Coming from a hardcore BBQ family, I have had the opportunity to use some of the best pellet grills on the market. Thus, I have gotten fairly used to smoking brisket on a Pit Boss pellet grill, allowing me to teach you a thing or two!
In this post, I will show you how to set up your pellet grill and beef brisket for the best results!
Before starting any preparations for your beef brisket, you must first understand the settings on your Pit Boss pellet grill.
When you first start up your Pit Boss pellet grill, you should set it to Smoke mode. Leave it in this mode for 10 minutes, with the lid open.
Starting on the smoke setting ensures that the firepot isn't overloaded with pellets. And, leaving the lid open reduces the risk of overloading the barrel with smoke and thus avoiding a backdraft in the unit.
Once this time is up, close the lid, and set the temperature setting to 225 F.
Now, I'm sure you will have heard of the P-setting on the Pit Boss pellet grills. This setting is only available in smoke mode. It has no impact on the temperature but controls how much smoke is produced during the cook.
The default setting is P-4. The higher you go - P-4, P-5, etc., the more smoke that is produced. Personally, though, I would advise you to stick with the factory settings. Go too high and you risk a fire. Not to mention, the P-4 setting provides more than enough smoke.
Remember, just because you don't see plumes coming out of your Pit Boss smoker doesn't mean not enough smoke is being produced. Modern pellets, especially high quality ones tend to burn pretty clean. Oftentimes, only a thin amount of bluish smoke is produced during the smoking process. Not to worry, though, as this is the perfect amount for smoking brisket.
The second element of the perfect brisket is choosing the right cuts. I will be the first one to say that you can turn even a poor cut of brisket into a decent smoked brisket. However, select a great cut and you will have a truly mouthwatering brisket.
Unless you are on a tight budget, I would suggest springing for USDA Choice - while Prime is ideal, it isn't absolutely necessary to spend the extra cash unless you are trying to impress a crowd.
If your focus is all taste and money isn't an objection, you may want to consider Wagyu beef. It has excellent marbling and the fat on this meat has a lower melting point. If you are using Wagyu beef, though, you will need to smoke the brisket at a lower point - about 5 to 10 degrees lower.
I would advise you to always buy a full packer brisket when smoking this cut of meat. This produces an overall better quality of smoked brisket.
Now, I know that a lot of people are a bit hesitant to get a full brisket. After all, a single cut can easily weigh over 12lbs. Not only is it tricky to smoke such a large section of meat, it can also take a significant amount of time.
Despite your hesitations, though, I would suggest going with the full brisket.
In case this just isn't an option for you, you will need to decide between the brisket flat and the point - the two smaller muscles that make up the whole brisket. Technically, you can smoke both these sections.
The flat cut is easier to cook as it is a leaner meat. However, it has less of a beefy flavor, but there is more meat to go around. The point, on the other hands boasts a lovely beefy flavor and as there is a lot of fat, you get a tender brisket. There is less meat to go around, however, and it can be trickier to cook.
Some fat on the brisket is good, but you don't want too much. This is why you should look for a brisket fat cap that is about 1/4th or 1/2 an inch thick. Before you cook the beef brisket, you will need to trim the fat cap down to 1/4th of an inch.
If you buy brisket that has a lot of fat, you are just paying extra for portions that you are going to be getting rid of anyway. So, save yourself some money and pay attention to the layer of fat on top of your beef brisket.
As I have already mentioned, you are going to need to trim away the excess fat before you start smoking the meat. This means trimming the fat until it is just 1/4th of an inch thick.
Using your hand, feel for any hard pieces of gristle or fat. Make sure to trim these off.
Also examine the flat end of the brisket. Are there any sections of meat that are less than an inch thick? Cut these away or they will end up burning during the cooking process. You should also get rid of any ragged ends that are sticking out.
I would also suggest rounding or squaring off the edges. This isn't just for presentation purposes - it also ensures that your brisket smokes more evenly.
What most people are interested in when smoking meat is keeping meat moist. Considering that brisket is a rather tough piece of beef and that you are exposing the meat to heat for practically half a day, this is no easy task.
This is why most people look for ways to help keep the moisture trapped inside. The two main ways of doing this is brining and injecting. However, which one is more effective and which one should you choose?
