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Is it possible to make really good beef brisket, with a smoke ring and everything, on a Propane Grill?

A good charcoal grill/smoker is on our list of things to get, but it's probably not going to happen this summer. Am I doomed to have mediocre brisket, or are there tricks that will work with a propane grill to approximate the results I'd get with a "real" grill/smoker?

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I usually put some chips in an aluminum foil bag with water in it, on the bottom of the grill. I usually have to change the bag and contents every couple of hours –  dassouki Jul 19 '10 at 17:02
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You can get extremely edible results, which is good enough for me. The smoke-ring may be lacking from a competition grade result, but the flavour will be fine.

Presume you have a big-enough BBQ to have at least two burners. Only use the burner the meat is not on. If you have any prevailing wind and are not completely sheltered, make the hot side the upwind side.

Either get a smoke-box, or do what I used to and use foil. Soak 1/3 to 1/2 your wood chips in water to slow them down. Foil worked just fine for me, made a pouch, put in the chips and poked the up-flat-side with a knife to make smoke holes.

If you have a larger BBQ, consider adding in bricks or stones (no river stone!) to help maintain even heat. By having less air and more thermal mass, you will do better.

Let me meat come to room temperature before you put it on. Also no need to smoke right away, as the meat will not take it until it heats up further in the BBQ.

Happy Eating

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So, on the one hand, you've got good heat control with a propane grill. I use mine to smoke sometimes. On the other hand, you're going to have a hard time getting that super smoky flavor on the brisket.

Here's what I did to mine to make it more amenable to smoking:

1) I dumped a couple of bags of lava rocks in the grill to smooth out the flames

2) I used a hole saw to drill a hole on the right side of the grill lid to encourage smoke to flow out that way

When I smoke with it, I use one burner, on the left, and keep a thermometer in there to assess temperature. Above it, I put the wood.

When things go well, Smoke rises out of the hole made with the hole saw, temperature is even, and I'm happy. Unlike a weber smoker, you're going to want to rotate the meat using this method. Maybe it would have been better to put the hole in the middle, and use the two outside burners, but this would be too hot for my usage in my grill.

I don't personally use a foil box, I just put wood right on the left side of the grill, or on top of the lava rocks, and occasionally blow out the ash.

p.s. If you take your meat out a while beforehand, get it up to room temp, and then put in the path of a fan for a while, it will become slightly 'sticky' on the outside. This significantly enhances how much smoke will attach to the meat. Try it!

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My experience with a gas grill is that it dries out meat quicker. When you are going low and slow it's worse. To compensate I would add a pan of water to make it more humid. I would also experiment with a "crutch". Try wrapping the brisket up in foil after it develops a crust. The down side to this is that your crust can get a bit soggy.

I have also heard of people injecting beef broth into brisket to make it more moist.

Good luck!

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