MMMM.. BRISKET..
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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.


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Old 08-28-2017, 03:57 PM   #1
rikun
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Default Yet another brisket doneness/probe feel desperation thread...

Okay, this is getting pretty ridiculous...

I've done several hundred packer briskets or flats and still struggle every time with the correct probe feel...

I usually cook HnF at around 275-325 F, naked for 2-4 hours and then I foil when the color is right.
I cook them foiled for about 1.5-2.5 hours, and check for doneness after 1 hour in the foil every 20 minutes.

What throws me off is that there seems to be a lot of variation.
I thought I had calibrated my tactile touch to the optimal probe feeling, but then I accidentally overcooked one packer in competition.
The probe slid in there almost without pushing...
It was probably the softest probe feel that I've ever felt and truly was like warm butter.

And the tenderness was almost spot on, just a tiny bit over! I fully anticipated it being way over due to my earlier brisket adventures...
Also the judges agreed that the tenderness was really close.

A few days ago I did bunch of briskets, I pulled one that felt pretty good and let it cool down before slicing and it was pretty close.
It had a lot more resistance than that comp brisket I just mentioned, but was still more overdone...

And then there were the other briskets, they took way longer before they felt even remotely soft.
They all had probe feel that had more resistance than the comp brisket, but they all ended up being pulled beef rather than slices.

What am I missing here? Did I miss the moment when they were probe tender, and after that they just started to tighten up?

I think that happened in the last comp we did. We checked the brisket for probe feel and it felt somewhat soft, but still had resistance.
And then we checked it again in 20 minutes and it definitely had more resistance, so we pulled it. And it was overcooked.

For my tactile senses, it's hard to distinguish between the resistance before brisket is done and the resistance after it's overcooked. How do you know if you've missed your window?
Do you check the temps? Or do you eyeball the amount of moisture present? Look for excessive surface cracking?
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Old 08-28-2017, 04:03 PM   #2
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are you using the exact same tool to probe with? sometimes you just get an odd one but if you have issues after hundreds of cooks then that is just weird. are you cooking the same grade? what is changing or different that might be throwing your "feel" off. have you gone back thru your notes to see if anything jumps out at you?
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Old 08-28-2017, 04:47 PM   #3
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How are you resting them? My brisket game went through the roof now that I rest them properly. Took me a while to figure out that resting was the key to a perfect brisket. I've been consistent from that point on.
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Old 08-28-2017, 08:18 PM   #4
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Fun ain't it!? If it were easy, the lines would be a LOT shorter at Franklin's.
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Old 08-28-2017, 09:51 PM   #5
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There are many here that know more than me but the first question is What grade of brisket are you smoking? I will not do anything less than a Choice grade. If it is Select, it's not for me. Not worth the effort and time. No real fat to render. Of course there are some folks on here that can take a chunk of leather and make it taste good and tender.

Just my .02 and Good Luck!
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Old 08-29-2017, 05:54 AM   #6
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I've cooked far fewer briskets than the old timers on this site. I've never had one that I've buried in the back yard and sworn family to silence.

I'm not a competitor- not chasing accolades or prizes- I'm just a backyard cook. I've had more than a few turn out to the point of "if I can do this every time, I'll be well satisfied". My bar is easily achievable since I'm only shooting for tender and tasty. Your goals are higher.

I'm not sure how someone on this site can tell you what's off on your probing feel. You are not a rookie and seem to be chasing brisket perfection- a lot of folks are. You already know what you are supposed to be shooting for regarding feel. Do that and keep doing that. There are way too many variables on cooking a brisket-that's what makes them my favorite thing to cook- even though they are not my favorite bbq.

