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Competition BBQ *On Topic Only* Discussion regarding all aspects of Competition BBQ. Experiences competing or visiting, questions, getting started, Equipment, announcements of events, Results, Reviews, Planning, etc. Questions here will be responded to with competition BBQ in mind.


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Old 04-06-2013, 02:45 PM   #1
Gig'em99
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Default Anyone Really Sharing Secrets? Part 2

A while back I started a thread, to which I can no longer reply. The link is http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=154329 for anyone who needs to reference it.

So I wanted to updated everyone on some of my "processes."

The last month has been an interesting one. I've competed in two different competitions (IBCA) and my brisket method has been put to the test.

I opened this thread with my +/- 190 degree brisket, being held in that range for 3-4 hours. This process has worked for me numerous times, and at several competitions. But two of the 5 briskets I've cooked really surprised me.

All were in my preferred weight range, and all but one came from my local butcher (whom I've used for years).

I'll start by saying, I believe more now than ever before, that meat quality really matters. All of my briskets were full packers, and all were choice (my typical selection). They all were nice and pliable in the packaging, had nice white fat. But the results were peculiar.

A little over a month ago, I competed at the Irving Elks Lodge contest. I cooked 3 briskets that day. An 18lb, a 14 lb (both from my butcher) and a 12 lb flat (from sams). I started the 18 lb 1st, and started the two smaller briskets a few hours later. I had plenty of time before my 3PM turn in (15 hours). At 6am, they were all wrapped up. About 9AM they'd all hit 190-195, perfect. Into the warmer box they went. Held them in the 185 range for 4 hours, then let the temp in my warmer fall to 140 to hold until turn in. My normal process. At turn in time, I began slicing. I was very disappointed in the two briskets. They hadn't rendered down. They weren't jiggly...they were still tough, like they weren't done. The smallest brisket, was. I couldn't use it, because it'd been bought and paid for by my neighbor, who's ask that I cook them one. No problem, plenty of room on the pit. I wanted to cut their brisket so bad, but I hadn't paid for it. Picked my best slices, and turned them in. They were fine, but not what I expect. Didn't make final table. My neighbors then told me the brisket I gave them was the best they'd ever had. HA, should've cut it and turned it in.

A few weeks later at the Ft. Worth Cops for Kids cook out, I did the same thing, only this time I didn't get choice, I got CAB. One 15lb one 18lb. Same process. The 18lb was already nice and pliable, jiggly, when I put it in the warmer box at 195. The 15lb was not. No problem I thought, still had plenty of time to let things render down, so I took it to 205, then put it in the warmer...it's CHEMISTRY! Right? Wrong. The 18lb was PERFECT at turn in. One of, if not my best briskets ever. I couldn't have been happier. Didn't make final table, but hey, 111 teams. I was happy with my turn in. The 15 lb was still tough. Cooked just as long, hit a slightly higher temp, but it never got the texture I was looking for. It was like it wasn't done.

This month, i'm going to get a prime brisket from my butcher (he's holding a couple for me, he rarely gets them). I'll test my theories on it and report back.

But I write this long story to show you how much a couple cooks can really change your thought process. What had always worked, wasn't for some reason. I believe that everyone of those briskets could have turned out beautifully. But I needed to keep cooking them. Maybe 195 wasn't good enough. I pushed one a bit farther, but still not right. Upon slicing it was obvious that the fats hadn't rendered out. Why is this? My suspicion is that the droughts in the midwest have really impacted the cattle, and meat quality. But that's my guess. And if there is any truth to it, it adds to my thoughts that quality really matters. Sometimes quality can't be seen in at the butcher either.

Although, I don't use tooth picks to probe, I do use a thermometer. And I can, as most of you can, feel when the meat is done. But I was relying on that thermometer. I need the science to work in my head for some reason. But, with a couple of real world experiments slapping me in the face, it kind of is what it is, right?

So, my next briskets with still have a thermometer in them. But I'm not going to get scared if they get to 200. I'm going to go back to the old ways of feeling the beef to know if it's ready. If they're nice at 190, great, I'll put em in the warmer to rest. But if they still are tight, I'm going to just keep letting the temp come on up.

Pitmaster T made a very solid point in his response to my OP. It's time. I don't cheat the pit, by ratcheting up the temp and powering through stalls, I let them come on up naturally, so to speak. But, in the end, I completely believe that more time cooking would have caused these briskets to let go and loosen up, not necessarily holding at 180. So maybe easing them up to 210, or 215 would have done it. But, next time, they're not going into the warmer until they feel right.

