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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 10-01-2013, 07:23 PM   #1
castlepines
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Default First Brisket. Move along, nothing to see here...

Yep, first brisket ever, and it was done on my WSM. I was feeling pretty good about myself after some success with a couple butts and thought I'd move up to something a bit more of a challenge. I picked up a brisket from WalMart that that was just shy of 16lbs and on sale at $1.67 per pound. It was sealed in cryovac and had a "sell by" date of September 27. I threw it on the smoker on September 29 for an all night smoke. After trimming, the total weight was right around 10.5 pounds. I figured 1.5 hours per pound at 225F and a two hour rest in the cooler would give me some wiggle room for a target dinner time of 6pm. If I started at midnight that should put me within the target time-range. I knew what I wanted to do with this brisket, had a good plan, and was feeling pretty good about it.

Fail. This was humbling.

My trimming skills definitely need some more work. I wanted about a quarter inch of a fat cap and had that in most places. In other places? Not so much. I actually used some of my trimmings as "patches" in the areas where I was down to the meat. Heck, it all comes off after anyway. I wasn't going to be winning any beauty contests with this trim job but that's what bark is for, right?? :)

Salt and pepper only for seasoning, no injecting, fired up the WSM for 225F, on it went a little before midnight. I really had to squeeze that sucker inside the WSM 18 since the ends of the brisket found their way to the edge of the smoker. But it fit, with a little nudging. Of course the temp dropped for a bit with that large hunk of future leather on the top grate. With some tweaking it found its way to around 225F. I set my limits on the Mav ET732 and just coasted. Eventually I fell asleep for a couple hours and when I woke up the grate temp was just 207F. Crap! My ET 732 didn't alarm at all. I'll have to play with that a bit more going forward. Hopped up, made the adjustment on the smoker and soon was back to around 225F. This was where the stall began and it likely lasted a few hours. I say "likely" because it started when I had fallen asleep for a few hours...I just don't know when exactly. I was patient, confident and expecting it, so I waited it out and eventually it powered through and started climbing again.

Fast forward to the end. When the brisket temp was 195F I started probing it for tenderness. It definitely needed some more time so I let it go a bit longer. Once it hit 201F it really did feel probe tender. The point darn near separated from the flat pulling it with one hand. The point felt more tender than the flat but both seemed ready. SEEMED ready.

I grabbed a cooler and thought I'd go fancy with this step. Instead of filling the cooler with some hot water, bringing it outside, draining it, then drying it out with towels I decided to try something different and save a step. I put a bakers rack on the bottom of the cooler and added a pan of boiling water to the cooler on top of the rack. The heat from the pan warmed up the cooler nicely and saved me the hassle of having to drain it and wipe it out. I'll do this one again going forward. After this, the brisket was wrapped in foil, then towels, then placed in the cooler for a two hour rest. After two hours, the "grand reveal" was next and on the cutting board it went.

I first sliced a piece off the edge of the point...kind of dry, and not much of a smoke ring. Maybe the next slice will be better. Slice #2...still kind of dry, still no smoke ring. Maybe it will moisten and redden as I go towards the center. Slice 3...and this slice was thicker than the others because I wanted to get to the center fast! Nope, still dry. The entire flat was dry. Son of a brisket. On to the point.

The point was actually pretty decent. Moist, tender, and not overpowered with seasoning. The smoke ring was there and so was the flavor. I didn't make burnt ends and just sliced it up in shreds. My girlfriend likes her BBQ without sauce and so do I. The kids like some sauce with SBRs being their favorite. We all liked it and ate up most of the point.

The flat? I've registered it with the State of PA as an assault weapon and filed for a permit to keep it in the house. It was disappointing that it didn't turn out but I do feel safer knowing it's there should someone break in the house. Actually, it's in a container in the fridge waiting for me to make some stock out of it...if it's even possible.

So, what went wrong here Brethren? I'm guessing I rushed it at the end and my idea of "probe tender" is different than the brisket's idea of "probe tender". The brisket will always win that argument. I'm open to suggestions, as usual. My next one will be smaller to start with, that's for sure.
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Unread 10-01-2013, 07:27 PM   #2
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Doesn't sound like it was done when you pulled it off. Don't despair. That flat will make some great chili.
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Unread 10-01-2013, 08:13 PM   #3
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Read the slices, that is the one true way to know.

If you slice the flat into 1/8" slices and they slice absolutely clean and are popcorn fart dry, you undercooked.

If you slice the flat and find it crumbles before you can get it sliced, and it is popcorn fart dry, you really over cooked.

There is a range inbetween. But, undercooked brisket will always slice cleanly and stay together, and overcooked will always fall apart when sliced.
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Unread 10-01-2013, 08:15 PM   #4
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Sliced thin, your brisket will still make fine sandwiches, don't despair. I have only cooked 2 packers ever, one on each of the last two Sundays.

