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How to make Texas Brisket

Written by Heather Vecchioni

Savory, succulent and delicious, Texas brisket is the epitome of good barbecue. Dripping with seasoning and flavor, Texas brisket is a substantial cut of meat that is smoked for a good portion of the day in order to encourage and entice all of the meat's natural goodness to make itself known. Not only does making Texas brisket provide you with a decadent meal, it also allows you to spend time outdoors cooking with your grill on the patio which adds enjoyment to the experience.

The first step in creating great brisket is choosing the cut of meat. Brisket comes from the chest of the cow. Your butcher will be able to help you decide what brisket to choose for your intended purpose and how many people you are cooking for. Brisket typically is larger on one end and tapers to a smaller size on the other end. Depending on which brisket you choose, it may also be covered in a layer of fat. If so, use a sharp carving knife to slice off the fat until it is about 1/2-inch on the smaller end. Try your best to completely remove the fat on the bigger end, as the meat inside is marbled with fat and does not need the added layer.

Smoked beef brisket is available from specialty meat retailers. Smoked brisket is pre-cooked and ready to serve. Smoked beef brisket can be placed on the grill for about 30 minutes to heat before it is served. It is usually accompanied by Texas barbeque sauce.

One of the most important steps in making fresh Texas brisket is marinating the meat. Marinating the brisket adds extra flavor to the meat, as well as making the meat tenderer. Every barbecue chef has his own preference as to what goes into the marinade. The best way to go about this is to start with flavors you like, then add or take away certain ingredients as you see fit based on results. One recipe for a tasty marinade to is made by chopping a large onion and eight garlic cloves together in a blender or small food processor until they have formed a paste. Add three tablespoons of fresh, ground black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Using your hands, rub the mixture all over the brisket--you may want to wear gloves considering all of the pepper being used. Place the brisket in a large bag, along with any left over mixture, and allow the meat to marinade in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours; 48 hours would be even better.

When you are ready to cook the Texas brisket, fire up the grill to 200-degrees Fahrenheit. Place the meat fat-side down on the grill grate, close the lid and allow the meat to cook for an hour. You can take a peek at the brisket after about an hour. You will likely notice it is starting to turn red because of the smoke. After another half hour, check the bottom of the brisket to make sure it isn't scorched. In addition, at this time, you should "mop" the brisket, which means basting the brisket in a flavorful liquid. Mop sauce should never contain neither tomato nor sugar as these ingredients burn easily. Instead, combine two cups of water with 1/2 cup of freshly-squeezed lemon juice, one teaspoon of water and one stick of melted butter. Of course, add any other seasonings you find tasty. Use a small rag mop to baste the brisket and mop it whenever it starts to look dry, usually about every 45 minutes.

Typically, a 12-lb. brisket takes about eight hours to cook completely. The internal temperature of the brisket at its thickest area should not read higher than 170-degrees Fahrenheit - a temperature that is higher can result in tough, chewy meat. Once the brisket is done, apply a finishing sauce, either from a bottle or homemade. Allow the brisket to rest about 20 minutes to a half an hour before slicing into it so that the flavorful juices do not run out.


Once you know how to make a Texas brisket, you will likely do so often. Brisket is the perfect main course for an outdoor party, as it goes great with many spring and summer-time favorites, including cold, refreshing drinks and fresh vegetables. Slice the brisket in front of for a stunning presentation and enjoy good food, great friends and wonderful times.