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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 04-05-2013, 09:50 PM   #46
bigabyte
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Let me recall the story of the first time I truly nailed brisket. I had thought I had been making some really good briskets for some time. Until that morning.

Back then I cooked on a little offset at temps that would swing between 225 and 240 that needed to be refueled every 90 minutes. I knew that cooker well, and could depend in those temps so long as the intakes were set right and I refueled properly each time. I depended on a pair of Maverick ET-73's (in case one lost signal the other was backup), monitoring pit and internal temp.

I was making a brisket overnight for lunch the next day. I don't know what time of day I started, but back then 18 hours was pretty common for brisket.

I don't recall what exactly happened that night, but what is do recall was around 3am I got up to refueled the pit as it had been 90 minutes since the last refueling and temps had dropped back down towards 225, just as expected. Since I was napping between refueling, I was depending on my Maverick alerts in case the temp went high in either the meat or the cooker, and both would have been set.

After refueling at 3am, an odd confluence of events happened. The first was that my alarm either did not go off at 4:30 to refuel or I slept through it (based on a couple things I am thinking I was really tired and slept through it). Another thing that happened was my pit temp swung high, to temps unknown and my Mavericks did not alert me (probably lost signal as I doubt I slept through two Mavericks AND an alarm clock).

What I do know is that I woke up after 6am, probably 6:30ish. My first thought was, "FARK, my pit is going to be cold"! I looked at my MAvericks and they were reading a little high. I don't recall the number, but probably like 260 or so. Nothing too outrageous, but enough to confuse the ever loving fark out of me for a little bit. I remember standing there wondering how in the fark they could possibly read high after more than 3 hours on one load of fuel in a cooker that needed refueling every 90 minutes based on my methods.

After a moment it dawned on me that I may have screwed something up royally and the pit ran really high after the 3am refueling, and this was simply what it had cooled down to since. I practically ran outside to my cooker with this realization, expecting the worst, a burnt up charred piece of turd.

I opened up the lid, and sure enough, I was greeted by what looked exactly like a meteorite. It was black, save for some reflective shiny bits from the coarse sea salt I had rubbed on there.

I cursed for a few minutes and then went to grab it from the cooker only to find (very much to my surprise) that it was flexible. So I held out hope that at least I could get some meat from the inside of that meteorite.

When I sliced into it I was shocked to find that it was not like cutting through a meteorite, but instead was like cutting through a tender piece of meat, with the black outside simply being what I assumed to be charred bark (it wasn't all that burnt tasting, really, but I had made better bark for sure).

Then I tried it. It was the first time in my life my tongue had achieved orgasm. I had more and kept having one mouthgasm after another. I became insatiable. I literally ate almost half of that brisket right there from the cutting board on my back porch table.

I couldn't believe what had happened. I didn't understand what happened either, and I may never figure out what happened exactly based on the rather unusual timings and circumstances. All I knew for sure was that...

1. The pit had definitely been cooking hot, at 260 and above for the last 3 hours of the cook (I was targeting 225-240 and a noon-ish finish, not the 6:30am finish I achieved).

2. What I thought at first was a most certainly overcooked and burnt to a crisp brisket was actually the best brisket I had made to date at that point.

This forced me to consider high-heat as an option for future cooks, and is what I did for a couple years, and why I ordered my WSM's (since my offset couldn't really do 300+).

Since that switch to high heat, I've gone back to 225, 250, 275, 300+ each a few times. I get MY best results cooking around 275, but that doesn't mean it's for everyone.

This pit temp isn't necessarily the magic either. The true magic is simply cooking it until it is done, no matter what temp you cook at (just like the OP says, no matter how cranky you may think he is).

So there's my original "Eureka" moment for brisket. I only remember it because it was so unusual.

I think my tutorial is helpful to get folks started (search for Basic Brisket Tutorial), but honestly, there are many, many, many other GREAT threads, maybe even BETTER threads than my tutorial. You may not like Pitmaster T or his now defunct alter-ego barbefunkoramaque, but really is a good idea (in my opinion) to check out his brisket stuff as well if you are learning brisket. He covers brisket from many angles and will keep you busy and give you plenty to think about and practice with.

