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Unread 01-23-2012, 12:55 AM   #1
clikover
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Default Frustrated with brisket...help?

Ok guys, I feel like I have read every brisket thread on here (twice, at least)...and I still cant figure out what is going wrong. I have had 2 bad brisket cooks in a row.

Today was an 8lb flat. I cooked it at 225 for 9 hours. It reached 190. (I didn't go by time or temp though, I tried to go by probe feel.) The thing that is really confusing me is the way it feels towards the end...I never get a true "butter" feel on the probe. I feel like I'm cooking it past done, because it seems dried out (both times). When I probe it, I feel like the meat is overcooked, not under. I dont know how to put it into words, but based on the feel of the meat on the probe, my gut is that it is overcooked. What doesn't make sense is that it feels this way when the temp is saying 170's-180's. I finally pulled at 190, because I was worried it would just be totally dried out if I left it on longer.

Today it stalled forever around 172, which I thought was high for the stall? According to my thermo, it got to 176, then it fell back to 171/172 for hours, then it finally climbed back to 190. I pulled it and rested it for 30. When I cut it, I immediately knew it was too tough/dry. There were a few pieces, those closest to the fat cap, that were "pretty good" - but those pieces in the middle of the flat were so obviously dry as soon as I cut them. This said, the meat was still fairly dense, it was definitely not crumbly / fall apart. So, was it undercooked? Did I need to take it way past 190? Can it get juicy again? (I dont see how.)

I feel like I know what I'm doing very well on ribs, chicken and butts...brisket is just giving me heck. any thoughts or advice? Thanks again...
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Unread 01-23-2012, 01:04 AM   #2
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I'm not the greatest brisket cook , its one of the more difficult meats to cook IMO. When you cook just a flat, it can be even more tricky because it has less mass. The extra mass of a full packer can help keep the meat moist. Having said that, are you wrapping the meat in foil during the cook at all? If not I would try it. Wrapping tends to create a moist enviroment for the brisket. Also, try cooking at a hotter temp 250+ . What grade of meat is it? The probe butter feel is an ok method, but not all briskets are going to probe the same and not all brisket will be done at a set temp. It may feel different probing with the grain and then feel totally different probing agianst the grain. I would'nt even bother to start probing for feel until 185 or so.
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Unread 01-23-2012, 01:11 AM   #3
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I am leaning towards undercooked...
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Unread 01-23-2012, 01:17 AM   #4
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Yeah, I think you should let it go longer as well.

you may also try bumping up the temp. You're not really gaining anything by cooking as low as 225 on a flat. You might try 275.
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Unread 01-23-2012, 01:36 AM   #5
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I cook flats. I am having really good with foiling running 250*-275*

2-3 hours in the smoke, 2 more in the foil, and then I started probing for tenderness. If its not ready, I probe every 30 minutes until it is. After that it comes out of the foil and back in the pit just long enough for the bark to set back up.

I'm no brisket expert either, but it was not that long ago that I was in the same shoes that you are. Today I can pretty much count on some good results. I think that once you really nail one, a light is gonna go off, and you will no longer be confused by this ornery cut of meat.

Hope this helps.
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Unread 01-23-2012, 01:42 AM   #6
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You should join the dark side and try a hot n fast brisket at 350*. I have never had a tender brisket at 190* internal, I don't even start checking for tenderness(butter) until 205*. And most of the time they're butter at 208-210 * internal I always try to use choice grade briskets(whole briskets) , don't give up trying to get brisket down it's probably the hardest of the Q. It just sounds like your just cooking them to low in temp and pulling them early before the fat completely breaks down I always pull mine around 205-210 and rest in a cooler wrapped in butcher paper and a moving blanket for two hours you should just look into hot n fast brotha you won't be disappointed with your end result.

