No. 343: Bobby Flay's Smoked, Spice-Rubbed Brisket

I am a lucky woman in many ways, but today I'm thanking the barbecue gods that I married a man who is as much a carnivore as I am.

Mr. McC is pretty adept at the grill and loves it. A few years ago we bought him a smoker (may it RIP in Northern Cali) and when we came to Asheville he got a genuine ceramic egg. It has been heaven ever since.

This weekend the forecast was blustery and cold, so Mr. McC decided this was the time to try his first ever brisket.

Now, full disclosure, we were about to do one years ago but couldn't find any cut of meat for less than $65 in Northern California. So we said, "No thanks, ribs and chicken sound just fine." In North Carolina brisket is down right affordable by comparison, so here we are.

Bobby Flay's Smoked, Spice-Rubbed Brisket

Bobby has never steered us wrong in the cooking department. We've made sides, cocktails, delectable dinners and more from his Barbecue Addiction cookbook. Here's another classic to add to the list.


For the brisket
1 8-10 pound brisket with 1/4 inch layer of fat on top
2 cups apple juice, in a spray bottle, or more if needed
3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon celery seeds
1 tablespoon mild Spanish paprika
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds, ground
1 tablespoon allspice berries, ground
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper (coarse grain)
2 tablespoons kosher salt

For the Texas mop/sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups ketchup
Scant 1/4 cup cilantro leaves

To make

Start with the mop
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, ketchup and 2 cup of water and simmer, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. (Note: For us it was more like 30 minutes).

Transfer the mixture to a blender, add the cilantro, and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and serve warm.

The mop can be made two days in advance an stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Reheat gently before using.

Marinate the brisket and prepare your smoker
Mix together all the spices, herbs and salt in a bowl. Liberally rub the entire brisket with the mixture, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. Be sure to remove the brisket from the fridge 1 hour before cooking.

While the meat marinates, soak 3 cups oak or pecan wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes. We recommend an hour.

Heat you smoker according to manufacturer instructions. If using a charcoal grill, set up a drip pan with water on the bottom grates and heat the grill to low for indirect grilling. Put half the drained wood chips over the hot coals, add the cooking grate, and close the cover. Open the vents to maintain a temperature between 225 and 250 degrees. Let the smoke build for 10 minutes.

Smoke the brisket
Put the brisket, fat side up, in the smoker or grill over the pan filled with water. Close the cover and smoke, spraying every 30 minutes with apple juice, until the meat starts to get tender and reaches an internal temperature of 165-170 degrees, about 6 hours. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain the temperature. Add drained wood chips and hot coals as needed, and add more water to the drip pan as needed.

Wrap the entire brisket in foil and return it to the smoker until a thermometer easily slides into the meat and the internal temperature reads 185 degrees, another 2-3 hours. Continue adjusting the heat as needed to maintain temperature and moisture.

Remove the brisket packet from the smoker and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

Opened packet!

[Objects in photo are much larger than they appear.....]

Remove the foil from the brisket over a large pan and reserve the liquid. Thinly slice the brisket across the grain and serve with the mop sauce (and if you want, on some thick Texas toast:).

Fruits of my labor

[After staying up most of the night to babysit this big boy I got the task of slicing while Mr. McC took a much deserved nap.]

The results

I'm pretty sure that while I was slicing and dicing this beautiful brisket up I inadvertently ate about a 1/2 pound of it. Whoops! #sorrynotsorry

The fat cap on top also made slicing tricky! I get now why all those fancy barbecue professionals use an electric knife.

The mop sauce was equally sweet with a bit of heat. It made a great brisket dip, but I'd really love it on a brisket sandwich.

But besides this amazing meat and mop, I'm really proud of Mr. McC. He started the 14-hour process (took longer than advertised to get the internal temp up) late in the evening and finished it in the morning, working hard and sleeping very little to do so. We're all the beneficiaries.

The kids loved it. I loved it. And we'll all be eating it all week:)

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Amelia McCormick

Kansas girl transplanted to Asheville, North Carolina. Smiler, lover of great food and wine, facilitator, runner, storyteller, wife, optimist, and mother of sweet twins:)

Asheville, North Carolina