Earn your barbecue badge of honour by making smoked brisket – without even investing in a smoker! Whether done in propane or gas or charcoal kettle barbecue, settle in for a low temperature, slow roast that lets a subtle smoky flavour and tenderness to develop. Follow the steps below for perfection. If you prefer a smaller roast, use a 4 lb (2 kg) Flat/First Cut section or Double/Point End/Deckle section and reduce the rub ingredients by half. If cooking the thinner Flat/First Cut, reduce the cooking time in step 5 to about 2 to 2¼ hours.
Trim brisket, leaving ¼ inch (5 mm) fat cap on top, and make two ¾-inch (2 cm) deep scores across the grain of meat on one side of the flat at ½- to ¾-inch (1 to 2 cm) intervals. This will help make sure you slice it properly after the brisket is cooked (and you can’t see the grains as easily).
Combine salt, pepper, granulated onion, granulated garlic, sugar, smoked paprika, sweet paprika and dry mustard in a bowl. Season the brisket heavily, pressing the rub into the meat. Wrap brisket in plastic wrap, place on a baking sheet or tray and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or for up to 12 hours.
Remove the top grill off the barbecue and place an empty basket in the corner of the base. Fill one-third of the basket with cold charcoal, leaving room for the hot coals. Get a smaller amount of charcoal white hot in a chimney starter, then place them in the one-third space left in the basket. The heat will slowly "snake" across the rest of the charcoal.
Soak 2 cups (500 mL) wood chips in water for at least 15 minutes. Drain off water; scatter the soaked chips over the charcoal. Alternately you can use large chunks of barbecue wood (such as hickory, mesquite, etc.) without soaking.
Place a small foil pan next to the basket and fill it with hot water.
Fill a large foil drip pan with 1/2 inch ( 1 cm) water and place on base underneath where the brisket will go, then replace the top grill back on the barbecue. Close the lid, making sure the vent holes are on the opposite side of the charcoal (this will direct the heat and smoke to go over the brisket side of the barbecue), and preheat to 250°F (121°C). Soak more wood chips for replenishing as you cook.
Soak 2 cups (500 mL) wood chips in water for at least 15 minutes. Drain off water and place wood chips in the smoke box (if your barbecue is equipped), or wrap in a square of foil in a package the size of a deck of cards and poke holes in packet to let smoke escape; place wood chip pack under grill (off to one side), directly on top of the burners.
Place a small foil pan under the grill next to the wood chips; fill it with hot water.
Fill a large foil drip pan with ½ inch (1 cm) water and place under the grill, on opposite the side of the barbecue from the wood chips (or over the burner furthest from the smoke box). Heat the side of the barbecue under the wood chips (or closest to smoke box) to low. Close the lid and pre-heat the grill to 250°F. Soak more wood chips for replenishing as you cook.
Unwrap brisket. Place brisket on grill over the drip pan, fat cap up. Insert oven-safe digital meat thermometer into centre of roast. Close the lid and cook for 2 hours. Check the brisket. If it looks dry, brush or spray those areas with water to keep it moist. Rotate the brisket for even cooking. Add more wood chips if needed to maintain smoke.
Cook for 2 hours longer or until thermometer registers 140°F (60°C). Carefully lift brisket onto a large piece foil, keeping the fat cap up, and wrap into a packet, sealing around edges (this will steam the brisket, which will speed up the cooking time and keep the brisket moist).
Return the wrapped brisket to barbecue, close lid, and cook for 3 hours longer (for a total of 7 hours) until thermometer registers 180 to 200°F (82 to 93°C), and meat is tender in both the point (double) and the flat (single) sections. Check the tenderness by sliding a skewer (or thermometer) through the foil until there is zero resistance and meat feels very tender.
Transfer brisket to cutting board, open foil wrap and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes, or until roast has cooled 140°F (60°C). Carve across the grain into thin slices.
Tip: When moistening the brisket while cooking, a spray bottle works best to avoid removing the rub but you can use a mop, a pastry brush, or even just a paper towel dipped in water instead.