As I type this, it’s 3:30 a.m. And the brisket is just about to go into the smoker. I’m just waiting for the smoker to hit 250 degrees.

Yep. You read that right: 250 – and not 225. Why 250? Because that’s why Aaron Franklin does – and he makes a mean brisket.

I’m going to make a note here that it took me a good hour to trim the brisket. So, for next weekend’s cook, I need to calculate that into my prep time. Here’s a few numbers below for my own reference.

Prepping the Brisket: 1 hour

Cook time: 4:00 a.m. to ? (for a ~8 lbs. brisket, post-trimmed.)

Cooler Cook: 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Serve Brisket: 7:00 p.m. (but you can tweak this time for whatever your serve time is.)

Trimming the Brisket

Trimming the brisket took literally forever. Or maybe an hour. Here a couple notes on trimming.

The brisket was almost 11 lbs. I took off about 2.5 lbs during the trimming process.

This Brisket

Fat on the Bottom

This particular brisket was unlike those I’d had before. There was a large portion of fact on the bottom of the brisket. Normally this part comes pre-trimmed. So, from that lens, I may have not have gotten the best deal on this brisket.

Cartilidge in the Point

Also, there was some tough cartilidge (or something) towards the the tip of the point. I trimmed this – and ending up taking a lot of the point with me. The brisket is much smaller now.

Trimming Fat

Normally I don’t trim too much of the soft, pillowy fat off the top of the brisket. I normally just cut off the hard stuff.

For this one, I tried trimming some of the soft fat. I’ll be serving this to a lot of picky eaters and don’t want to present something too fatty. (I’m actually serving next weekend, but I’m practicing right now.) I’ll be curious to see how it turns out. Will it be too dry?

The Cook


I’ll be putting the thermometer into the flat. I’m doing this because last time the flat hit 203, the brisket turned out perfectly. So, I’ll be consistent and take the temperature in the point.

It only took a couple hours for the brisket to hit 150 – and in the point.

And just two more hours later, the flat hit 203. This was after crutching it at the 150 mark. Yep. I was working with a just a four hours cook time – for brisket. Weird.

The Results

Cook time/Temperature/Done-ness

I set the temperature probe in the flat – and not in the point. The flat is thinner and cooks quicker. I didn’t want the brisket overcooked – so using the flat as the benchmark for temperature for the whole cut would ensure that it wasn’t over-cooked. (Overcooked = dry.)

In the end, I think it was a hair undercooked – thought i fortunately wasn’t dry. Perhaps, in the future, I’ll set the probe a just a hair more towards the middle of the brisket – and not in the flat. I’ll be updating this brisket best practices post accordingly.

Fat Content

As expressed above, I trimmed some fat off the top of the brisket. I was going for a leaner presentation. This was a good start – but for the next attempt not only will I trim some of the fat on the flat – but I’ll also trim most of the flat off the point.

Note a small layer of fat at the top of the flat. I trimmed off much of this before cooking.

Why trim most of the fat off the point? The point has a layer of fat marbled between the the sections of meet that make up the point. In short, there is already fat in the middle so I don’t need fat on the top – or at least I want most of it on there.

Note the layer of fat on top and the layer of fat in the middle of the cut.

I’ll be updating my best practices post accordingly.

The Crutch

I used a malty lager to keep the brisket moist during the crutch. The result was an overpowering beer favor in the final product. Going forward, I’ll opt for either beef/chicken stock, water, or apple juice/cider vinegar.