Texas-Style Smoked Brisket
1 10–12-pound whole beef brisket, fat trimmed to a 1/4-inch thickness
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup freshly ground black pepper
Season the meat:
An hour before preparing the grill, place brisket on a rimmed baking sheet. Mix salt and pepper in a small bowl and season the meat all over (it should look like sand stuck to wet skin but without being cakey). Let meat sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
Prepare your grill:
Fill chimney starter with charcoal; light and let burn until coals are covered with a thin layer of ash. Pour contents of the chimney into one side of the grill. Place 3 chunks of wood next to (not on top of) coals. (You want the wood to catch slowly and smolder. Placing them on top of the coals will cause them to burn too quickly.) Place grate on grill and cover grill, making sure to position vent on the lid as far from heat source as possible. (This helps draw the smoke up and over the meat as it rises). Stick thermometer through the top vent. Heat until thermometer registers 225–250°, adjusting vents on bottom and top of the grill as needed to maintain temperature.
Maintain the heat
Adjust vents as needed to control temperature. Check coals and hardwood about every 45 minutes. (Try to open lid as little as possible; check and replenish coals and hardwood at the same time.) For the coals, once you have checked them and decided to add more (they've burned down enough that you'll need more to keep your fire going and maintain your grill temperature), fill a chimney halfway with coals, then add coals to grill once they're covered with a thin layer of ash. (If you have a hinged grill grate, you can remove 1 lit coal from the grill with a pair of long tongs and place at the bottom of the chimney to quickly light more coals.) If you control the heat well, you shouldn't need more than 4–6 chimneyfuls of coals to cook the brisket (2–4 chimneyfuls if finishing brisket in the oven). When checking hardwood, move it around to a hotter spot if needed, or replenish extinguished chunks to keep the level of smoking constant. Make sure to reposition top vent on the lid over meat and away from the heat source when replacing.
Know when it's done:
Keep smoking the brisket, rotating every 3 hours and flipping as needed if top or bottom is coloring faster than the other side, until meat is very tender but not falling apart and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of meat registers 195°–205°, 10–12 hours total.*
Transfer brisket to a carving board and let rest at least 30 minutes. Slice brisket against the grain 1/4-inch thick.
Serve it with:
Coleslaw, potato salad, and pinto beans.