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West Texas Brisket Magic with Lainie Eilenberger

Updated: Jan 21

Howdy, y'all! Lainie Eilenberger here from Key and Slate Real Estate Group, and today I'm thrilled to share my secret to making the most finger-lickin', melt-in-your-mouth West Texas brisket you'll ever taste. So, let's get started, and you'll soon be the talk of the town with your very own delicious brisket.

Choosing the Brisket

When it comes to a great brisket, it all starts with selecting the right cut of meat, and trust me, y'all, this step is crucial to achieving that melt-in-your-mouth texture we all crave. You'll want to pay a visit to your local butcher and ask for a full packer brisket, ideally weighing between 12-14 pounds. Now, you might be wondering, "What's so special about a full packer brisket?" Well, let me tell you, it includes both the flat and the point, which means you'll get the best of both worlds - lean, tender slices from the flat and juicy, flavorful chunks from the point.

When examining your brisket, look for a well-marbled piece with plenty of white streaks running through the meat. These streaks of fat will render down during the cooking process, making the meat incredibly tender and flavorful. You'll also want to ensure there's a thick, even layer of fat cap on one side of the brisket. This fat layer is essential, as it will keep the meat moist and tender during the long cooking process, basting the meat as it slowly renders down.

Don't be afraid to ask your butcher for help when choosing the perfect brisket. They're experts in their field and will be more than happy to guide you in your selection. Remember, a good-quality brisket is the foundation for a successful West Texas barbecue experience, so take your time and choose wisely.

In summary, when choosing the brisket for your West Texas barbecue masterpiece, keep these key factors in mind:

  • Opt for a full packer brisket, weighing between 12-14 pounds

  • Look for a well-marbled piece, with plenty of white streaks of fat

  • Ensure there's a thick, even layer of fat cap on one side

  • Don't hesitate to ask your butcher for assistance in selecting the best cut

Seasoning the Brisket

For the perfect West Texas brisket, you'll want to let the natural flavors of the meat shine, and that's why simplicity is key. The only seasonings you need to create an unforgettable, mouthwatering brisket are a blend of kosher salt and coarse black pepper. These two ingredients, when combined in a 1:1 ratio, create the classic Texas-style rub that's been a staple of our region's barbecue tradition for generations.

To prepare the rub, combine equal parts of kosher salt and coarse black pepper in a small bowl. You'll want to use kosher salt because it has a larger grain size and a more mild, pure taste compared to table salt. This allows it to dissolve more slowly during the cooking process, helping to draw out the natural flavors of the meat without overpowering it.

Once you've mixed your rub, it's time to season the brisket. First, pat the brisket dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. This will help the rub adhere better to the surface of the meat. Then, generously sprinkle the salt and pepper mixture over every inch of the brisket, making sure to cover all sides evenly. Don't be shy with the rub – you want to create a bold, flavorful crust that will contrast beautifully with the tender, juicy meat inside.

As you season the brisket, take the time to press the rub into the meat, ensuring it sticks well and forms an even layer. This will help the rub to penetrate deeper into the meat during the cooking process, further enhancing the flavor of your brisket.

In summary, to season your West Texas brisket to perfection, remember to:

  • Use a simple 1:1 blend of kosher salt and coarse black pepper

  • Combine the seasonings in a small bowl before applying

  • Pat the brisket dry to ensure better adherence of the rub

  • Apply the rub generously to all sides of the meat

  • Press the rub into the meat to create an even layer and promote deeper flavor penetration

Preparing the Fire

The key to a truly unforgettable West Texas brisket lies in the smoky, aromatic flavor that can only be achieved by cooking over a wood fire. The type of wood you use plays a significant role in the final flavor profile of your brisket, so it's important to choose wisely. In West Texas, we prefer to use oak, mesquite, or pecan wood, each lending its own unique characteristics to the meat.

Oak wood imparts a balanced, mellow smokiness that complements the natural flavor of the brisket without overwhelming it. Mesquite wood, on the other hand, is famous for its strong, bold, and earthy flavors that can truly define a West Texas barbecue. Pecan wood offers a delightful balance between the two, providing a sweet, nutty flavor that pairs exceptionally well with the rich taste of brisket.

To prepare the fire, start by building a fire in your smoker or barbecue pit using your chosen wood. If you're using a traditional offset smoker, build the fire in the firebox, separate from the main cooking chamber. For those using a charcoal grill or pit, arrange the wood on one side of the grill to create an indirect heat source.

Allow the wood to burn down until you have a bed of glowing coals with a light layer of white ash covering them. This is the perfect stage to start cooking your brisket, as the coals will provide a steady, even heat while releasing the smoky flavors that make West Texas brisket so special.

