BBQ Brisket, Franklin Style

brisketbrisket2Brisket+Salt+Pepper+Smoke+Time= East Texas Barbecue Beef Brisket, perhaps one of the greatest American dishes. If you get it right, you get true alchemy. A very humble piece of cow turns into a rich, luscious and flavorful meat you can eat just with your hands and really doesn’t need sauce. A little piece of heaven. And it seems so simple…

brisket3…but it isn’t. Barbecued brisket, at least really good barbecue brisket, is hard. Really hard. Even pros regularly turn out dry, over-seasoned, poorly smoked failures. And while we aren’t pros, we take pride in our ‘cue. But where we succeed with barbecued pork shoulder or ribs, we often fail with brisket. And it is even more frustrating that we can make a great Jewish-style brisket in a dutch oven or slow cooker. Aargh. And after many failures, we were about to throw in the towel.

brisket4But just as we had given up, we heard about Aaron Franklin and his YouTube barbecue series. Aaron Franklin, it turns out, is considered one of the best (really, the best) pitmaster in Austin Texas. People we trust (friends and pros) sing his praises, and his brisket is the standard by which others are measured. We haven’t been to Franklin’s (yet) but he was kind enough to provide a step-by-step video series on how to make his brisket. So we decided to try just one more time…

brisket6And it worked. The steps are simple, but detailed. You need to customize for your gear / setup, but if you get the spirit of it, you will have some very tasty brisket. We heavily recommend suggest you watch the series, but here are the basics: get a good piece of brisket (whole brisket, Creekstone or Certified Angus, don’t worry about the cost, this dish feeds an army and is affordable), trim it well, season it evenly with salt and pepper, smoke it over oak for about 12 hours (depending on the brisket), keep water pans in the smoker, wrap the brisket in butcher paper (or foil, the “Texas crutch”) about halfway through cooking, when done let it rest and then slice pencil thick and serve. And if you just have to have sauce, Franklin gives you a good recipe.

brisket7Oh, and do it 3 or 4 times over the summer. Each time you will get a bit better, and each time your family and friends will eat a bit more. A good project.

brisket8Now, we will cop to making some changes to deal with our Big Green Egg smoker. We use charcoal and wood chunks, and not just wood. And we use local red oak, rather than Texas post oak (and just a touch of local apple wood as well). And since we smoke on a Green Egg over somewhat direct heat, which can dry out barbecue in long cooking, so we decided to wrap in foil and finish the last few hours on the oven. Many will consider this sacrilege, but we know our Green Egg, and finishing in the oven works better (sorry purists, it does). But if you have a an offset smoker, you should be able to wrap the brisket and finish it on the smoker.

brisket10What do you get? More flavor than you would ever expect. And the juiciest, tenderest meat you can imagine. The magic of smoke never ceases to amaze. The bark has the complexity of good wine, the meat is sweet and the fat like butter (but way better). It may have taken 12-14 hours, but it will be time well spent. Now just slice and serve with some slaw, maybe some white bread, and sauce if you like. Then serve the large group assembled around you…and take a nap….you deserve it.

brisket1BBQ Brisket, Franklin Style:

(Adapted from Aaron Franklin video series)

Notes Before You Start:

  • You need a “full packer” brisket that includes the “point” and “flat” sections of the brisket. It should be at least 10-12 pounds, if possible (and they go much bigger). Franklin uses Creekstone Farms beef (you can order online) and we do as well. This is the good stuff and worth the money.
  • If you trust your butcher to trim the brisket to your specs, have him (or her) do it. Otherwise, follow the steps in the video.
  • While you can use any wood for smoking, this style really works best with oak. Maybe a touch of fruitwood. But heavily flavors like hickory or mesquite will dominate the basic salt and pepper rub.
  • Always use a water pan (or two) while smoking to keep humidity in the smoker.

What You Get: A true American classic.

What You Need: A real smoker of some form. A Webber won’t really work here. An offset smoker would be the best choice.

How Long? Expect about 14 hours for a 12 pound brisket. But it could be more, or a little less. Get started very early in the morning and have beer ready for an all-day event.

Ingredients:

  • 1, 10-12 pound “full packer” brisket
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh ground pepper, finely ground
  • Oak wood, chunks or chips, for smoking.

