View Full Version : 1st attempt @ smoking a brisket = EPIC fail

01-02-2013, 12:08 AM
Even though I haven't been BBQ'ing very long, I have gotten very comfortable with my grill and the product that I have been able to turn out. Other than a couple of early mistakes, my pork ribs have become consistent & I have been pretty spot on with my pork butts. I have even waded my way into smoking fatties and double smoking hams for the holidays.

So needless to say, I have been consistent and gotten pretty confident. (Well that was until yesterday)

I found a small (2 lb) brisket flat that appeared to be a good piece of meat. I have wanted to smoke a brisket for a while and decided to buy this one and give it a go. I have read and reread about some of the difficulties that some people have had, so I wasn't extremely excited about spending some decent money on a cut of meat that I was completely unfamiliar with.

Things seemed to start out ok. Got my smoker to temp and stabilized (225), made a homemade rub. Made sure to stay light on the sugar. (Had read somewhere about not using as much sugar as with pork. Tends to dry out the meat??) Dry rub was applied a couple of hours before placing meat on the grill. The first few hours went off without a hitch. I use a Weber OTP, so other than adding charcoal every hour, adding water to my pan, and spraying with apple juice all seemed to go well.

Then things took a turn for the worse.

My plan was to wrap with foil @ 160 then take up to 190-195 before checking for doneness. In the middle of the stall, I got lazy and only checked my grill. I saw that there was plenty of water and charcoal, so I left things alone. (Problem #1) A short time later I looked at my maverick and realized that grill had dropped to 185. (Alarm limits don't work worth a darn if you don't turn on the alarm) (Problem #2) By the time that I opened the grill and added in some charcoal, the temp took for ever to recover. Hind sight I should have added in some lit charcoal. During that time I noticed that not only was the brisket not increasing in temp, but it had actually dropped 3 degrees. Smoker came back up to temp, but after an hour I still had not even gained back the 3 degrees that I had lost.

I decided to foil and just finish it in the oven as I was frustrated. Meat got to 190 and I checked to see if it was tender. Didn't feel close. Again @ 195. Still not done. I finally ended up pulling it @ 207. Even then it felt nothing like my pork butts have when they are done. Definitely not like buttah.

Let it sit in the oven with the oven off and cool to 160. Cut it against the grain and I felt ill. (Imagine the scene when Eddie cuts the turkey on Christmas Vacation) Made myself take a bite and had more the consistency of beef jerky than the yummy meat I was hoping for.

Oh well, live and learn I guess. For now I will crawl back into my comfort zone and turn out some good pork to redeem myself.

01-02-2013, 12:15 AM
Happens to the best of us!! I remember I messed up my ribs once. I sauced them and for whatever reason wanted to "set the sauce" over high heat on my Weber. Ended up burning the sauce to a crisp and dried out the ribs to the point of being leather. :doh:

I don't know why I did it but I learned never to do it again! :tsk:

01-02-2013, 12:15 AM
Brisket is hard to master, but you made it even harder by buying such a small one, I would rather cook a 22lb brisket than a 2 lb piece of flat. Actually i wont cook anything under about 8 lbs as the product is harder to get done right without drying it out. Sounds like you had the right idea. All you can do is buy another one and try again.

01-02-2013, 12:37 AM
If it makes you feel better, I just messed up a fatty -- forgot all about it. It looked like a very hard piece of coal. Next.

01-02-2013, 12:45 AM
+1 to trying a larger piece of meat. The small ones are ornery.

J'ville Grill
01-02-2013, 12:46 AM
You'll have better results next time. You might want to try a bigger brisket though 2 lbs is awfully small, a whole packer would be much better. And it doesn't have to be a huge packer either, you can find small ones.

01-02-2013, 12:52 AM
Don't sweat it man, I totally screwed up some ribs the other day. Write down what you did and move on.

