Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket

smoke em if you got em

I’m still working on getting my spirits back up, to be honest. It’s hard, as I explained in my last post. I feel guilty for being so emotional about my dog. I know that it’s alright to be sad, but I am trying to think positively. I just get to thinking about all the people out there with real problems, like not having enough food to eat or not being able to pay their rent, while I continue to mope around about my dog being sick. My coworkers, friends, and family have all been really supportive and understanding, though, which makes everything easier as I come to terms with her situation. Such is life, right? Kramer and I kept busy last weekend so that I wouldn’t sit around crying, and I’m really glad that we did. On Friday night, we went out to see Amy Poehler speak at 92Y, which was both exciting and inspiring. We had seen her do improv numerous times at Upright Citizen’s Brigade, not to mention being huge fans of all of her television work, but it was refreshing to hear her speak to her experiences and not have to be totally “on” in front of an audience. Before seeing her, we grabbed some extra thin crust pizza and wine at Vezzo near Kramer’s office, and of course, went out for a drink or two after the show. On Saturday, I went and got my hair done to try to put a spring back into my step (who doesn’t love having someone else blow dry their mane during the summer months?), then met Kramer at El Beit for some delicious iced coffee before grabbing yet another slice at the incomparable Vinnie’s (what can I say? We’re addicts) and strolling through Williamsburg Walks. For dinner, we went over to Cafe de la Esquina, a Manhattan favorite that opened an outpost in Brooklyn a few months ago, with our friend Morgan, followed by drinks at the awesome (and newly outdoor section) of Nitehawk Cinema. We relaxed at home on Sunday, making breakfast with some hen of the woods mushrooms (my favorite) and watching a few movies before tucking in for the season premiere of Falling Skies (not enough of you people watch this fantastic show – I suggest correcting this mistake immediately).

Kramer and I smoked this brisket a few weeks ago when we were dog sitting for our friends Valerie and Tom. They have a grill, and, well, we don’t, so I think we may have eaten every meal right off of the barbecue during our stay at their apartment. We had always wanted to smoke some meat ourselves, but lack of space (and lack of a proper grill) has stopped us up until now. It was quite the experience, figuring out how to regulate the temperature of the coals, getting the wood chips to just the right amount, and keeping a keen eye on the whole operation so that the brisket didn’t end up overdone. We used a simple dry rub, let the meat marinate in it overnight, then spent an entire Sunday working. Kramer specifically requested Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce, so I don’t want to hear any “OMG SODA SUGAR BAD” from anyone – you are free to use whatever barbecue sauce your non-processed heart desires, but I figure, if I’m indulging in a hearty helping of delicious, smoked red meat, a spoonful or two of Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce isn’t going to kill me (although I would appreciate confirmation from a certified doctor on this). Kramer and I dug into these brisket sandwiches like it was our last meal, and let me just say, they were deeeelish (you know, short for delicious). I had to push my plate away from me and proclaim NO MORE because it was so good, my hands kept going back for more even though my brain was begging me to stop before my stomach exploded. Pair this smoked brisket with some lemony macaroni salad and juicy watermelon, and you’ve got yourself a winning summer cook out.

A photo in the car on the way to the airport from my trip to Arizona last week.

Kramer and I saw Amy Poehler speak at 92Y over the weekend – needless to say, it was awesome.

And this is what Kramer and I did while the brisket smoked.

Mia made for a great book rest.

Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
First, gather up your rub ingredients.

Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
Whisk them together in a bowl.

Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
Then rub it generously over the brisket, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 12-24 hours.

Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
Now, make your Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce.

Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
Saute your onion in some oil until translucent.

Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
Add in the rest of your ingredients, and bring to a simmer until thickened, about 10-12 minutes.

Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket

Place the brisket over a drip pan over indirect heat, close the lid, and smoke the meat for 4 hour for a smaller brisket, like ours, or up to 6 to 8 hours for larger cuts. Remove the meat from the grill, wrap it in foil, then place it over direct heat for 30 minutes or so, until the internal temperature is about 185 degrees F.

Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
While you do all of that, please be sure to have a beer or two while you wait.

Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
When the meat is ready, is should look succulent and delicious (see above).

Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
After allow it to rest a bit, begin to thinly slice your meat.

Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
Don’t forget to toast your buns!

Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket

Place a few slices of brisket on your toasted bun and top with some barbecue sauce.

Slow Smoked BBQ BrisketSlow Smoked BBQ Brisket

Slow Smoked BBQ Brisket
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
You don't need to be a pit master to make this fantastic smoked brisket. Enjoy it with our Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce!
For Smoking:
  • 1 4-6 pound brisket (or bigger, if you are feeling adventurous), dry rubbed (recipe below)
  • about 8-10 cups hickory smoked wood chips, soaked overnight
  • 1 drip pan, a bit bigger than your piece of brisket
  • charcoal
For the Dry Rub:
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 12-ounce can Dr. Pepper
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup orange marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)
  1. About 24 hours before you begin grilling, submerge your wood chips underwater - this will make sure that they don't (surprise!) burn to dust. We submerged ours by putting the chips in a large bowl and placed a smaller, weighted bowl on top. Rub your brisket with the dry rub and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then place that in the fridge for 24 hours, too.
  2. The day of smoking, prepare your grill by creating two zones on either side of your grill; one for direct heat and the other for indirect heat. Arrange your charcoal on one side of the grill, creating the direct heat zone, and place your drip pan opposite of the charcoal to create the indirect heat zone. Fill your drip pan with about an inch of water and ignite your charcoal.
  3. Fire your charcoal, giving yourself approximately 30 minutes ahead of your cooking time, to preheat and regulate the temperature of the grill; this may take a bit longer, as all grills are different and, more often than not, wind and air temperature will play a huge factor. It definitely took us about 25-30 minutes to get it right. The grill must reach a stable 225-250 degrees F before you can begin smoking. Once you have your charcoal burning white hot, you can begin to adjust your temperature. Adjust the vents on the bottom of the grill about ⅛th to ¼th of the way open; you will want to leave your top vents approximately half way open. In order to regulate your grill's temperature, you will need to close the lid and adjust the vents accordingly. The more open the vents are, the hotter the fire will burn, so keep that in the back of your mind. You may also have to reduce the number of coals you are using. We found that 8-10 briquettes was an appropriate amount for the right level of heat.
  4. Once you have stabilized the temperature of the grill at around 225-250 degrees F, dry the wood chips with some paper towels, then add two handfuls on top of the burning coals. Place the brisket, fat side up, over the drip pan in the indirect heat zone and close the lid, ensuring that the vents are over the brisket to draw the smoke up over the meat. Once the lid is closed, you want to keep it sealed to maintain the temperature, opening only to add more chips and charcoal.
  5. Maintain the temperature of the smoker by keeping a fresh supply of charcoal coming in. If you are using briquettes, you may need to light them prior to adding them to the smoker since they may not light on their own. Add more wood chips when you are adding your new charcoal. We found that we had to add 4 or 5 fresh briquettes every 60 to 90 minutes.
  6. The amount of time it will take to smoke your brisket depends entirely on your ability to maintain the temperature of the smoker and the size of the cut of meat. Our brisket was relatively small at about 3.5 pounds, so we began to check the internal temperature of the meat at about 4 hours using a meat thermometer every 30 minutes. You want the meat to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F in this initial phase; it took about 5 hours and 30 minutes for our brisket to reach this temperature.
  7. Once you have hit 165 degrees, wrap your brisket in foil to ensure that the juices will not escape the enclosure. Place the wrapped brisket over the direct heat and closely monitor the temperature of the meat until it reaches 185 degrees, or about 30 minutes total for our smaller brisket.
  8. Once the temperature of the brisket reaches 185 degrees F, pull it off of the smoker and let it rest in the foil for at least 30 minutes, or if you can wait that long, up to an hour. Once it is done resting, slice against the grain and serve on buns with your barbecue sauce.
  9. Heat your oil in a medium sized pan, then add in your minced onion and cook over medium-high heat until translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in the Dr. Pepper, tomato paste, orange juice, cider vinegar, and marmalade, and whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat at a simmer, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes or so, until thickened. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. If you like your sauce on the tangier side, you can probably leave it as is, but if you like it a bit sweeter, add about a teaspoon of sugar, taste, and adjust again. Allow the sauce to cool before storing in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

18 Responses

  1. JulieD says:

    First of all, the brisket looks amazing!! We have a smoker and we need to make this soon!
    Second, don’t feel guilty for being sad about your dog. While there are many people suffering around the world like you mentioned, you still have a right to be sad about your dog’s illness. I’m so sorry she’s sick. Hugs to you & your parents & her.

