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What Are the Best Tips for Grilling Brisket?

By Lee Johnson
Updated May 17, 2024
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The best tips for grilling brisket are to apply a seasoning rub to the meat, to cook it over a low heat for around five hours, to use a "Texas crutch,” and to allow the meat to rest before serving. Most joints of meat need resting time because of the way heat travels, which ensures a more even temperature throughout the brisket. Some chefs like to smoke the meat as well as grilling for the first few hours of cooking, but this should only be done if the meat is being cooked on a barbecue. The fat side of the brisket should be face up during the cooking process.

A seasoning rub is one of the most important tips for chefs grilling brisket. While the brisket does contain a lot of flavor without seasoning, a rub on the outside of the joint can add flavor. A common mixture for a brisket seasoning rub includes salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder. The specific mixture of seasoning can be altered depending on the chef and guests’ tastes. Applying the layer of seasoning to the outside of the meat before cooking gives the flavors the opportunity to infuse into the meat.

Most meat benefits from being cooked for a long time. This is because it breaks down more collagen than fast cooking does, resulting in a moist and tender result. Most recipes suggest grilling brisket at around 250 degrees Fahrenheit (121 Celsius) for around five hours. This may need to be increased or decreased for particularly large or small briskets. Chefs should use a thermometer to take frequent readings from the grill to ensure a steady temperature.

A "Texas crutch” is a method of stopping the lull in cooking that usually occurs when the meat hits 150 Fahrenheit (65 Celsius). This lull is due to the evaporation of hot oils. When the meat reaches 150 Fahrenheit, chefs should cover it with a double layer of aluminum foil. The meat can be transferred to a tray to keep the juices, and the tray should then be covered with the foil. Some chefs put a cup of beef stock in the bottom of the tray to increase the moisture in the parcel. Chefs should allow the meat to cook like this until it hits around 190 Fahrenheit (88 Celsius).

After the meat has reached 190 Fahrenheit, chefs should remove it from the barbecue and allow it to rest. This is a key part of the process of grilling brisket because of how heat travels. The heat just applied to the outer parts of the brisket from the grill slowly makes its way into the center. Waves of heat radiate through the meat and cause an increase in temperature at the center of the meat after it has been removed from the grill. Leaving the meat to rest until the temperature settles at 160 Fahrenheit (71 Celsius) is advised by most chefs.

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