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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 06-15-2011, 07:37 PM   #1
cbpeck
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Default Smoked My First Brisket Last Saturday... just OK.

It was a 4.9 lb flat that I smoked in a Weber 22.5" OTG. I set up the kettle offset to one side with two fire bricks barricading the coals & a water pan under the meat. I used the mini minion method with 4 lit coals on one side & three chunks of Pecan interspersed through the unlit coals.

The meat had a dry rub of kosher salt, gourmet pepper (3 colors) & granulated garlic.

I had a fairly steady stream of thin blue smoke during the entire process.

I started with the kettle internal around 250, but it worked its way up to 305 by the time the meat reached 160 degrees internal after about 4 hours. Then I wrapped it in foil, & put it back until the meat reached 190 internal about two hours later. I did not spray the meat with any liquid. By the time the meat came out the kettle was pushing 340 degrees, despite my best attempts to keep the temps down.

I put the foiled brisket in a cooler & waited almost 2 hrs for the internal temp to reduce to 160. It peaked at 193. When I opened the cooler there was a thin layer of juice covering the entire bottom of the medium sized cooler because my foil job wasn't water tight.

The brisket had a nice smoke ring & good flavor, but it was fairly dry & not what I'd call tender. If sliced very thin it was nice to eat like one would beef jerky, but it definitely wasn't a main course.

I had hoped to cook the brisket lower & slower, but think that I used too many coals in the kettle. After 6 hrs cooking I still had about 20 unlit coals, and about 50 had lit. Looking back, I also think that I was probably supposed to wrap the brisket in foil water tight so that none of the juices could escape.

I'd appreciate any advice you can offer because even though the meat has a good flavor I feel like the end result wasn't worth the effort. I'm inclined to try a rib roast next time, since the results would certainly be better, even though it costs more. Of course, the technique would be a little different.

Thanks in advance.
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Unread 06-16-2011, 08:42 AM   #2
The_Kapn
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Several things.
Don't worry about the temps. Many cook great briskets in the 300-350 degree range.
Yes, wrap it with two layers of HD foil to hold the moisture in.
Many of us put some beef broth or other liquid in the foil when we wrap.

A brisket, like most meats, is not done at a certain temp.
Obviously, your brisket was not fully cooked to break down the collagen and connective tissue.
Use a small pointed probe of some sort and poke it into the brisket in several places.
When it is done the probe will slide in easily with little, if any, Resistance.
Many describe it as being like warm butter.
Most of my briskets are done correctly in the range of 198ish to 210ish.
Varies a lot--but use feel and not temp.

Good start--you just need to fine tune it now and you will have it wired.

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Unread 06-16-2011, 11:01 AM   #3
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Ok, thanks for the info.

I had read all over this forum that the proper way to cook brisket was to 190, then let it peak at 193ish while resting. Cooking it longer makes sense, though.

Adding some sort of fluid like beef broth & wrapping thoroughly would make sense too. My roll of foil was too narrow to get a decent wrap, so when I do another I'm going to make sure I have a wide roll on hand, and I'll be sure to double wrap.

I feel like I was so close... and yet so far away. Thanks for the pointers.
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Unread 06-16-2011, 11:08 AM   #4
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Don't despair, many if not most of us didn't nail it the first time out, I know I didn't.
Can't really improve any on what Tim stated above and just wanted to chime in and agree. Don't be discouraged, keep up the good work.
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Unread 06-16-2011, 02:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbpeck View Post
Ok, thanks for the info.

I had read all over this forum that the proper way to cook brisket was to 190, then let it peak at 193ish while resting. Cooking it longer makes sense, though.

Adding some sort of fluid like beef broth & wrapping thoroughly would make sense too. My roll of foil was too narrow to get a decent wrap, so when I do another I'm going to make sure I have a wide roll on hand, and I'll be sure to double wrap.

I feel like I was so close... and yet so far away. Thanks for the pointers.
One thing I like to do since I cook mostly flats is use a foil tray to put the flat in, then cover with a sheet of foil. Flats are small enough that I can usually put 3 in a foil full sheet pan. Note with this method it is harder to put into a cooler to rest, I sometimes put the whole pan into the oven while I get everything ready to do the slicing. Also I don't think your finish temp was high enough for a flat, I usually have to go to around 205 for the probe to slide in easily. Last week I did 3 flats and 2 were at 210 when I pulled them off and they were still chewy!
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Unread 06-16-2011, 03:48 PM   #6
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Thanks for the pointers, guys.

The idea of probing over and over again to check for doneness seems contrary to the idea of not piercing meat any more than necessary, but I suppose I can get over that. Are you guys poking new holes each time you try remove/re-instert the probe or are you using the same hole over again?

