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View Full Version : Anyone Really Sharing Secrets? Part 2


Gig'em99
04-06-2013, 02:45 PM
A while back I started a thread, to which I can no longer reply. The link is http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=154329 for anyone who needs to reference it.

So I wanted to updated everyone on some of my "processes."

The last month has been an interesting one. I've competed in two different competitions (IBCA) and my brisket method has been put to the test.

I opened this thread with my +/- 190 degree brisket, being held in that range for 3-4 hours. This process has worked for me numerous times, and at several competitions. But two of the 5 briskets I've cooked really surprised me.

All were in my preferred weight range, and all but one came from my local butcher (whom I've used for years).

I'll start by saying, I believe more now than ever before, that meat quality really matters. All of my briskets were full packers, and all were choice (my typical selection). They all were nice and pliable in the packaging, had nice white fat. But the results were peculiar.

A little over a month ago, I competed at the Irving Elks Lodge contest. I cooked 3 briskets that day. An 18lb, a 14 lb (both from my butcher) and a 12 lb flat (from sams). I started the 18 lb 1st, and started the two smaller briskets a few hours later. I had plenty of time before my 3PM turn in (15 hours). At 6am, they were all wrapped up. About 9AM they'd all hit 190-195, perfect. Into the warmer box they went. Held them in the 185 range for 4 hours, then let the temp in my warmer fall to 140 to hold until turn in. My normal process. At turn in time, I began slicing. I was very disappointed in the two briskets. They hadn't rendered down. They weren't jiggly...they were still tough, like they weren't done. The smallest brisket, was. I couldn't use it, because it'd been bought and paid for by my neighbor, who's ask that I cook them one. No problem, plenty of room on the pit. I wanted to cut their brisket so bad, but I hadn't paid for it. Picked my best slices, and turned them in. They were fine, but not what I expect. Didn't make final table. My neighbors then told me the brisket I gave them was the best they'd ever had. HA, should've cut it and turned it in.

A few weeks later at the Ft. Worth Cops for Kids cook out, I did the same thing, only this time I didn't get choice, I got CAB. One 15lb one 18lb. Same process. The 18lb was already nice and pliable, jiggly, when I put it in the warmer box at 195. The 15lb was not. No problem I thought, still had plenty of time to let things render down, so I took it to 205, then put it in the warmer...it's CHEMISTRY! Right? Wrong. The 18lb was PERFECT at turn in. One of, if not my best briskets ever. I couldn't have been happier. Didn't make final table, but hey, 111 teams. I was happy with my turn in. The 15 lb was still tough. Cooked just as long, hit a slightly higher temp, but it never got the texture I was looking for. It was like it wasn't done.

This month, i'm going to get a prime brisket from my butcher (he's holding a couple for me, he rarely gets them). I'll test my theories on it and report back.

But I write this long story to show you how much a couple cooks can really change your thought process. What had always worked, wasn't for some reason. I believe that everyone of those briskets could have turned out beautifully. But I needed to keep cooking them. Maybe 195 wasn't good enough. I pushed one a bit farther, but still not right. Upon slicing it was obvious that the fats hadn't rendered out. Why is this? My suspicion is that the droughts in the midwest have really impacted the cattle, and meat quality. But that's my guess. And if there is any truth to it, it adds to my thoughts that quality really matters. Sometimes quality can't be seen in at the butcher either.

Although, I don't use tooth picks to probe, I do use a thermometer. And I can, as most of you can, feel when the meat is done. But I was relying on that thermometer. I need the science to work in my head for some reason. But, with a couple of real world experiments slapping me in the face, it kind of is what it is, right?

So, my next briskets with still have a thermometer in them. But I'm not going to get scared if they get to 200. I'm going to go back to the old ways of feeling the beef to know if it's ready. If they're nice at 190, great, I'll put em in the warmer to rest. But if they still are tight, I'm going to just keep letting the temp come on up.

Pitmaster T made a very solid point in his response to my OP. It's time. I don't cheat the pit, by ratcheting up the temp and powering through stalls, I let them come on up naturally, so to speak. But, in the end, I completely believe that more time cooking would have caused these briskets to let go and loosen up, not necessarily holding at 180. So maybe easing them up to 210, or 215 would have done it. But, next time, they're not going into the warmer until they feel right.