Assemble:

  1. Trim the fat layer on the “flat” section of the brisket to 1/4 inch. Trim all the thick, hard fat around the “point” section. Trim any super-thin sections of the meat that will burn during long-cooking.
  2. Mix the salt and pepper in a bowl and lightly cover all the brisket with salt and pepper. Keep mixing the salt and pepper as you go, to keep even distribution. Avoid clumps or spots of extra rub. You do not need to use all the rub. Set brisket aside.
  3. Set up your smoker to smoke at 225 to 250 F degrees (Franklin runs closer to 250 F). Add your wood and then add the brisket. Add water pans. Cook for 6 hours, adding wood as needed. Check the brisket (internal temp will prolly be 130-150 F). Wrap the brisket in butcher paper or foil and cook another 5-7 hours (finish in the oven, if you like). Look for an internal temperature of about 195 F. Or see if all (both “flat” and “point”) of the meat is soft and “jiggles” to the touch. Remove from the heat and rest, in the paper or foil, 45-60 minutes.
  4. To serve, slice the “flat” section of the brisket, across the grain, in pencil-thin slices. The grain for the “point” section runs in the other direction. So rotate the “point” 90 degrees, cut it in half, and then serve in pencil-thin slices. Look for, and find, the grain before you slice.
  5. Serve with slaw, white bread and some sauce, if you must like.
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32 thoughts on “BBQ Brisket, Franklin Style

    • Yes you can use the weber or WSM, the big issue is the size of the brisket. If you use a weber w/ a hot and cold side , a 10+ pound brisket won’t fit. It barely fits in the green egg or WSM.

      We love our weber, but for smoking the layout was a problem. Thus the egg…

      • I’ve done it with pretty good results. I made the hot side about one-quarter of the cold side, separating with a wall of triple thick foil, which made enough room for a ten-pound brisket. …And Franklin’s is worth the wait, but Snow’s in Lexington Texas is also great

    • Thanks. Smoking in the texas-style is the way to go (IMHO). So much flavor from such a simple approach. It all comes down to time…come to think of it, there are quite a few Italian recipes that follow the same simple but slow method…

      • We were at a brilliant place of Time Sq and I had the Texas Brisket – excellent – but the portions were so big … Virgils BBQ it was called. Full to the rim. Great service .. great food, but far too much.

  1. We’ve tried brisket a couple of times and were happy with the results. However, I’m always searching for the “perfect” recipe, and I’ve bookmarked this page for our next brisket session.

    The best thing about brisket? The leftovers!

  2. Pingback: ‘Cue, Cocktails And Cake For Memorial Day « Putney Farm

  3. Franklin BBQ has been on my culinary wish list for quite awhile, thanks for posting about the video series (next best thing)! I’m saving for a big green egg the way other people save for a new car, so I will keep this post tagged for when I finally empty out the nickel jar and get one. Yours looks absolutely delicious, bravo!

    • Thanks. The egg is worth it (IMHO). It takes some time to master but once you get the recipes you like, you will use it all the time. Good for high-heat cooking also, btw…

  4. ‘What You Need: A real smoker of some form. A Webber won’t really work here.’

    Come on now.
    I’ll going to assume you meant a Weber kettle won’t work. But if you meant a Webber Smokey Mountain won’t work, please elaborate. And to say it’s not a real smoker? Are you sponsored by BGE?

    • Just the kettle. A big brisket 14 pound brisket won’t fit if you are smoking using banked coals. The webber smoker is just fine, however.

      I will correct the article…thx. And certainly not sponsored by BGE- if you read some of our other articles we don’t always love the BGE….

  5. I find it sooooooo hard to believe that anyone would spend over a 100$ for a brisket! I just cant imagine. Yes, I am reading what the professionals say and probably do. But how in the world could you make any money selling to the public with a cost that high per lb? So, really. I mean really do they spend that much for a brisket? (Creekstone Farms)

    • Let’s say Franklin pays $130 for a 14 lber.
      With trimming, shrinkage after cooking let’s be generous and say he gets 9 lbs from it. I don’t know what he charges per lb but at $18/lb, he’s barely breaking even on the cost of the meat. Factoring in overhead, he’s probably losing money on them.

      So why would he buy from there?
      I’d go with consistency and quality for starters. If time is money, he’s got to know that the meat he is putting out will all cook in a certain time frame, taste the same as his previous cooks, and be worthy of the Franklin moniker.

      Plus at the volume he’s doing, I hope he’s getting a rock star deal from them.

      • Like I said in earlier comment- retail vs. wholesale pricing and discounts at volume. I also wouldn’t be surprised if big names like Franklin get a break for branding / marketing purposes…

    • They get wholesale prices and buy in volume. My guess is that Franklin gets Creekstone briskets at less than $70 for 14 pounds. I believe they sell at $16 per pound in the store, so they get a 3x markup. A decent margin…

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