Saturday, July 16, 2011

Beef Brisket, Tennessee Style

Grilling video, click link below:  unWine'd's YouTube Page
unWine'd and relax with Raphe

Prep'd & ready for the smok'r...

Raphe's prep process for the brisket:

1 @ 5-7lb beef brisket, some fat trimmed (individual's choice to trim)
Place the brisket in a pan similar to this, fat side up, and pour in 1 cup or Orange Juice.  Let that stand for 60-90 minutes.  I don't turn it.  After time has expired, drain off the excess OJ.  The OJ acts as a tenderizer but doesn't affect the taste of the meat.

Dry rub mixture:
1 Tbsp coarse ground black pepper
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1Tbsp garlic powder
1Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp chipolte chile pepper
1 tsp of chili powder
(Mix all ingredients, thoroughly, in a bowl.)

Before applying the dry rub to the brisket, I'll either put a coat of evoo (extra virgin olive oil) or basic yellow mustard all over the brisket.  This time I chose mustard as it helps to hold the dry rub.

I will apply most of the dry rub to the non-fat side.  As for the fat side, I use a sharp knife to score a few cuts into the fat but not down into the meat, just lightly.  This will allow the rub to get into the meat on the fat side.  Again, your call, some score - some don't.

Now that the dry rub has been applied to both sides of the brisket, I'll let it stand @ room temp for 60-90 minutes.  Afterwards, I wrap it in saran wrap & aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.  You could leave it in the fridge for 24 hours or you can start to smoke the brisket after the rub has been on for about 4 hours.  It's all based on how much time you have to invest into the process.  Regardless, do let the brisket come back to room temp before placing it on the smok'r.  I let mine sit for at least 2 hours.  During the 2 hours before it goes on the grill, I'll add a generous coat of brown sugar (light or dark) to the fat side.

Cooking instructions:

I use a mixture of hardwood and briquette charcoal.  And, I put about 25-30 pieces in the grill that are directly out of the bag.  Next, I'll add about 30 pieces of white-hot charcoal atop the unlit charcoal.  This process allows for low temp cooking. I build a medium size fire in my kettle grill but only on one side. That leaves the other half to act as indirect heat, which is what you want for low & slow.  Additionally, I'll place a disposable aluminum pan, 1/2 full of water, on the side opposite the fire.  This keeps moisture in the cooker during the smoking process.  Lastly, I'll add the hardwood chunks (hickory for this cut of beef for me) to the charcoal to get the smoke going.  I leave my hardwood chunks in water overnight so they don't burn out as quickly.  You can add a few chunks during the cooking process to keep a little smoke going, just a little at a time.

Now, it's time put the brisket on the grill (fat side up) over the water pan.  I like to maintain a heat of 200-250 in the cooker and I'll let the brisket cook until it has an internal temp of 190 degrees.  When the brisket reaches 190 degrees, I'll wrap it with a double-wrap of heavy duty aluminum foil and place back on the indirect heat side of the grill and choke the heat of the grill down to about 150 degrees.  I leave it in the foil for another 90 minutes.  The low heat will not cause it to over cook but will make the brisket nice and juicy.  WOW, I can already taste it.......  Take it off the grill, slice thinly or chop it or however you prefer it.  Enjoy.

Wet Mopping Mixture:

2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
10 oz of a "nut brown" type beer (optional)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
(Mix thoroughly in a bowl.)

After the brisket has been on the grill for about one hour, I'll start mopping the wet mop mixture on the brisket, just a light mopping to keep the beef moist.  I'll do this every 45-60 minutes after the first hour of cooking.  Adjust to your preference.

Fresh Pico de Gallo:

  • plum tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
  • 3/4 of one small to medium spanish or sweet onion, finely diced 
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Juice of one lime
  • 3, medium sized, roasted & peeled jalapenos, cored, seeded & diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch cayenne

Caramelized Onions:
Cut the ends from the onions, peel and cut the onions in half.  Cut the onion into 1/4" "half-moon" shaped pieces.

In a large skillet, over med-high heat, add 2 Tbsp of evoo and 2 Tbsp of salted/softened butter.  Once the butter is melted and the evoo is hot, add all the sliced onions.  Toss onions until all have been coated with the evoo/butter mixture and reduce the heat to low.  Once the onions have softened, about 15 - 20 minutes, add 1 Tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp of salt and stir thoroughly.  Now, let them start the browning process.  Stir, but not too often.  If too often, they will not brown properly.  It usually takes 45 mins to one hour, give or take.  The slower the better.  Just before you remove them from the skillet, pour a little red wine in the skillet and scrap the bottom of the pan to get all the good stuff from the bottom of the pan.


  1. What's the approximate total preparation/cooking time?

  2. Prep time - 15 - 20 minutes to apply the mustard, mix the dry rub and apply. I allow another 60 minutes for the brisket to sit at room temp with the dry rub before I wrap it for overnight refrigeration.

    Cooking time - this brisket is 6 lbs and it took approx 8 1/2 hours. I keep the cooking temp between 225 - 250 degrees. You can remove it from the grill@ 180 degrees internal temp. Wrap it in heavy duty aluminum foil and put it back over indirect heat for another 60-90 mins but cut the grill heat down to about 150. I believe this helps to keep the brisket very moist and tender. Cheers...

  3. Thanks - I'm digging your recipes. I think we'll try this one when we have friends over next weekend!

  4. Thanks Brad. It's definitely good food and feeds a group for sure. I'd be interested to get your feedback about the grilling video I created. Thoughts? Suggestions?

  5. The video is great - I especially like the rock music in the background and the helpful tips (like the water pan). You don't show any of the preparation (dry rub, pico de gallo), but you do have great recipes here. I'd also love to see the payoff - slicing and eating. That's the best part, right? One other suggestion - you should give your videos on youtube more descriptive names - I think they're all called "unWine'd and Relax with Raphe," but more people will find you if you name that video "Smoked Tennesee Brisket" or something else more descriptive. You certainly have a fan here! I watched a few videos for smoked brisket, but I'm going to use yours.

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  7. I'm on my way to having this tomorrow! Two 6-pound briskets are wrapped with the dry rub in the all of the rest of the ingredients. I'll let you know how it goes!