I have been thinking about trying to make my own smoked brisket for a long time and today I finally began the experiment.
I say experiment because it is, from my reading on the subject, more art than science.
Cooking time, for instance, depends on a variety of factors. Of course, I cheated. I read extensively from this site
before I did anything.
I don't have a dedicated smoker so I had to adapt my gas grill to the job. First, I cleaned it out...got rid of all of the burned up stuff that had been collecting in the bottom. Then I dedicated one side to cooking and the other to smoke generation. The grill was removed from the smoke side so that the wood could be placed directly above the flames on the corrugated metal that is supposed to prevent flare ups during normal grilling. On the cooking side I placed a 1" high aluminum pan between the flare up preventer and the grill...then I added about 3/4" of hot water. The burners on the smoke side were turned on and the temperature was established, about 225F. In case I haven't made it clear this was an indirect cooking setup where there was no heat originating under the meat.
I used two digital thermometers, one to monitor the grill temperature (the sensor kept close to the meat) and the second one (a probe type) inserted into the thickest part of the brisket.
The meat was taken directly out of the refrigerator, a light coating of oil was applied and then a rub seasoning was sprinkled and rubbed into all sides. Then right onto the grill.
It took several hours for the meat to reach 150F. During that time I closely monitored it to ensure that the oven temp stayed within a reasonable range so that the meat temperature would rise slowly and steadily. I also kept a close watch on the wood and the smoke being generated, adding more wood or stirring it up as the smoke output showed any sign of tapering off.
When the interior meat temp did finally get up to 150F I took it off of the grill and wrapped it tightly in foil (I kept the thermometer probe in plus added a small amount of water, some brown sugar and butter) and then put it into the kitchen oven for the final cooking.
That's where it is now. I am waiting for the meat temperature to get up to around 205F. Should be done in another hour or so. Then it will go into a beer cooler to "rest" for another couple of hours.
Obviously, the one thing I didn't plan for was the time when it would be finished. Right now I think it will be ready sometime around midnight. I just got started way too late for it to be ready at dinner time. I made a lasagna instead. But, when it is done I am going to slice it up and, after sampling some of it, bag it up for tomorrow and later.
I sure hope it doesn't turn out tough. That is the one thing that is said to be the most difficult to master, tenderness.
I think that I am probably going to end up getting a dedicated smoker at some point...almost certainly a gas-based unit. If any of you have experience with a gas-fired smoker I would be interested in your opinions.
I will post again when the meat is finished to let you know how it turned out.