You wanted an opinion: Ok- here goes. Cooking HnF, your "done" window is narrower. Once close, check every 10 minutes instead of every 20- I got nothing else but best wishes.
Good luck on your quest.
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Old 08-29-2017, 05:59 AM   #7
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I agree with the above. HnF plus foil is making your task more difficult.
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Old 08-29-2017, 06:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssv3 View Post
How are you resting them? My brisket game went through the roof now that I rest them properly. Took me a while to figure out that resting was the key to a perfect brisket. I've been consistent from that point on.
What resting time do you use? Are you resting on the counter or in a cambro/cooler?
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Old 08-29-2017, 06:08 AM   #9
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Check out Tenacious Q's Youtube page for some brisket probing videos like this one:

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Old 08-29-2017, 06:26 AM   #10
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Lots of variables to cooking brisket, when comp cooking we might like to find a source of briskets that has high standards which will result in a more consistent cook.
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Old 08-29-2017, 07:41 AM   #11
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Finish slow and hold long
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Old 08-29-2017, 08:17 AM   #12
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Totally non-scientific and perhaps non-helpful response, but it seems to me you are "over-thinking" it. I would drop the temp and try to get away from hot and fast. This doesn't seem to be working for you and what you are seeking. This will widen your window of when it is done just right. I never check my briskets every 20 minutes, not even toward the end. Not sure what you are cooking on but opening and testing so frequently could be messing with your cooker temperature and causing wild fluctuations.
Whenever I feel like I am overthinking my BBQ I remind myself that this whole style of cooking began with people building pits in the ground and lighting some logs on fire and throwing meat on it. No thermometers, no fancy gadgets. Just meat, fire and patience. If I were you I would consider ways to simplify my approach and not try to be so exact. You will likely be rewarded with your outcomes.

Just my oversimplified 2 cents. Good luck!
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Old 08-29-2017, 08:25 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eap0510 View Post
Check out Tenacious Q's Youtube page for some brisket probing videos like this one:

https://youtu.be/VVHT4PBwcFk
Hey people watch my videos???

I like the noisy one

This might be my most "normal" one with me actually describing what I'm looking for.
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Old 08-29-2017, 10:19 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 93_confirmed View Post
What resting time do you use? Are you resting on the counter or in a cambro/cooler?
I vent for 5-10 mins when it comes off then wrap it back up and into the Cambro. Prior to that it was the cooler. Min 2 hours but I let them go 4-5. Comes perfect each time.
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Old 09-03-2017, 05:55 PM   #15
rikun
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Thanks all,

I always use the same probing tool, so that's not an issue..

Usually the briskets don't have that jiggle either, I check them for that too, but it seems that it never comes (or I've gone past it already when starting to check).

And I've watched all of Jason's videos, they are informal and entertaining As well as his threads.

I know the window of perfection, or rather the window of good is wider with lower temps, but I just feel HnF produces better brisket _when_ we get it right.

And it usually suits our competition logistics and timing better. We don't have any issues with other categories with HnF, just that the briskets act real funny..

We've experimented a lot with resting/holding and I honestly don't know what conclusions to draw from my notes.
The good brisket that felt really soft when probed, we just placed loosely tented in the counter for about an hour and then sliced.

So no hold at all. I'm not sure how much it dropped in temps, but it was still pretty hot when sliced.
And we finished that one off really hot since we were in a hurry, 350-400 F. I'd say it was the best one we've did in terms of tenderness.

Usually we vent for 10-15 minutes and then into cooler or cambro.

Grade, eh? I'm in Finland, all we get is ungraded export from you guys and Australian briskets that they also don't grade... That doesn't mean they are of lesser grade, I've understood that usually USA exports just aren't graded..

And I know many European teams that do well in brisket use the same stuff

Also we get to go over 15 cases and hand pick the best ones for comps, and there have been some that had marbling comparable to Wagyu..

Can someone with authority tell me if briskets do tighten up after gone past the optimal doneness? In terms of probe feel, I mean. If they do, that would explain quite a bit.

I'm going to do a few ones at lower temps and see if I can spot the moment, just want to get my Heatermeter all soldered up before that
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