Look, everyone wants to cook “competition quality” meat. However, I’ll be the first to tell you that when you’re enjoying BBQ at home, forget cooking like the pros. Cook good-eating BBQ and you’re family will be happier for it. This recipe for a backyard smoked brisket flat is just that, an easy recipe that will result in tender brisket that you and your family and friends will love. I used my new Coal Play Beef Rub for this, and the flavor was fantastic.
Packer briskets vs flats
A whole brisket is comprised of 2 main muscles, which are most commonly termed the “flat” and the “point.” They are separated by a layer of fat, and can easily be separated. The point is commonly used to make brisket burnt ends, corned beef, and pastrami. You will almost never find raw brisket points for sale, as they are swallowed up by large meat manufacturers for corned beef and pastrami usually. Brisket flats are available in most meat markets, warehouse clubs, and even grocery stores, but sometimes the price for the flat is close to the same as if you bought a whole brisket. With that being said, if you find a sale on a flat, buy that. If you don’t, buy a whole packer brisket and trim out the pieces (as most competitors do.) If you want to cook both pieces, you can follow this same recipe, or turn the point into brisket burnt ends. Or, you can save the point and make corned beef or pastrami, or grind it into the most amazing burgers ever.
Buying a Brisket Flat for the backyard BBQ
Look, competition people are buying $300 wagyu grade briskets. That’s just crazy when you want to just have a great dinner at the house. The brisket flat I purchased for this recipe was 2.99/lb, on sale, at a local warehouse club. Beef prices are absolutely crazy right now, so I know this was a deal as it was even below what I buy whole brisket for at my restaurants. However, keep an eye out and you can sometimes find these deals.
As I said, I always look at the price/lb of a flat vs a whole packer. If you buy a whole packer, there are plenty of videos out there on how to separate the point from the fat (just follow the fat line with a sharp knife.) Make some Gochujang Brisket Burnt Ends to blow away your neighbors with the point. Other than that, just grab what’s best according to the price. For this recipe, I used an upper-choice Angus brisket flat. It was amazing for a dinner with the family. Would it have placed in a contest? Probably not, but I wasn’t aiming for that, I was aiming for a good dinner, not a trophy.
Competition BBQ vs Home BBQ
There is a major difference in the goals of competition BBQ cooks and home BBQ cooks. Competition BBQ cooks are enslaved by the idea that they have to pack as much flavor and “umph” in one bit of their bbq. The reality is, they really do have to do that. Most BBQ judges take one bite of a product and score on that bite. Therefore, spending an immense amount of money on a wagyu brisket, marinating, injection, smoking, dipping the slices, coating them with your secret sauce, etc may or may not be worth it, depending on the judge who tries your product. But we’re not talking about one bite, we’re talking about dinner!
The difference here is that we aren’t going to babysit this brisket forever. We’re not going to “spritz and turn” every 15 minutes, we’re going to get an amazing smoke flavor, we’re going to season it so it has an awesome flavor, and we’re going to slice it and enjoy it with the family!
The Backyard Smoked Brisket Flat Cooking Process
Ok, so here’s where you get to decide how you want to cook. The first thing to determine is what smoker/grill you are cooking on. They all will cook differently, even given the same temperature. So, look at this recipe as a method, not an absolute.
Secondly, I specify cooking at 275 degrees in this recipe for 5 hours, then rested for an hour. Depending on your smoker, you may need more or less time.For this, I was using a Traeger Timberline with a smoke tube for extra flavor. The hotter you cook, the higher internal temperature you may need to get to. There is no “brisket is done at xxx degrees.”A good rule of thumb is to start checking for tenderness when the brisket achieves 200 degrees. For this brisket, I didnt’t pull it off the grill until it reached 208 degrees. Test for tenderness by inserting the probe of your thermometer. When it’s “like butter” the brisket is done.