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Unread 01-23-2012, 01:44 AM   #7
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I believe JOS high heat brisket is still cooked in a cooker containing water or apple juice. I know some have good results without water. But I believe the best beef Q is produced in a moist environment. For me in the past following what I consider to be an old wives tale cooking @ 225 more often than not it would be lower than 225 especially adding in my newbees peak time. Cooking beef at 225 in a dry environment is likely to make jerky. Big time cooks cooking multiple slabs in a cooker there is more internal moisture from the multiple slabs than a single slab on a cooker. and as bigabyte suggested you probably should have cooked it higher and taken it to a higher temp. maybe 205 even
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Unread 01-23-2012, 02:01 AM   #8
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225-250 till internal is 150-160 pull from heat wrap in a alum pan seal tight with foil put back on heat till internal is 200 let rest slowly in a cooler or towel till internal is below 170.

Rendering (the breaking down of the "toughness") starts at 170 smoke absorbing stops right around there that's why you wrap.

So if you are trying to get it right start with the above directions to start getting the feel for it. For the smaller briskets I would stay at the lower cooking temp to let the process take longer.
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Unread 01-23-2012, 08:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clikover View Post
Ok guys, I feel like I have read every brisket thread on here (twice, at least)...and I still cant figure out what is going wrong. I have had 2 bad brisket cooks in a row.
OK... Step away from the brisket and take deep breaths...

Brisket can be tricky because there is a smaller window when it is just right.

It's hard to help you without more information.

What type of cooker?

How was the flat trimmed (no fat, some fat, full fat cap)?

What was your prep (did you inject, how long before cooking, how far in advance did you rub, etc.)

What did you do to it during the cook (fat up or down, foil, no foil, spritz, etc?)

Also, do you have any pictures, especially of the slices? It's no where near perfect, but you can get an idea of the degree of done by looking at the grain in the slices.

As you can tell from the responses so far there are a lot of ways to cook a brisket, and all can produce good results. I've done briskets at 225, 250, 300 and 325 and they all come out good. But at each cook temp the internal temp when they were done changes, and it changes for each piece of meat. In general, the higher the cook temp the higher the finish temp. At higher cook temps the collagen and internal fat doesn't have as long to render so the meat generally needs to go to a higher internal temp to be just right.

After all of the experimentation with cook temps I found that for my cooking process and equipment cooking at about 240 - 250 gives me the best result, but every cooker is different. My briskets are typically at the right feel at around 200 degrees internal, but some are done a couple of degrees lower and some are done a couple of degrees higher, so I start watching them closely at about 190. The temp can move quickly once they get to that point.
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Unread 01-23-2012, 09:40 AM   #10
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For the longest time I was against foil and did my briskets at 225 for as many hours as it took. They were always really good.

I was short on time about a year ago on a day I was going to cook brisket. It was the best one I had ever cooked and I've done about a dozen more this way.

Use a full packer brisket about 14 lbs
Rub it up and toss in the fridge for the night.
Put on the smoker(egg in my case) at 325 fat side down for 3 hours.
Wrap in foil and place back in cooker fat side up for 2 hours.
I then rest it in a cooler for 2-3 hours until ready to slice and serve.
I dont worry about temps (I did for a while) but it always turns out perfectly. I use the butter knife test when it is in the foil. If I can punch it through with ease through foil and the brisket its ready to go to the cooler.
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Unread 01-23-2012, 10:04 AM   #11
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Lots of great advice above that won't duplicate. How many have you done? I have only done a few 6 or 7 maybe. My last one I finally felt like I broke through and it was awesome, maybe best thing I have ever done 18 months into my addiction. Point being, I believe that mastering brisket can only come through experience and pit time. I'm FAR from arrived on this I just think you can read everything there is to read on the topic but time and experience will be the most beneficial.
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Unread 01-23-2012, 10:51 AM   #12
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Ok guys, some great advice here. Let me answer some of the questions, maybe it will give a better idea:

1. Cooker = Good One Marshall. Bottom of smoke chamber filled with 1/2" water. Cooked on lowest rack, with temp probe on grate, averaged right at 225.

2. Trim: pretty full fat cap. I knocked it down to 1/8 - 1/4", depending on where you measure. By the way, is was an 8lb choice flat. The cryo said Swift.

