Brisket Newb - Teach Me Brisket 101


M Craw

TVWBB Super Fan
I'm sure there's a thread here somewhere, and if so, please point me in the right direction, but I'm wanting to smoke my very first brisket tomorrow (morning?) and make some KC-style burnt ends, and I've never done either. I've done plenty of reading and watching videos, but I still have a couple questions:

Is it indeed better to separate the point and flat before seasoning and smoking?
Does this just make it easier than handling a hot piece of meat when it's time to separate?

Do I smoke it initially fat-side down?
Why? For protection only?​

Do I need to wrap the brisket with foil/butchers paper around halfway done and continue smoking?
Why? It it for moisture retention only?​

What's the deal with the foil, towel, and cooler?
Is this for letting the meat rest before slicing, and for the possibility of serving in an hour or two?​

Anything else you all can share with me for my "first time?" Anything you have to now always do when smoking a brisket? Any help w/ the burnt ends? Sorry for all the questions, and thank you for the help/advice and for reading my post.

(I'll be using a 18" WSM, and I'm open to lighting methods, and wood & charcoal choices)
Dwain gave you the links for brisket 101, just kick back and enjoy it:wsm:

Please get back to us on the results!


Dwain gave you the links for brisket 101, just kick back and enjoy it:wsm:

Please get back to us on the results!


I hadn't read that 2nd article - thanks. Now I feel like I'm WAY over my head! Do I separate the flat and point ahead of time, or after it has cooked? Logic tells me if may cook faster if I separate them. The brisket is 11+lbs.
I agree, don’t over think it, the link above will get a feast to the table. Make sure you have plenty of relaxing beverages on hand so you won’t run out before feast hour!
The first one will probably make you a little crazy but, every subsequent one is easier. I was worrying like a mother hen over my first one but, guys like Dustin and Timothy, and everyone else here held my (virtual) hand and emailed me through the whole thing!
If you start freaking out, stop and take a breath, crack a beer (or pour a cocktail) and leave the lid closed and just wait.
It’s always so tempting to peek all the time. I’ve finally gotten to the point that I use the “Sidewinder Minion Method”, touch it off, make,sure there is reasonable ignition, assemble, add brisket, cover and let it roll!
It will be fine!
I don’t use water pan.
I have never separated flat from point.
Always fat side down (whole cook, I don’t flip)
I don’t wrap until I pull it off.
I’ve not made burnt ends so, I can’t speak to that.
When target temperature has been reached (a little before, really) I’ll start probing when it’s “like Buttah”
I pull, allow the temperature to begin to fall then wrap in double layer of foil, wrap in two towels and pop it in an Omaha steak cooler until feast time. I’ve gone up to two hours and it was still almost too hot to handle without big gloves!
Feel free to PM me if you think you’re in the weeds but, just don’t worry, you’ll be fine.
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Thanks again for the advice.

Here we are yesterday evening/afternoon:

Rubbed and wrapped:


My rub & wood of choice. (I've only ever used this rub on steaks)


Midnight last night:

And here we are this morning... See how the bark hasn't completely set up in the center here? Should I be concerned?


***follow me at @_thecraw for live progress
I wouldn’t be worried, you’re about eleven hours in now, hows it looking?
I’ll see if I can access the link!
Can’t get a link, how is it probing? Should be pretty close by now.
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Homey, don’t tweet but, if you’re at 175 thirteen hours in, your probably in a bit of a stall, how does it probe (poke with a skewer)? Not what the probe temp is, you’re probably going to need to go another 25-30 degrees, at 195 start giving a a poke and see how soft it feels, if there is no resistance, you might be just fine, I’ve pulled them off anywhere from 195-203
Go much higher, they can get dry.
I reprobed it with the thermometer probe (maybe a mistake?) and it’s not ready. Much resistance.

You don’t have to tweet to follow along. 😄👍🏼
There’s still resistance and it’s still only at 178°... I’ve moved on to vodka and tea, and watching football. Cheers!
Well, the first one is the most frustrating and, if you had the wind like you did that will make it just that much more frustrating! Fifteen hours final?
Not as frustrated as the Bears but, at least you will feel like eating.
Wind is always the biggest challenge, I’m going to do a butt next week and will need to fish out my windbreak from the back of the garage but, I do know where it is so, that’s a plus.
I’m thinking a brisket for Super Bowl Sunday but, I really don’t give a hoot about the game.
Next one will go more smoothly!
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Vodka and tea? Hmmm. It’s 7:15 here, how has the stall been kicking your brisket? Done yet?

Actually vodka, water, and Sweet Tea Mio. Lower calories, and does the trick - don't ask. :)

Well, I could never get it up to 200° as the thermometer pic indicates, and I ended up pulling it at 6:00pm (18 hrs on the smoker - ???!!!). I then separated the point from the flat and wrapped the flat three times in foil, and twice w/ 2 bath towels, and put it in the microwave for an hour and 40 minutes. I sliced up the point into burnt ends, put them in a casserole dish tossed w/ some rub and sauce, and put them in the oven a bit to caramelize. They turned out okay - some better than others. The flat however, turned out good I might say for my first time, and was probably some of the better home cooked brisket I've ever had. Slicing it was a bit challenging given the bark/crust on the outside, and since I didn't have a slicing knife, but I managed w/ a chef's knife and my bread knife.

A few pics from when it was done (didn't get any of the burnt ends :( ):



Things I'll consider next time:

  • Type a quick note to God and have him keep the wind away (messed my temp regulating ALL UP)
  • Probe the flat once and leave it there for the whole smoke
  • Remember the grate temp and the WSM temp differ by nearly 25° and to use the two in conjunction w/ each other knowing this
  • Start the coals and get the brisket on the smoker at least two hours sooner (10pm rather than 12am)
  • Since starting the brisket two hours sooner, this should allow me to put the point back on the smoker for burnt ends
  • Get a proper slicing knife (similar to this?)
Like I said, I'm happy w/ the end result, and I'm very excited to do another one. For those of you that haven't done one yet because you're afraid you'll mess it up and advice I will heed my next time: is wait for a non-windy day, and don't be afraid you'll mess it up. Remember when bbq brisket was first discovered - they threw it on a pit and left it - the - F - alone, all - day/night. Babying it won't matter.
I think your take away from the project is pretty solid. I tend to start a 12 lb. brisket about ten too, I’ve had them reach desired temperatures around four in the afternoon, (sometimes early) then double foil and double towel then into a cooler, that seems to allow the bark to slightly soften allowing easier slicing
I agree with Chris’ suggestions on knives, I had one like you showed in your trimming picture decades ago, left it with an old girlfriend when we parted company, it was a really nice tool.
I use a piece of 3/4” plywood as a windbreak wedged against my brick “outdoor kitchen counter” holding it in place with patio blocks, still waiting for the right deal on some of the parts for the design I have in mind. Should take less than an hour to assemble when I have the parts unless I change something.