Easy Does It

There’s no need to tend the fire, baste or wrap the brisket. You can go from a fresh brisket to a tender, great-tasting brisket in about 18 hours with only about 30 minutes of work.

The Brisket
A brisket is one of the nine primal cuts of beef. It is a motion muscle, which means normal grilling with a short cooking time is out of the picture. The thick muscle fibers need a slow cooking time at low temperature. This is normally where the slow and labor-intensive process on the grill comes into play. This technique is not really barbecuing, but it will save you a large amount of time while giving you a moist and juicy finished product.

The Rub
You can use your favorite commercial rub or make your own. I like the rub to sit on the brisket for at least 3 to 4 hours, or overnight. A double batch should be enough for a whole brisket (a whole brisket will weigh between 10 and 14 pounds). Feel free to taste, add other spices and herbs, and adjust as necessary.

The Smoke
You don’t have to have a special smoker. Light a small pile of coals on the side of the grill. Once the coals have turned gray, toss a handful of wood chips onto the fire, and allow them to start smoldering. Place the brisket on the opposite side of grill and close the lid. Allow the smoke to build for 15 to 20 minutes with vents on the grill closed, then remove the brisket from the grill and put it in the oven.

The Heat
You may have to tend to a fire for six to nine hours with a normal brisket on a barbecue, but this method lets you cheat a little. Since the oven has such precise temperature regulation (compared to a grill or smoker), I like to take it down to an extremely low temperature: 225 degrees for a conventional oven, and 200 for a convection oven. This allows the brisket to cook slowly while I do other things. It works especially well overnight. The size of your brisket — whole, half or a section — will determine your cooking time. A whole brisket, or the point half, may need eight to nine hours in the oven to become tender.

Basic Barbecue Rub
5 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
½ tablespoon cayenne

Easy Brisket Recipe
1 whole brisket
Basic Barbecue Rub (double the recipe)

Rub brisket and allow to rest in refrigerator for at least 3 to 4 hours or overnight. Make a small fire of charcoal in a grill, add wood chips, and allow to smolder. Place brisket on grill and smoke for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and place on a sheet tray or other baking dish and place in the oven. Bake at 225 degrees (200 in a convection oven) for 6 to 9 hours. The brisket should be tender but not falling apart. When sliced, the slices should stay together when held, but easily pull apart. Serve by itself or on a bun, with barbecue sauce or however you like.

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