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kcquer
06-18-2004, 09:14 AM
The "brisket bark" thread got me thinking, if I wouldn't get better bark if I started my brisket fat cap up, to get the bark established early then flipped it to get the protection offered by the fat cap down method.

How does every one treat different cuts? I've always just put stuff on the shelf and left it. Does any one turn meat once, several times or just how do you handle your meat? OK I know that's just asking for it, but the question is serious. Am I farking up by not turning or what?

midnight
06-18-2004, 10:13 AM
I don't ever turn my meat. Brisket is always fat side up. If bottom gets too dark too fast then move it to a cooler area of the smoker or wrap it in foil for a while. Quick fix is to mop the bottom ( I use a sprayer to apply mop mop).

BigAl
06-18-2004, 12:17 PM
Next time I do a full brisket, I am gonna do fat cap down for the entire cook. I have never turned a brisket. Fat cap down will be a test of that theory. I did the last flat with fat cap down and onions on top. Gonna skip onions next time because I don't think they add any flavor and it kept the non fat cap side from taking in any smoke.

Hankster
06-18-2004, 01:19 PM
Fat Cap DOWN? BLASPHEMY!!!!

You gotta do it fat cap up so as it dissolves the fat works its way into the meat to make it tender, juicy and flavourful!!!! :o

brdbbq
06-18-2004, 01:22 PM
Fat Cap DOWN? BLASPHEMY!!!!

You gotta do it fat cap up so as it dissolves the fat works its way into the meat to make it tender, juicy and flavourful!!!! :o

Don't count on it.

BigAl
06-18-2004, 01:53 PM
Fat Cap DOWN? BLASPHEMY!!!!

You gotta do it fat cap up so as it dissolves the fat works its way into the meat to make it tender, juicy and flavourful!!!! :o

There was a post on this site that had a link to a long time Texan Brisket smoker that claims the fat cap down keeps the rising heat from burning and drying out the side that dosen't have the fat. So I am gonna see if the ole Texan know what he is talking about or if he is just another closed minded Texan bull****ter.

kcquer
06-18-2004, 03:26 PM
If you believe that fat cap up actually bastes the meat you've never cleaned the bottom of your smoker out. 99% of the fat that melts runs over the sides and into the bottom of the pit. I have tried both ways and the fat cap down yields superior results.
the fat cap down keeps the rising heat from burning and drying out the side that dosen't have the fat.
This is dead on.

The reason I wondered about turning is that my rub never seems to get beyond the paste stage. I wondered if putting the lean side down for some amount of time would help it solidify and give a real bark and not the squishy finish I've been getting even without foil.

racer_81
06-18-2004, 04:10 PM
....not to be a trouble maker.....but I will.......

The last brisket I did I hung vertically with a bacon hanger. Why?
Because I saw where Paul Kirk (Da Baron of BBQ) does his that
way. I figured if it worked for him it might work for me.

It was very good, but I also deviated from my standard rub
and did not marinade. Plus I pulled it off a little to earlier
due to "external forces" so it was quite done enough.

Those of you with vertical smokers may wish to try the
bacon hanger method.

Then again, you might not. I dunno.

Bartender - beer me!

Arlin_MacRae
06-18-2004, 04:26 PM
....not to be a trouble maker.....but I will.......

The last brisket I did I hung vertically with a bacon hanger. Why?
Because I saw where Paul Kirk (Da Baron of BBQ) does his that
way. I figured if it worked for him it might work for me.

It was very good, but I also deviated from my standard rub
and did not marinade. Plus I pulled it off a little to earlier
due to "external forces" so it was quite done enough.

Those of you with vertical smokers may wish to try the
bacon hanger method.

Then again, you might not. I dunno.

Bartender - beer me!Racer, how did you attach it to the hanger?

kcquer
06-18-2004, 09:24 PM
The following brisket article came from:

Bill Cannon

BBQ Made Simple

Real Texas BBQ Rub, Inc.

