Smoked Brisket Drip Pan
Using a drip pan when smoking a brisket can be very beneficial to ensuring a great after-product. A drip pan is used to either baste the meat while it smokes inside the cooking chamber, or can serve as a mechanism to catch all residual drippings from the meat to use for other purposes.
Placing a brisket in a drip pan also serves to shield it from any direct heat and can be a good way to further speed up your cooking process while preserving your bark. Contrast this by wrapping your meat in foil, where you still get plenty of expedited cooking, but at the cost of all your bark and seasoning.
What is a drip pan and what does it do?
A drip pan in the context of barbecue and smoking a brisket has at least two functions. The first of which is to capture all the drippings that are rendered out by the meat, and the second being an actual compartment that you place the brisket in for heat protection and expedited cooking times.
It’s important to not confuse the drip pan with a water pan, which has the function in the cooking process of simply acting as a heat sink. Water pans basically just capture some of the ambient temperatures within the cooking chamber to help stabilize things.
Can you smoke a brisket in a foil pan?
You can absolutely smoke a brisket inside a foiled pan, while still getting a great bark and smoke flavor. It is common for PitMasters to do this, as it also serves as an easy way to transport the brisket before, during, and after the cook.
Think about it, when you’re having to carry around a large 12+ pound piece of meat, it becomes way more economical to just carry it around inside a giant pan. The added bonus being that you can capture all the amazing juices rendered out of the meat for later use.
Smoke brisket in pan or on rack?
It’s entirely up to the pit-master as to which cooking method they want to use for smoking brisket. With smoking a brisket on the rack, you are getting the traditional styled cook. Great smoke flavor, great bark, but potentially longer smoke times and more of a difficult time transporting the brisket. With a drip pan, you get all the above benefits plus the added benefit of transportation ease along with shorter cook times (if you seal the top of the pan).
Whichever option you happen to choose, just be aware that the real difference when smoking a brisket comes when you actually pull it off the grates/drip pan. You want to make sure the brisket is probe tender and temps out at around 200 degrees internal. Also make sure to rest it for a long enough time.