Aaron Franklin is the award-winning, record-breaking pitmaster and Co-Founder of the equally acclaimed restaurant Franklin Barbecue. The restaurant is famous throughout, not only Texas, but the world for its brisket.
There hasn't been a day since the restaurant opened that Franklin's establishment hasn't sold out of Brisket, and it has daily queues around the block.
In his Create TV show, and his book Aarong shared some of his barbecuing secrets. In this article we're going to breakdown how you can cook yourself a brisket that tastes *almost* as good as Aaron Franklin's.
This section will talk you through every step of cooking a great brisket, from picking out your cut of meat to the perfect home-made BBQ sauce.
Before you start please be aware that this method of cooking brisket can take around 12 hours. So you need to set aside a day to prepare this food. You won't be able to do much else while the meat is cooking as it is important to keep an eye on the fires.
So, make sure you have a whole day set aside to try this recipe out.
Aaron himself recommends letting the meat cook for 1:15 hours per pound of meat - however, sometimes it may take longer.
'Good barbecue just takes a while, and you've got to be patient' - Aaron Franklin
Choosing the Perfect Brisket
The first step of cooking your brisket is picking the right one. This is one thing all the big Texas BBQ families can agree on - the best BBQ starts with the best cuts.
Brisket is a tough cut of meat so it really benefits from being cooked slowly at a low heat. You should be looking for a Brisket with a defined point and flat. You want the flat to be thick so that you have a better chance of the flat and point cooking at the same speed.
Aaron Franklin also points out that the more marbling the brisket has, the better it's going to cook and taste.
See below for our foolproof and delicious Aaron Franklin inspired barbecue brisket recipe:
- A 7.5-10 pound brisket (whole)
- ⅓ cup of freshly ground pepper
- ⅓ cup of sea salt (preferably smoked and coarsely chopped)
- 1 cup of fresh rosemary
- A small bowl of water
- 1 cup of Worcestershire sauce
- (or) 1 cup of your BBQ rub of choice
- (and/or) 3 finely chopped garlic cloves
Your favorite smoking wood - Hickory wood is one of our favorites
Some recommend using wrapping for the Brisket - this is your choice, we prefer not to use it
Instead, we recommend getting a BBQ proof bowl - metal bowls work the best
There are four key stages to barbecuing the perfect brisket: The Preparation, The Placement, The Cooking, and The Resting.
Once you have chosen the perfect Brisket it's now time to trim and season the meat.
To trim -
Trimming a brisket is a fine art. Not trimming enough, or at all can affect how the fat melts during cooking. If it's not done properly, you'll end up with a chewy, rubbery dinner. If you trim too much, there won't be enough fat, and the meat will dry out during cooking.
Try to trim the meat straight out of the fridge, as it is more difficult to trim warm fat.
Aaron's top tip is to leave between ¼ and ⅛ of an inch of fat on the brisket.
To season -
Before adding the rub, score the brisket lightly all over.
The Franklin Family rub is very simple - it is simply an equal part salt and black pepper mix rubbed thoroughly into the meat. At this point, we'd add the rosemary as the herb smokes so well.
At this point, if you want to add anything else to your recipe do it here. Some people like to add Worcestershire sauce or their own BBQ rub of choice. We love to add some chopped garlic cloves.
Make sure to spread the rub as evenly as you can, and to cover the sides and underneath to get an even flavor.
Now you're ready for the smoker.
Now that you've taken your time to find the right cut of meat and prepare it correctly, you need to get your placement on the grill right.
If you're interested in learning more about picking the right smoker then check out this article we wrote on the 7 most important things to consider when purchasing a smoker.
The most important thing to bear in mind when placing your brisket is where the fat is. Aaron likes to have the point of the cut, where the fat is thickest, facing the firebox. He has the layer of fat sitting on the top, and he has the flat, where the fat is thinnest, by the smokestack.
It is important to keep an eye on the flat as there will be a high concentration of heat there, and you do not want to burn it.
Now the brisket is perfectly placed on the smoker, it's time to cook it.
You should aim to keep your smoker at around 250 degrees throughout the whole process, so it is important that you stay by the BBQ and keep an eye on what's going on.
Aaron uses wood and coal to do this, however you may find another method easier - take a look at this article about the best cookers for meat for more information.
Once the smoker has reached the right temperature the meat should be left there between 10-12 hours.
Aaron's golden ratio is 1:15 hours for every pound of meat. But notes some will take longer. The more meat you are trying to cook at once, the longer it will take to fully cook.
The phrase 'If you're looking, you're not cooking!' is one Aaron says he lives by. Every time you open the lid of the smoker you release the built-up heat and smoke it has been accumulating. It then takes the smoker some time to build-up to this level again. Aaron recommends checking on the meat as little as possible - as it slows down the cooking process.
Before closing the lid, Aaron recommends placing a bowl of water on the grill. This water will evaporate during the cooking process and will be absorbed by the meat. He claims this is what helps him keep his brisket so moist.
Once you are happy with how the brisket has cooked, and have checked that the meat has reached an internal temperature of 205 degrees, take it off the heat.
The meat should be brown and crispy on the outside and red-pinkish on the inside, depending on how rare you like your meat.
Allow the meat to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving up to your eager guests.
No Texas-style brisket is complete without a Texas-style BBQ sauce. Why not try whipping this one up:
You will need:
- 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
- 1, small, finely chopped onion
- ½ cup of lemon juice
- ⅓ cup of maple syrup
- ¼ cup of butter
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of pepper
- 3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp of tomato puree (or paste)
- 1 tsp of chilli powder - add more to taste
- 1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp of yellow mustard - add more to taste
- 1 tbsp of ketchup
Step 1 - heat butter, onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes
Step 2 - stir in the rest of the ingredients, and bring to the boil
Step 3 - lower the heat until the sauce is lightly bubbling, leave to simmer without a cover for 13-15 minutes
Who is Aaron Franklin?
Aaron and Stacy Franklin run the award-winning Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. Aaron has been awarded the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2015 (Aaron was the first BBQ specializing chef to be nominated for this award, let alone win it), Texas Monthly’s coveted Best Barbecue Joint in Texas, and Bon Appetit’s Best Barbecue Joint in America.
The couple has received praise from Anthony Bourdain and President Obama. Stacy is the business knowledge behind the business, whilst Aaron is the restaurant's pitmaster. Aaron even had a BBQ based cooking show on Create TV.
The couple took Texas by storm despite not being from one of the big BBQ families. They got the idea to open their original roadside BBQ stall from cookouts they held for their friends and family.
Things quickly progressed and now they have awards galore, and people queuing for hours every day to get into the restaurant. There hasn't been a day where the restaurant hasn't sold out of brisket since it opened.