The Aaron Franklin stuff is great too. Seriously. I don't think you have to cook thousands of briskets though. I didn't. I probably only cooked at most a couple dozen before that "Eureka" moment, and I've been getting more and more "there" ever since.

All the OP is really trying to tell you is to stop overthinking it.

Use the Force, Luke. Let go, Luke. Luke, trust me.

Someone better run this through a translator so it can be condensed to 25 words or less.
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Unread 04-05-2013, 10:14 PM   #47
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If you want to get scientific about it, there are so many variables (cooker, indirect, direct, 250, 325, etc,) you could literally drive yourself crazy, but all of those variables mean something to the person cooking.

The best advice I could give someone is to research the info here that best matches your cooker, conditions, etc, and then tweak those variables to suit you.

My advice and $8.00 will get you a cup of Joe from Starbucks.

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Last edited by VA-Dave; 04-05-2013 at 10:23 PM.. Reason: My advice....
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Unread 04-05-2013, 11:53 PM   #48
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All the threads kept me away from brisket for years. Then I finally felt the need to take the plunge. As I said in my thread a few days ago the first one came out perfect. I did as the OP said, I picked a method and cooked it. Since brisket is cheaper than chuck at cash and carry I'll be smoking a lot more.
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Unread 04-06-2013, 12:12 AM   #49
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There is a lot of talk about not "over" thinking it, when you cook a brisket. Even that is too involved. The best thing to do is, once you understand the properties of your cooker, meaning you can maintain a desired temperature, is to put it on and WALK AWAY.

Go mow the lawn, paint the house, swap out the transmission on your car, paint a masterpiece, solve Fermat's Last theorem. Just do something to distract yourself. Come back in a few hours and poke it with something sharp like an ice pick or a temp probe. If it takes effort, go distract yourself for another couple hours, come back and poke again. Is it a little softer this time? If yes, check again in an hour, softer still but not quite? Start checking it every 45 minutes or so until you reach that rich buttery stage that is doneness.
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Unread 04-06-2013, 01:11 AM   #50
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I've been around briskets cooking my whole life. First time I made one it came out good, second time I made one it came out really good, third time was the charm, and it was freaking nailed. Never had a problem since then. The cook it until it's done motto really is all there is to it in the end.

The whole salt and pepper only thing is usually the route I go, but every now and then I'll throw some garlic salt and chile powder on there too, because hey, I felt like it. Sometimes I even throw some parsley on that mother farker because it makes my day. The one thing that stays the same is I cook it until it's done. Oh, I'll also wrap it now when it reaches the color I like. That's something fancy I do.
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Unread 04-06-2013, 01:22 AM   #51
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I'll take Tri Tip please.
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Unread 04-06-2013, 07:08 AM   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landarc View Post
So, you're saying I wasted my money buying that Signature Brisket Boiling Pan from BBQ Bubba?
Everybody knows that was my old rib boiling pan. Just trying to retool and make an extra buck.
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Unread 04-06-2013, 07:26 AM   #53
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Yeah, it's super easy to cook brisket.
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Unread 04-06-2013, 07:52 AM   #54
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I think a lot of things get way over-thought, not just brisket. Pork butts and ribs, for example. They'll be good however you rub them and cook them, as long as you cook them until they're done and don't incinerate them in the process, or don't use old tires or newspapers for fuel, etc.

People used to just cook bbq, and it was great. Some of the best bbq I've ever eaten was cooked by old fellers in cement-block pits with a sheet of tin over the top, or leaky-assed cookers made out of old oval oil barrels, with burnt-down hickory and oak coals for fuel. The pit had no thermometer-they just kinda judged it by feel and didn't worry whether it was 225, 250, or 300 degrees. It was probably all of the above at different times. That was it-no rubs, no temp control, just a fire and some beer and some experience. They cooked it until it was done, which they judged by poking at it and looking at it and feeling of it. And it was better q than most of us make.

Along comes tv bbq comp shows and stuff. I enjoy watching them too, but it would be boring if everybody just threw a chunk of meat on the fire and didn't do something "magical" to it. And it's hard to sell products and ingredients if nobody is convinced that you need them.

