Most people don’t have a backyard smoker, so this recipe, while unconventional, allows anyone with a regular kitchen stove to produce a brisket with a natural wood-smoke flavor. Note that your house will smell like smoked meat for a couple of days afterward, but that’s not the worst problem to have.
Mix together the salt, pepper, sugar, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Place the brisket on a baking tray and, using your hands, massage the rub evenly into the meat. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.
Remove the brisket from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. Soak the wood chips in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Set one oven rack in the center of the oven and a second on the lowest setting, then preheat the oven to 250°F. Meanwhile, fill a roasting pan with 1 inch of hot tap water and place a wire cooling rack on top of the roasting pan. The rack should balance on all four sides of your roasting pan, and not be resting in the water. Have ready a 3- × 5-inch aluminum roasting pan.
Turn your extraction fan to its highest setting. Drain the wood chips and set them in a frying pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Shake the pan slowly back and forth until the wood chips start to smolder. When you see a good amount of smoke being created, tip the smoldering wood chips into the aluminum pan, place it on the lowest rack in the oven, and close the door.
Place the brisket on the wire cooling rack and set the roasting pan on the center rack in the oven. You want the air to circulate all around the brisket and the water to both create steam and collect fat drippings from the brisket as it cooks. Cook the brisket for about 5 hours (or 1 hour per pound; always plan for more time rather than less), refreshing the smoke from the wood chips every hour until the brisket is cooked (see note).
After 5 hours, insert a thermometer in the thickest part of the meat to check for doneness. It is cooked when the thermometer reads 200°F. Remove the meat from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and a clean towel, and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
To serve, carve the meat as thinly as possible and arrange the slices on a serving platter.
The smoke from the wood chips will fade after 30 to 45 minutes. To refresh it, remove the chips from the oven, return them to the frying pan over medium-high heat, and shake the pan back and forth until they begin to smolder again. Return the smoldering chips to the aluminum pan in the oven. Repeat this technique every hour until the brisket is cooked.
Start this brisket the day before you plan to serve it.
A whole brisket weighs between 9 and 12 pounds on average and consists of two ends. The flat—also known as the single end, first cut, or thin end—is usually about 2 inches thick with ½ inch of fat cap. The point—also known as the double end, second cut, or fatty end—consists of two muscles separated by a layer of fat with another inch or so of fat cap on top. This thicker end is on average 4 to 5 inches high. I prefer the flat end for this recipe, as it’s meatier, but the fatty end is also delicious. If you’re feeding lots of people, use the whole brisket and offer your guests fatty or lean cuts piled high on rye bread.
"Recipe from Cooking Meat by Peter Sanagan" - Excerpted from Cooking Meat by Peter Sanagan. Copyright © 2020Peter Sanagan. Photography by Peter Chou. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.