Brisket was on sale cheap again this week ($1.49/lb) so I decided to experiment a bit. My favorite part of most brisket is the burnt ends. That's the part with plenty of bark, some crispy fat, and always the most delicious smoke flavor. As we only use a little bullet smoker, we have always had to cut briskets in half to make them fit. I started wondering, what would happen if you actually cut the brisket up into little brisket "steaks", then go through the same smoking process? The reasoning went, more exposed surface area, more burnt ends, more good eatin'! I figured the main risk was it would come out too dry. However there was an added bonus that it should cut down the cooking time A LOT!
I started out with a 14 pound brisket and cut it up into 11 portions, trying to keep them about equal weight of a little over a pound. The fatty end slabs had to be a little thinner because the brisket is thicker there. As always, I arranged the brisket fat side up, where possible. Most of the lean end went on the bottom rack, the fatty end went on the top rack.
Based on my sample at 2 hours, I was torn on whether to continue on the smoker, or pull some slices, wrap them, and finish in the oven. I decided to just let things run for another 4 hours, re-stoking the coals and adding wet pecan wood every hour or so.
After a full 6 hour smoke this is what I found on the top and bottom racks.
By cutting the brisket into elongated "steaks", it meant the slices were weird little square bits. However every little bite had a bit of bark or crispy fat attached to it, all the way around.
I will say this technique does cut down the cooking time substantially. A 14 pound brisket cooked in the usual way would probably be 20 hours combined cooking time to finish properly. I got some pretty good meat in just 6 hours by chopping it up.