Lockdown Recipe of the Day: Sweet & Spicy Smoked Brisket

(Photo Sean Calitz – Veld to Fork)

Brisket is the meat smoker’s Nirvana; if you claim to put the 'King' in Smoking, you need to be able to prepare a proper smoked brisket – low ‘n slow. The wonderful layers of fat and long muscle fibres make brisket perfect for this sort of cooking as long as you understand from the outset that this is less a way of cooking than a labour of love. The spice rub gives it a sweet yet spicy note.

This rub is a good combination of sweet and heat. You can adjust the heat by using mild or medium chilli powder (or a combination). If you really want to make it spicy, add an extra tablespoon of cayenne. The sweet in this rub will balance the heat without detracting from it.


1 whole free-range veld or grass reared boneless brisket (4-5kg)
80g paprika
40g mild or medium chilli powder
125g brown sugar
40g ground black pepper
20g cayenne
20g garlic powder
80g medium salt


Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Dry the brisket thoroughly (this is very important) and generously sprinkle the rub all over the brisket. Do not rub it in, just pat it on if necessary. Prepare smoker and add brisket, thick end closest to the heat. Place a bowl of water next to the brisket to keep the moisture in. Smoke, fat side down, at 120 C for 8- 12 hours until you reach an internal temp of 72 °C.

The rules of thumb here are:

  • About 1 ¼ hours/500g of brisket @ 120 °C
  • Keep the smoker closed as long as possible, with a minimal opening, as this lets the heat and smoke out and will slow down the whole process. “If you’re a-lookin’ – you ain’t a-cookin’!”
  • Use a meat thermometer that can be visible from outside your smoker and baste and open as seldom as you can and only as often as you need to.
  • If the brisket starts to dry out or form a crust, wrap it in brown butchers paper and continue cooking.
  • Don’t rush your cooking and try to keep a consistent temp in the smoker, fluctuating temps will cause your cooking time to differ.

When done allow to rest for at least one hour and slice thinly, against the grain and serve hot with lashings of mustard on fresh bread and a crisp salad. That and lots of good beer! DM/TGIFood

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Gordon Wright is a chef and author of two best-selling cookbooks, Veld to Fork and Karoo Food (Penguin). He lives on a Karoo farm near Graaff-Reinet.


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