While you wait for the fire to reach this optimal stage, take the time to adjust the vents on your smoker or barbecue pit to help maintain a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process. Learning to control the airflow is crucial for achieving a perfectly smoked brisket, so don't be afraid to experiment and find what works best for your specific setup.

In summary, when preparing the fire for your West Texas brisket, remember to:

  • Choose oak, mesquite, or pecan wood for the best results

  • Build a fire in your smoker or barbecue pit, allowing the wood to burn down to glowing coals

  • Adjust the vents to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process

  • Be patient and wait for the perfect moment to start cooking your brisket, ensuring that smoky, aromatic flavor we all love

Temperature and Time

Mastering the art of temperature and time management is crucial for achieving that tender, juicy brisket that's the hallmark of West Texas barbecue. Maintaining a consistent temperature throughout the entire cooking process will ensure that your brisket cooks evenly and reaches that perfect level of tenderness we all crave.

Aim for a cooking temperature between 225°F and 250°F. This low and slow approach allows the meat to cook gently, breaking down the tough connective tissues and rendering the fat without drying out the brisket. To monitor the temperature, it's a good idea to invest in a high-quality digital thermometer, preferably one with a probe that can be left inside the meat during cooking. This will help you keep a close eye on the internal temperature of the brisket and make any necessary adjustments to the fire as needed.

Once your fire is ready and you've achieved the desired cooking temperature, place the brisket on the smoker or barbecue pit, fat cap side up. This will allow the melting fat to baste the meat as it cooks, keeping it moist and tender. Position the brisket away from the direct heat source to ensure it cooks via indirect heat, which promotes even cooking and prevents overcooking or charring.

As a general rule of thumb, cook your brisket for about 1 to 1.5 hours per pound. However, cooking times can vary depending on factors such as the thickness of the meat, the type of smoker or barbecue pit you're using, and the specific temperature you maintain during cooking. The ultimate goal is to reach an internal temperature of 195°F to 203°F, which indicates that the brisket has reached its peak tenderness.

Keep in mind that brisket can be notoriously fickle, and the cooking process often includes a "stall," where the internal temperature plateaus for an extended period of time. Don't worry – this is completely normal! Just be patient, maintain a consistent temperature, and resist the temptation to open the smoker or pit too often, as this can release heat and lengthen the cooking time.

In summary, when managing temperature and time for your West Texas brisket, remember to:

  • Maintain a consistent cooking temperature between 225°F and 250°F

  • Use a high-quality digital thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the meat

  • Cook the brisket fat cap side up and away from the direct heat source

  • Allow for 1 to 1.5 hours of cooking time per pound, reaching an internal temperature of 195°F to 203°F

  • Be patient during the "stall" and resist the urge to open the smoker or pit too often

Look for the Perfect Bark

A true West Texas brisket isn't complete without a dark, crusty bark on the outside. This beautiful, flavorful outer layer is the product of the perfect marriage between smoke, meat juices, and the simple but powerful salt and pepper rub you applied earlier. It's this bark that sets apart an exceptional brisket from the merely good ones, offering a delightful contrast in texture and a burst of smoky flavor in every bite.

As your brisket cooks, keep a watchful eye on it to ensure that the bark develops evenly and doesn't become overly charred. You want it to be a deep mahogany color, with a slightly crispy texture that yields to the tenderness of the meat beneath.

To help the bark develop and maintain its rich color, occasionally spritz the brisket with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. Combine equal parts of the two liquids in a spray bottle, and lightly mist the surface of the brisket every hour or so, especially during the latter half of the cooking process. The apple cider vinegar will add a touch of acidity that balances the richness of the meat, while the moisture from the water will help to prevent the bark from drying out and becoming too tough.

It's important not to overdo it with the spritzing, as excessive moisture can prevent the formation of the bark altogether. Remember that the bark should be dark and crusty but not burnt or excessively dry. Striking the right balance between moist and dry is essential for achieving that perfect West Texas brisket bark.

In summary, when looking for the perfect bark on your brisket, remember to:

  • Monitor the brisket during cooking to ensure even bark development and prevent charring

  • Aim for a deep mahogany color and a slightly crispy texture

  • Spritz the brisket occasionally with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water to help the bark develop and maintain its rich color

  • Strike a balance between moist and dry to achieve the perfect bark

  • Enjoy the delightful contrast between the flavorful bark and the tender, juicy meat beneath

Resting and Serving

After putting so much time and effort into creating the perfect West Texas brisket, it's essential not to rush through the final steps. Properly resting and serving the brisket will ensure that all your hard work pays off and that your guests enjoy a tender, flavorful, and memorable meal.

Once your brisket reaches the desired internal temperature, carefully remove it from the smoker, taking care not to disturb the beautifully formed bark. To help retain moisture and keep the meat warm, wrap the brisket in unbleached butcher paper or aluminum foil. The choice between the two is a matter of personal preference; butcher paper allows for better breathability, while aluminum foil locks in moisture more effectively.