10701 Corporate Dr., Suite 295

Stafford, Texas 77477





BEEF BARBECUED BRISKET Ė A TEXAS TRADITION


I have received a lot of questions about brisket cooking in the last couple of months and since we have added so many new subscribers to the newsletter I thought the article we did on brisket cooking would be good for this month.





Hell, just thinking about cooking a brisket seems to scare some folks. We are going to make this process as easy as we know how to do. It is not hard to cook a great beef brisket. All it takes is time, patience, a great seasoning, cooking long, and cooking at low temperatures. That is it. Need we say more?



It has been said that the real measure of how good a BBQ cook you are can be measured by how good your beef brisket is.



This might hold true down here in TexasÖ. but in other states the same might be said about pork shoulders or pork butts or pork ribs.



But since I am a Texan we are going to start with Brisket. After all Texas is the beef capital of the World.



I get a few emails every month that ask questions about cooking brisket. Letís start with the basics and go forward.







Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Brisket Cooking



How do you choose a good brisket to cook?
Do I cook the brisket with the fat side up or down?
Should I wrap a brisket during the cooking process?
How long and at what temperature do I need to cook a brisket?
My brisket is burned or dried out, what happened?
Do you cook the flat the same as the entire brisket?
Do you mop your brisket when cooking?
How to slice the brisket?








1. How to Choose a Good Brisket to put on the Smoker.



You go into the meat section of the store and look for a good brisket to cook. What am I looking for in a brisket so I can pick out the best one to cook?



Generally speaking, you want to be able to pick up the brisket and fold it in half (or close to it). You want to be able to take the flat end (this is the narrow part of the brisket) and be able to touch the point end (this is the thickest part) of the brisket.



Pick a brisket that has a good color to it. It should be a good red color for the meat and a nice white color for the fat. Older briskets could have a yellowing of the fat and a browning of the meat. These are still within the legal selling age of the meat but not as fresh as you would like.



As for size, you can cook any size brisket you want to, assuming you have the space on the pit to hold the brisket. Briskets usually run from 8 pounds up to 14 pounds for the typical store briskets. You may find some small ones in the 6 to 7 pound range and you may even see some big ones in the 16 to 17 pound range. I like my briskets to be right around 12 pounds each. These seem to work better and are not so big that they take forever to cook. Usually this size brisket is easy enough to find.



2. Fat side up or down when you cook a brisket.



This is a frequently asked question and stirs up some debate in the BBQ community. When you look at the brisket you will notice one side of the brisket is covered almost totally by fat. The other side of the brisket is not covered by solid fat but has a more marbled look to it. The non-fat side, if you will, also is the side that the point of the brisket reaches its highest point.



Now for the discussion. When you place your brisket on your cooker do you cook with the fat side on top or on bottom? Letís discuss this and then decide.



The conventional approach to cooking any meat on the cooker is to place the fat side of the piece of meat on top. This thinking is driven by the belief that as the meat cooks and the fat begins to break down, the juices of the fat will help marinate the meat as it cooks. This is true with most of the meat we cook. I have no problem with the thought process here. So one vote for placing the fat side of the brisket on top.



Think about a couple of other issues when we cook meat low and slow. Where does the heat we are using come from, the top or bottom of our cooker? That is right the heat source is always at the bottom of the meat. This is true if we cook in the oven, a grill, or a smoker. And we all know that heat rises. So the deal is to have the heat come from the bottom and rise over the food we are cooking.



When you cook, you notice that regardless of the meat we are cooking and regardless of the type of cooker we are using, that when our meat is cooked, and we are serving it, you notice that the bottom (the part of the meat that cooked nearest the heat source) is usually more done than the upper portion of the meat. This makes sense, as the bottom has been closer to the heat source and has been subjected to more heat.



My point is, if we cook with the fat side down on a brisket, we have a barrier of fat protecting the meat from the higher heat source. If we cook fat side up then we have no barrier there to protect the flat portion of the brisket from the higher heat.



If you really study the brisket you will notice there is a layer of fat that runs down the center of the brisket, from a point that begins right after the flat and begins to rise to the point. This flat layer and the fat that runs all thru the brisket will give us plenty of natural juices to keep the meat moist during cooking, if we use a rub that is designed to hold in the meats own juices.



