas grill as a smoker, you’ll need to get rid of the smell that comes off the food, called “smoke ring”.

The best way to do this is by failing to buy a mixture of apple wood chips and pellet charcoal for the smoke. Since they do not contain chemicals like pesticides, you may feel better about using them over commercial barbecue briquettes.

Since you’re on a diet, you can also skip the fat when you’re smoking foods. Distilled water is the best liquid to use when smoking as it can easily evaporate.