It's July 4th weekend and it's time for a cook out. It's been a few years since I smoked some brisket, and I was specifically asked by my son and daughter to please, please do it. Naturally, I thought I would document it here :). A few days ago, I thought I would take photos, but that idea got overlooked at 6 this morning. I rolled out of bed at 5:50 am, had the fire lit and put the meat on to smoke by 6:50.\n\nOn Tuesday I bought two large briskets at Costco. The two smallest ones I could find were 7.6 and 8.6 lbs. There were more that were 9+ lbs :eek:. These were brisket flats, not the packer's cut which includes the point. At Costco, the brisket was $6.89\/pound. As I found later, there was a lot of fat – maybe a total of 1 lb. – on these I trimmed off. Whole Foods also had large brisket flats that were very nicely trimmed, but they cost $10\/pound.\n\nI have found that there are two kinds of fat on brisket. The softer fat comes in thin sheets, and can render nicely as the meat is cooked. Thicker layers of hard fat which doesn't render, must be cut off. Some people love the fat, others would rather eat lean meat. I like it lean, but I understand that some fat is needed to keep the meat from drying out. Too much fat prevents the smoke from entering the meat. So, I've found the fat layer should be less than ¼" thick.\n\nOn Thursday, I trimmed most of the fat off the meat, measured to see if each was small enough to fit on 18" diameter grill racks. I had to cut one end off the larger flat so it fit. And I covered the meat with dry rub and pressed it in. Then I refrigerated the meat in a large covered plastic box. This recipe (from Legends of Texas Barbecue by Robb Walsh, page 218) makes enough for two large brisket flats:\n\n3 Tbl spoon Sea salt or kosher salt *\n2½ Tbl spoon Dark brown sugar\n2 Tbl spoon Paprika\n2 tea spoon Dry Mustard\n2 tea spoon Garlic granules\n2 tea spoon Onion granules\n1½ tea spoon Dried basil\n¾ tea spoon Ground coriander\n¾ tea spoon Ground savory\n¾ tea spoon Dried thyme\n¾ tea spoon Ground black pepper\n¾ tea spoon Ground white pepper\n⅛ tea spoon Ground cumin\n\n* Note about salt: The original recipe in the book called for ¼ cup (4 Tbl spoons) of salt. It made the brisket nice and tender, but it tasted too salty. My brother tried 50% salt (⅛ cup, 2 Tbl spoon) and the meat didn’t tenderize despite plenty of extra cooking time. He later tried a kosher brisket (brined with salt water),dry rubbed it with 50% of the salt in the original recipe, and it did get tender. It seems the salt in the rub or the brine soak helps to keep moisture inside the meat during cooking. Apparently, this is needed to get it tender. Finally, I tried 75% as much salt (3 Tbl spoon) with a non-kosher brisket and it was just right.\n\nLiberally cover the entire surface of the meat with dry rub mixture and press it in. I let meat sit refrigerated in rub overnight. One hour is said to be OK, but the shortest time I've done was overnight.\n\nSmoke for 3-4 hours at about 250° F (±15°). Then wrap meat in aluminum foil and cook 3-4 more hours. I use a Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) smoker with a water pan. I used an electronic meat thermometer with two probes, one as a meat thermometer and another to monitor the top rack temperature in the smoker. The remote electronic meat thermometer I now use is a ThermoPro TP08 Wireless Remote Digital Meat Thermometer.\n\nI poured 1 large starter chimney of unlit hardwood charcoal into the fire bowl. Then I refilled the chimney, put 3 pieces of crumpled newspaper underneath, lit it, and after ~15 minutes added the lit charcoal on top of the unlit charcoal. I added cherry, apple, or pecan wood chunks, at least 6-8.\n\nI assembled rest of smoker with water pan and meat on two racks and lid. Fire\/heat resistant gloves are useful. Smoke for about 3-4 hours at ≤250° F. Every hour, stir the charcoal to clear away ash. Add charcoal or wood as needed. After that, I removed meat, making sure to put the lid back on so that fire didn’t heat up.\n\nAfter 3-4 hours, use 18" wide heavy duty aluminum foil to wrap the meat so it’s sealed inside the foil. A single layer of foil can stick to the smoker rack and tear when you remove it. So, place another sheet of foil on the rack underneath it, or wrap it in two layers of foil.\n\nPut the meat back into smoker for ≥3 more hours at 250-300° until meat is ≥190° F. Cooking longer will do no harm, it won’t dry out unless the aluminum foil tears. During this step, I add more charcoal to the fire to maintain temperature, but did not add more wood chunks or water in the pan. Inside the foil, the meat produces enough liquid to simmer & steam the brisket until it becomes tender. It does not produce that crunchy bark.\n\nBrisket contains a high amount of collagen, a tough meat protein. It must denature (melt) during cooking for tenderness. The salt in the dry rub, plus heating to 190° is necessary for tenderness.\n\nAfter cooking, let meat rest inside aluminum foil for at least 1 hour. The liquid from the meat, trapped inside the foil does partially reabsorb during this time. When you open the foil, use a large pan to catch this liquid. It’s flavored with smoke, dry rub, and the meat. I add some to a small bowl of barbecue sauce.