Bacon-Smoked Brisket FlatSteven Raichlen
True barbecued brisket fanatics have ambivalent feelings about brisket flats. On the plus side, flats are widely available and they cook in a manageable 6 to 8 hours. They’re easy to slice, rewarding you with lean, clean, even, smoky slices of beef. On the minus side, they lack the intramuscular marbling and intermuscular fat of a whole packer brisket or brisket point, and their tough, stringy meat fibers have a tendency to dry out. Well, flats are what you’re most likely to find at your local supermarket, so it behooves you to know how to cook one.
The secret: Cook the at in a foil pan (to shield the bottom) draped in bacon (to protect and baste the top). Follow the techniques outlined here and your brisket at will always be tender and moist.
More Recipes from Episode 202: Brisket 24/7
Bacon-Smoked Brisket Flat
- Advance Prep: 15 minutes
- Grill Time: 6 to 8 hours, plus 1 to 2 hours for resting
- Yield: Serves 6 to 8
- Method: Barbecuing
- Equipment: Smoker or charcoal grill; A large (13-by-9-inch) aluminum foil pan; wood logs, chunks, or soaked, drained hardwood chips; a metal bowl or aluminum foil pan; tongs; a digital instant-read thermometer (preferably remote); an insulated cooler (optional); a welled cutting board
- 1 brisket flat (4-1/2 to 5 pounds)
- Coarse sea salt
- Cracked black peppercorns or freshly ground black peppercorns
- Hot red pepper flakes (optional)
- 16 thick-cut strips artisanal bacon, such as Nueske’s
1: Season the brisket: Place the brisket in the foil pan and generously season the top, bottom, and sides with salt, black pepper, and if you like your brisket spicy, hot red pepper flakes. Finish with the lean (fatless) side up.
2: Set up your smoker, cooker, or grill following the manufacturer’s instructions and heat it to 250°F. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer. Place a metal bowl with 1 quart warm water in the smoker—this creates a humid environment that will help the smoke adhere to the meat and keep your brisket moist.
3: Place the brisket in its pan in the smoker. Smoke for 1 hour. (This gets smoke into the underside of the meat.)
4: Using tongs, invert the brisket so the fat side is up. Neatly drape the top with half the bacon slices. Cook the brisket until the bacon on top are darkly browned, 2 hours or so. Remove the bacon, dice, and eat it as a reward for your patience.
5: Lay the remaining bacon strips atop the brisket. Continue cooking until these new bacon strips are darkly browned and the and the internal temperature of the brisket registers 205°F on an instant-read thermometer. There should be a nice pool of bacon and brisket fat in the bottom of the pan. This will take another 3 to 4 hours, for a total of 6 to 8 hours in all. Note: There is no need to wrap the brisket in butcher paper or aluminum foil as the foil pan covers the bottom; the bacon covers the top.
6: You can eat the brisket immediately, but it will be more moist and tender if you rest it, loosely covered with aluminum foil in an insulated cooler for 1 hour.
7: To serve, uncover the brisket and transfer it to a cutting board. Remove the bacon or slice it along with the brisket. Cut across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices, or as thickly or thinly as you desire. Serve with any condiments or accompaniments you like.
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Steven Raichlen’s Project Fire is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2019 Barbacoa, Inc. Photos by Chris Bierlein.