How big is your smoker? If it’s on the smaller side, you’re probably better off cooking just one large cut of meat at a time. But if you’ve invested in a large unit, why not put it to good use?
There’s no real trick to smoking brisket and pork at the same time. It just requires a bit of know-how and advance planning on your part. Let’s find out how you can prepare succulent pulled pork and tender beef brisket side by side.
Smoking Brisket and Pork at the Same Time
If you want to smoke beef brisket and pork at the same time, the trick is to select cuts that are roughly the same size. It also helps if you have a solid idea of how long each one usually takes to cook, assuming the temperature of your smoker remains stable.
If you want your beef brisket to have the right texture, using a low-heat cooking application like smoking is the way to go. Set the grill or smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and plan on smoking the meat for 1-1/2 to 2 hours per pound. Therefore, if your brisket weighs 8 pounds, it should take 12 to 16 hours to finish cooking.
Brisket is done when it attains an internal temperature of 210 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re used to eating rare steaks, that might sound a trifle high. However, remember that brisket is a naturally tough and fatty cut that will be too chewy if it’s undercooked.
When it comes to choosing the right cut of pork for the smoker, pork butt (or Boston butt) is your best bet. Like brisket, this cut has a great deal of intramuscular fat, so it needs a long slow cook in order to tenderize properly.
The pork butt should be cooked to at least 195 degrees before you take it off the smoker. When it’s done right, the meat will be tender enough to fall apart when you prod it with a fork. This usually takes about 2 hours per pound of meat when the temperature is set to 225 degrees, so an 8-pound pork butt will need about 16 hours in the smoker.
Why Put Them Together?
As we mentioned, smoking these cuts together will help you make the most of the space you have available. As long as you’re firing up the smoker in the first place, you might as well take advantage of all that wood flavor. But that’s not the only reason why you should consider this experiment.
If your smoker has both an upper and a lower level, try placing the pork butt on top and the beef brisket on the bottom. The fat and moisture from the pork will drip down onto the leaner meat of the brisket, thereby providing a natural “mop.” This comes in especially handy if you’re smoking the brisket flat rather than the whole packer.
One small piece of advice: In most cases, we recommend smoking the pork fat side up. This helps to prevent flare-ups while keeping the meat nice and moist. However, the brisket on the lower shelf will catch the drippings, which is the entire point. When smoking brisket and pork together in this fashion, set the pork butt with the fat side facing down.
Working Out A Schedule
As you can see from the examples listed above, pork butt and brisket should cook at a similar pace. Choosing cuts that are roughly the same size and weight will increase your chances of success.
Before you attempt to smoke brisket and pork butt in tandem, make sure you’re already adept at cooking them separately. Now is not the time to practice with two large and pricey cuts of meat. Once you’ve determined how long it takes your smoker to cook a whole packer brisket or pork butt, you’ll be able to calculate your approximate cooking times.
Let’s say you’ve recently smoked a 10-pound beef brisket, and the entire process took about 16 hours. That means your smoker will cook the meat at a rate of 1.6 hours per pound, assuming the temperature remains stable.
Now, let’s assume your 10-pound pork butt took 18 hours to cook at the same temperature. With that in mind, you can calculate your cooking time for the pork at 1.8 hours per pound.
It’s important to look at these numbers separately before attempting to cook the meat together, especially if the cuts aren’t the same size. You’ll need to work out the cooking time for each one and plan accordingly.
In the interest of keeping things simple, let’s stick with the 10-pound measurements for this example. Your 10-pound brisket should be done in 16 hours, while a 10-pound pork butt will need 18 hours on the smoker. Therefore, once the smoker has reached 225 degrees Fahrenheit, you should put the pork in first, then add the brisket 2 hours later.
How To Control The Smoker’s Temperature
If your smoker runs too hot or too cold during the cooking process, it can be difficult to predict when the meat will be done. As with any successful smoke, consistency is key.
Because built-in thermometers can be erratic, we recommend investing in an air temperature probe to get an accurate readout on your smoker. While you’re at it, don’t forget to buy another one to use on the meat itself. If you plan on smoking brisket and pork at the same time on a regular basis, you might want to pick up a few extras.
After the smoker reaches the desired temperature, wait for a few minutes before adding the meat. Watch the temperature gauge to make sure the numbers don’t swing much higher or lower during this time. If the temperature is stable, you’re good to go. Otherwise, you’ll need to make some adjustments until you can trust the smoker’s environment.
If you’re using a charcoal smoker, you can make adjustments to the temperature by shifting the position of the vents. For smokers that use a digital control panel, either lower the set temperature or adjust the “P” setting to increase the time between pellet cycles.
Smoking the Meat
Once you’re confident that the smoker is doing its work properly, you can shift your focus to the star attraction—the meat itself.
Although you’ll want to have an estimate in place regarding the total cooking time, you should pay more attention to the internal temperature of the meat itself. Otherwise, you might end up with underdone brisket or overcooked pork butt, or vice versa. That’s why we think it’s a good idea to keep separate thermometers on hand for each one.
Always take the temperature from the thickest part of the meat, being careful not to hit any bones or pockets of fat. If you can, try to aim for the same spot every time you perform this test. That way, you can rely on the thermometer’s accuracy without poking multiple holes in the meat.
What If One Is Done Before the Other?
Even if you’ve planned everything perfectly, there’s a chance that your brisket will cook faster than the pork butt, or vice versa. Fortunately, there are ways to keep the cooked meat fresh and hot while you wait for the smoker to finish its work.
The Resting Period
If you think the remaining cut will finish cooking within the next hour, go ahead and wrap the cooked meat in foil to begin the resting period. Once you’ve taken the other piece of meat off the smoker, you can let that one rest while you’re preparing the first.
While pork butt and brisket should rest for 30 to 60 minutes before you slice or shred the meat, it’s fine to allow them to sit in foil for a bit longer. Just be sure to refrigerate the meat after 2 hours.
The Oven Technique
Set the oven to its lowest temperature, usually 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the cooked pork or brisket in a roasting pan and wrap it tightly with foil. Put the pan in the oven and let it sit for up to one hour, then turn the oven off.
At this point, the meat should remain warm for up to 4 hours without drying out. When you’re ready to take the second cut off the smoker, remove this one from the oven and allow it to rest for 30 to 60 minutes.
The Faux Cambro Technique
Fill a cooler with 3 gallons of hot water and close the lid. After 30 minutes, dump out the water and line the cooler with clean towels. Wrap the cooked brisket or pork in foil and set it in the warm cooler, then close the lid.
As with the oven method, you should be able to hold the meat for 3 to 4 hours using this technique. Don’t forget to let it rest before serving.
As long as you know what to expect, smoking brisket and pork at once can be a real time-saver. It will also give you more options to choose from at your next barbecue, which will delight your guests and your taste buds alike.