Clay B’s Red River Valley Brisket

"Posted at husband's request; Steven Raichlen"
photo by a user photo by a user
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  • Make the barbecue sauce: in a heavy nonreactive saucepan, add the ketchup, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon, onion, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic salt, black pepper, ginger, cayenne, and 1 cup water; slowly bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Decrease heat to medium and let the sauce simmer gently until thick and full-flavored, about 30 minutes, adding a little more water if it gets too thick.
  • Taste for seasoning, adding more brown sugar, garlic salt, and/or even vinegar, as necessary, to taste.
  • Strain the sauce before serving, if desired; transfer the sauce to clean jars and refrigerate until serving.
  • Make the rub: combine the rub ingredients in a bowl; use your fingers to mix the rub; set aside roughly 1/3 of the rub.
  • Trim the outer layer of fat on the brisket so that about ¼ inch remains; if there is a pocket of fat between the flat and the cap, cut it out and discard it.
  • Cut the meat into 3 equal-size pieces; sprinkle 2/3 of the rub all over both sides of the pieces of brisket, dividing it evenly among them and patting it into the meat with your fingers.
  • Wrap meat in plastic wrap and let cure 12 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Pour the cider into a spray bottle; set aside.
  • Set up grill for indirect grilling and preheat to low; **if using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke, then decrease heat to low; **if using a charcoal grill, place a large dip pan in the center, preheat grill to low, then toss 1 cup of wood chips on coals; **if using a smoker, fire it up according to manufacturers directions.
  • When ready to cook, place the brisket in the center of the hot grate, fat side up, over the drip pan and away from heat; cover the grill.
  • Cook brisket until handsomely browned, about 3 hours.
  • Spray the meat every hour with apple cider.
  • Turn over the meat and cook 1 more hour.
  • **If using a charcoal grill, every hour you will need to add 12 fresh coals and ½ cup of wood chips to each side.
  • Spray each piece of meat one more time with apple cider; sprinkle the reserved rub all over the pieces of meat, dividing it evenly among them, then wrap each piece in heavy foil.
  • Return the wrapped meat to the grate, cover the grill, and continue cooking the brisket until very tender, 3-4 hours; **if using a charcoal grill, you will need to add 12 fresh coals to each side every hour, no more chips are necessary.
  • Partially unwrap one of the briskets to test for doneness—should be very dark and tender and have an internal temperature of 190°.
  • Transfer brisket to a cutting board; let rest for 20 minutes.
  • You can serve brisket right away—slice it thinly across the grain; or you can refrigerate it overnight and reheat it in a 350° oven for about 1 hour.
  • Can be served in a bun with barbecue sauce.

Questions & Replies

  1. We made the smok-la-homa brisket on the 4th in BBQ USA book and used this sauce recipe. It turned out great!! The brisket was only 4 lbs to start, much less after trimming. So anyway, I cut the sauce recipe in half and it could have been cut even more. Do you know if the sauce can be frozen?


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