One method isn't really better than the other. Dry brining is easier and has been around for a lot longer. Injecting is now quickly catching on and becoming a favorite of pitmasters.
My advice would be to give each method a try. Figure out which one produces the results that you like. I will be providing a recipe and instructions for each method below...
For dry brining all you need is kosher salt. Don't add any other ingredients as nothing else will penetrate the surface of the beef brisket like the salt will. If you want to include additional flavor, you can do so later on.
For this technique, use half a teaspoon of salt per pound of meat. When sprinkling the salt, make sure to use more on the point than the flat.
Scoop the salt in a three finger pinch and raise your hand about 8 to 10 inches above the brisket. Then sprinkle the salt, ensuring that every inch of the surface is covered.
Once you are done, you can place in the refrigerator overnight. If you are short on time, doing this several hours ahead can help as well.
Remember, for this process you will need a meat injector so make sure to invest in a high quality one beforehand.
Now you are going to find a lot of different marinades and solutions to choose from. I would advise you to keep it simple however. If you go overboard with the flavors then you will mask the original brisket flavor.
Here is a recipe that you can follow:
This makes one quart of solution. You will need about 1 ounce per pound of beef brisket.
When injecting, make sure to get the needle deep into the skin or the liquid will simply flow back to the surface. Make sure to have a uniform injecting layout so that you can ensure the entire cut is injected properly.
Unlike with dry brining, you can usually smoke the meat shortly after injecting it.
Even if you have injected your beef brisket, you still have to season it before smoking it. This is because the brisket rub is what will turn into that delicious bark later on. Needless to say, this is a key component of your smoked brisket.
If you have dry brined your beef brisket, then you will not need to add kosher salt to your rub. Otherwise, you can add half a teaspoon to the mix.
You will find plenty of brisket rubs to choose from. Seriously, there is no end to the number of combinations that you can come up with. Once again, though, I am all about keeping it fairly simple.
Here is a recipe that you can try:
This makes up about half a cup of rub.
I usually like to apply a binder to the surface of the brisket beforehand. This ensures that the rub sticks on in a thick layer, producing a lovely bark.
The most common binders are olive oil, yellow mustard, and mayonnaise. Personally, I am a fan of mustard.
At the end of the day, though, it doesn't really matter all that much. This is because the layer dissipates during the smoking process, leaving only the spices behind.
It is important to continuously track the internal meat temperature of the brisket as it smokes. This is the only way to cook it until it is tender but not cook it for so long that the meat dries out. I wouldn't advise cooking brisket, especially your first brisket without a thermometer.
Now, only the more expensive models of the Pit Boss grills are equipped with a temperature probe. If yours does have one, then make sure to use it. Otherwise, you will need to buy a third party probe thermometer. Don't worry, there are lots of great options out there for very reasonable prices.
There are some pros that don't like to use leave-in thermometers when smoking brisket. This is because the probes are made from metal and, as such, conduct a greater amount of heat, causing the area immediately around the probe to register as a false hot zone.
At the same time, these thermometers do help to prevent you from constantly opening the lid during the smoking process. I would say that the risk of the hot zone isn't that great. Simply track the temperature and when it gets close to the desired point, remove the probe and place it in another spot in the thickest part of the brisket. This will show you how accurate the reading is.
There are a lot of people who like to put beef broth, apple cider vinegar, or apple juice in a spray bottle and then periodically spritz the brisket. This is done in an effort to introduce more moisture to the meat.
I am not a fan of this method. For one thing, it is quite difficult for such a light spray to have any kind of significant impact on your brisket. For another, there is a risk of washing off the rub and thus, your bark.
If you do wish to spritz the meat, however, I would suggesting waiting until the bark has set in a thick and crusty layer. The best time to do this would be when you are wrapping the brisket.
As you are probably aware, when in the Pit Boss pellet grill, the brisket will arrive at what is known as the stall. It is when the brisket stops cooking for several hours at a time. This occurs around 155 - 165°F. At this point, the meat begins to sweat, causing the temperature around the brisket to cool. This process is known as evaporative cooling.
