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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 09-02-2012, 02:33 PM   #1
aks801
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Default Gonna HH brisket on the kettle

Don't have a proper smoker (don't let the signature fool ya, ECB is long gone), so I'm going to try and use my trusty 22 OTS as a smoker for the first time. I'm tossin' this out there for general evaluation and tire-kickin'.

The set-up
Try to find fire brick today to serve as barrier. If can't find any, will use a foil pain (the outside edge to serve as barrier).
Minion method. Probably put about a dozen lit on top of the unlit Kingsford Blue briquettes. Put one or two good sized hickory chunks on one edge of the lit.

The meat
Get a 8-10# packer today. Do any required trimming this evening, slather on mustard, then rub it down, put in fridge overnight.
Already have a few chx breasts in the fridge that need to be cooked, so will put them on after I pull the brisket and put it (foiled) into an Igloo.
Will put on a few rounds of sausage close to the chicken being done.

The cook
Put on the brisket, fat side down, as the lit is put onto the unlit. Hope to maintain about 325 deg (measured with thermo placed through the dome vent). Add hickory chunks (or chips) as required for temp throughout the cook.
Cook it about 2.5 hours, then pull it, foil it, and put it back done for another 2 hours or so. Pull it for good when a probe goes through flat like butter.
Foil it, put it in Igloo with warm towels that just came out of the dryer. Let it stay there about 45 minutes, take it out when I pull the chicken and sausage.

Trim excess fat from flat, slice it up, and serve on platter along with chicken and sausage. Bowl of warm Head Country sauce set out. Sides of tater salad and beans. Onions, pickles, and cheap white bread available, of course. Will save the point for chopping and top with baked taters later in the week.

Bottom Line
Does this seem like a reasonable plan? Would like some feedback before I green-light it.
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Unread 09-02-2012, 02:43 PM   #2
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Sounds like a solid plan but I do have 1 recommendation in your fire set up. You don't need a barrier but to help with temp control instead of a foil pan cover the unused portion of the coal grate with HD AF try and get a good seal where the grate meets the kettle. This will force the air to the bottom of the fire where it is needed you will find you will be able to control you r temps much easier.
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Unread 09-02-2012, 02:45 PM   #3
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I think I should be there for a critique. What times supper?
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Unread 09-02-2012, 09:04 PM   #4
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@Bludawg: interesting tip on sealing up the charcoal grate other than where needed. I'm going to do it, thanks.

@Phil: 'bout 5 PM tomorrow. BYOB.

I found a 10.3# packer at Sam's at $2.38/lb: perfect!
HEB was out of regular Head Country sauce, so I got some Stubb's. Bound to be good. Along with the Holmes Pork & Venison sausage I picked up, we're pretty much set!

I'll post during the cook tomorrow, with a summary and pics to follow.
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Unread 09-03-2012, 01:41 PM   #5
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Well I set up the Kettle per the above discussion, and put on the brisket at 10:35. The temp is holding real steady. So far, so good!
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Unread 09-03-2012, 07:44 PM   #6
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The temp held pretty steady, usually around 380 (which I think was just too much, see below). At 1:05 I foiled the meat, and put the fat side up. At 4:20, when the probe did not meet any real resistance, I pulled the meat, foiled it over, wrapped it, and put it in the Igloo.

Then I put on the chicken breasts, and the sausage. At 5:20 I pulled those off.

Trimmed some fat, separated the flat from the point. But then I couldn't slice it. It all just shredded. With the grain or across it. So I had a big dish of shredded brisket, with good smoke flavor, and poured the natural juices back on it all.

I think the high heat was just too high (early on it was at 400+). Any thoughts?

Since I was able to control the temps pretty well on the kettle, I think next time I'll try it the more conventional low 'n slow, shooting for a temp of 225. It will just require less fuel, keep the bottom vents more closed, and some monitoring.
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Unread 09-04-2012, 05:28 PM   #7
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C'mon farkers, I'd like a little feedback here.

I think it was just a matter of over-cooking it (way too much heat initially combined with leaving it on too long). Just want some opinions.

Next time I'll use less lit and aim for a 325 temp to do a high heat cook, or go the route of a traditional low 'n slow.
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Unread 09-04-2012, 05:38 PM   #8
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It sounds like you're heat was definitely too high. Probably over cooked it a little bit. There's H & F but 380-400 is roasting.
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Unread 09-04-2012, 05:56 PM   #9
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Results sound a bit "overcooked" for sure.
IMHO--better "over" than "under".

