Aaron Franklin Says This Temperature Mistake Ruins Your Brisket's Texture - Exclusive

Cooking brisket is what Aaron Franklin is known for. The James Beard Award-winning chef's eponymous Austin restaurant, Franklin Barbecue, is world-famous for its brisket, and it has attracted admiration from thousands of diners each week and even earned praise from the late Anthony Bourdain and former President Barack Obama. 

Brisket is as intertwined with Texas cooking as it is a staple in Jewish delis on both coasts of the U.S. Given the history behind this particular cut of meat, brisket has become something of a holy grail for at-home cooks who are eager to master the art of barbecuing. But making brisket isn't easy. It requires skill, patience, and precision. In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, pitmaster Aaron Franklin shares the temperature mistake folks most often make when they prepare brisket. "If somebody is cooking on a fire," and they find themselves cooking mediocre brisket, Franklin finds they're most often struggling "with fire management ... [their] temperatures are up and down." 

The biggest culprit is often the size of the firewood, which "[robs] energy from the fire to get to a combustion point." Because of the difficulty managing the strength of the fire, Franklin observes that folks end up cooking their brisket for too long at too low a temperature, which prevents the meat from fully developing that sought-after tender texture.

Aaron Franklin wants your brisket to stay moist and tender

When you cook brisket at too low a temperature, the collagen in the meat doesn't have an opportunity to break down properly. According to Franklin, "When that happens, you get this chalky, tacky texture out of it, so it feels dry to the tongue." Dryness is the opposite of the consistency folks try to achieve with brisket, which, when properly prepared, is most notable for its intense moisture. In order to set yourself up for success when preparing brisket at home, Franklin recommends practicing before you begin cooking. Practice allows you to get a better sense of your cooking equipment, the conditions you're cooking in, and some trial and error for how to manage the unique challenges of mastering a fire.

Franklin believes the reason temperature is so important when cooking brisket is that "if you're not cooking hot enough or fast enough, you're running out of fat because fat renders at a lower temperature." If you cook too slowly over heat that's too low, then all of the fat renders out of the brisket, and the texture transforms into what Franklin describes as "shoe leather." Franklin has even more guidance to share about making brisket, which can be found in his new cookbook, "Franklin Smoke."

To read more about how to master brisket at home, check out "Franklin Smoke," which is available for purchase here. Want to stay up-to-date with Franklin Barbecue? Check out the restaurant's Instagram.