Therefore, I always cook my brisket with the fat side down on the smoker. I want that protection from the heat source. This is even more apparent if you use a grill and donít have a large space between your heat source and the meat itself.



I have asked dozens of brisket cookers at various contest and cook-offs what they prefer. I have read plenty about cooking brisket. There still seems to be about half of those cookers that cook with the fat side up. So the choice is yours here. Try it both ways if you want to but I have cooked both ways for experimental purposes and find that fat side down is by far the best for me.



3.Wrapping a brisket



Another controversial subject matter here. Do you wrap the brisket in aluminum foil during the cooking process or just cook it un-wrapped. Again, I have done brisket using both methods. My personal choice is to wrap a brisket about 2/3 of the way thru the cook. That is to say, if you cook for 12 hours, wrap the brisket at around 8 hours. If you cook for 18 hours, then wrap around the 12-hour mark.



At the Houston Rodeo Cook Off I wanted to test the differences in wrapped and un-wrapped brisket. Three days of cooking brisket will allow you the time to do some playing and experimenting. So I cooked some brisket wrapped and some unwrapped in the same batch of brisket. My results indicated that the wrapped brisket was juicier, more tender, and had an even better flavor than the un-wrapped brisket.



With wrapping the brisket you do a couple of things. You first preserve the juices that normally are dropping from the brisket inside the aluminum and they assist in keeping the brisket juicy in the latter stages of cooking. Remember, your brisket has been cooking for a long time and retaining some liquid inside of the aluminum helps self marinate the meat. I use a BBQ sauce (the recipe is in the recipes you received when you signed up for the newsletter) to put over the brisket when I wrap it up. This adds some flavor and gives the meat some moisture as it finishes cooking. It will also assist in helping bring the internal temp of the brisket up to the 160 degree point so the collagen in the brisket will break down.



Again, there are many who do not wrap a brisket during cooking. I always ask at cook-offs and my unofficial survey would say at least 2/3 of brisket cookers wrap their briskets.



Another side point here, when you unwrap your brisket the juices you have left in the foil are fabulous to add to beans or to a sauce if you are serving one. There is so much flavor in that liquid it is great to use on everything. So use it.



4. How Long and at What Temperature Do I Cook a Brisket



The art of cooking a great brisket involves time and temperature and patience. Low and slow. I cook brisket at 200 degrees for up to 24 hours. Usually the cooking time is around 18 hours, but sometimes weather and cooking situations dictate a longer cook.



Some will say you can cook a brisket in 5 or 6 hours. And yes you can. But you have to raise your temperature to say 275 to 300 degrees to get there. And the meat does not have time to really absorb all of the smoke flavor it will on a longer cook and it does not have time for the collagen to break down completely. So typically these briskets are tough, burned on one side or the other, and dried out. Remember that cooking at temperatures above 225 degrees can boil out the internal juices of the brisket.



If you donít have the time to keep the brisket on the grill or smoker for 18 hours or so you do have an alternate plan. Put your brisket on the grill or smoker and cook it at a low temperature for as long as you can, then simply finish the brisket off in the oven at 200 degrees for the remaining time needed. This way you cook the brisket and break down the collagen completely. You will get the smoke flavor from the grill for the time it is left on there.



Remember, be patient. Donít keep fooling around with the brisket. Every time you open the grill or smoker to peak in you just added more cooking time as the temperature and all that great smoke just went out of the pit.



5. Dried Out and Burned Brisket Ė What Went Wrong?



Well two things have probably lead to this. First, your temperature was way to hot, and second, you cooked the brisket too close to the heat source. These are the typical problems associated with dried out and burned brisket. Too much heat and a brisket is just not very forgiving especially if your brisket is very close to the heat source. Again, cook low temperature for a long time.



