Smoked A Beef Brisket

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"Ah, will you look at this ah? The boys of Queens are in the market for some brisket!"
Ari Gold (as played by Jeremy Piven), from the Entourage episode Return of the King

We had a little barbecue today, but I started preparing the brisket the night before. I actually made two. One was a three and a half pounds and the other was five pounds.
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I injected the meat with beef broth.
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I made a spice rub and covered the brisket with it.
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I refrigerated the briskets overnight. I wanted the briskets to be done around 1pm because we invited people to come over to enjoy some barbecue food in the afternoon. We set an alarm to wake us up at 5 am because we knew they would have to cook for about 90 minutes per pound. Before the sun rose over San Francisco Bay on this Sunday morning, I was lighting charcoal in a chimney.
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With a water pan on the left and the coals on the right, I was set up for indirect cooking.
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I put the briskets on the left side of the grill. I took four ounces of mesquite wood chips, tossed them onto the coals, and closed the lid. It made smoke.
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I added wood chips to the coals three times in the first two hours. The briskets were looking good.
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The plan was to wait until the briskets reached an internal temperature of 180 degrees, but they got stuck for hours when they reached 158 degrees. They stayed there for an extended amount of time. I regulated the heat in the grill, and the briskets stayed at this temperature for about four hours. This period of time is called the "plateau" of the briskets' cooking time. It's when the very tough tissue of the meat is being broken down and becomes more tender. If you rush it by heating it up too fast, you can potentially ruin the brisket.

By the time I took the meat off the grill, it had been on there for nearly 15 hours. Luckily, I had cooked other things in the meantime.

After removing the briskets from the grill at 9pm, I let them rest for a few minutes on the cutting board.
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Finally, I cut them up so we could eat it.
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We even had a few friends that stuck around to try the briskets.
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The meat came out fairly tender and I was satisfied by the results. It had the nice pink smoke ring and some really great flavor to it. The fattier piece I bought tasted better to me because it broke up the flavors a little more and was a bit juicier.

I learned a lot while making this, mainly two things in particular:
1) Choose a piece of brisket wisely. Find one with a good amount of fat. A more marbled piece is preferable.
2) Brisket can take a very long time to prepare and cook, so make sure you have a good amount of time dedicated to it.

I felt this was a valuable experience, and it was very different from other things I've cooked on a grill before. I probably won't smoke another for at least another few months, but I have some great ideas about what I want to do next.
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