Beef brisket is a tough cut that lends itself to slowly smoking on the barbecue. Soaking the hardwood is crucial for successful barbecue. As you may have learned while camping, wet wood produces lots of smoke–bad for camp-outs but just what you want for barbecue. For beef brisket and other relatively lean cuts, basting is necessary to keep the meat moist; any kind of high-quality beer will work well in this recipe. Hardwood chunks are ideal, since they burn slowly and produce gentle, consistent smoke.
- 1 whole (8-pound) beef brisket, cleaned and trimmed
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup stone-ground mustard
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons freshly black pepper
- 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1/2 cup good beer
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
24 to 36 hours ahead:
To prepare the rub, slather beef with mustard. Combine sugar and next 7 ingredients (through cumin); press evenly onto meat. Cover, and refrigerate at least 12 and up to 36 hours.
24 hours ahead:
Soak 10 pounds of hardwood chunks in water. (If you use hardwood chips, they only need to soak for 2 hours.)
To prepare the baste, combine beer, vinegar, and Worcestershire in a clean spray bottle; refrigerate.
12 hours ahead:
If you have a smoker with a side firebox, you probably already know how to stoke it. If you’re using a charcoal or gas grill, build the fire on one side of the grill. Add some of the soaked hardwood to the hot coals (or place it in a smoker box or foil pouch if using a gas grill).
When the temperature has reached about 200 F, place brisket in smoker or on the unheated side of the grill and cover. Mind the fire to maintain this temperature throughout the cooking process. Baste the meat with beer mixture and add new wet wood every hour or so, for a total cooking time of 10-12 hours.
The beef is ready when the internal temperature registers about 170 F on a meat thermometer. It will be completely charred black on the outside (don’t worry, that’s a good thing). Let it rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before slicing it across the grain. Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce and plenty of cold beer.
Prep Time: 24 to 36 hours
Cook Time: 12 hours