Great barbecue brisket is built by layers of flavor, and those layers start with the barbecue rub. Brisket rubs can be simple or complex in a wide range of barbecue styles. But before you start picking out a barbecue rub for your brisket, there are a few things to consider, like how much rub you need and when to apply it. When it comes to the amount, there really is no special formula—you can put on as much rub as the meat will hold. First, pat dry your brisket with paper towels and then sprinkle with the rub (you don't actually have to rub it on). Whatever adheres to the brisket is the amount needed.
The timing, however, does need some consideration. If the rub you are using contains a lot of salt, you will want to apply it right before you put the brisket in the smoker. If the rub is low in salt or doesn't have any, then you can apply it several hours in advance to let the flavors sink in. Leaving a large amount of salt on meat will cause it to cure and the flavor will be more like jerky and less like barbecue brisket.
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This rub starts with a good portion of salt, but don't worry—by using a coarse salt, it will absorb more slowly into the meat. This means that the brisket won't pick up too much of the saltiness. Don't apply this rub too early or the surface of the meat will begin to cure.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
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Chipotle chilies add a smokey heat that is perfect for brisket. Use dried chipotles to keep this BBQ rub dry. (You can buy chipotle chili powder but that costs a lot more.) What ties the chipotle flavor together with this rub is a hint of orange in the form of a small piece of dried orange peel.
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This is a wet rub, or as you might call it, a spice paste. What ties the flavors of this barbecue rub together is a small amount of lemon juice. This acid helps break down the seasonings so that the flavors can be absorbed into the brisket. This recipe calls for hot chili powder, but you can switch to a mild one if you want to tone down the heat.
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This is another basic barbecue rub for brisket. What makes this one different is the finely ground green chili. By using a fresh chili, you get more than just a touch of heat. What you want to do is chop up the chili and then grind it into the other ingredients. The green chili adds a fresh herbal flavor that really makes this rub stand out.