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Old 05-09-2009, 11:34 PM   #1
watertowerbbq
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Default Brisket Notes and Question

Brisket is my worst competition meat and it's not even close. We've placed once with our pork and ribs and our chicken has been middle of the road, but brisket is always bad.

The last two weekends, I've cooked a 8.5# +/- brisket flat from Sam's Club. The one last weekend was a salt and pepper only brisket and the one today was Smokin Guns Hot.

I cooked both of them on my WSM, using the DigiQ II and placing the brisket on the bottom rack with the top rack temp set at 225º. In both cases, the briskets climbed quickly to about 140º and then slowed considerably to 154º where they held for a very, very long time. For example, brisket went on this morning at 7:00 am. We left for my son's first BlastBall game at 10:20 and it was at 140º. When we got home at 12:15, it was at 144º. At around 1:00 it was at 154º and stayed there until 4:30. At that time, I wrapped it, put it on the top rack and increased the temp to 250º. I pulled it of the smoker with an internal temp of 203º at 7:25. The probe test felt like butter. My wife thought this weeks was better than last weeks.

I've cooked enough pork butts to know about plateau, but 3 hours at 154º has me a little concerned. My intention was to wrap it at 165º, but I was afraid that it might take another couple of hours to get to 165º from 154º and I was concerned about drying the meat.

I'm beginning to question the value of cooking with the top rack at 225º and am thinking of moving it up to 250º. My original plan was to cook 2 pork butts on the top rack and a brisket on the bottom rack and set the top rack temp to 225º.

Is there a practical lower limit to the temperature that you should cook at? I've heard of people cooking at under 200º but that seems low to me. Any insight might be helpful. Thanks.
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Old 05-10-2009, 12:53 AM   #2
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No magic # but I don't think you need to cook under 200 deg at a contest unless you prefer it based on experience and past results.

When I was cooking on my WSM's for comps.. they always wanted to cook at 245 (no guru) so I never tried to make it do something else.

Smokin Guns Hot is a good rub for brisket in comps.. Many have used it successfully at the highest levels. I think you'll be OK with the brisket under the butts.. If you're going to foil... don't question the temps and change process.. If it's not time to wrap (per your personal plan) then wait.. For me, if I wrap, around 165-170 is usually about the time that the color is right and when I would start to think about foil.

Have you considered cooking a whole brisket instead of the flat only ?
What fuel (K or lump) / wood type are you using ?
Have you tried a product like Fab B or Butchers BBQ injection ?
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Old 05-10-2009, 01:10 AM   #3
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Some briskets are just like that... they don't wanna give up the ghost for the longest time. Others just bow to the smoke and race to done. I will say this: I thought I was cooking at 225 in my Spicewine during 2007 so when I got my Guru installed for 2008, I started cooking at 225 pit temp and was getting HAMMERED! When I finally figured out my shelf temp was 250 instead of 225, I cranked it up to cook around 245 and my results (according to judges) came right back up. Not sure why but I agree with Vinny - no need to cook that slow at comps.
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Old 05-10-2009, 07:42 AM   #4
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That darn plateau can be totally frustrating on some briskets.

If time is an issue, brisket can be safely cooked at any temp up to the mid 300's.
Not recommending you do that, just stating that some top level teams cook at that temp and walk-walk-walk
But, do not be afraid to kick the temps to the upper 200's or so if you need or want to shorten the cooking time.
It won't hurt a thing.

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Old 05-10-2009, 08:09 AM   #5
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A buddy of mine (that keeps beating me) says he smokes is briskets at very low temps (under 200*).

This probably requires two smokers, unless you're going to smoke your pork at that low of a temp too.
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Old 05-10-2009, 09:58 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TN_BBQ View Post
A buddy of mine (that keeps beating me) says he smokes is briskets at very low temps (under 200*).

This probably requires two smokers, unless you're going to smoke your pork at that low of a temp too.

I just don't understand why anyone would do this. I'd be concerned about the meat being between 40 and 140 degrees for way too long PLUS if the brisket needed to get to say 205 degrees to give up the ghost, how is that ever gonna happen?
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:32 AM   #7
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Out of curiousity which of your marks are lower (ie: Taste or Tenderness)?
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Old 05-11-2009, 09:32 AM   #8
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If your top rack is at 225, I'm guessing your bottom is around 210-215. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this lower temperature provided that you are willing to wait longer for the brisky to finish. You can cook it at higher temps, but this will mess with your timing.

I am going to throw this out there and I am sure others will throw it right back--Try using whole packers, You gotta love those burnt ends!
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Old 05-11-2009, 10:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musicmanryann View Post
If your top rack is at 225, I'm guessing your bottom is around 210-215. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this lower temperature provided that you are willing to wait longer for the brisky to finish. You can cook it at higher temps, but this will mess with your timing.

I am going to throw this out there and I am sure others will throw it right back--Try using whole packers, You gotta love those burnt ends!
That was my question... If your cooking between 200-215* (actual grate temp) it's going to hit the wall earlier (just my experiance)... If you kick the actual grate temp up between 225-250* I think the brisket acts more 'Normal'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_in_KC View Post
I just don't understand why anyone would do this. I'd be concerned about the meat being between 40 and 140 degrees for way too long PLUS if the brisket needed to get to say 205 degrees to give up the ghost, how is that ever gonna happen?
I would be far less concerned with '40-140' temps since any bactieria is going to be generally on the outside of the meat and that temp is over 200*.

The concern I have would be the raw pork dripping on the brisket... Just for safety, I would reverse them (brisket on top) or put them on seperate smokers...
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:05 PM   #10
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I cook my butts on the top grate of my excel 20 (which is a larger version of the wsm) and bmy brisket on the lower rack. I was allways told that pork = bacon so juices dripping on brisket are not an issue. At comps with the larger packers i throw my brisket on earlier and then add the butts later and keep my top temp at grate level around 230 through the entire cook. Wrap in foil if and when needed. hope that helps
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