Can one take the meat up too high? IOW, should I pull it off at 205 or 210 or 215, even if it doesn't feel like soft butter?
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Unread 06-16-2011, 03:58 PM   #7
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I've been told that there's a "window" for brisket. That you can cook it past tender. I think this is what you mean by too high? I've not experienced this, but I've not done a lot of briskets either.

I wouldn't worry too much about sticking it too much. It's necessary to check the roast in more than just one place anyway to make sure all of it's done. Sometimes, one end will be done, but after about another 30 minutes, the whole thing is done.

THIS is BBQ.....learn from what you found on Saturday and apply it to the next cook. THAT is what it's all about!
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Unread 06-16-2011, 04:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbpeck View Post
Thanks for the pointers, guys.

The idea of probing over and over again to check for doneness seems contrary to the idea of not piercing meat any more than necessary, but I suppose I can get over that. Are you guys poking new holes each time you try remove/re-instert the probe or are you using the same hole over again?

Can one take the meat up too high? IOW, should I pull it off at 205 or 210 or 215, even if it doesn't feel like soft butter?
Poking holes will not have any effect on moisture unless you use a #2 pencil
Use a thin probe.
If you don't have one, the bamboo Skewers are pretty small and would work fine.

Pull it off when it feels right, not before.
Ignore that temp reading, it is not an exact science for many reasons.
I use a ThermoPen probe (real small in dia), but I turn the temp display over so I don't get confused.
When it feels good, I do note the temp, but that is just out of curiosity.

You did an "OK" brisket your first time out.
Most of us were not so lucky.
So, just "fine tune" your technique and do not overthink it and get all confused (like I have done at times ). Build on what you have.

Keep up posted on the next one.

TIM
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Unread 06-16-2011, 04:29 PM   #9
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Your standards must be pretty low if you compare it to eating jerky, but say it was "OK" Keep trying, they will improve I am sure.
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Unread 06-16-2011, 04:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Groundhog66 View Post
Your standards must be pretty low if you compare it to eating jerky, but say it was "OK" Keep trying, they will improve I am sure.
It wasn't anything like jerky, I just had that thought because I ate it in lieu of jerky while fishing the next day.

It was more like the roast beef you get from your grocer's deli counter, as long as you sliced it as thin as deli lunch meat. If it was cut thicker - say a 1/4-1/2 inch, it was quite dense & chewy.
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Unread 06-16-2011, 04:49 PM   #11
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I wrap my brisket after it turns a real dark maroon with black speckles. After a couple hours in the foil it'll start to feel like a wet sponge. Open it back up and let it bark back up. I use my finger to see how tender it is. I don't probe it the entire time it's cooking. You don't need to once you know what it's suppose to feel/look like.
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Unread 06-16-2011, 05:32 PM   #12
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There is a thread on here somewhere, and I hope someone can help point it out for me because I don't have the access to search, that helps you understand the "butta" feel of a perfectly cooked brisket. Basically you take a 5 lb brisket, season with celery salt and black pepper, wrap it in foil and throw it in the oven at 275 for 4.5 hours. You then let it rest for an hour and toss it under the broiler - I probed at this point and there was basically no resistance and the meat was outstanding, even at a half-inch cut. I would recommend you try it and aim for that tenderness on your next smoked brisket!
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Unread 06-16-2011, 06:11 PM   #13
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I'll say this once and the one from the South may show up and slap me.

DO NOT BE AFRAID TO USE FOIL.

Beyond setting bark, once the meat hits 140 internal, you are getting no more smoke into the meat. You may get creosote on the outside, but it isn't penetrating. So, after 140 internal, foil it, double HD and put it back to the heat. If you want to pull it to set bark, so be it. The foil will hold the juice and keep your chit from drying out.

Many a FINE brisket was cooked at my house in chitty winter weather where after 160 internal or so, it got finished in foil, in the oven inside and it didn't hurt a thing.
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Unread 06-16-2011, 07:01 PM   #14
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First, dont use temp as a be all end all.. use it as a starting point...at about 190 or so I start to probe the meat and check its resistance there is no magic temp just when the probe goes in the flat like in say mashed potatoes pull it off and foil and let it rest....
Brisket is not the easiest chunk of meat to cook either so dont get discouraged... I prefer packer briskets I can trim down excess fat.... flats can be a little touchy IMO. It takes time and practice so stay with it until you find your comfort zone. I will say this high temps, foil and too much juice = steamed brisket your not looking for sunday roast beef Smoke on Brother!!
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Unread 06-17-2011, 10:41 AM   #15
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Thanks guys. I'm looking forward to giving it another try.
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