01-02-2013, 07:26 AM
Years ago I kept getting hockey pucks when I cooked briskets---using 2-3 pounders--didn't know about packers....as far as I am concerned all the advise you get here on cooking briskets is directred to 12+ pounders

01-02-2013, 07:35 AM
As the gang said, it happens. I don't bother cooking briskets smaller than 10 lbs and prefer 12 - 14 lbs. A 2 lb pice of flat is too hard to nail. Try to find a packer for you next attempt, and I would cook it at 250 or higher.

01-02-2013, 07:38 AM
My first Brisket attempt, well......I wrote everything down and learned allot anyways, lol.

01-02-2013, 07:49 AM
I am fairly new to this too (only been BBQ'ing for a little less than 2 years). Initially, when I decided to take the plunge and branch out to brisket, I tried several flats, albeit none as small as the one you tried for your first attempt. My results were hit or miss during my learning process. Some were very good and others got fed to the dogs. Now, I only cook 12+ lb. packers and the results have been consistently very good. I think there is just a much bigger margin for error with a larger piece of meat.

01-02-2013, 09:10 AM
:deadhorse: A 2 lb chunk of flat that has been trimmed to hell & back anit a Brisket and you cant cook it like one!!! A Brisket is a full packer! I cook for ME and I wont bother with anything under 12 lb before trimming, so it hits the pit at about 10 lb and I end up with 6 lb when finished. There are many good methods in a mess of threads that will guaranty success on the forum. Better luck next time.

01-02-2013, 09:10 AM
My first two tries with brisket were on small flats like yours as well. I'm assuming my thought process was the same as yours...rather mess up a $10-$15 piece of meat than a $30-$40. Foolish logic!
My first one was a mess...chewy, over smoked, and salty as the sea. I had yet to discover this place when I destroyed that piece of meat. Once I found the Brethren I did some reading and got the same tips you did, knew that the smaller pieces of meat were tougher to get right but thought, what the heck I'll try one more. I had just built my UDS and went after it. Turned out much better the second go around...flavor was better, not AS chewy, but still not was I was hoping for. So keep faith your second attempt will be better but, everyone here is right...the little flats will slip away on you quick, next time I'm going with a packer...it's more than I need, but with all the "leftover brisket" recipes on here...you can't go wrong.

01-02-2013, 09:12 AM
You could have simply had a bad cut of meat too, besides the small size of that flat...

mr dirts bbq
01-02-2013, 09:18 AM
as many others said we all destroy a piece of meat here and there, also as said before use full packers, i try to keep mine no less than 14lbs but i do trim aggressively

Smoking Westy
01-02-2013, 09:35 AM
I just did my first brisket yesterday and was tempted by just doing the flat (since I really just wanted some sliced brisket) but quickly was convinced by the folks here that a packer is the way to go. After cooking one, I see why!

As others have suggested, find yourself a packer and give it another try, I think you'll like the results.

01-02-2013, 10:32 AM
I would like to offer up some sound advice like others here have but I have never ruined any meat I have ever cooked in my entire life. :pile::bolt:

01-02-2013, 10:39 AM
Years ago I kept getting hockey pucks when I cooked briskets---using 2-3 pounders--didn't know about packers....as far as I am concerned all the advise you get here on cooking briskets is directred to 12+ pounders

Agreed. A 2lb brisket is pretty much only gonna be good for braising. None of the established popular methods will work for something that small and with that little fat.

01-02-2013, 11:02 AM
The only thing I can tell you that may be of any value is, if you only want to cook small cuts of meat get a tri-tip and cook it like a brisket or grill it and leave the fat cap on.

01-02-2013, 11:32 AM
Ah yes, the sound of meat going "klunk" as hit hits the bottom of the trash can.

01-02-2013, 12:39 PM
Thank you guys for all the kind words and excellent advice!

My first two tries with brisket were on small flats like yours as well. I'm assuming my thought process was the same as yours...rather mess up a $10-$15 piece of meat than a $30-$40. Foolish logic!

This was exactly my thought process. I knew the difficulty in smoking a brisket from extensive reading and figured it wouldn't turn out as well as I was hoping. Next time I will take the plunge and spend the money. Hopefully next time I post about brisket I will have better news!

Thanks again.

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