To correct the problem move the brisket as far from the heat source as possible and cut down on the temperature you are cooking with. If you have a small off-set cooker the heat coming directly out of the fire box is really hot so move the brisket back as far from the heat as possible and place the brisket with the tip facing the heat source. Get that fat layer on the bottom and that will help protect the meat also.



6. Do You Cook a Flat the Same as a Whole Brisket



The answer here is yes. Donít change up the way you cook a brisket. But the flat will cook much faster than a whole brisket. The flat also does not have a large fat cap to help protect it from the heat. So you really need to cook low and slow for this type of meat and add a rub that will keep the meat moist during cooking.



7. Do you Mop Your Brisket During Cooking



The answer is no. Some use mopping during cooking. Their idea is that mopping a brisket will add juices to the brisket that have been cooked out of the meat and it will also add flavor to the meat. Have you ever tried to add moisture to meat when the meat is hot? What happens? The liquid you are trying to baste with just rolls off the meat. It does not penetrate the meat it simply rolls off. So I personally donít believe mopping accomplishes anything other than to give someone something to do during the long cook process.



And remember, every time you open up the lid of the smoker or grill to mop you just let out all of the moisture, smoke, and heat in the smoker. You just added more cooking time to get to the final product. If it takes you a minute to mop the brisket, it will add 15 more minutes to the cooking time. This seems to be self-defeating.



Add your flavor before the meat goes on the smoker with a great rub. A rub that is also designed to help maintain the moisture inside the meat. A rub that will make cooking a brisket a more enjoyable event for you.



8. Slicing the Brisket



Before you slice the brisket, let it stand and cool down for at least 30 minutes before you begin. It makes the meat easier to cut and lets you maintain perfect slices. Slice the brisket in ľ inch thick slices. Slice across the grain. Start at the flat end and work down from there. The brisket has grains that run in different directions so you will have to move the position of the brisket at times to continue slicing across the gain.





Final Thoughts


OK now get out there and cook that great brisket. Donít be scared to tackle that big old chuck of meat. Go onÖ. You can Do ItÖ

BigAl
06-18-2004, 09:45 PM
Thanks, kc.

I knew it was here before, just couldn't find it.

racer_81
06-19-2004, 11:20 AM
....not to be a trouble maker.....but I will.......

The last brisket I did I hung vertically with a bacon hanger. Why?
Because I saw where Paul Kirk (Da Baron of BBQ) does his that
way. I figured if it worked for him it might work for me.

It was very good, but I also deviated from my standard rub
and did not marinade. Plus I pulled it off a little to earlier
due to "external forces" so it was quite done enough.

Those of you with vertical smokers may wish to try the
bacon hanger method.

Then again, you might not. I dunno.

Bartender - beer me!Racer, how did you attach it to the hanger?

The bacon hanger I have has 8 sharp prongs on it. You kinda smack the thick end of the brisket onto the prongs, then hang via the hook (like a normal clothes hanger) from one of the sausage pole things in the Bandera.

Here's a picture of the bacon hanger (worth 1K words..)

http://www.beaconmetal.com/bh.html

Hankster
06-22-2004, 03:24 PM
I'll try it fat side down next time, but I tell ya, if you've got a side fire box, it really shouldn't matter!!!

tommykendall
06-22-2004, 03:44 PM
I tried the fat side down theory a couple episodes ago. IMO - the theory above make sense but I think it depends on a lot of factors, such as type of cooker, how close you are to the heat source, your cooking temps, etc. If you are cooking under 230-235 degrees as the article suggests, you will not 'boil' the fat out of the meat as it also suggests. Another factor - how much cooking temperature differential are you going to experience between the grate (bottom of the meat) and the top of the meat - we're talking like 3-3.5 inches max between them for a brisket. Anyway - given the lower cooking temperature and the other points I raise I don't think you will overly 'cook' the top or the bottom of the meat. I think it's best to cook with the cap up to render whatever fat you can into the meat (recognizing that most 'rolls off' anyway).

badger
06-22-2004, 05:07 PM
TK, good points... But what if you cooked with the fat cap down (to protect the meat) and just place think bacon strips on the top of the brisket to provide the (IMO) nessecary fat rendering?

tommykendall
06-23-2004, 07:34 AM
Double fat insulation mod. Never tried bacon before John.

kcquer
06-23-2004, 08:38 AM
Briskets are on sale this week $.99. I gonna do one fat cap up for first few hours then turn it, may foil it fat cap up so the flat gets all the rendering fat in the foil. May try one in a paper bag too.

