World-Champion Brisket - (From John Willingham’s World Champion Bar-B-Que cookbook)
PREP TIME: 8 - 10 hours
SERVES: 10 - 12 people


This recipe is for serious cooks only. The procedure is time-consuming, no argument there, but if you follow the recipe exactly, you will finish in the top 10 percent in any brisket competition -- unless the other guy uses the same recipe! In that case, presentation will be the winning factor because people eat with their eyes first. Taking the time to prepare this brisket proves the adage that anything worth doing is worth doing right. Remember to establish good, steady heat inside the cooker. A cold brisket is a lot like a stubborn jackass, sometimes you have to hit el burro in the head with a two-by-four to get his attention. A brisket is the same about giving up its cold until it is overpowered by the initial and sustained heat that causes the pores to open, allowing the cold to escape rapidly. The most important thing to do after cooking and resting is to slice the meat across the grain into pieces about 1/4 inch thick.


  • 1 6- to 9-pound brisket
  • 1/2 cup All-Purpose Marinade or W’ham Marinade
  • 1/2 cup beer, cola or club soda
  • 3/4 cup Mild Seasoning Mix or W’ham Mild Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar


  • Stiff-back boning knife, sharpened
  • 1 roll 16-inch-wide plastic wrap
  • 1 roll 18-inch-wide aluminum foil
  • Meat thermometer
  • Long-blade carving knife, sharpened

Remove all the fat and sinew from the brisket, leaving 1/4 inch of fat extending from the top of the brisket point. Cutting at a right angle to the grain, trim the corner of the brisket point. This will serve as a guide later when it is time to slice the brisket. This will also be important should you decide the direction to cut prior to pulling the brisket.

Rub the meat all over with the marinade and set aside, covered, for 20 minutes in a cool place.

In a bowl, combine the beer, seasoning mix and brown sugar. Rub the meat all over with the mixture, massaging it in with your fingertips. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and preferably for 24 hours.

Start the cooker, allow it to reach a temperature of 250 degrees F. Let the cooker remain at that temperature for 30 minutes to establish and ensure a uniform thermal inertia in the cooking tower or chamber. A brisket resists giving up its massive cold, so the fire must have a strong supply of base heat to overpower and then to draw the cold from the meat. Once the dominance of the fire is established, the brisket will become a willing part of the cooking process.

Cook for 8 to 10 hours, maintaining a temperature of 210 degrees F. The brisket is done when the temperature reaches 180 degrees to 185 degrees F internally or when a fork slides easily in and out of the meat. Remove and allow the brisket to rest for about 10 minutes. Wrap tightly with foil and put in the cooker part of the cooking chamber when the temperature is approximately 150 degrees F. Let it rest until you are ready to serve it, or for about 1 hour. Serve it, sliced across the grain, basted with any accumulated juices.

NOTE: The brisket can rest in an insulated cooler that has been filled with very hot water, drained and dried. Cover the cooler with the brisket inside.

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