One more point on quality, (Thanks for the IM HeSmellsLikeSmoke). I've cooked one wagyu brisket. Did it a year ago. That brisket I took to 185, and it was loose. Delicious too. Almost wouldn't hold a slice, but it did, and got turned in. I won 4th place at that tourney in brisket. I've not bought one since. My "process" worked like a champ on it. I suspect my process will do the same on a prime. But my next couple trials, in prep for my next comp on May 3-4, will be watching the temp, but not being tricked by it.

Gig'em99
04-06-2013, 02:46 PM
The title of this post was supposed to be "Anyone Really Sharing Secrets? Part 2, but my pinky finger got away from me!

Ron_L
04-06-2013, 02:49 PM
I can edit the title, but why can't you post this in the old thread?

MikeJ65
04-06-2013, 02:53 PM
A Thermapen is critical for cooking brisket. If the probe of the thermapen goes into the thick part of the flat like its butter, your brisket is done. If you want to, you can look at the digital part of the thermapen at this point, but is is not necessary to do so.

HeSmellsLikeSmoke
04-06-2013, 02:54 PM
Thanks for this update. I am very interested in the ensuing discussion.

HeSmellsLikeSmoke
04-06-2013, 03:11 PM
A Thermapen is critical for cooking brisket. If the probe of the thermapen goes into the thick part of the flat like its butter, your brisket is done. If you want to, you can look at the digital part of the thermapen at this point, but is is not necessary to do so.

If you haven't done so, please take a look at the link to part 1 of this thread at the link posted by Gig'em99 at the top of this thread.

landarc
04-06-2013, 03:17 PM
A Thermapen is not critical for cooking brisket, it is for chicken. But, relying solely on temperature is a risk, exactly because on factor can change and things just aren't quite the same. Could be the beef, might be something else. Temperature as you need to to feel good, but, it is feels right, then you know.

I would have cut up the neighbors brisket and thrown the 15 pounder back on for them.

Gig'em99
04-06-2013, 03:50 PM
I can edit the title, but why can't you post this in the old thread?

I rec'vd a message saying that the forum was 42 days old, and posting wasn't allowed?

Gig'em99
04-06-2013, 03:52 PM
I would have cut up the neighbors brisket and thrown the 15 pounder back on for them.

HAHA! I wanted to. In hindsight, I should've. Told them the story, and they said the same thing. "You should have used it!"

Oh well. My own stubborn-ness was my downfall.

HeSmellsLikeSmoke
04-06-2013, 04:01 PM
I am intrigued that the brisket bought and paid for by your neighbor, which probably wasn't a quality grade, turned out so well. What is your take on that in light of your recent thinking on meat quality?

Ron_L
04-06-2013, 04:31 PM
I rec'vd a message saying that the forum was 42 days old, and posting wasn't allowed?

You have to read everything :becky: Right below that is a check box that allows you to post if you check it.

Let me know via PM if you want me to merge the two threads.

landarc
04-06-2013, 06:25 PM
With the exception of Wagyu beef, I have found that grading of brisket is truly hit and miss. I do try to buy Choice if the price is close. But, my best bet is always to look at the meat before I buy, to make sure it looks right. Good marbling, soft meat, clean white fat, thick flat (of for comps) and a full point.

Just BS
04-06-2013, 07:32 PM
I am intrigued that the brisket bought and paid for by your neighbor, which probably wasn't a quality grade, turned out so well. What is your take on that in light of your recent thinking on meat quality?
I'm no expert by any stretch of your imagination, but my guess is the longer cook/rest time... even though that goes against the OP's thoughts on the subject.

CBQ
04-06-2013, 11:53 PM
A Thermapen is not critical for cooking brisket, it is for chicken. But, relying solely on temperature is a risk...

I think Mike suggested the Thermapen is critical as a probe, not for taking the temp. I agree it's a risk to go by temp, I use my Thermapen as a probe too. The OP needs to "cook it until it's done" by the probe test. I have had mine finish anywhere from 185 to 210 - you just don't know without probing.

Going just by temp would give him exactly the results he described - sometimes it's done, sometimes it's not.

Crash
04-07-2013, 04:08 AM
I think Mike suggested the Thermapen is critical as a probe, not for taking the temp.

That's kind of the way I read it as well. We thermapen our briskets, not to know internal temps, but for the way it slides into the flat. Thinner and sharper pointed than anything else we have on hand.