3. Prep: 1 day before I trimmed, rubbed with EVOO, rubbed with TX BBQ Brisket Rub. Wrapped in plastic, in fridge until ~1hr before cook. Internal temp when on pit was ~55.

4. Cook: fat up (because I feel like the heat comes from the top in my pit (especially on the lowest shelf, which is below the damper into the fire box). No foil, no spray, no moving it.

I stupidly don't have pics...too frustrated. I understand that it's all about pit time and experience. Given the amount of time & money they take, I have probably spent more time on the Brethren reading about them than out there cooking them...I realize a mistake. What is bothering me is that I feel like they get to the exact same point at the end of the cook and I don't know what to do. It feels like I can leave them on and tuen them into jerky, or pull them and hope that the probe feel I got was good enough. Until I somehow get the true butter feel on the probe, the light wont go off.

Thanks for the help. I'll try some of these ideas...I may burn up a few briskets trying, but I'll eventually nail it.
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Unread 01-23-2012, 11:06 AM   #13
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If your rub has salt and/or sugar, you might want to try waiting until about an hour before you put the meat on the pit to apply the rub. Putting it on the night before is going to suck a lot of moisture out of the brisket, and if you're having dryness issues this is most likely contributing.

Also, let it rest for more than 30 minutes. I always try to do two hours minimum.
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Unread 01-23-2012, 11:24 AM   #14
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My thoughts below...

Quote:
Originally Posted by clikover View Post
1. Cooker = Good One Marshall. Bottom of smoke chamber filled with 1/2" water. Cooked on lowest rack, with temp probe on grate, averaged right at 225.

I have a Rodeo. Nice cookers! I've never used water in mine. I hate the clean up :)

2. Trim: pretty full fat cap. I knocked it down to 1/8 - 1/4", depending on where you measure. By the way, is was an 8lb choice flat. The cryo said Swift.

Sounds good. So many flats are over trimmed.

3. Prep: 1 day before I trimmed, rubbed with EVOO, rubbed with TX BBQ Brisket Rub. Wrapped in plastic, in fridge until ~1hr before cook. Internal temp when on pit was ~55.

As mentioned above, that may be too long. I typically rub my briskets 4 hours before. That may be something to try.

4. Cook: fat up (because I feel like the heat comes from the top in my pit (especially on the lowest shelf, which is below the damper into the fire box). No foil, no spray, no moving it.

I agree with fat up. The Good One design would have the air flow coming across the top of the meat.
Bover's comment on the rest time is also a good thought. I always shoot for at least two hours rest for briskets and butts. You didn't mention where it was when you rested it, but most of us use a dry, preheated cooler and insulate the meat with old towels or clean newspapers. A brisket or butt will stay hot for hours. Since I pull my briskets off of the cooker when they feel right to me I let the brisket vent for a few minutes before foiling (if they are already in foil I open it for a few minutes) to stop any carry over cooking.
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Unread 01-23-2012, 11:30 AM   #15
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Have to agree with Josh - rubs with salt applied overnight are going to draw out moisture (even with the plastic wrap) & really do not change anything flavor wise compared to rubbing just before smoking.

To add to the advice, at the Hut I cook full packers (12 - 15lbs, trimmed of hard fat) rubbed about 30 minutes before going into our Backwoods Smokers.

- Temp: 260
- Full water pan (around 8 gallons)
- Fat cap up
- Cook for 5 hours or until a good solid bark forms. Looking for a consistent black crust over all of the packer
- Pull & wrap in paper - back into the cooker for 2 hours
- Wiggle test: is the brisket "loose"? Hard to explain but when I lift the wrapped brisket, it has a bit of give.
- If it "wiggles", I test with a probe through the paper. If is slides through easily, I pull them, leave them in paper & let rest for 1 hour in a pan in a cambro. Otherwise they stay in for another 1/2 hour with checks on the 1/2 hour.

This is some of the point sliced up for a sandwich:


Folks seem pretty pleased with the results.
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