BigAl
06-23-2004, 12:44 PM
$.99 Briskets? What store?

kcquer
06-23-2004, 02:18 PM
$.99 Briskets? What store?

Apple Market, our little local weekly paper has three grocery inserts, Apple, Price Chopper and Hy-Vee, at least one of them has 99cent packers every month. Wal-marts everyday price is $1.39 and they will honor any of the local sale prices.

kcquer
06-23-2004, 02:21 PM
$.99 Briskets? What store?


I am so tired, didn't even get it when replying, $.99 per pound. Didn't mean to get you excited Al, sorry :( :lol:

FatDaddy
08-21-2006, 08:56 AM
I dont know if what i do helps but i trim up most of the fat on my brisket and leave a layer on the fat cap side then i place the remaining pieces of fat over the top of the brisket, thus i have pretrimmed the fat which makes slicing easier and i have added fat to both sides of my brisket. now in my pit i normally cook at about 230 240 with fluctuations of 15+/- degrees.

my question after reading that article, is what would be considered a good rub to help lock in moisture? or what would be considered the main ingredient to form that barrier.

we'll smoke u
08-21-2006, 11:35 AM
i don't flip mine either. just cook fat cap up.

bbqjoe
08-21-2006, 12:26 PM
I always cook fat side up.
But on the same note our smoker is a caurosel (sic) type and the heat is indirect, so all sides of the meat are heated equally.

offa1a
08-21-2006, 12:51 PM
Again, great info. I'm doing two briskets this weekend and I've decided fat side down. I am going to marinade one and not marinade the other. The one that I don't marinade I'll wrap about 2/3 of the way through. I better start my journal

scottyd
08-21-2006, 09:10 PM
whatever way you do it is the right way. it's your meat so cook it your way ( be the king) have it your way! who's to say what is right and who is wrong. Dam this is BBQ It's all good!

butts
08-21-2006, 09:48 PM
I cook mine fat side down.

Here's why: I cook on a Stumps Smoker and the heat source is at the bottom of the pit. And yes, the fat does help keep the bottom from drying out (I've tried fat up vs. fat down several times). If using a stick burner, I don't think it would make that much of a difference. The air flow in an off-set (a good one) pit allows the air to flow above and below the meat. The cooker I cook on works in a different way which can dry out the bottom of the meat.

I think what you're cooking on makes a huge difference.:icon_smil

BIGDAWG69
08-27-2007, 07:15 AM
Being from Ga, I have always associated BBQ as being pork, but I have always wanted to try brisket and just purchsed my 1st last night. I plan on cooking it within the next few days. This thread has been a great info source, and all my questions have been answered. Thanks guys!

elvis67
08-27-2007, 09:17 PM
I by no means have nailed a brisket but I can tell you I have had the best success fat side down . I have a chargriller with side fire box. I think I did my best brisket this past weekend. Was not store bought, brother-inlaw gave me some meat he said he would not cook and was needingt freezer space for he was ready to butcher again. Long story short fat side down about 8 hrs between 225 and 250 bout 10 lb. brisket just rotated it every couple hrs and sprayed with apple juice.

tony76248
08-27-2007, 09:37 PM
Ok if you are cooking over a high direct heat, it makes sense to go fat down to protect the meat from the chance of charring.

That said, I doubt that the fat can render itself upon the rest of the meat when cooking fat up.

I say cook it the way that works for you and be happy with it. It you are cooking your meat and it dries out, then you need to take it out of the smoker sooner. If it isn't getting cooked thoroughly leave it in the smoker longer. Neither of these two methods will be dependant upon whether you cook fat up or fat down.

