Here is a method of cooking a delicious BBQ'd brisket without any need for a meat thermometer or losing sleep. I stopped by my local butcher Friday since I had the day off to see what he had in stock. He had some great looking choice briskets so I picked up a 12 pound packer.
Since I was going to be busy Saturday and Sunday I wanted to cook it Friday but I also wanted it to be done in time for dinner. So, here is what I did.
At 10:30am, I gathered some ingredients to make a quick injection and a rub. The injection was made with Campbell's beef consomme, fine grind black pepper and granulated garlic. The consomme has all the salt that is needed so I didn't add any.
I didn't do much trimming of the brisket. I only trimmed off the stuff that I didn't like to look at and also removed a little of the fat and membrane from the top of the brisket to help with the bark.
After I trimmed it, I injected it. The idea behind the injection was just to get some seasonings down inside the meat. I didn't have time to let it sit for more than an hour but any time with an injection inside is better than none, IMO.
After I injected it, I rubbed it with Smokin' Guns Hot, black pepper, granulated garlic and ancho chili powder. I also made a cut (see upper right "corner" of brisket) to serve as a guide when slicing it to make sure I am slicing against the grain once it's done.
At this point, I let the brisket sit on the kitchen counter while I started a fire and brought my keg up to 325 degrees F. I used three big chunks of white oak for smoke. Since I am cooking hot and fast, I wanted to make sure that the brisket got plenty of smoke from the wood. Once the keg was up to temp, I put the brisket on and let it cook. For about the next two hours I let the temp bounce around between 325 and 350 but no higher in temp.
After about two hours I took a look at the brisket to see if the bark was developing and the color was where I wanted it. I don't really care what the internal temp is at this point. At this point in the cook, it's about color not temp. This is the brisket after about two hours. The color was what I was looking for. So, I put it in a pan and sealed it with foil.
While the brisket continued to cook in the foil sealed pan, I made a glaze for the point to make burnt ends. I used about 1/4 cup of molasses, 2 TBS ketchup, 1 TBS mustard, a splash of worsty, and some chipotle chili powder.
The idea behind the glaze is to replicate the bark that comes from a long low and slow brisket cook. The molasses will caramelize and produce a pretty good bark in relatively short period of time.
After about 2 hours of the brisket cooking in the foil wrapped pan I began probing the brisket for tenderness. I just probed right through the foil and didn't remove it. I probed each end and the middle. When all spots probed like butter (after about 2 hours and 15 minutes) I removed the brisket from the smoker and wrapped it in a blanket and let it rest for 1 hour.
This is the brisket after a 1 hour rest.
I then separated the point from the flat.
Trimmed off the stuff I didn't want to eat.
Applied the glaze to the point and put it back in the keg for about another hour. The temp was around 330 degrees F.
I sliced the flat.
I cut the point into chunks.
Then, ate a dinner of delicious, moist and tender BBQ brisket at about 6:30pm. The extra bit of smoke from the oak chunks came through too. There was no mistaking this BBQ brisket with roast beef. It was tender, juicy and full of flavor. And, that time the point spent in the hot smoker really rendered the fat and just added a delicious "beefy" goodness to the whole thing.
Sunday, I had BBQ beef fajitas.
So, in summary, forget the meat thermometer. Keep your cooker at a minimum of 325F and no more than 350. Use an extra chunk of wood or two to concentrate the smoke because of the short cook time. Foil the meat when it reaches the color you like. Cook in the foil until probes like butter. Wrap in a blanket for 1 hour. Separate the point and the flat, trim, glaze, put the point back in the smoker for at least an hour at 325F - 350F. Slice, eat, enjoy! Don't sweat it. The key is maintain the proper temp, foil when the color is good, remove from cooker when it probes like butter. That's it. Simple but very effective.