One more point on quality, (Thanks for the IM HeSmellsLikeSmoke). I've cooked one wagyu brisket. Did it a year ago. That brisket I took to 185, and it was loose. Delicious too. Almost wouldn't hold a slice, but it did, and got turned in. I won 4th place at that tourney in brisket. I've not bought one since. My "process" worked like a champ on it. I suspect my process will do the same on a prime. But my next couple trials, in prep for my next comp on May 3-4, will be watching the temp, but not being tricked by it.
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Old 04-06-2013, 02:46 PM   #2
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Default Anyone Really Sharing Secrets? Part 2

The title of this post was supposed to be "Anyone Really Sharing Secrets? Part 2, but my pinky finger got away from me!
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Old 04-06-2013, 02:49 PM   #3
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I can edit the title, but why can't you post this in the old thread?
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Old 04-06-2013, 02:53 PM   #4
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A Thermapen is critical for cooking brisket. If the probe of the thermapen goes into the thick part of the flat like its butter, your brisket is done. If you want to, you can look at the digital part of the thermapen at this point, but is is not necessary to do so.
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Old 04-06-2013, 02:54 PM   #5
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Thanks for this update. I am very interested in the ensuing discussion.
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Old 04-06-2013, 03:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeJ65 View Post
A Thermapen is critical for cooking brisket. If the probe of the thermapen goes into the thick part of the flat like its butter, your brisket is done. If you want to, you can look at the digital part of the thermapen at this point, but is is not necessary to do so.
If you haven't done so, please take a look at the link to part 1 of this thread at the link posted by Gig'em99 at the top of this thread.
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Old 04-06-2013, 03:17 PM   #7
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A Thermapen is not critical for cooking brisket, it is for chicken. But, relying solely on temperature is a risk, exactly because on factor can change and things just aren't quite the same. Could be the beef, might be something else. Temperature as you need to to feel good, but, it is feels right, then you know.

I would have cut up the neighbors brisket and thrown the 15 pounder back on for them.
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Old 04-06-2013, 03:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron_L View Post
I can edit the title, but why can't you post this in the old thread?
I rec'vd a message saying that the forum was 42 days old, and posting wasn't allowed?
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Old 04-06-2013, 03:52 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by landarc View Post
I would have cut up the neighbors brisket and thrown the 15 pounder back on for them.
HAHA! I wanted to. In hindsight, I should've. Told them the story, and they said the same thing. "You should have used it!"

Oh well. My own stubborn-ness was my downfall.
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Old 04-06-2013, 04:01 PM   #10
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I am intrigued that the brisket bought and paid for by your neighbor, which probably wasn't a quality grade, turned out so well. What is your take on that in light of your recent thinking on meat quality?
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Old 04-06-2013, 04:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gig'em99 View Post
I rec'vd a message saying that the forum was 42 days old, and posting wasn't allowed?
You have to read everything Right below that is a check box that allows you to post if you check it.

Let me know via PM if you want me to merge the two threads.
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Old 04-06-2013, 06:25 PM   #12
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With the exception of Wagyu beef, I have found that grading of brisket is truly hit and miss. I do try to buy Choice if the price is close. But, my best bet is always to look at the meat before I buy, to make sure it looks right. Good marbling, soft meat, clean white fat, thick flat (of for comps) and a full point.
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Old 04-06-2013, 07:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeSmellsLikeSmoke View Post
I am intrigued that the brisket bought and paid for by your neighbor, which probably wasn't a quality grade, turned out so well. What is your take on that in light of your recent thinking on meat quality?
I'm no expert by any stretch of your imagination, but my guess is the longer cook/rest time... even though that goes against the OP's thoughts on the subject.
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Old 04-06-2013, 11:53 PM   #14
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Quote:
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A Thermapen is not critical for cooking brisket, it is for chicken. But, relying solely on temperature is a risk...
I think Mike suggested the Thermapen is critical as a probe, not for taking the temp. I agree it's a risk to go by temp, I use my Thermapen as a probe too. The OP needs to "cook it until it's done" by the probe test. I have had mine finish anywhere from 185 to 210 - you just don't know without probing.

Going just by temp would give him exactly the results he described - sometimes it's done, sometimes it's not.
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Old 04-07-2013, 04:08 AM   #15
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I think Mike suggested the Thermapen is critical as a probe, not for taking the temp.
That's kind of the way I read it as well. We thermapen our briskets, not to know internal temps, but for the way it slides into the flat. Thinner and sharper pointed than anything else we have on hand.
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