Just my 2 cents!

weaponx88
02-28-2011, 01:59 PM
Great info......Thanks all.....:clap2:

Oldschoolbbq
02-28-2011, 05:36 PM
I always leave my fat up on anything, especially if it is all the same meat. Gather like sizes,compute time with the largest,cook at 200*F to 225*F and leave the lid shut until time is up or a probe shows IMT of the average one is 200*F.:clap2:
I feel if it is cooking, why lose heat and time:thumb:
Just MHO,hope it helps and rememberto>

Sean "Puffy" Coals
03-01-2011, 11:21 AM
The few briskets I have attempted have been cooked fat-side up, but that article is making me re-consider.

On a side note, when cooking fat side up, doesn't scoring the fat cap just create a pathway for the juices to run off the sides of the meat? I wonder if it would make a difference if you made little pot-holes in the fat cap, perhaps with a spoon or something? Or penetrated the fat cap and down into the meat with a big fork or something and spread the holes open for the rendered fat to run into? I dunno, just spit-ballin...

Randbo
06-16-2011, 10:32 AM
I just did my third brisket. I trimmed all of the fat down to 1/4" thickness. I cooked it with the fat side up 10 hours at 225 to 250 then 2 hours in foil, and I opened up the vents to stay above 250. When I foiled it I put in 1 cup of water with 1 teaspoon of beef bouillion. It came out very tasty.

Randbo
06-16-2011, 03:31 PM
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3403/5839075275_1890376515.jpg

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3165/5839075605_7dd4f24d00.jpg

Chezmatt
06-16-2011, 10:49 PM
I've only done a few briskets, so I'm no expert, but here's my take on this: In a WSM (or any other vertical water smoker), the water pan is supposed to act as a barrier between the coals and the meat, and the dome temperature is often higher than the grill temperature. Given those two factors, isn't it likely that the higher temp is actually ABOVE the brisket? And if so, shouldn't the fat cap be up both to baste the brisket and to protect it from the higher temp?

S M O K E
06-26-2013, 09:52 PM
there are a lot of contestants only one winner. what do the winners do?
Aaron Franklin (Franklin's BBQ Austin Tx) Fat side up. Me? Fat side up.

Ron_L
06-26-2013, 10:00 PM
there are a lot of contestants only one winner. what do the winners do?
Aaron Franklin (Franklin's BBQ Austin Tx) Fat side up. Me? Fat side up.

Holy thread resurrection, Batman! :-D

martyleach
06-26-2013, 10:08 PM
This is an emotional issue for many people but I don't know why. Cookers are all different. I have had my best briskets (WSM and BGE) by cooking fat side down until the bark gets nicely developed and pretty. Then into foil until done.

nmayeux
06-27-2013, 09:32 AM
Yeah, I stumbled onto the roadmap again yesterday, and both enjoyed some of these old threads, and seeing a bunch of posts from the old timers.

Anyway, fat side down is the way to go! :)

Tsevg9
06-27-2013, 11:23 AM
I'll try it fat side down next time, but I tell ya, if you've got a side fire box, it really shouldn't matter!!!

I would agree with you. If your heat comes from the side, it shouldn't matter. For me, when I cook on the UDS it always goes fat cap down to protect from the direct heat.

Monty1204
06-27-2013, 12:57 PM
<----- Hey Look I GOT WOOD :mrgreen:

I agree with Tsevg9 fat down on UDS.
I also agree with Chezmatt, in my vertical water smoker you have that barrier between the heat source and meat. Most of the heat is in the top of the smoker where it escapes via the vents. That said Fat side up.

It all depends on your cooker and your preference.

I have cooked a few briskets and have never needed to turn them. Just low and slow until I get the desired bark and then foil.:thumb:

legendaryhog
06-27-2013, 03:51 PM
I have done both, and have had good success with either. However, I've gone to fat side down mostly because any fat rendered on a fat-side-up cook doesn't go into the meat, but rather runs down the sides to the lowest point and takes some of the rub with it along for the ride to the bottom of the pit. I've had better bark with fat side down.