There are a few simple steps to producing tasty brisket on the smoker: procuring the proper hunk-o-cow flesh (a full packer cut brisket point/deckle and flat with intact fat cap), clean burning fire, moderate application of wood smoke and the rub of your preference.
I typically smoke 15-lb. full packer cut briskets in the 250*F-275*F range, but rarely check temperatures. I start fat side up and flip twice during the cook because I want to finish fat side up—so as to maximize fatty crusty bark. In the last third of the cook I foil the very outer edge of the flat—not unlike what one would do with the end of a turkey drumstick—so it does not dry out.
As I’ve always said, I think people get into trouble looking for absolute times and temperatures. A ballpark estimate for my cooking style is 8 to 9 hours. A two-tined meat fork should slide easily into the brisket, and the flesh itself should have a slight wobble (I call it the wabba wabba) when poked.
Cooper's in Llano, Texas—where God goes when she is in the mood for brisket—is my favorite commercial barbecue joint. When cooking brisket, I make a clone of their sauce, but use it sparingly. My homage to Cooper's sauce is in the book on page 197. The key to the sauce is using a fatty hunk-o-bark from the almost done brisket.
Texas-Style BBQ Sauce
MAKES ABOUT 6 1?2 CUPS
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups ketchup
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Louisiana-style or Mexican-style hot sauce, such as Texas Pete, Louisiana, or Búfalo
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly ground black peppercorns
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1?2 teaspoon Morton kosher salt
Large (hand-size) chunk of fat cap/bark from cooked brisket.
Combine all of the ingredients in a large stockpot over medium heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.