The Biggest Mistake Aaron Franklin Says You're Making With Brisket - Exclusive

Aaron Franklin, the barbecue master behind Franklin Barbecue, our favorite barbecue restaurant in Texas, is arguably best known for his world-class brisket. Brisket is a legendary cut of meat that reigns supreme on the barbecue because of its tender and intensely satisfying, smokey flavor and uniquely moist texture. The late Anthony Bourdain described Franklin's brisket in an interview with HuffPost as "the finest brisket I've ever had. I can't imagine anyone could surpass this." And that last part is important because the art of cooking brisket can be difficult.

In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Aaron Franklin discusses the most common mistakes folks make when cooking brisket. He believes the primary challenge has to do with difficulty regulating the temperature of the fire. "[People] struggle with fire management ... [their] temperatures are up and down." In order to combat this, Franklin stresses the necessity to "be considerate of the size of the wood you're using — if it's wet, if it's dry, if it's Ikea furniture." Generally, when fires are unstable, the cause is the size of the firewood. "[If] your firewood is too big... it's robbing energy from the fire to get to a combustion point," Franklin says. "Then, once that log catches, it's way too hot, and you're always up and down trying to fight it.'"

How to avoid the most common mishaps

So, how does Aaron Franklin recommend you cook your brisket at home to avoid this common mistake and to preserve that sought-after mouthwatering flavor and texture? For starters, Franklin wants you to set aside some time to practice before you actually start cooking. Doing prep allows you to get a sense of the climate you're cooking in, the type of wood you're using, and any other external conditions that might affect your barbecuing. Then you can get to work. 

In Franklin's experience, most people cook their brisket "at too low of a temperature." When that happens, the consistency of the brisket is disrupted because, as he explains, "the collagen never gets a chance to break down and get tender." As a result, the brisket turns out dry, with a "chalky, tacky texture," because the extended cooking time causes all the fat to render out of the brisket. "If you're not cooking hot enough or fast enough, you're running out of fat because fat renders at a lower temperature and the collagen breaks down... You have to know when to push it and know when to hold back," he says.

"Franklin Smoke" is available for purchase here. Keep up with all things Aaron Franklin and Franklin Barbecue on Instagram.