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Prep: Brisket Trim

Aaron Franklin

Lesson time 34:20 min

In the first of our five-chapter series on the Texas barbecue staple, Aaron shares his signature method for shaving and shaping briskets for an even and consistent cook.

Aaron Franklin
Teaches Texas-Style BBQ
Aaron Franklin teaches you how to fire up flavor-packed Central Texas barbecue, including his famous brisket and more mouth-watering smoked meat.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - A lot of people really seem to think that cooking brisket is really hard. And it's kind of only as hard as you make it. You can be super duper detailed, or you could just kind of slap it together. I happen to be a super details kind of guy. So I like to make a plan, I like to know exactly what I'm working with. But you know, really, the fact of the matter is cooking a brisket is a little sensitive. It's a strange piece of meat. It's got two muscles. One cooks a little bit faster than the other one. You've got to get the spark. You've got to not dry out the edges. You've got to render seam fat that's between the two muscles. You've got to render subcutaneous fat that lays on top. You may or may not wrap it. I prefer to wrap biscuits. So there's kind of a lot to it. So I think any good barbecue cook-- ribs, pork butts, especially brisket-- it's good to make a plan. [MUSIC PLAYING] Sharpie. And I'm going to think about what time I want this brisket to come off. So we're going to say 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon. If I want to come off at 2:00, it's going to rest for a little bit. That's kind of optimal time for kind of an early dinner time. If you're going to try to eat about 5:00 or 6:00, 2 o'clock is a good time to come off. It'll give you a little bit of time to rest. Also, if you kind of get into a little bit of trouble on the cooker, maybe it's not coming off fast enough, that buys you a little bit a kind of wiggle room. In a perfect world, this brisket would take me 12 hours. The more you cook on a bigger cooker, it takes longer. It's kind of like a bunch potatoes in a microwave. The more you cook, it always takes longer. You've got more evaporative cooling going on. Takes more temperatures to overcompensate for that. So we're going to go down let's say, 2 o'clock. AM is when it goes on. It'll be dark, so I want to trim this early. I just want to be sure I'm sitting in a really good place. I want to start off a little bit lower, because I want to put a cold piece of meat on a really hot cooker. You can, believe it or not, do a lot of damage right up front if you just crank the smoker, get it really, really hot. You can dry out some stuff on the edges of this brisket before, you know-- well, I guess if you dry out the edges, you've already kind of damaged it enough where that won't make the 12 hour cook. So really, kind of my bullet points here is an on time. And then eight to nine hours is what I want to wrap this thing. So we're going to call that 10 o'clock AM, somewhere here in the middle. Could be 11:00, could be 10:30. Could be anywhere in there. Then that gives me up to another four hours to finish this thing. So that kind of safeguards you if it rains, if it's night, if maybe, God forbid, you fall asleep. And even worse situation is people seem to like to drink beers for cooking barbecue. Maybe you had a few too many beers and you play yourself a safety card. So anyway, that's kind of...

The art of smoke and fire

Once a backyard hobbyist, Aaron Franklin is now the James Beard Award-winning owner of Franklin Barbecue, where the line for his famous smoked brisket is hours long. Now the Central Texas barbecue specialist teaches you his meticulous low and slow process for mouth-watering ribs, pork butt, and brisket. With perfectly seasoned cuts and optimal temperatures, you'll learn to handle an offset smoker like a true pitmaster.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

The summary of many small details has made a big difference. My family has noticed a big improvement in all my meats. Simple rubs, much better trims, full spare ribs instead of babybacks.... Now I need a better smoker :)

Awesome instructor, learned new techniques seasoning the different cuts of meats, temperatures, sauce, and how to keep fire going to get the correct temperatures.

Great class! I smoked my first brisket days after finishing and it turn out great!!

Take time to learn your barbecue, put out the effort, write your cooks down, enjoy. This was a great class and I would recommend it to anyone. I would love to enjoy Mr. Franklin's barbecue and talk to him as he seems super real. Thanks.


T D.

Save your brisket trimmings and use it as part of your hamburger mix (if you grind your own meat).

A fellow student

Anyone cooking these in a pellet grill? If so, how does that affect the time to cook and so forth?

A fellow student

My first brisket looked nothing like his. Mine was Very ugly and had a big chunk missing on the point. I had a hard time following the trim advise since his brisket and mine were very different but tried my best

John W.

Enjoyed the lesson greatly. Thank u Aaron. Questions: How long should you let brisket rest before slicing and distributing? Can the brisket get cold during the resting phase?

A fellow student

Great lesson, however if someone wants to cook a 3-4 lb Brisket, is the general rule an hour per pound?

Philip M.

Anyone have suggestions about how to adjust the stages for a 20 lb brisket? I imagine it is still important to check for the first time after 3 hours, but how do you adjust the rest of the stages?

A fellow student

I never heard him mention internal temperature to pull off. Am I missing it somewhere?

Cédric G.

I never thought I'd get to hear about aerodynamics in a BBQ class hahaha. But nice one Aaron. Very interesting. Looking forward to the next !

A fellow student

I’m an empty nester and getting into BBQ. Anyone have any ideas of how to think about preparing smaller cuts of meat for a smaller group?

Mark J.

I have a question about temps. He says to constantly maintain temps and that if it goes up and down it will mess up the cook. But, when I open the cooker to check temps or spritz, it drops the temp drastically and takes awhile to come back up. How do you adjust for this or am I over thinking?