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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:09 PM   #1
Uncle JJ
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Default Another disappointing brisket

I cooked my second ever brisket yesterday - the flat was dry. Again. A 15lb Angus packer. Cooked on my Weber Kettle 26 - set up for offset. I used Wicked Good Lump + Hickory and Pecan.

I put the meat in a tin roasting pan (on a cooling rack) and cooked it at 300*. After about 4 hours it had good color, so I foiled it. The internal was around 160*. After a few hours, it probed tender all over. I checked the temp, and it was 200*. I pulled it and vented it for about 15 minutes. Temp dropped to 190*. I re-foiled it and wrapped it in towels. It sat there for 2 hours.

The point sliced off easy, and it was larger than I expected. It was super tender and juicy. The bark was soft on the whole thing. There was a lot of au jus in the pan. I sliced the flat, and it was dry. The smoke ring was quite thin (probably could've used more wood). The slices had pretty good texture and snap, but I know they weren't quite right, and I know they were dry as toast.

Two briskets on my resume, both dry. On the first, I didn't wrap on the smoker until it was at 180*, and I failed to vent it before wrapping in towels. The second, I tried hot & fast, and I wrapped it on the grill at 160* internal. I did vent it this time.

OK, I'm prepared to scrap all of this and try a whole new approach. I'm determined to get this right, if I have to cook a hundred of these things. I think I've read every thread on this site that deals with brisket. Too much clutter in my simple head. Any help, as always, is appreciated.
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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:16 PM   #2
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Was the flat crumbling when you cut it or was it just dry? If it was just dry you didn't cook it enough. It the flat was crumbling apart when you sliced it, it was over cooked.

If it was under cooked, your feel for probe tender might be a little bit off. If this is the case, I would go 15-30mins longer on what you deemed probe tender and reprobe it.

If it was overcooked and crumbling on you, I would recommend pulling it off when it gives you a little bit more resistance than what you deem is probe tender.

Also pictures will always help us to see what you consider dry and also look for signs of what you could do to help you nail your brisket.
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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:24 PM   #3
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Dry brisket is typically undercooked. One the brisket is overcooked, it will crumble on you and you will have difficulty slicing it. You will have to turn it into chopped meat.

With all due respect, I certainly cannot tell you how to cook a brisket to your particular taste. But:

Finishing internal temp is partially a function of the cooking temp. You are cooking hot and fast at 300*. As you increase the cooking temp, the finishing temp also increases. So if you are cooking at 225*-250*, an internal temp of 195*-205* will get you tender. (Exact temp will vary, but once in the range it is just by 'feel'). At 300* cook, your finishing temp can be higher than 205 to get the same tenderness and moisture. Also note that you may vary your finishing temp based on whether you vent the meat before putting in the Cambro. You vented, thus you must have it cooked all the way to finishing temp at the time that you vent. If you are not quite there, you can get another 5 degrees or so of internal temp in the Cambro without venting.

It is tough. My brisket over the weekend had great flavor and moisture, but was overcooked and falling apart. Got judged down accordingly. So I am certainly not the expert... :-)
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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:26 PM   #4
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Cooking on a kettle, this is what I would do.

1. Kettle setup.

a. I put a large disposable pan on the charcoal grate, filled halfway with water. The water provides some thermal mass, it also prevents drippings from scorching, and adds moisture to the kettle. This creates better bark texture.

b. I put the charcoal around the kettle, in a ring or snake method, it just works it';s way around the kettle, I use a mixture of lump, briquettes and wood, and I am not overly concerned with arranging it. The aluminum pan holds it all in place. I try to get at least 4 pounds of charcoal into the kettle. I light up 6 to 8 briquettes and put them in the ring.

c. Let the kettle burn in for an hour, get it around 280F to 300F if possible.

2. The brisket

a. I trim away all of the fat on the underside, leave 1/4" of the fat cap.

b. I apply the rub, a thin coat initially, let sit for 30 minutes, then a second heavier coat. Let sit until the cooker is ready.

c. Brisket goes on, fat cap down. Directly over water pan in center of cooker.