Either back off the temp or time a bit next time and you should be Golden!
DO NOT make major changes to a process that came so close to your goal.

Great Job.

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Unread 09-04-2012, 06:06 PM   #10
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At that hight temp no need to foil if u want the drippings just use a drip pan.


Have fun and happy smoking
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Unread 09-04-2012, 06:19 PM   #11
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I am just seeing this, I would not have set up the fire like you did. Bludawgs tip about the grate is 100% on, that is really important. But...

In a kettle, top vent wide open, bottom vent no more than 1/8" at widest part, that will put you close to 300F. I use three to four small pieces of wood, not two large pieces, as the burning wood ignites far too often, the smaller pieces will also, but, will not affect temperature. A kettle has too small of an air volume to take larger pieces of wood. I pile up briquettes as you did, but, I use 5 or 6 lit briquettes, place them on the pile and let it run up to temperature first. At 225F, I put the meat on, then leave the vents at no more than 1/8", this works fine. The kettle will climb to 300F over an hour. Then it will settle around 300F to 325F. At these temperatures, I do not foil, I either pan or butcher paper, if I do anything at all.

With a pan, I use a aluminum or steel pan, preheated in my oven, add 2 cups liquid, maybe 3 cups, to get 1/2 inch of liquid, then a rack, to keep meat above liquid, then meat and finally cover with foil, does not need to be airtight.

With paper, I use a double wrap of butcher paper (uncoated is key) spray with a little liquid, then gift wrap and into cooker. Again, does not need to be airtight.

Either way, cook until probe slides in easily, then rest for at least 2 hours. I believe you were too hot and with foiling, you just overcooked it a bit/lot.
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Unread 09-04-2012, 06:30 PM   #12
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I did an 8# brisket on my kettle a couple of weeks ago, and my setup is much the same as the one Bluedawg posted the image of, no foil on the cool side, though.

I used firebricks in my kettle, but put the meat(fat up) in an aluminum pan to collect the juices so I could baste a bit later in the cook. I had an aluminum loaf pan with some hot water over the left hand end of the charcoal area. I generally put my lit coals on the right side and let them burn across. I find the heat transmitting through the grill grate is enough to produce humidity and also stabilize the temp.

I rubbed with granualted garlic, Montreal Steak Spice and coarse ground black pepper while I was waiting for my 10 briquettes to light(5/5:30 am - day off).

With my temp ranging between 275 and 325, the brisket was in the kettle for maybe 9, 9 and a half hours.

I let the brisket go until the internal temp was about 205, then removed the point for burnt ends(first attempt -saved that for immediate family only, not the guests) and foiled, towelled and coolered the flat for 2 hours before serving.

I'm not a brisket-meister or anything, I usually do ribs on my kettle. It just sounds like your temp got a too high. But if the end result was tasty, it wasn't a complete loss, just inspiration for another try!

Last edited by smokainmuskoka; 09-04-2012 at 08:17 PM.. Reason: sp.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 05:53 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone for the solid feedback.

A couple of things:

- I need to adjust my bottom vent mechanism. Mine is, I believe, what is described as a daisy wheel: three large vent covers connected to a hub in the middle. They are bent away from the inside surface, so even when they are "closed" they will in effect still be rather open. It's due for some maintenance anyway, so this will be good.
- Next time I will use less lit, and smaller hickory chunks. Will also let it settle into an initial temperature before putting the meat on, so I can see what I'll be dealing with.

Overall I'm pleased the ol' kettle has the potential to turn out a nice brisket. I suppose I just like the idea of one versatile piece of equipment to handle everything. That being said, I sure hope Santa brings me a 22WSM this year....
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Unread 09-05-2012, 05:58 PM   #14
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You can run your kettle like this: You'll get 13 hours of burn time without need to refuel. Light 12 briquettes and once ashed over put them on top of one end of the unlit ones...it'll contact burn for about 13 hours with an almost full ring. Top vent wide open and bottom varies to control temp.

Note: only a half ring is pictured. That will burn about 6 hours.


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Unread 09-05-2012, 07:17 PM   #15
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@bacchus99: that is a thing of beauty! I had read about running a ring/string of fuel, but don't recall seeing a photo. Definitely something to consider.
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