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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 07-17-2009, 11:32 PM   #1
thirdeye
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Talking Hot-N-Fast Brisket + Smoke Ring Experiment


I think we all use smoke rings as sort of a way to measure our skill at the pit against the other guy. Although they contribute no flavor whatsoever, boy-oh-boy when I get a nice one it really makes me feel good. In the last couple of weeks, on two separate Q Forums, and in one particular watering hole, I’ve been in discussions about smoke rings, specifically the ones I shoot for on brisket.

Everyone mentioned their little tricks and mine included using cold meat, using a very low pit temp for a couple of hours, using good hardwood splits in the “wagon wheel” arrangement I favor, and adding 2 or 3 briquettes in with the lump. Then I mentioned that Tenderquick (because it contains both nitrates and nitrites) will guarantee a smoke ring….. even going so far as to make the claim that I could get one in the oven with a doctored brisket. (there is still a beer and a shot riding on this claim, but I've done it and it works.) Anyways, in a thread about the perfect smoke ring on the Primo board, I stated that I would doctor my next brisket and today was the day....

For this show and tell, I eliminated a couple of the things that I know contribute to ring formation such as the briquettes and using cold meat. I still used flavor wood splits (I wanted the flavor they provide) and I still used a low pit temp for 90 minutes…..but then I ramped up the cooker to 300° and went into the hot-n-fast mode. This shortened the time the meat was less than 140°, which is when the ring forms. Here is the timeline for a 6 pound flat.

0:00 - Remove brisket from the fridge and add Tenderquick to the inside face, making a paste. Leave at room temperature.

1:00 – Rinse off the Tenderquick and keep the brisket at room temperature for another hour. I did notice that the color of the meat was a deeper red following the rinse.


2:00 – Season the brisket with salt, pepper & cayenne. Put into a 180° smoker with an established fire and pecan splits.


4:00 – Ramp the pit temp up to 300°

5:30 – Internal temperature was 150°. According to most sources, the ring should stop forming at 135° to 140°.

8:30 – Brisket was 194° and passed the tenderness test. Wrapped in foil and rested for 1 hour.


9:30 – Sliced and served. Tenderness was above average, moisture was average, and there was no off-taste, hammy texture or excessive saltiness. (Tenderquick is basically a salt carrier for the small percentage of nitrates and nitrites that it contains). I do favor injecting flats to insure a good moist product, but I passed on that for this experiment.


Summary - Starting weight 6 pound brisket flat, thirdeye trim. Total pit time was 6 hours, 30 minutes. Total time in the smoke ring temperature zone was less than 3 hours 30 minutes. Total time including prep and rest was 9 hours, 30 minutes. Smoke ring thickness was over 1/4” with a few areas pushing 3/8”.


Is it cheating to use Tenderquick on brisket? Well if it is, then I guess I cheat on several of my sausages, my Buckboard Bacon, my corned beef & pastrami, my smoked pork chops and almost all of my brines, because I use it to enhance the particular characteristic(s) that I am after. One can also assume that there are enough competition cooks that use it, that smoke rings are not a factor when judging. Will I doctor the two 15 pound packers I’m smoking for a friend tomorrow? Nah, I think my regular ‘ol tricks will be good enough. I’ll just keep this in my bag of tricks. Hmmmm. A second bar bet? A smoke ring contest with some of the locals that are always blowin’ smoke? Maybe.
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Last edited by thirdeye; 07-18-2009 at 12:18 AM..
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Unread 07-17-2009, 11:56 PM   #2
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Nice job and great post, thirdeye... I'm just down the road a bit from you, maybe you could drop a slice or two off for me to taste test
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Unread 07-18-2009, 12:31 AM   #3
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What a great post.

Thanks for sharing
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Unread 07-18-2009, 12:34 AM   #4
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That sure looks good! 3/8 smoke ring! But is a fast cook really as good tasting as traditional low?
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Unread 07-18-2009, 12:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pork Smoker View Post
That sure looks good! 3/8 smoke ring! But is a fast cook really as good tasting as traditional low?
You know in the last 3 years, I've done around 30 of the hot-n-fast cooks, and overall I've been pleased with the results. I'm more comfortable doing lower temp cooks, but only because I've done them that way for so long. Although the main body of my hot cooks is done at a higher pit temp, I still start off low. My cooks are different from the folks that start off with a 300° pit temp.

In this experiment I did the hot-n-fast cook because the main focus was the fact that the nitrates in Tenderquick are a substitute for the nitrates we work so hard to get from the charcoal and wood we burn in our cookers. More time in the smoke ring formation temperature zone will have an effect on a smoke ring, so I intentionally wanted to shorten the time by using the higher pit temp. Which proves the effectiveness of the TQ.
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Unread 07-18-2009, 07:21 AM   #6
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Fantastic post thirdeye, I always look forward to your contributions. I've been experimenting with high heat briskets for a bit now, and I am still struggling to get a decent smoke ring. Flavor has been great, but not much of a ring. I've tried all the mentioned tricks, cold meat, low and slow until 140 before ramping up, etc. Still not not much.
I'm not competing, and the flavor is great, so I'm not going to worry too much about it. I might play around with that Tenderquick if my next high heat doesn't produce much of a ring.
The image below was a low heat / high heat combo, I ran at 225-250 until internal temp of brisket was 140, then ramped up to 325 until tender. Brisket was great, but as you can see not much of a smoke ring.