Find a warm, draft-free spot and let the brisket rest for at least an hour, or even up to two hours if time allows. This resting period is crucial, as it allows the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat. If you slice into the brisket too soon, those precious juices will escape, leaving you with a drier, less tender result.

When it's time to serve the brisket, use a sharp knife to slice against the grain, which will make the meat even more tender and easier to chew. Aim for slices that are about 1/4-inch thick – not too thin, not too thick – to achieve the perfect balance of tenderness and satisfying mouthfeel.

Pair your perfectly cooked brisket with classic barbecue sides that complement and enhance its rich flavors. Some West Texas favorites include tangy coleslaw, creamy potato salad, smoky baked beans, and buttery cornbread. Don't forget to serve up a generous helping of homemade West Texas BBQ sauce for guests to drizzle over their brisket or use as a dipping sauce.

In summary, when resting and serving your West Texas brisket, remember to:

  • Remove the brisket from the smoker carefully, preserving the bark

  • Wrap the brisket in butcher paper or aluminum foil to retain moisture and warmth

  • Allow the meat to rest for at least an hour, preferably up to two hours, in a warm, draft-free spot

  • Slice the brisket against the grain using a sharp knife, aiming for 1/4-inch thick slices

  • Serve the brisket with classic barbecue sides like coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, and cornbread

  • Offer homemade West Texas BBQ sauce for drizzling or dipping

West Texas BBQ Sauce

The crowning glory of any brisket is a delicious, homemade West Texas BBQ sauce that adds a burst of flavor and ties everything together. This sauce boasts a perfect balance of tangy, sweet, and smoky flavors that complement the rich taste of the brisket. Here's how to create this delectable sauce from scratch:


  • 2 cups ketchup

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)

  • Salt and black pepper, to taste


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Stir well to ensure that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

  2. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Be sure to stir the sauce occasionally to prevent sticking or burning.

  3. Allow the sauce to simmer for about 30 minutes, during which time the flavors will meld together and the sauce will thicken slightly. This slow simmering process is essential for achieving a rich, deep flavor profile that truly sets West Texas BBQ sauce apart.

  4. Once the sauce has reached your desired consistency, taste it and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper as needed. If you prefer a spicier sauce, feel free to add a touch more cayenne pepper at this stage.

  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the sauce cool for a few minutes before transferring it to a serving dish or storage container.

This homemade West Texas BBQ sauce not only elevates your brisket to new heights but also works wonderfully with other barbecue favorites, such as ribs, chicken, or pulled pork. Make a large batch and store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, so you'll always have some on hand to add that perfect finishing touch to your barbecue creations.


As a proud West Texan, my passion for the perfect brisket is only matched by my dedication to helping my fellow Texans find their dream homes and achieve their real estate goals. My real estate services span across a multitude of cities, including but not limited to Lubbock, Abernathy, Brownfield, Buffalo Springs, Crosbyton, Denver City, Farwell, Floydada, Hale Center, Lamesa, Littlefield, Muleshoe, New Deal, New Home, Olton, Plains, Post, Ralls, Ransom Canyon, Seagraves, Seminole, Silverton, Slaton, Spur, Snyder, Sundown, Tahoka, Tulia, and Wolfforth. At Key and Slate Real Estate Group, we pride ourselves on our commitment to delivering personalized service, unwavering attention to detail, and unparalleled expertise to each and every client.

Our services extend beyond just residential real estate. We also specialize in commercial transactions, land and ranch properties, investment opportunities, and property management. No matter your real estate needs, our experienced team at Key and Slate Real Estate Group is here to guide you through the process with ease and confidence.

In addition to our comprehensive services, we also strive to provide valuable resources and information through our websites and online presence. We understand the importance of staying up to date on the latest market trends, community developments, and industry news, and we make it our mission to share that knowledge with our clients.

Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, an experienced investor, or someone looking to sell their property, our team at Key and Slate Real Estate Group is dedicated to making your experience a positive and successful one. We understand that each client's needs are unique, and we work tirelessly to tailor our approach to meet your individual goals and expectations.

So, the next time you're in the market for a new home or property, or simply need advice on the local real estate scene, don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're here to help, and we can't wait to share our West Texas spirit and expertise with you. Let us show you what makes our communities so special and help you find the perfect place to call home.

In conclusion, my love for West Texas is deeply rooted not only in our unbeatable brisket recipes but also in our strong sense of community and our dedication to helping our neighbors achieve their real estate dreams. At Key and Slate Real Estate Group, we're more than just a team of professionals—we're a family, and we can't wait to welcome you to the best that West Texas has to offer.

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