  2. Lindsey says:

    this is making my mouth water and it’s not even noon!

  3. brandi says:

    this looks fabulous!! also, i love your blog name. my hubs and i totally want to start a crepe truck called “crepes of wrath” :)

  4. Ben says:

    Sometimes I wonder if I have walked by you in the big UCB line while on my way to Gristedes (which I despise incidentally).

    Nice brisket btw. Did you go to the Big Apple BBQ event last weekend?

    • Sydney says:

      You probably have, to be honest. And no – I went a few years ago and it was such a crazy swarm of people that I promised myself I wouldn’t attempt again. Did you go?

      • Ben says:

        Sadly, no. Last year, I did get up early and arrived at 10:30. The lines aren’t nearly as bad with only the early birds so I targeted like 2 or 3 places, and was out of there by noon. I was way too tired to do a repeat this year, but I think it would have worked out ok.

        But – contrary to what the diehard Hill Country and Dinosaur fans may say – it really is the only source for top notch BBQ around here.

  5. Shelly says:

    Thank you so much for the recipe, it looks wonderful! But, also, don’t feel bad about your emotions. From one “crazy dog person” to another (I take my 2 year old Pit Mix to Doggy Daycare once a week AND make him homemade dog food – people think I’m nuts!) our dogs are our family members. They provide such unconditional love and support every day. However, I know how you feel, my parents just put down our family dog – a 16 year old Chow mix – and it broke my heart. You’ll be okay! Just keep grieving/feeling and if it could make you feel better, maybe volunteer at a shelter. I’m sure those pups would love a good walk.
    Hope my rambling helps :) Best wishes!

  6. Emily D. says:

    This recipe/these photos is/are really making me wish I owned a grill.

    Also, just because other people have their own problems, that does not detract from the love you have for your dog, and the fact that you are worried for her. I hope she’s starting to feel better.

  7. Tracy A. says:

    I lived in Texas for several years and smoked brisket, along with really good Mexican food, will always have a place in my heart. Thanks for sharing the recipe – I’ve never been able to duplicate the flavor to my liking.

  8. Georgeanne says:

    THIS LOOKS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. YUM! And I’m not even the biggest fan of brisket.. this may make me reconsider.

    And as always, I’m thinking of you & Tessa! <3

  9. Hope Tessa is feeling a bit better! I know it’s been a rough week for you :/ I totally understand when it comes to dogs… My rat terrier is my little sunshine, and there are just no two ways about it. I’d do anything for him, including fly across the country if necessary. Wishing her the best! xoxo

    Now… On to this brisket business. Having never smoked meat myself, I am so freaking excited to have you test it out first. Definitely commandeering my parents’ grill in the near future! So excited to try this out!

  10. Megan says:

    oh my god… this looks too good. wowowowowow


  11. Oh my. This looks perfect! I have never before made a brisket, but I definitely want to now!

  12. Faye says:

    I’ve always been afraid to make brisket but with your detailed instructions I think I’ve mustered the courage to try. It looks absolutely amazing and that watermelon looks so sweet! So sorry about your dog : (

  13. Dude, I’m so jealous! I love Amy Poehler!! And man, I really need to get a smoker ASAP.

  14. Rose says:

    Saving this one for next time I have access to a grill!

    Really I’m just here to say OMGFALLINGSKIESILOVETHATSHOW.


  15. Lynna says:

    dr. pepper bbq sauce? i can imagine eating it right now.. yumm ♥

    And don’t feel guilty! Your readers are here to read about the food you eat and what goes on your life! It`s YOUR blog. :)

  16. Kim in Iowa says:

    Hi! I think I found you on Pinterest! I am making this today. The brisket is on the grill and the bbq sauce on the stove. I see in your ingredients for the sauce you show ground red pepper but dont list it on the sauce ingredient list or an amount. If you could get me this info that would be great. I dont want to mess it up. Thanks for the recipe.

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