As expected my local Kroger must have purchased too much brisket and was closing them out. I ended up purchasing 2 full packer choice grade briskets for $1.99/lb. I put one in the freezer and then prepared this one with my standard overnight smoking process. I normally use my 18″ WSM but decided to try it on the 22″. My smaller WSM is tried and true, but my initial experience has been it uses more fuel and was harder to manage. This could have been a result of the conditions I was operating it in and the more I thought about it, I believe the water pan is bigger and I was over filling it.
This brisket was slightly over 13 lbs and I ended up trimming about 2 lbs of hard fat from the product before seasoning. I am a traditionalist on beef, nothing exotic, no fancy rubs, no injection prior to smoking. I used salt and pepper and garlic powder only.
Although the 18″ WSM is tried and true, the only issue I encountered on it is cooking a large brisket. I have had to make a few fit, but then ultimately, the ends can be exposed to higher temps because they extend beyond the water pan below. This one fit great with plenty of room to spare, and I purposely did not fill the water pan up completely. I did add 1.5 gallons of hot tap water to the pan. There a dual purpose to the water in the my opinion, first it stabilizes the temp, and I believe for long smokes it helps to ensure it does not dry out. I did use hickory for the smoke wood which was buried in the Kingsford Blue Bag charcoal. I lit about 3/4 of a chimney, poured on top with a couple extra chunks of wood to give the brisket some immediate smoke.
I started the smoke right at 8:00 PM and monitored every thirty minutes to make sure it was coming up and holding temp. I laugh at people who think you have to babysit food. After making slight adjustments to the vents, I ended up with front vent at 50% and one of the other two at 25%. I then went to bed for the evening at 9:30 after monitoring it three times. I do not use continuous probes, or electronic monitors, I just trust the smoker will perform. I woke up early, about 5:00 AM and checked the temp of the brisket and it was at 165, so I wrapped it in pink butcher paper. This is known as the Texas crutch. It is intended to speed the process of cooking. Some use foil, but the butcher paper allows the brisket to breath, and maintain the bark.
The brisket was pulled about 7:30 AM finishing in under 12 hours. I did run a little hotter than expected and the water pan was almost empty at the wrap. I did add some more water to the pan at that time. I closed the vents to extinguish the burning coals, and put the brisket in a cooler with towels for a rest. When the smoker was disassembled, there was enough fuel left to go a couple of additional hours.
I ended up resting it for almost three hours before pulling and slicing, as I was not interested in “breakfast brisket”. I was very pleased with the entire process and have new found respect for my 22″ WSM.