Ever since the Big Apple Barbecue came to town, we’ve been dreaming of smoked brisket. So much so that we developed our own recipe in-house and made the trek to Long Island to get our hands on a real-deal barrel smoker. The result: tender, smoky brisket, covered with a spicy rub that we just can’t get enough of. Yes, this smoked meat is one beast of a recipe, but trust us: It’s worth it.
No barrel smoker at home? No problem. You can convert any charcoal grill into a makeshift smoker in just a few easy steps. Place hot charcoal on one side of the bottom of the grill and an aluminum pan on the other. Light small pieces of wood and set atop the charcoal. Replace the grill grate over top. Set another aluminum pan filled with water on the grate over the side with the charcoal and wood.
To prepare and cook the meat, follow the recipe below. Once finished, place the brisket directly on the grate above the empty aluminum pan, making sure to refresh the wood in your smoker every 30 to 45 minutes.
To learn more, read “Thank You for Smoking.”
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour, plus resting time
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours, plus resting time
One 8-to-9-pound brisket flat
¼ cup kosher salt
1½ tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper flakes
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cumin
Two 9-by-13-inch aluminum pans, for smoking
8 cups water, for smoking
Lump charcoal, for smoking
Hickory wood, for smoking
Spray bottle, for smoking
½ cup apple juice
½ cup apple cider vinegar
Butcher’s paper, for smoking
White bread, for serving
Barbecue sauce, for serving
Pickles, for serving
Coleslaw, for serving
Potato salad, for serving
1. Place the brisket on a large baking sheet and pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, brown sugar, pepper flakes, garlic powder and cumin. Rub the spice mix all over the brisket and let sit for 1 hour while you prepare the smoker.
2. In a barrel smoker, place a 9-by-13-inch aluminum pan underneath the grill grates on the side opposite the firebox. Place another pan on top of the grate closest to the firebox and fill it with the water. Light a chimney starter full of lump charcoal and let burn until bright red, about 10 to 15 minutes. Fill the firebox with the hot charcoal and top with 3 pieces of hickory wood. Keep the lid open until the wood catches fire. Using tongs, turn the wood and close the lid. Maintain a temperature of 250º in your smoker.
3. Place the brisket on the grate directly over the empty aluminum pan. Close the grill lid and smoke until the meat is dark in color, about 6 hours.
4. Every hour, add more wood to maintain the fire. In a spray bottle, combine the apple juice and apple cider vinegar, and liberally spray the brisket, working quickly as to not let heat escape. Spray the brisket each time you refresh the wood.
5. After 6 hours, remove the brisket from the smoker and wrap tightly in butcher’s paper. Return to the smoker and cook until the brisket has reached an internal temperature of 200º, another 2 to 3 hours. Continue refreshing the wood every hour. Remove the package and transfer to a cutting board. Let the meat rest, still wrapped in the paper, for 1 hour.
6. Unwrap the brisket and slice against the grain. Serve atop slices of white bread with barbecue sauce, pickles, coleslaw and potato salad.