HeSmellsLikeSmoke
04-07-2013, 06:14 AM
I also use the Thermapen as a probe but I can't keep edit:myself from looking at the temp once it probes like buttah. It just confirms that the temp really does vary with each piece of meat.

More directly on topic though, I have had tremendous success with a long hot hold once the IT gets to 185-190F as Gig'em99 suggests. Has anyone else tried it?

Edit: My success is with cooking excellent briskets, not with competing.

boogiesnap
04-07-2013, 07:28 AM
i haven't cooked nearly as many briskets as others, but by far my most successful ones probed tender below 190* and rested for a short period. 1-2 hours. it's seems backward, but those are my findings.

MikeJ65
04-07-2013, 08:26 AM
I would agree that the brisket will continue to cook at 190, but the IT doesn't really indicate how much additional cook time is necessary. For comps, I think this time is too variable, so I prefer to keep it in higher heat.

If I had a good way to hold it at 190 and wanted to use this technique, I would probably shift it to the hold area when the thin side of the flat probed tender, not by IT. To me, that would be a better indicator of the remaining time required.

Half the time, my Thermapen is a $90 probe. The temp readings do give you an idea of whether you need to go into panic mode.

Bbq Bubba
04-07-2013, 08:40 AM
No.

Outstanding! :cool:

Gig'em99
04-07-2013, 09:04 AM
With the exception of Wagyu beef, I have found that grading of brisket is truly hit and miss. I do try to buy Choice if the price is close. But, my best bet is always to look at the meat before I buy, to make sure it looks right. Good marbling, soft meat, clean white fat, thick flat (of for comps) and a full point.

Yep, I did all that.

I am intrigued that the brisket bought and paid for by your neighbor, which probably wasn't a quality grade, turned out so well. What is your take on that in light of your recent thinking on meat quality?

The neighbors brisket was Certified Angus Beef. Something I've had plenty of success with. Normally it's very good quality. And it turned out. My thoughts are so much depends on the health of the cow. Butcher buys his from the midwest, which has had a couple bad drought years. My theory is that is what's leading to inconsistency.

I'm no expert by any stretch of your imagination, but my guess is the longer cook/rest time... even though that goes against the OP's thoughts on the subject.

The neighbor's brisket was a flat only! It actually cooked about 3 hours less than the big one. Big one went around 11PM, neighbors went on around 1 in the morning. All hit the warmer when they reached the +/-195 mark at that tourney.

This really has been curious. This has been the first time, in a very long time, that my system failed me. Like I said before though, I still think I could've gotten there. I've heard and read plenty of advice on this forum saying basically not to stop cooking, until they feel the right way, jiggly, probe like butter, etc.

Gig'em99
04-07-2013, 09:06 AM
You have to read everything :becky: Right below that is a check box that allows you to post if you check it.

Let me know via PM if you want me to merge the two threads.

Dang it. Well, I don't want to trouble you, and this thread seems to have grown enough legs. I'll pay more attention next time. I normally use tapatalk, but I guess I'll wait until those issues are worked out.

Brian

Gig'em99
04-07-2013, 09:29 AM
I would agree that the brisket will continue to cook at 190, but the IT doesn't really indicate how much additional cook time is necessary. For comps, I think this time is too variable, so I prefer to keep it in higher heat.

If I had a good way to hold it at 190 and wanted to use this technique, I would probably shift it to the hold area when the thin side of the flat probed tender, not by IT. To me, that would be a better indicator of the remaining time required.

Half the time, my Thermapen is a $90 probe. The temp readings do give you an idea of whether you need to go into panic mode.

For a better idea of what was happening, in my warmer box, once everyone of those briskets had reached or gotten over 195, they went into the warmer, where I held them at or above 180 for the next 4 hours. Total cook time was around 13 hours. These are foiled after 4-5 hours as well.

All of the cooking science I've read confirms that the collagen in beef begins to break down at 180F (as published by America's Test Kitchen). The time I "discovered" my process was just after I read this, in my 2nd competition. All I did was hit 180, and hold there for 4 hours. I won 1st in brisket at that amateur event with 20 teams. Had success both in the back yard and at my next several tourneys. Didn't win them, but was always happy with the turnout. Then I accidently let it creep to 200, and I got pulled brisket. That just further confirmed my "process". But those experiences can be thrown out the window.

I agree, that probe tender is absolutely the best test. But, it's a big adjustment when you're under the clock at a tourney. I suppose my next adjustment will be playing with holding. Cause once they probe tender, I can't imagine keeping them above 180 for extended periods would a good plan, as they MAY continue to cook. I'll probably put them in a 140F warmer, and see what happens.

