Monday, January 2, 2023

New Years Eve Brisket Cook

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] We received no compensation for this post. Any links that may earn us a commission are tagged [affiliate link].

We welcomed in 2023 by smoking a whole brisket and a pork butt overnight on New Year's Eve. Here's my notes about how the brisket cook went.

Meat Prep

I started with an 18-pound USDA Prime, Certified Angus Beef Brand whole brisket.

  • Wet aging - I wet-aged the brisket in the original packaging for a few extra weeks.
  • Trimming - I did a competition-style trim, meaning I separated the point from the flat. I mainly did that so it would fit in a large Big Green Egg but I also like getting bark on all sides of the point.
  • Injection - I injected it with 2 cups of plain beef stock, skipping the typical phosphate-basted injections used in competitions. 
  • Seasoning - I used Thunderbird's Bravo Bark Builder for Beef and let it dry brine for about 6 hours before smoking. Usually, I do at least 10-12 hours but I was short on time and figured that some time was better than none, right?

This brisket was a long boy! That meant I pretty much had to trim it comp-style, which separates the point and the flat. Otherwise, it would be too long to fit inside one of my large Big Green Egg kamado grills. 

USDA Prime is the grade. Certified Angus Beef is the brand.
Only 3% of beef meets the Prime grade AND Certified Angus Beef's 10 science-based quality specifications. [Read more]

Thunderbird Bravo is intriguing because it is based on the flavors of Mexican mole' - chocolate, cinnamon, cumin, and cloves. 

Here's a tip for buying BBQ seasonings - when at all possible, buy directly from the company instead of a huge reseller like Amazon. You'll likely get fresher products and it's usually cheaper when you buy direct.

Split, injected, and seasoned - ready to be covered and put in the fridge until it's time to smoke. As you can see, the flat on this brisket was HUGE!

Smoker Set-Up

I was originally going to use my Oklahoma Joe Rider DLX so I could leave my aircraft carrier-sized brisket whole. That smoker has tons of room. But the weather looked sketchy, so I used a Big Green Egg since I have those under my gazebo, protected from rain and snow. 

As with any long cook, I started by cleaning out my smoker to ensure that air flowed freely for the entire cook. Nobody likes waking up at 4am to find their fire had dropped temp or died because ash had clogged airflow. An ounce of prevention...

A Kick Ash Basket also helps guarantee a good fire. I start with fresh Jealous Devil XL lump charcoal and 3 or 4 blocks of wood. Then I cover this with the leftover lump charcoal that I had previously shaken in the Kick Ash Basket to get rid of the ash.

So let's talk wood. Normally, I would go with post oak and/or pecan. All I had on hand was hickory, it's my preferred for smoking pork but it also works with beef.  I use Jealous Devil Smoke Wood Blocks and cut them in quarters. In my opinion, this size works best for kamado grills. 

My sister gave me an oval stone heat deflector from the Ceramic Grill Store. I accidentally broke my old one after 5 or 6 years. If you have a kamado and smoke ribs or brisket, you want one of these. No more having the ends of your ribs/brisket stick out over direct heat, where traditional round deflectors leave unshielded.

The Adjustable Rig (also from Ceramic Grill Store) set up was like this inside the Egg. I put the point on the middle rack and the flat on the top rack.

For overnight fire management, I used the Thermoworks Signals pictured on the left paired with a Billows fan to stoke the fire as needed. This unit will manage your temperature and monitor the internal temperature of three different items all at the same time. I recently did a full review of the Signals/Billows after using them for 18 months.
Thermoworks Signals / Thermoworks Billows [Affiliate links]
(01/02/2023 Signals are currently discounted by $47.80 and Billows are discounted $19.75)

The Cook

My plan for this cook was to 

  • Smoke the brisket at 250°f until the bark was set (about 5-6 hours or an internal temp of around 170°f on a kamado grill).
  • Then wrap the point and flat with a little stock, raise the cooking temperature to 290°f and finish until the brisket was tender (typically just a few hours or around 203-208°f).
  • Rest the brisket for 1-2 hours in a heated Cambro.

I didn't get a lot of pictures during the overnight portion, mainly because I was half-asleep.


Lit the smokers (I was also cooking a pork butt) and let the Signals handle bring the cooking temperature up to 250°f


  • Add 1 wood cube to a burning area of coals, just before putting the flat on. There's already three in the coals. 
  • Take the brisket flat out of the fridge, remove the plastic wrap, apply a fresh light coat of seasoning.
  • Put the flat on the top rack, stick a temp probe in the thickest part.
  • Spritz the flat with quality apple juice.

