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Unread 01-13-2013, 09:35 AM   #1
viggysmalls
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Default Brisket Troubleshooting

Yesterday I smoked a 7.79 lb packer (a lot smaller than I wanted, but it's all Costco had). I set up my Kamado Joe to act more like a traditional offset smoker, placing a water pan under the extended rack to maintain a fairly wet smoke. The piece of meat held moisture like a boss and the bark was phenomenal (salt + pepper then oak + cherry wood), but the end product wasn't so hot.

I pulled the brisket between 190-195 internal temp on the flat (think it had been on the grill for 8 hours and 45 mins), tented it for 10 to 15 mins in foil, then completed the wrap. After that, I wrapped the foiled brisket in a beach towel to hold in heat and let it rest for another 90 minutes.

As I prepared to cut the brisket, I was like a little kid in a candy store thinking, "did I finally cook a brisket to perfection?!" Then the meat gods woke up and reminded me I'm no brisket demigod. The meat had a great smoke ring and a nice bark/flavor, but the slices themselves were tough. I cut the flat into 1/16- to 1/8-inch pieces (the width of a normal pencil). The best way to describe the pieces would be "kind of chewy and dense." When I picked up a slice to do the "pull test," it took more than a significant tug to pull apart the meat.

Which leads me to my question, did I undercook the meat? Did I overcook it? HELP... please!
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Unread 01-13-2013, 09:40 AM   #2
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sounds undercooked. Your thermo can be off. I usually put more credence in how easily the probe goes in and out of the brisket than the actual temp. It is a feel thing and a hard thing to master. Just keep on trying and you will master it.
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Unread 01-13-2013, 09:41 AM   #3
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Internal temps is only a guide you can not cook BBQ by time or temp you have to go by feel!!!!!! When it probes like a hot knife cutting soft butter its done temp don't matter one may give it up at 185 and the next a 225 I had one go that high when I used to monitor such things.
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Unread 01-13-2013, 09:46 AM   #4
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Things I never knew. Thanks!

I tried to pick up and feel the brisket (with heat gloves on), and it felt pretty tender - not quite as pliable/soft as cooked ribs, but nearly that. Then again, it's apparent I have no idea how a brisket "should feel" when it's finished.

And forgive my reliance on the thermometer. Without knowing the "it's done when it feels like this" tricks, I need something to help me before I develop that sort of knowledge.
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Unread 01-13-2013, 09:52 AM   #5
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Yep, a good temp range is about 185-225. They'll be done in that range generally. You're looking for rendered and tender meat, so the butter analogy is spot on.
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Unread 01-13-2013, 10:15 AM   #6
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There's a good brisket (oven) exercise which will reveal the texture/tenderness you will desire for future cooks.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...hlight=brisket

[Known as the funky one's night train brisket]
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Unread 01-13-2013, 12:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBQ Bandit View Post
There's a good brisket (oven) exercise which will reveal the texture/tenderness you will desire for future cooks.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...hlight=brisket

[Known as the funky one's night train brisket]
+1

I had a similar issue as the OP with the first couple of briskets I did. Thought I overcooked it as my previous experience with meat was if it was dry and tough then it was overcooked. Just the opposite.

I went off of other information on the internet that went off of internal temp rather than probing the meat for the butter feel. After digging through this site and asking questions the "probing like butter" came up again and again regarding the bigger cuts of meat. Then I had doubts if I would know this probe like butter feeling once I achieved it, but the Popdaddy thread linked by BBQ Bandit would have reduced my learning curve had I found it earlier. In any case, once you finally experience it first hand it will make good meat alot more consistent and your internal temp will be more of start to probe reminder. Until you're like one of the Jedis here that are able to ditch their meat thermometers all together.
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Unread 01-13-2013, 12:25 PM   #8
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I agree with the rest, undercooked. Try using a bamboo skewer to test for doneness. Should feel like probing a muffin. Generally they are over 200 deg at this point.

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Unread 01-13-2013, 12:39 PM   #9
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The "probing like butter" is really easy to distinguish from "not done yet". Usually, somewhere between 190* and 210* the thermometer probe will slip right into the meat. It is a dramatically different feeling than in raw or not done yet. If you were in a cartoon, a big lightbulb would go on over your head. Trust the "probes like butter" advice, you can "get it" on your next brisket.
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Unread 01-13-2013, 12:49 PM   #10
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Yep, probing is the best way. I can honestly say 'feels like butter' is something I've never experienced, and I suspect one that tender might fall apart coming off the pit.... So, the description I use is "as tender as a baked potato that is almost done". You will feel a little resistance going in and coming back out too. I start probing around 190°., and use a fat probe like an ice pick or a small diamether wooden chopstick. Many of mine are over 205° before they are right. I still overcook one on occasion. Excuse the white balance on this indoor shot on a red cutting board... but you can see how thick I had to slice this one to keep it together

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Unread 01-13-2013, 01:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by accuseal View Post
I agree with the rest, undercooked. Try using a bamboo skewer to test for doneness. Should feel like probing a muffin. Generally they are over 200 deg at this point.

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I may have to start using your description....
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Unread 01-13-2013, 02:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thirdeye View Post
Yep, probing is the best way. I can honestly say 'feels like butter' is something I've never experienced, and I suspect one that tender might fall apart coming off the pit.... So, the description I use is "as tender as a baked potato that is almost done". You will feel a little resistance going in and coming back out too. I start probing around 190°., and use a fat probe like an ice pick or a small diamether wooden chopstick. Many of mine are over 205° before they are right. I still overcook one on occasion. Excuse the white balance on this indoor shot on a red cutting board... but you can see how thick I had to slice this one to keep it together

I recently cooked my first whole choice packer brisket. I have a question in regards to probing. Should the whole piece of meat probe this way? If memory serves me right it seemed like the point was probing like butter before the flat.

And when I pulled the brisket there were still parts of the flat that were not like butter and parts that were. So I pulled it anyways in fear of over cooking...

Does my question make any sense?
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Unread 01-13-2013, 02:11 PM   #13
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I cooked between 250 and 280. And the majority of the brisket was dry and tasted like pot roast. And tough to slice. I kinda think I over cooked it but then again the whole piece of meat wasnt probing like butter?????
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Unread 01-13-2013, 02:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmock View Post
I cooked between 250 and 280. And the majority of the brisket was dry and tasted like pot roast. And tough to slice. I kinda think I over cooked it but then again the whole piece of meat wasnt probing like butter?????
If you wrapped in foil during the cook that explains the Pot Roast flavor. The point will get tender before the flat when the flat probes tender everywhere it's done. In all honesty I would rather have it a little over cooked and tender than under cooked and tough.
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Unread 01-13-2013, 02:39 PM   #15
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i did not wrap in foil. good to know bludawg, the flat didnt probe tender everywhere. next time i will let it go. i think overcooking would be better too, because there was plenty of tough meat to go around!!
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