Smoked Holiday Brisket

For me, as you may already know, nothing smells more like the holidays than the aromas of sweet savory smoke slowly billowing out the chimney of my Oklahoma Joe’s offset. As snow flurries began to trickle down around my bare, freezing feet Christmas morning, with the warmth of the dry crackle and pop of the coals flushing my cheeks, the tantalizing sounds of beef fat sizzling across the bottom of the hot smoker barrel set off nostalgic rumbles in my stomach. While layering another round of mesquite and apple chunks on to burn, an unavoidable white-hot singe rippled across my skin, and, suddenly, I felt overwhelmed with joy and gratitude despite the difficulties of the past year. Nothing grounds me more in the moment than live fire cooking and nothing soothes this rejected Texan’s aching spirit quite like the humble art of smoking brisket, especially on Christmas.

Christmas snow!

Subsequently, smoking on the holidays has now become a ritual for me. It’s my way to embrace and feel tethered to my roots and provides me a philosophical connection to family. For me, firing up my smoker is self care. So, this year, as a big FU to 2020, I ordered an 11 pound point cut brisket from Herman’s Quality Meats to treat myself in true Texas fashion. As another act of defiance, I decided to *gasp* finish my brisket in the oven. Sacrilegious? Maybe, but I’ve had tremendous success with this method. Plus, it really simplifies the process, and, besides, me and sacrilegious go way back. So, why not? I’ve utilized this 1:1 smoke to oven ratio on several different types and cuts of meat now from duck to turkey and the results have all been the same: beautifully solid pink ring, subtly delicious smoky flavor, and juicy, tender, melt-in-your-mouth morsels of perfection.

Go ahead! Fire up that smoker! You know you want to!

Christmas Brisket 2020

Be advised: with an 11 pounder you will need to have a plan in place to utilize the leftovers, freezer space cleared for several portions, and/or a few lucky folks to share with!


11 lb point cut brisket

very generous amount of kosher salt

very generous amount of course ground black pepper

peach butcher paper

4 – 8 sprigs rosemary

several chunks of mesquite, pecan, or fruit wood or a combination of the three


Set the brisket on a clean surface about an hour before you intend to smoke it and bring it up to room temperature.

Prepare an offset smoker by filling the firebox with lump charcoal. Ignite the coals and let burn until all coals are white hot, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, generously coat all sides of the brisket in salt and pepper gently rubbing in the seasoning as you do. Once the coals are ready, set the seasoned brisket in the main barrel and smoke for 4 hours around 225 – 300 degrees adding wood chunks as needed every 30 to 45 minutes. Make certain the smoke billowing from the offset chimney remains as close to clear in color as possible at all times.

Texas Style Dalmatian Rub

Preheat the oven to the Slow Cooker setting or 225 degrees. Set several large pieces of the peach paper down on a clean surface. After four hours of smoking, transfer the brisket to the peach paper, top with the rosemary sprigs, and then wrap it up like a present. Place the brisket seam side down on top of a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Slow cook the brisket another 4 hours.

After four hours, increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees and finish cooking the brisket until an internal temperature of at least 195 degrees is reached. Remove from the oven and allow it to rest until cool enough to handle. Once cooled, remove and discard the peach paper and rosemary sprigs. Further rest the brisket at least one hour before carving.

After resting, slice the brisket and serve immediately with your favorite sides.

Note: smoked brisket will keep in the fridge up to 7 days at a temperature of 34 degrees or colder. If not consumed by then, divide it into serving portions per your needs and freeze up to 12 months

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