Texas-Style Beef Brisket On A Charcoal Grill

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12 lb whole beef brisket
¼ cup ground black pepper
¼ cup kosher salt
126 charcoal briquettes, divided (see below) plus 3 additional quarts
13"x9" disposable aluminum pan
6 cups water
5 wood chunks for smoke - hickory, apple, pecan, or oak

The "Franklin's rub according to John Lewis of La Barbecue" rub

8 parts coarse ground pepper
3 parts Lawry's Seasoned Salt
3 parts kosher salt (Diamond Crystal as it is less salty)
1 part granulated garlic.
  • Rub the brisket with a 50-50 mixture of yellow mustard and dill pickle juice first before sprinkling on the rub.


The day before cooking:

  1. Trim excess fat from the brisket, leaving ¼ to ½" layer of fat. Trim off any edges of the brisket that are less than 1" thick.
  2. Combine salt and pepper in a bowl and sprinkle over both sides and the edges of the brisket.
  3. Place brisket on a sheet tray, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight, 12 to 24 hours.

10 hours before serving:

  1. Put 10 charcoal briquettes in a chimney starter and light it.
  2. Create a "charcoal snake" around the outside of the grill: Place 58 briquettes in a double row, side by side, shingled over each other so they touch, tightly up against the outside wall of the grill. There should be about an 8" gap between the "head" and the "tail" of this "snake." Repeat this again, with another 58 briquettes, stacking this second "snake" on top of the first.
  3. Open the bottom vent of the grill completely and place a 13"x9" disposable aluminum pan in the center of the grill. Fill the pan with 6 cups of water.
  4. Evenly space five wood chunks on top of the charcoal "snake," starting about 4" from the head of the snake. Hickory, apple, pecan, or oak wood are recommended.
  5. When briquettes in the chimney starter are fully lit, pour them over the "head" of the charcoal snake. Be sure to keep them away from the tail of the snake so that the snake only burns in one direction, from the head around to the tail.
  6. Place cooking grate over the top of coals, clean with a wire brush, and wipe the grate with an oiled paper towel using tongs to clean and lube the grate.
  7. Place brisket on the grate fat side down with the point over the gap between the head and the tail of the charcoal snake.
  8. Insert a thermometer into the fattest part of the point, over halfway up from the grate so that it is far enough from the coals.
  9. Cover the grill with lid, with the lid vent fully open and positioned above the point.
  10. Cook 4-5 hours until the thermometer registers 170°F. Do not remove the grill cover while the brisket cooks. There will be a "stall" in the temperature rise starting around 150°, don't panic. The snake will burn for 6 hours and the brisket will reach temp around 5 hours in.
  11. Remove brisket from the grill and wrap in tin foil. Be sure to keep track of the orientation of the brisket as it comes off the grill. It must be returned to the grill in the same orientation it had when it was removed. Use two large pieces of tin foil arranged at right angles to each other. Wrap as tightly as possible leaving no air gaps between the foil and the meat.
  12. Using the charcoal chimney to measure add another 3 quarts of charcoal briquettes to the snake, starting at the unlit tail of the snake and extending around over the gap and the now-burned-up head of the snake. This should extend the burning time of the snake by at least another 2 hours.
  13. Return the wrapped brisket to the grill, fat side down with the point over where the gap used to be. Reinsert the thermometer. Cover and cook until the thermometer registers 205°F. about 2 hours.
  14. Place brisket in a cooler fat side up for 2-3 hours to finish cooking by residual heat. Use a cooler that has a tight seal. The internal temperature will drop to 160°F.
  15. Slice and serve.


Cooks Country - August/September 2018