somebody shut me the fark up.
Join Date: 05-10-06
Location: Overland Fark, KS
Let me recall the story of the first time I truly nailed brisket. I had thought I had been making some really good briskets for some time. Until that morning.
Back then I cooked on a little offset at temps that would swing between 225 and 240 that needed to be refueled every 90 minutes. I knew that cooker well, and could depend in those temps so long as the intakes were set right and I refueled properly each time. I depended on a pair of Maverick ET-73's (in case one lost signal the other was backup), monitoring pit and internal temp.
I was making a brisket overnight for lunch the next day. I don't know what time of day I started, but back then 18 hours was pretty common for brisket.
I don't recall what exactly happened that night, but what is do recall was around 3am I got up to refueled the pit as it had been 90 minutes since the last refueling and temps had dropped back down towards 225, just as expected. Since I was napping between refueling, I was depending on my Maverick alerts in case the temp went high in either the meat or the cooker, and both would have been set.
After refueling at 3am, an odd confluence of events happened. The first was that my alarm either did not go off at 4:30 to refuel or I slept through it (based on a couple things I am thinking I was really tired and slept through it). Another thing that happened was my pit temp swung high, to temps unknown and my Mavericks did not alert me (probably lost signal as I doubt I slept through two Mavericks AND an alarm clock).
What I do know is that I woke up after 6am, probably 6:30ish. My first thought was, "FARK, my pit is going to be cold"! I looked at my MAvericks and they were reading a little high. I don't recall the number, but probably like 260 or so. Nothing too outrageous, but enough to confuse the ever loving fark out of me for a little bit. I remember standing there wondering how in the fark they could possibly read high after more than 3 hours on one load of fuel in a cooker that needed refueling every 90 minutes based on my methods.
After a moment it dawned on me that I may have screwed something up royally and the pit ran really high after the 3am refueling, and this was simply what it had cooled down to since. I practically ran outside to my cooker with this realization, expecting the worst, a burnt up charred piece of turd.
I opened up the lid, and sure enough, I was greeted by what looked exactly like a meteorite. It was black, save for some reflective shiny bits from the coarse sea salt I had rubbed on there.
I cursed for a few minutes and then went to grab it from the cooker only to find (very much to my surprise) that it was flexible. So I held out hope that at least I could get some meat from the inside of that meteorite.
When I sliced into it I was shocked to find that it was not like cutting through a meteorite, but instead was like cutting through a tender piece of meat, with the black outside simply being what I assumed to be charred bark (it wasn't all that burnt tasting, really, but I had made better bark for sure).
Then I tried it. It was the first time in my life my tongue had achieved orgasm. I had more and kept having one mouthgasm after another. I became insatiable. I literally ate almost half of that brisket right there from the cutting board on my back porch table.
I couldn't believe what had happened. I didn't understand what happened either, and I may never figure out what happened exactly based on the rather unusual timings and circumstances. All I knew for sure was that...
1. The pit had definitely been cooking hot, at 260 and above for the last 3 hours of the cook (I was targeting 225-240 and a noon-ish finish, not the 6:30am finish I achieved).
2. What I thought at first was a most certainly overcooked and burnt to a crisp brisket was actually the best brisket I had made to date at that point.
This forced me to consider high-heat as an option for future cooks, and is what I did for a couple years, and why I ordered my WSM's (since my offset couldn't really do 300+).
Since that switch to high heat, I've gone back to 225, 250, 275, 300+ each a few times. I get MY best results cooking around 275, but that doesn't mean it's for everyone.
This pit temp isn't necessarily the magic either. The true magic is simply cooking it until it is done, no matter what temp you cook at (just like the OP says, no matter how cranky you may think he is).
So there's my original "Eureka" moment for brisket. I only remember it because it was so unusual.
I think my tutorial is helpful to get folks started (search for Basic Brisket Tutorial), but honestly, there are many, many, many other GREAT threads, maybe even BETTER threads than my tutorial. You may not like Pitmaster T or his now defunct alter-ego barbefunkoramaque, but really is a good idea (in my opinion) to check out his brisket stuff as well if you are learning brisket. He covers brisket from many angles and will keep you busy and give you plenty to think about and practice with.
The Aaron Franklin stuff is great too. Seriously. I don't think you have to cook thousands of briskets though. I didn't. I probably only cooked at most a couple dozen before that "Eureka" moment, and I've been getting more and more "there" ever since.
All the OP is really trying to tell you is to stop overthinking it.
Use the Force, Luke. Let go, Luke. Luke, trust me.
Someone better run this through a translator so it can be condensed to 25 words or less.