People trying to speed some parts of the procedure are the main cause of people having terrible brisket on their hands.
While most people are aware of the benefits of smoking brisket low and slowly, not enough people realize how early they should season their brisket and how long they should give it to develop flavors before it is ever exposed to heat or smoke.
Should the brisket be seasoned overnight? Absolutely! The world’s best brisket seasonings are quite uncomplicated and easy to use, but they really only shine when given enough time to enter the meat and combine with one another. Before putting your brisket in the smoker, you should season the meat at least six hours in advance, ideally over the course of a whole night.
Why You Should Season Brisket the Night Before
The main benefit of using an overnight rub for your brisket is that it enables the salt—which is always a necessary component of a seasoning rub—to infiltrate the flesh more deeply, luring other spices with it.
Your brisket will start to lose moisture as soon as the salt touches its surface and gets to work.
A few hours after applying your seasoning rub, you can actually observe the brisket “sweat,” which will cause the moisture to rise to the surface and dissolve some of the seasoning ingredients as well as more of the salt.
After the salt has done its magic, the liquid will be drawn back into the meat itself – if given enough time, that is – and you will have more flavorful, moister, and tender meat than you otherwise would have.
If you rush through the dry-rub procedure, your brisket will just have surface-level spices and flavoring that never really penetrates past the crust or bark.
You’ll end up overpowering all of those spices and your seasonings since the bark will become quite dark and smoky (as long as you go low and slow, as we advise). The outcome will be incredibly disappointing.
You’ll be in a better position if you can rub the meat at least 24 hours before you intend to smoke it.
All you need to do is dry rub your brisket all over, place it on top of a wire rack in your refrigerator and leave it there overnight (or for a day), then remove it a few hours before putting it in the smoker.
That will allow the salt plenty of time to work its magic, infusing the meat with aromas and seasonings while also partially breaking down the proteins.
If you follow my advice, your brisket will be the greatest you’ve ever tasted!
When developing your spice rub, keep it straightforward.
It’s difficult to disagree with the famed barbecue expert Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ down in Austin, Texas, when it comes to the proper seasoning for brisket.
When it comes to brisket, Aaron is largely considered as the world’s finest authority. People wait in line for hours before his restaurant opens, sweltering in the Austin heat just to get a chance to try some of the beef (and other barbeque) he cooks up.
And in Aaron’s opinion, a fantastic piece of beef doesn’t require much to dress it up.
Franklin BBQ only uses salt and pepper to rub down all of their briskets at least the night before (lots of pepper).
However, you could add ingredients like brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and perhaps even a little paprika or dry mustard if you wanted to try something a little more unusual.
Some individuals even enjoy adding chili powder, red pepper flakes, and other hot seasonings to their rubs before liberally coating the brisket and placing it in the refrigerator for the night.
In the end, however, if you are working with a beautiful piece of beef, less really is more (which is rule number one when making brisket).
You’ll never be let down if you keep things simple, let the beef and smoke shine, and especially if you give salt time to do its magic.
More Advice on How to Cook the Best Brisket You’ve Ever Had!
Keep these lessons in mind if you’re looking for additional advice on how to prepare the greatest brisket you’ve ever tasted:
Great Brisket Begins with World-Class Beef – The legend we just mentioned, Aaron Franklin, sources his cattle from some of the top ranchers in America, who can ensure an unrivaled cut and consistency of beef.
Even if you don’t have access to the same ranchers (or the same caliber of beef), you should still try to locate a prime packer as closely as you can. Local restaurants supply shops may be able to assist you!
Trim Your Brisket Carefully – Removing portions of pricey meat is never enjoyable, but it’s necessary if you want to prepare really delicious brisket. Even if you just need to shed a small amount of fat—about 1/4 inch on the fat cap—you still want to get rid of most of it.
Trimming the brisket should also include removing any membrane, the deckle, and any “silver skin.” No matter how slowly and low you go, those are the parts that won’t degrade, destroying an otherwise excellent piece of meat.
Dial in Your Temps – When smoking brisket, practice makes perfect, and the most crucial skill to hone is being able to set your temperatures precisely and keep them there for a long time.
If you have 10 pounds of brisket, for instance, that means you’re looking at a 12.5 hour cook (or more). If you want brisket worth eating, you’ll need to be able to maintain 225°F to 250°F during the entire process.
That will require a lot of skill, regular upkeep of your smoker, and cautious attention from beginning to end. The best results come from babysitting the brisket.
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