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Smoked Brisket

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1 brisket flat (4-1/2 to 5 pounds)
Coarse sea salt
Cracked black
Peppercorns or freshly
Ground black
Hot red pepper flakes (optional)
16 thick-cut strips of artisanal bacon, such as Nueske’s

1.Season the brisket: Place the brisket in the foil pan and generously season the top, bottom, and sides with salt, black pepper, and if you like your brisket spicy, hot red pepper flakes. Finish with the lean (fatless) side up.
2. Set up your smoker, cooker, or grill following the manufacturer’s instructions and heat it to 250°F. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer. Place a metal bowl with 1-quart warm water in the smoker—this creates a humid environment that will help the smoke adhere to the meat and keep your brisket moist.
3. Place the brisket in its pan in the smoker. Smoke for 1 hour. (This gets smoke into the underside of the meat.)
4. Using tongs, invert the brisket so the fat side is up. Neatly drape the top with half the bacon slices. Cook the brisket until the bacon on top is darkly browned, 2 hours or so. Remove the bacon, dice, and eat it as a reward for your patience.
5. Lay the remaining bacon strips atop the bacon. Continue cooking until these new bacon strips are darkly browned and the internal temperature of the brisket registers 205°F on an instant-read thermometer. There should be a nice pool of bacon and brisket fat at the bottom of the pan. This will take another 3 to 4 hours, for a total of 6 to 8 hours in all. Note: There is no need to wrap the brisket in butcher paper or aluminum foil as the foil pan covers the bottom; the bacon covers the top.
6. You can eat the brisket immediately, but it will be more moist and tender if you rest it, loosely covered with aluminum foil in an insulated cooler for 1 hour.
7. To serve, uncover the brisket and transfer it to a cutting board. Remove the bacon or slice it along with the brisket. Cut across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices, or as thickly or thinly as you desire. Serve with any condiments or accompaniments you like.
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