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Red Gum BBQ – Beef Brisket

Pitmaster and owner of Red Gum BBQ, Martin Goffin, shares method for cooking a proper Red Gum Beef Brisket.

Here’s what you’ll need

  • 5kg beef brisket
  • Meat probe
  • Red Gum (or another slow-burning hard wood, like Ironbark)
  • Meat rub
  • Heat Beads® BBQ Briquettes

Beef brisket…considered by many as the pinnacle of BBQ. If you can cook a good brisket then you are doing something right. What I initially found to be a frustrating cut has come to have a special place in my heart; but as most of my personal BBQ adventures have been on the East Coast, Southern states of the US (where BBQ means pork), well for me, the piggy is king.

In saying that – when brisket is done right, my goodness, it is AWESOME (and rivals even my dearest piggy). In this instalment you’ll find some of the tips I’ve learned in my BBQ travels for how to cook a great brisket.

A little info about brisket

The brisket is from the chest of the cow so it is a working muscle and is inherently tough. The brisket has two muscles, the point and the flat. The flat is the lean muscle that sits just above the rib cage and the point muscle sits on top of the flat. The point is fattier and hence, juicier. Saying that, I can now get my flat to be melt-in-your-mouth tender, but this has taken a lot of practice.

Going to your butcher

My suggestion is to hit up your ‘in the know’ butcher and ask for a point end brisket. The briskets that I buy weigh around 5kg. I have cooked smaller and larger but I think 5kg is perfect. You may have trouble getting hold of a point end brisket as most of the briskets sold have all the fat removed and rolled, but look further – what you want is all the fat left on. You will need to trim the fat to a ¼ inch or about 6mm. I trim very little off my briskets as I buy free range, grass fed beef that is fairly lean.

Time to cook your brisket

I put what’s called a Dalmatian rub on my briskets – just salt and cracked pepper (get it… Dalmation – black and white). I cook them between 225°C-250°F or 107°C–122°C. Briskets will take a while – usually up to 18hrs to cook but as I’ve said before, there is no hard and fast rule, they are done when they are done. I cook my briskets through the night, which for me, is an easier method than waking at the crack of dawn and getting to bed again in the early morning. If you want do this, make sure you set your alarm to feed the Pit every couple of hours. Ensure you’re using a slow burning hard wood like Red Gum or Ironbark to cook with, as you don’t want to be in and out of bed. You should also add some briquettes to your fire as they have a predictable burn time and will help you maintain temperature.

The great debate: To wrap or not to wrap, the Texas crutch

You will find at some point in your cook that your brisket will stall and sit on a temperature between 165°F-175°F. This is when many people will decide to either wait it out for the temperature to rise, or to wrap then briskets in tinfoil or butchers paper to get things finished quicker. My preference is to wait it out to maintain the bark but I will also wrap a brisket if I need to. I don’t think there is a right or wrong choice, it’s just preference.

It is done when it is done

People always discuss what temperature they cook their briskets to, right and wrong temperatures, or whether you should cook it to a certain temperature at all. I’m great believer in the “whatever works for you” philosophy: if you can tell your brisket is cooked perfectly from the look and feel then that’s great. If you can’t and you use a meat probe, then that’s all good too.

I use a meat probe to check temps and this is my preference. I check the temp in both the point and the flat. I have never had a brisket cooked so it is melt-in-your-mouth with an internal temp of 185°F which I see noted as the done temp often. I cook my briskets to 195°F–200°F in the flat and 200°F-205°F in the point. This works for me. I also pick up the brisket to feel it and if it feels loose then it is pretty good. It also should be super black when done.

Keep it simple & have fun

I like to keep my brisket cooking simple. I don’t inject my briskets to keep them moist and I use a simple rub.

BBQ is as much about having fun cooking for people as it is creating great food, so remember to enjoy it. I love cooking BBQ and believe that there are any number of ways to create the perfect BBQ. So, experiment, try new things. Play around with wood, rubs and sauce. Keep on smokin’!

Thanks Martin! Visit Martin & the Red Gum BBQ team at facebook.com/redgumbbq