HOWEVER - I still think that the high quality beef needs to be monitored carefully. As briskets move through the stall (which if foiled happens much faster than with butcher paper or no wrap) they increase temp at an accelerated rate. My experience with high quality has not been as inconsistent. So I'd be careful to let something like a wagyu (never can remember where to place the 'y') get much over 190 without probing it a couple times.

Appreciate everyones thoughts! This has been a fun thread.

JD McGee
04-07-2013, 10:14 AM
I too cook to color and feel as opposed to time and temp. I use my thermapen religiously as a probe for the brisket. As I am probing I also take a peek at the temp to use as a ballpark. The temps vary from brisket to brisket but more so in Wagyu than a choice CAB and also if cooking HNF or LNS. (HNF temps tend to finish higher than LNS and Wagyu temps tend to finish lower than CAB) We cook Painted Hills or IBP choice packers in the 12-14 lb range and have done very well with them. :razz:

Now...to answer the topic question...

Yes we share our cooking techniques and the fact that we use Simply Marvelous, Big Poppa Smokers, and Kosmo's Q products in our flavor profiles...:cool:

HeSmellsLikeSmoke
04-07-2013, 10:17 AM
I too cook to color and feel as opposed to time and temp. I use my thermapen religiously as a probe for the brisket. As I am probing I also take a peek at the temp to use as a ballpark. The temps vary from brisket to brisket but more so in Wagyu than a choice CAB and also if cooking HNF or LNS. (HNF temps tend to finish higher than LNS and Wagyu temps tend to finish lower than CAB) We cook Painted Hills or IBP choice packers in the 12-14 lb range and have done very well with them. :razz:

JD, do you mind sharing how you hold them to meet the turn in time?

JD McGee
04-07-2013, 10:20 AM
JD, do you mind sharing how you hold them to meet the turn in time?

We shoot for pulling them 1 1/2 to 2 hours before turn in for a nice rest in the cambro. :cool:

bigsapper
04-07-2013, 10:24 AM
With the exception of Wagyu beef, I have found that grading of brisket is truly hit and miss. I do try to buy Choice if the price is close. But, my best bet is always to look at the meat before I buy, to make sure it looks right. Good marbling, soft meat, clean white fat, thick flat (of for comps) and a full point.

My understanding is that cuts aren't graded, the cow is. And the brisket isn't really considered in the grading process.

Pretty sure I learned that on this website.

CBQ
04-07-2013, 12:49 PM
My understanding is that cuts aren't graded, the cow is. And the brisket isn't really considered in the grading process.

Pretty sure I learned that on this website.

True. Choice is also a pretty big range. If you get "Superior" grade at RD, it's USDA Choice, but thing only take the Superior from the top two thirds of the Choice range.

landarc
04-07-2013, 01:17 PM
My understanding is that cuts aren't graded, the cow is. And the brisket isn't really considered in the grading process.

Pretty sure I learned that on this website.
Yes, the carcass is graded at a certain part of the rib primal (I can't remember which rib joint just now) which is why I believe when you buy a brisket, you cannot rely on the grade alone, or at all really. In truth, the grading is visual, and up to the trained eye of the grader. So even that is subjective.

Mostly I cook for friends, occasionally for pay, rarely for comps. But, I believe that a Select grade packer can do well at all of those levels of cooking. My best finish in brisket was a 3rd in KCBS, that was a Select and my best brisket this past year for pay was also a Select, and that thing was spectacular.

jmoney7269
04-08-2013, 06:34 AM
All we ever do. Throw he brisket on @6, it's wrapped by 10 and done by 12 resting till 4. If my cooker is between 300-350 when I throw it on I'm happy. Usually get the color I'm lookin for in 3 hrs and it just so happens its usually @170-180 which I think is the perfect wrap temp to not get pot roast. Cook to to buttah feel, usually for me its between 205-210. Can't tell ya any more than that or gotta choot ya! :biggrin1: to answer the thread question, no probably not, but there are alot of us that will help get ya close

@landarc
Some of the best tasting briskets I have cooked were select or ungraded that I dug through and picked. It's crazy once you get that sucker cooked and sliced and its all jiggly and tender and juicy, I say to myself "where the heck were you at 2 weeks ago at the cookoff!!!"