You can make excellent bbq with a custom multi-thousand dollar smoker that has a computerized temp control, with a remote internal temp probe, using the magic brand of charcoal, with the magic commercial rub, sauce, whatever. But, contrary to what a lot of newbies seem to think, you don't NEED all that stuff to make good bbq, either. It's all luxury, not neccessity, and it doesn't make the meat taste a bit better. Our grandpas made just as good of bbq as us without any of that stuff.
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Unread 04-06-2013, 07:55 AM   #55
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Yeah people! Next time you buy a $30-$40 hunk of meat don't ask for help cooking it properly!
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Unread 04-06-2013, 07:59 AM   #56
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It's interesting to read the brisket threads but I don't pay much attention since most of you guys do it wrong...

Seriously though it is interesting to learn about the way others approach BBQ, regional differences, share techniques and applaud successes/failures. You should feel just a bit complemented by the fact folks ask for your advice.

I'm new to this forum (not Que) and lurk because I seldom have anything to contribute that hasn't been suggested but being new here (or not) is little indication of anything really.

Nice rant, a bit lacking in profanity & conviction but it had a nice rhythm, I give it a 7.
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Unread 04-06-2013, 08:01 AM   #57
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I love a good brisket Unfortuneately no one else in my house does. The best one I did was when I got a nice one from my butcher and had him cryovac it I then put it in my basement fridge for 40days to wetage and smoked it on my egg with pecan and cherry Came out great
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Unread 04-06-2013, 08:23 AM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big George's BBQ View Post
I love a good brisket Unfortuneately no one else in my house does. The best one I did was when I got a nice one from my butcher and had him cryovac it I then put it in my basement fridge for 40days to wetage and smoked it on my egg with pecan and cherry Came out great
What?? And you didn't call??? I love a good brisket too!!!!
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Unread 04-06-2013, 08:55 AM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnaws on Pigs View Post
I think a lot of things get way over-thought, not just brisket. Pork butts and ribs, for example. They'll be good however you rub them and cook them, as long as you cook them until they're done and don't incinerate them in the process, or don't use old tires or newspapers for fuel, etc.

People used to just cook bbq, and it was great. Some of the best bbq I've ever eaten was cooked by old fellers in cement-block pits with a sheet of tin over the top, or leaky-assed cookers made out of old oval oil barrels, with burnt-down hickory and oak coals for fuel. The pit had no thermometer-they just kinda judged it by feel and didn't worry whether it was 225, 250, or 300 degrees. It was probably all of the above at different times. That was it-no rubs, no temp control, just a fire and some beer and some experience. They cooked it until it was done, which they judged by poking at it and looking at it and feeling of it. And it was better q than most of us make.

Along comes tv bbq comp shows and stuff. I enjoy watching them too, but it would be boring if everybody just threw a chunk of meat on the fire and didn't do something "magical" to it. And it's hard to sell products and ingredients if nobody is convinced that you need them.

You can make excellent bbq with a custom multi-thousand dollar smoker that has a computerized temp control, with a remote internal temp probe, using the magic brand of charcoal, with the magic commercial rub, sauce, whatever. But, contrary to what a lot of newbies seem to think, you don't NEED all that stuff to make good bbq, either. It's all luxury, not neccessity, and it doesn't make the meat taste a bit better. Our grandpas made just as good of bbq as us without any of that stuff.
I'M NOT ALONE!!!
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Unread 04-06-2013, 09:04 AM   #60
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It took me 3 times to properly cook a brisket. The first two I definitely undercooked it. I went with the probe till tender method to test for doneness, except I didn't know how tender it had to be and I pulled it early. The first two briskets didn't melt in my mouth and took just a tad bit more to tug to come apart. The 3rd though I got the proper texture and it was like a party went off in my mouth. After the 3rd brisket I knew what the proper tenderness is for probing tender.

I will typically take internal temperature of the meats I cook after I pull it to add to my notes. However for all of my cooking (not just bbq) everything I cook is by feel and texture. I don't go by temperatures or time other than guidelines to start checking for doneness.
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