Vacation Dinner: Propane-Grill Smoked Beef Brisket

REHOBOTH BEACH, DEL.

My two great cooking joys are trying new things and cooking for my friends. When I can do both at the same time, I find it to be a good day at the office.

Beef brisket is my favorite of the barbecued meats…you know what, it’s time for a ranking:

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AL DENTE’S FAVORITE SMOKED BBQ MEATS

  1. Texas-style beef brisket
  2. Bacon
  3. St. Louis-style pork ribs
  4. Memphis-style pork ribs
  5. Texas-style beef ribs
  6. Texas-style sausage
  7. Memphis-style pulled pork
  8. Every other type of meat that can be smoked
  9. Fracturing my pelvis
  10. Carolina-style pork

Brisket is also my favorite cut of beef (though only slightly ahead of short ribs). Thus far, I have braised itsmoked it on my stovetop and smoked it in my oven, but I’ve never smoked one outside before.

Now, barbecue purists will tell you (and rightfully so) that smoking requires heat produced by fuel that is not gas. Wood or charcoal should fuel a smoker or barbecue, and I don’t dispute this at all. I’m a propane gas grill guy because of convenience and ease of use. And, our vacation house has a Weber propane grill because it is a lot more marketable than a Weber charcoal grill. This particular grill has three burners and a “sear zone” that helps you burn your meat, I suppose.

Burnt Ends: The Glory of Brisket

Burnt Ends: The Glory of Brisket

Briskets are big, ugly pieces of meat with a gigantic fatcap and sinewy muscle. Achieving the desired result — delicious brisket — requires indirect heat and low, slow cooking. Once I balanced out the temperature and got things rolling, this was a pretty easy endeavor. It was just a matter of switching out the wood chips and refilling the beer pan as needed (beer, because smoking will dry out the meat easily and water tastes like nothing).

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So, how long and how hot? Purists will say that there is no timeframe and that it’s all by feel. Aaron Franklin of Austin’s Franklin Barbecue says 45 to 60 minutes per pound at 225 to 250 degrees in order to get the internal temperature of the meat to 190 to 205 degrees. Because propane is not a limitless fuel (I only had two tanks at my disposal and refills in a resort town are ridiculously expensive.) and I didn’t have 9 hours to work, adjusting my active time was necessary. I ended up cooking the beast at 45 minutes per pound for seven hours with the internal temperature of the grill around 350 degrees. It was enough to make the a difference in the cooking process.

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For wood, I used hickory. My options were hickory, alder and bourbon barrel. Alder is too mild for me and bourbon barrel does not really mesh with brisket, as far as I’m concerned. Those soaked overnight. Yuengling was the beer of choice because it was the cheapest beer in our fridge.

Propane-Grill Smoked Beef Brisket
By Jared Paventi

  • 1/2 cup dry rub
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 6- to 9-pound flat beef brisket
  • 4 to 6 12 oz. bottles of lager

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THE NIGHT BEFORE

Add 1 to 2 lbs. of hickory smoking chips to a large bowl and submerge in cold tap water. Set aside and let soak all night.

Lay three to four large pieces of plastic wrap on a clean working surface. Sprinkle one side with half of the kosher salt followed by half of the dry rub. Using your hands, rub the spices into the meat and press them into the brisket. Flip over and repeat, taking care to rub into the sides of the brisket. Seal with the plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

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SET UP YOUR GRILL

Before you arrange your grill, remove the brisket from the refrigerator and unwrap. Season liberally with kosher salt on both sides and set aside. 

Take two large sheets of aluminum foil and add 4 to 6 oz. of wood chips in each. Bunch up the foil so the wood is exposed slightly.

Remove the grill grates and set a half-size foil steam pan on the burner shields on one side of the grill. On the other side, set a pack of wood chips on the burner shields at the front and rear of the grill box. Return the grates to the grill and set a small, disposable foil pie pan on the cooking surface in between the two packs of wood chips. Add a bottle of beer to this pan.

Preheat your grill, but only fire the burners on the side with the wood and beer. Monitor the internal temperature of the grill, adjusting the burners until you reach an internal temperature of 350 degrees.

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COOK IT!

Set the brisket over the drip pan and close the lid. Check the grill every hour or so to add more beer or fresh smoking wood, and rotate the brisket 30 degrees. Maintain the 350-degree temperature and cook 45 minutes per pound.

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PREP IT TO SERVE

Check the temperature of the brisket in multiple places with an instant-read thermometer. When each of the readings is more than 190 degrees, pull the brisket from the grill and wrap in aluminum foil. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

Remove the burnt pieces first, serving those on a separate plate. Slice the remaining meat against the grain and serve.

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