Passover Brisket: The Ultimate Guide
There are two equally delicious ways to prepare brisket for Passover. Braising brisket with a delicious sauce, onions, and carrots is traditional for many families. Over the years some families have replaced the braised brisket for a Texas-style smoked brisket.
The braised-style brisket has evolved over the years. Ketchup and chili sauce were added for flavor once Heinz received their Kosher designation in 1927. Coca-Cola received their Kosher certification in 1935 and people would use Coca-Cola to braise the brisket referred to as Atlanta brisket.
As the cattle business boomed in Texas, the more desirable cuts were shipped out via railroad. Brisket was less popular and was left behind for the local barbecue. Texas-style brisket was seasoned and smoked low and slow for 10-plus hours to make it tender.
How does you family do brisket for Passover? Braised or smoked?
In a recent blog, “A Holiday Tradition: Aunt Annette’s Holiday Brisket!” I shared a smoke-braised brisket recipe from Steven’s book The Brisket Chronicles. It was delicious. I had only ever eaten smoked brisket. The braised brisket with fruit and wine was an awesome surprise.
So, it’s time to compare the smoke-braised brisket with a Texas-style brisket. The Holy Grail Steak Company generously sent me one of their Tajima American Wagyu Competition briskets.
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The Tajima American Wagyu Competition brisket is antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and always humanely raised. The brisket will be tender and juicy due to the amount of marbling in the beef. This brisket is part of the American Wagyu beef program that is only available for a few short months in the summer, so get yours before it’s too late.
Here is how it all came together. Wintry weather and wind can make smoking brisket in New England a challenge. It may also be one the reasons why a braised brisket is more popular in the colder climates.
I’ve learned its easier to trim a brisket when its cold. After trimming the brisket I left it on the kitchen counter for an hour before seasoning. I did not want to throw a cold brisket in the smoker.
To prepare the brisket, I lightly coated the brisket with yellow mustard to help the seasoning stick to the brisket. Next, I seasoned the brisket simply with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Salt and black pepper is the traditional seasoning for a Texas-style brisket. But nowadays, even famous Texas barbecue joints are adding other ingredients to their rubs.
Due to the size of the brisket, I was estimating ten hours (minimum) of smoking time. So, with the hour to warm up the brisket before cooking, a 10-plus hour cook, and a two to three hour rest after smoking, I was looking at fourteen to fifteen hours total time. Don’t skip resting a brisket, or you will have dry brisket and a juicy cutting board. We all want to eat when the brisket comes off the smoker, but your patience will be rewarded.
Now the challenge was serving dinner at a reasonable time for my family and friends knowing the smoking process was going to take all day. To solve my time dilemma, I decided to try something I have never tried when cooking a brisket: an overnight cook. It may not be new to many of you, but I’ve always just gotten up early to cook brisket.
I recently smoked a brisket flat while testing out the brisket boat technique in my pellet smoker. Check out my blog, “All Hands On Deck For Boat Mode Brisket,” to learn more. Due to the results, I decided to use the pellet smoker again for the Tajima American Wagyu Competition brisket from Holy Grail Steak.
My plan was to get the pellet smoker heated up to 200 degrees and then place the brisket on the second shelf. I find I get more smoke at the lower temperatures in the pellet smoker. Also, by using the second shelf, the brisket doesn’t sit right over the heat source and minimizes the chances of the brisket drying out.
The brisket went on at 12:30 a.m. I checked it at 5:30 a.m. and it was already developing a dark color. The internal temperature was 150 degrees. I used a wireless and a wired thermometer to monitor the brisket in different locations since the point was significantly thicker than the flat. The brisket continued to cook for an additional five hours. Once the internal temperature reached 160 degrees, I slowly increased the temperature to 225 degrees to help push through the stall.
Once the brisket reached and internal temperature of 165 degrees, I wrapped it in unlined butcher paper. I returned the brisket to the smoker and increased the temperature to 250 degrees and smoked it for an additional three and half hours to reach an internal temperature of 203 degrees.
Once the brisket came off the smoker, I placed it in a cooler, but left the top open for the first 45 minutes to prevent overcooking. I closed the top to the cooler and the brisket rested for an additional two hours. Total smoking time was thirteen and a half hours.
The brisket developed a dark and crispy bark before it was wrapped. It was less crispy when it was pulled from the paper, as expected, but still dark and flavorful. The brisket flat was one of the best I have ever tasted. The slices from the flat were juicy, smoky, and so tender. The intramuscular fat in the brisket point made those slices succulent and delicious. The fat rendered from the flat and the point. My favorite comment from one of my friends was, “I don’t know the difference between the flat and the point; it’s all delicious.”
If you serve a Holy Grail Steak Tajima American Wagyu Competition brisket Texas-style for Passover, you might not ever go back to the braised brisket. It will definitely spark a family debate over the best way to prepare brisket for Passover.
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