The good news is that pitmasters have come up with a technique to overcome this issue - it is called the Texas Crutch. Essentially, you wrap the brisket to keep the heat trapped around it, forcing the internal temperature to go higher and allow the brisket to continue cooking.
For this process, you can use one of two materials - pink butcher paper or aluminum foil. Personally, I prefer the the butcher paper. It is more porous, allow some of the moisture to evaporate rather than being trapped inside.
As a result, the bark around the brisket remains a lot crispier. You should know that the brisket may also take a little longer to finish smoking as well.
No, you don't! While wrapping helps to speed the smoking process up, I am aware that not everyone is a fan of it. The main issue here is that the Texas Crutch can compromise the bark. This is not something that true pitmasters want to do.
As a result, some prefer to simply sit the stall out. In this case, it is just a matter of starting your cookout several hours earlier than you would usually to compensate for the added time.
Another option is to temporarily increase the temperature, allowing the brisket to push through the stall faster. If you choose this option, make sure to monitor the temperature very closely.
And, the moment that you notice that the stall is over, it is important to reset the temperature to the original 225°F.
For this method, you will need two sheets of butcher paper or aluminum foil. It should be as four times as large as your brisket is wide.
Place one sheet on the table in front of you. Next, place the other sheet on top, halfway over the first sheet.
Take the brisket and place it about a foot away from the bottom. Take the bottom of the sheet and pull it over the brisket tightly. You should be able to see the outline of the cut. Then, take the side of the sheet and pull it over the brisket at an angle. Repeat this action with the other side.
Roll the entire brisket over. Then, fold in each side at an angle again. There will be a length of the paper on top that is left over. Fold that in half and tuck it over and under the brisket.
With the brisket wrapped, place it back in the smoker until it is cooked through.
When it comes to smoking, my preference is a pellet smoker. However, if you have a charcoal smoker from Pit Boss, you can still make it work.
Now, with a pellet grill, it is just a matter of topping up with wood pellets and pressing the smoke function. With a charcoal grill, though, you have to set up two cooking zones - one with direct heat and the other side with indirect heat.
For this, it is just a matter of ensuring that the coals are piled up on one side of the grill. The brisket will be placed on the other. It is as simple as that!
Although you can use any wood chips with your Pit Boss pellet grill, the manufacturer does mention that their own brand offer the best wood pellets for these grills. I would say that as long as you use high quality pellets, the brand doesn't matter too much.
Hickory and mesquite tend to be pretty standard for brisket. These give off a bold smoke flavor and the beefy flavor of the brisket is capable of holding its own against this aroma. That being said, I do have to warn you to go easy on these chips. Always mix in some oak or something equally as balanced. Otherwise, you risk introducing a burnt and bitter flavor to your brisket.
If you don't mind trying something a little milder, I would say that pecan is a sweet and delicious option. Maple is a pretty good blend as well. If you want a little bit of sweet and savory, a mix of cherry and mesquite should do the trick.
Now it is time to put all these instructions together to smoke brisket on your Pit Boss pellet grill the right way:
Add enough pellets into the pellet hopper. This amount needs to last the entire cook without needing to be topped up.
Press the grill to the smoke setting. Once fired up, move to the 225 F temperature setting. Let it preheat.
Prep the brisket by trimming. Then, slather in mustard and sprinkle on the rub.
Remove the necessary trays so that you can place the brisket in the middle. For a charcoal smoker, place in on the side of indirect heat.
Close the lid and smoke.
About two thirds of the way through the cook, the stall should set in. Depending on the size of your brisket, you should check the internal temperature. If the brisket reaches 165 F, then take it out and wrap it.
Once done, return the brisket to the smoker.
Place it on a large cutting board and allow to rest for at least an hour.
This step is just as important as any other. It is important to let your brisket rest for as long as possible. I have mentioned an hour here, but this is the just the bare minimum. Resting it for a couple of hours is best.
This may seem like a lot of time, but there are two things to consider. First, brisket is a tough cut of meat and second, it is quite large. Thus, it needs more time than other cuts. Don't worry your patience will pay off here!
If you have a Pit Boss pellet grill and are wondering how to use it, here is your ultimate guide. From start to finish, you will now know exactly what to do!