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Unread 07-18-2009, 07:32 AM   #7
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holy toledo!
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Unread 07-18-2009, 09:19 AM   #8
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Great Post.... Thanx for sharing Thirdeye....
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Unread 07-18-2009, 09:25 AM   #9
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This has been one extremely interesting thread for me and I thank you much for posting it. First I was suprised that the smoke ring adds no flavor for (being pretty much a novice at smoking) I assumed the deeper the ring the deeper the flavor. And second I wish to thank you for explaining that the ring is generally formed before the temp of 140. Third thing I've just start using a large stick burner (diamondplate pit 60) and I'm trying to learn how to use it...Could you explain the the use of the briquettes and lump and the different effects they have on the smokering?.....Thank you again for a great post, and I will try using the search feature of the forum to find out more....

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Unread 07-18-2009, 10:16 AM   #10
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After cooking for years n the Kreuz style because I worked there, I too had the problem if having a GREAT brisket, moist, tender (Those traits that elude so many people even at competition level) and tasty. But every once in a while you would get a yahoo that would think it was about the ring and to tell the truth my ego was tweaked. So I asked Third eye what to do about it and I did not go the TQ route but have been very satisfied with the results of the starting off slow deal. But I don't think I need the 90 minutes because I do so much bulk. I will also use sea salt if I am doing a brisket for someone I want to impress as that contibutes to the ring as well.

Anywho....I would like to know about briquettes. I stopped using them a while back in favor of all wood. I need all wood because I smoke fast I need the smoke.
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Unread 07-18-2009, 10:17 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firecracker jack View Post
This has been one extremely interesting thread for me and I thank you much for posting it. First I was suprised that the smoke ring adds no flavor for (being pretty much a novice at smoking) I assumed the deeper the ring the deeper the flavor. And second I wish to thank you for explaining that the ring is generally formed before the temp of 140. Third thing I've just start using a large stick burner (diamondplate pit 60) and I'm trying to learn how to use it...Could you explain the the use of the briquettes and lump and the different effects they have on the smokering?.....Thank you again for a great post, and I will try using the search feature of the forum to find out more....

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The reaction of the nitrates & surface moisture with the meat over time, at lower temperatures is what allows the smoke ring to form. The source of the nitrates doesn't matter.

Because of the Internet and forums just like this one, bits and pieces of information start to form a pattern. One of these things was good looking smoke rings on stuff cooked in a WSM and several other fine cookers. At the same time some folks were griping about not getting good smoke rings in ceramic cookers, electric box smokers and even some pellet cookers. The meat was the same, the temps were the same....heck, sometimes even the same cook couldn't duplicate his or her smoke rings when they changed cookers.

It was the fuel. And to some degree the quality and type of the flavor wood they were using. For whatever the reason (binders, sawdust or whatever else goes into briquettes) briquettes produce more nitrates than lump. The first tip for box smoker users is to add 1 or 2 burning briquettes to their wood pan to get a smoke ring. I have never seen the insides of a pellet cooker but some users will somehow do something similar. I've read some posts from folks way more knowledgeable than I am that use particular brands of briquettes just for the better rings.
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Unread 07-18-2009, 10:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barbefunkoramaque View Post
After cooking for years n the Kreuz style because I worked there, I too had the problem if having a GREAT brisket, moist, tender (Those traits that elude so many people even at competition level) and tasty. But every once in a while you would get a yahoo that would think it was about the ring and to tell the truth my ego was tweaked. So I asked Third eye what to do about it and I did not go the TQ route but have been very satisfied with the results of the starting off slow deal. But I don't think I need the 90 minutes because I do so much bulk. I will also use sea salt if I am doing a brisket for someone I want to impress as that contibutes to the ring as well.

Anywho....I would like to know about briquettes. I stopped using them a while back in favor of all wood. I need all wood because I smoke fast I need the smoke.
And also maybe because the volume and flow of your cooker is different than what I cook on....

Remember I am cooking on 24" X 43" drums and a Large Egg. Both vertical cookers, with similar flow, but the drums have way more volume than the Egg. All conditions the same, and not using TQ I will get a better ring on brisket cooked in a drum.

Try putting just a handful of briquettes in at the beginning of your next cook. You only need them at the beginning. And yes I've heard that some sea salts have more nitrates in them than other types.
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Unread 07-18-2009, 11:21 AM   #13
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Thanks for another great post on this topic-
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Unread 07-18-2009, 11:36 AM   #14
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Great tutorial!

Quote:
Because of the Internet and forums just like this one, bits and pieces of information start to form a pattern.
Thanks for sharing that pattern here.

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Unread 07-18-2009, 11:52 AM   #15
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Then I mentioned that Tenderquick

what is ternderquick?
this?
http://www.mortonsalt.com/products/m...nderquick.html
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