3. The Cook:

a. Once the meat is on, I let it ride at as close to 300F as it will hold. Up and down 25F is not a problem, don't fuss with the vents, once you start with that, it never ends. If you got 5 pounds of charcoal in there, it will burn 5 to 6 hours at 280F to 300F no problems.

b. After 3 hours of not looking, I check for color, if it is right, I butcher paper the brisket. I prefer paper to foil, but, everyone varies. If the color is not right, or I don't care about color, I don't wrap at all. I will top up water in the pan with boiling water at this point, I like some water in the pan. I usually pickup the brisket at this point to feel it. But, probe it works too, it will still be tight, most likely. Close the cooker.

c. After another hour to hour and a half, depends on 280F or 325F, I will probe the brisket, see where it is. I am looking for the probe to slide into brisket with no effort, or very little effort. If I have to think 'push it in' then I am not done.

d. repeat every 45 minutes until it gets there.

4. Post cook:

a. remove finished brisket, and remove only if it probes very easily. Let sit on counter for 15 minutes. If you used paper or no wrap, that is enough. If oyu used foil, vent it for the 15 minutes. Then wrap in paper, or foil, and wrap in towels. Cooler if you are going to hold for more than 2 hours.

b. Hold for at least one hour, better for 2 hours.
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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:27 PM   #5
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AAWA - Thanks for responding. The flat was not crumbling, so I suspect I under-cooked it. My feel for probe tender is non-existent - I guess I'll learn with experience on that front.

I have pictures on my phone - just need to figure out how to post them here. I'll work on that.
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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:33 PM   #6
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Thanks, Landarc, I'm going to follow your instructions exactly. Great tips Knowbull, I do think I undercooked it!
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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:33 PM   #7
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Don't feel too frustrated - it took me about 20 briskets to get one I was happy with - and about twice that many before I felt like I really had it dialed in.

Are you using any kind of heat shield in your 26" kettle? The direct radiant heat from the coals may be drying your flat out.

I bought two small stainless steel cookie sheets at garage sales that I use for heat shields placed over my charcoal when I smoke indirect in my weber kettles.
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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QansasjayhawQ View Post
Don't feel too frustrated - it took me about 20 briskets to get one I was happy with - and about twice that many before I felt like I really had it dialed in.

Are you using any kind of heat shield in your 26" kettle? The direct radiant heat from the coals may be drying your flat out.

I bought two small stainless steel cookie sheets at garage sales that I use for heat shields placed over my charcoal when I smoke indirect in my weber kettles.
I used fire bricks to make an area on the side where I put the lump/wood. The meat is on the other side.
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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:40 PM   #9
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PM Sent
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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:41 PM   #10
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As long as the meat doesn't have 'line of sight' to the lit coals, you should be fine in that regard.
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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dosvans View Post
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Hey hey hey.....can't we learn, too?
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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:47 PM   #12
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Here is a photo, where I am partially loaded with charcoal, you can see the setup. This is my 22.5 kettle, but, it works fine with a 26 kettle as well.


Here is my preferred setup now, but, this requires a couple of items not everyone has

Level One


Level Two

The second configuration, although a PITA to setup, ran for 8 hours, at 275F to 300F, no fiddling once it locked in. I can do a 14 pound brisket on a 22.5 Kettle with this setup.
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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokinJohn View Post
Hey hey hey.....can't we learn, too?
I just offered for Uncle JJ to come out to the KCBS comp in Kennesaw, GA at the end of the month so he can see what the tenderness of my brisket is when I take it off the smoker.
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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:53 PM   #14
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IMHO Briskets are the hardest BBQ to learn.........even after you get a good result finally its hard to repeat/duplicate........
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Unread 08-05-2013, 12:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dosvans View Post
I just offered for Uncle JJ to come out to the KCBS comp in Kennesaw, GA at the end of the month so he can see what the tenderness of my brisket is when I take it off the smoker.
Uhhhhhh.........I'll be in Kennesaw can I see what it is like too? I can't figure it out myself .

All joking aside to Uncle JJ's post. Besides it being a dry have you had brisket you enjoyed? Granted I really can't cook brisket, but even when it is good and have tried others that was really good it isn't my favorite bbq meat. It took me a while to realize that my pallet for really good/ecellant brisket doesn't taste like what others taste like. So I've been "chasing the dragon", but have come to peace with the fact that it just isn't my favorite .
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