I am using a Weber kettle, not a smoker, and it's weaknesses are quickly exposed when cooking brisket. But the first one was so good it just primed me to fall on my next cook, 2 days ago. The second brisket was not as tender as the first, even though I thought I had a feel for it. The second was wrapped, while the first was not. The second one cooked fast, really fast, 160 in about 2 hours! The kettle seems to like to burn at about 300 range, but fluctuates quickly. Your WSM should help moderate temps.

I think my downfall was being alarmed when the Maverick read 215, at around 5 hrs. I probed, and the point was butter, but I'm not sure the flat was as tender as it should have been. I pulled it and left it foiled in an unheated oven for 4 hours. Still good, but not transcendent. Kind of feel like I did not respect the Prime grade CAB the way it should have been. I'll try again next Sunday.
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Unread 10-01-2013, 08:24 PM   #5
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Most people think when it's dry it's overcooked. But as landarc said it is usually the opposite. It is verry hard to get people thinking like this. And this is why i was scared to death of brisket for 10 years before this sight! My first 1 I told myself "holy crap I burnt this thing up! 2nd 1 I tried to cut basicly raw. 10 years later I tried it and it came out decent thanks to people on this sight! Don't let this first 1 keep you away from it for 10 years like it did me with my tail between my legs.
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Unread 10-01-2013, 08:26 PM   #6
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First, don't feel that you have to cook at 225. I prefer to cook at around 265-275. I find that the results are as good or better without investing so much time.

Second, as mentioned, the flat sounds like it was undercooked. Forget about the point when you are checking for tender. It has enough internal fat that it will be fine. Focus on the thickest part of the flat and when you probe goes in there like it is going into warm butter it is done.
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Unread 10-01-2013, 08:30 PM   #7
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Slice it up, put it in pan with beef broth pop it into oven at 250-275 for 2 hrs. Then enjoy.
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Unread 10-01-2013, 08:31 PM   #8
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If you're going for a probe test on the brisket, the key area to check is the thickest part of the flat. When that part is buttery soft, that's when you're good to go.
Also for whatever it's worth, I'd say that low and slow is too low, and too slow. I know, I know, it's the 'holy grail of BBQ' or whatever, and I'm not advocating a Hot and Fast 300º speed smoke either, but I'd say shoot for a 235-250º variance if you're going to do "Low and Slow" unless you plan on sitting around for the 12-18 hours to do it actually low and slow. I know a couple of guys who let it get to 225º at the highest temps, and they're also the guys who pull those 18 hour smoking marathons I loathe.

Edit: Ron beat me, but his advice is sound. I myself cook my briskets at 250-275º but a lot of people feel that's 'too high' ESPECIALLY in Texas. If I convince the guys in my neighborhood to spike things up (all two of the converted) the highest they go by is 250º anything more than that means "they might as well cook it in the farking oven."
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Unread 10-01-2013, 08:33 PM   #9
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Jim is right - Chili is always a good option. We also like to put cut up brisket in enchiladas or it could be turned into some killer tamale meat in a crock pot.

If I want my brisket cooks to go faster, sometimes I separate the flat from the point before putting them on the pit. Then each can be dealt with independently.

I also like to wrap them up at 160. I worry less about drying things out when they're wrapped and it speeds the stall.
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Unread 10-02-2013, 03:56 AM   #10
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Better luck next time. It'll come.
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Unread 10-02-2013, 09:28 AM   #11
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try reading this thread:

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=169985
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Unread 10-02-2013, 09:58 AM   #12
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Agreed....not such thing as a bad brisket with chili being an option.
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Unread 10-02-2013, 10:35 AM   #13
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I cook hot 300+ but there was a time when I had amnesia that I cooked way down in the low 200's at those temps I had a 50 % success rate. Now 98% at higher temps. turn up the heat. 275 is the new 225 don't be skered of it.
You need to cook that brisket until the thickest area of the flat is probe tender that is the last spot on the whole cut to give it up when it is right the rest of the packer will be too.

Internal temps are a tool not an absolute the probe is the last word, it is never wrong.

Higher pit temps keep ya from gettin ancy and yankin it to soon because the underfed masses are out of cheetos and can 't wait. At 275 you shave 50% off your time, at 300 you shave another 25%

Long rest and a long slow cool down are a must' min 2 hrs 3-4 ids even betta it is during this time that the collagen completes breaking down into gelatin. As the temp drops the gelatin coagulates this is what makes it moist.
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Unread 10-02-2013, 12:17 PM   #14
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I agree with Bludawg, the first few briskets I did at 250 turned out okay, the last two I did at 300 and were lights out. Brisket chili is outstanding though.
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Unread 10-02-2013, 05:31 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landarc View Post
Read the slices, that is the one true way to know.

If you slice the flat into 1/8" slices and they slice absolutely clean and are popcorn fart dry, you undercooked.

If you slice the flat and find it crumbles before you can get it sliced, and it is popcorn fart dry, you really over cooked.

There is a range inbetween. But, undercooked brisket will always slice cleanly and stay together, and overcooked will always fall apart when sliced.
Dang. This is huge. Great tip. Thanks landarc.
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