I put a light, fresh layer of seasoning on the flat just before I put it on the smoker.

Even the flat by itself just barely fit onto the standard grill grate! I think this was the biggest flat I've ever cooked on a kamado grill.

Notice that the lower rack is empty. The point cooks faster than the flat, so I typically give the flat a 1 hour head start and then they finish about the same time.  Typically....


  • Add another block of wood to the burning coals.
  • Freshen up the seasoning on the brisket point.
  • Add the point to the smoker on the middle grate.
  • Spritz the flat and point with apple juice.

Just before putting the flat on at 11pm.

1am and 3am 

Spritzed the flat and point with apple juice. I do this every few hours on a kamado or my DSS pit because they are moist cooking environments. If I'm cooking on a pellet cooker, drum or offset, I normally spritz about once an hour.


Cooking temps have been steady all night. 
  • The internal temps were 158°f and 159°f but the bark was where I wanted it in terms of color (earlier than usual). So I wrapped both pieces with about a half cup of beef stock in a double sheet of foil.
  • Tip:  Fold the edges of the foil up before pouring the stock or you'll find out how level/unlevel your grilling table surface is.
  • I was supposed to boost the cooking temps to 290°f (what I do in competitions) at this point but I forgot.


  • The point was registering 205°f and I could feel it was floppy and flexible so I pulled it from the smoker and let it rest in a preheated Cambro hotbox. You could also use a dry cooler with towels but I love the convenience of the Cambro.
  • The flat was only registering an internal temperature of about 185°f. That's a bit further behind than usual but it was a BIG flat.


  • The flat was now showing an internal temp of 203°f.
  • When I picked it up, it didn't feel relaxed yet but I took it out to check anyway.
  • I probed in a few places with my Thermapen. It was still resisting and the Thermapen registered an internal temp of 185°f.  
  • Since one piece of equipment was telling me one thing but my gut, probe sensitivity, and another thermometer told me otherwise.  Maybe my probe wasn't placed well?  I reset the temp probe from the Signals and the temp changed to 185°f.  Yep, this brisket flat still has a while to go.
  • Oh yeah.....this was when I caught my earlier mistake and I upped the cooking temperature to 290°f.


  • Went ahead and pulled the point from the Cambro since it had been holding for 4 hours.
  • I took the point from the foil and put it on a smoker at 275°f to give it a last kiss of smoke and to reset the bark.
  • Sliced it up. Deeeelicious.

The last 10 or 15 minutes on the smoker help reset the crust, which can get steamed and soft while resting in the Cambro. It also adds a last note of smoke. 

Normally I would have made burnt ends at this time but I was craving fatty sliced brisket instead so we sliced the point up. It was tenderlicious! 


  • Flat still only reading 198.5°f but it feels about right


  • Flat finally hits 200°f. 
  • Pulled it out, feels relaxed and jiggly like it should.
  • Temp probes go in like butter.
  • Pulled the brisket flat from the grill and rested it in the Cambro.

Final Graph from Thermoworks Signals

I like looking at the graphs from my cooks, you learn and reaffirm things. Here are some things to notice.

  • Notice how steadily the temps ran at 250°f except for the times when I opened my smoker. That's the Signals and Billows doing their jobs.
  • Notice how the point (blue line) went on an hour later but caught up and pass the flat. 
  • Notice how the internal temps jump up when I wrapped the parts at 6:30am. That's because the evaporative cooling was stopped by the foil.
  • Notice how the flat temp (yellow line) fell back to 185°f  when I reset it at 10:45am.


  • Removed the flat from the Cambro. 
  • Upon inspection, the bark was beautiful and firm, I didn't need the last 10 minutes on the smoker so I sliced it straight away.
  • Outstanding bark, just about flawless.  Bravo definitely is a bark builder!
  • The flat was juicy and tender, passing the bend test easily. 
  • The flavors started beefy and smoky then transitioned to the subtle mole' flavors - cinnamon, smoky, dark chocolate, and slightly fruity. 
  • Normally, I pair two rubs on brisket, one being a peppery SPG type.  I think I would do that with Bravo as well the next time as I like the first three tastes my brisket yields to be: pepper, smoke, and beef. 

Black gold!  Just look at that bark.

It sure took a long time but it was worth it!