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First packer brisket attempt (not so great)?
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Tom C
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03 08 9:17 am    Post subject: First packer brisket attempt (not so great)? Reply with quote

Well, I spent the better part of the day slow cooking my first packer brisket. Unfortunately it came out very dry. Evil or Very Mad I'm not sure what happened so I thought I would see what everyone thinks.

This was about a 10 lbs. brisket I trimmed of some of the fat but left more than a 1/4 " on the cap. We seasoned it and wrapped it in plastic until time to put it in the smoker. The cook went 11 hours with the average timp in the smoker at about 230* In fact it was very steady which was the nice part of the cook. I wrapped it in foil at 160* after mopping with an apple juice & beef broth mix. The only odd thing that happened was toward the end of the cook. The temp seemed to hang at 190* and took some time to progress to 195* I pulled it at 195* and let it rest wrapped in foil and towels in the ice chest for an hour.

I cooked the brisket fat down and took the trimmed fat and placed it on the shelf above the brisket. This seemed to keep the out side moist but did nothing for the inside!

It was not a total loss though. We turned it all into pulled beef and added our favorite sauce to restore moisture. Still, I was disappointed. Crying or Very sad

My only guess is that some how I didn't get a good temp reading. I took several readings in the flat when it hung at 190* using three thermometers. All were within a couple of degrees of each other.

Any thoughts? I must have missed something that allowed it to over cook or something. Rolling Eyes




Before trim

Trimmed and lightly seasoned

A few hours into the cook.

Out of the cooler and separated.

Flat sliced. Nice ring but dry.

Point pulled. Not as dry as the flat.
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Smoke Daddy
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03 08 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am definitely not an expert but I'll share what I do. I just did two 7 1/2 pounders Friday for a birthday party yesterday and they came out great. I get the smoker up to about 300 then put the brisket on fat side up. I ramp the smoker back up to near 300 then drop it to 220ish real quick by opening the lid for a minute and then shutting the firebox damper a little. When its been on for an hour to an hour and 1/2 I flip it fat side down and continue the cook. What I try to accomplish with this is something similar to searing a piece of meat before you put it in the oven. Trying to lock in the juices. I also mop every couple hours or so, but not until 3 or 4 hours into the cook when a decent bark has built up. Then I foil at 160 and pull at 190. I have also done fat side up for entire cooks with excellent results but I was not happy with the color of the bark. With the fat side down taking all that heat coming in the bottom of my cooker I don't really care how it looks because I am going to cut it off when I slice up the brisket.

Buuut, that's just how I do it. Wink
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dabaslab
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03 08 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom it may have just been a "bad" brisket. As you know there is a lot of difference from brisket to brisket. Your technique sounds good to me. The only thing I do differently is I don't foil my briskets until the internal hits 175 degrees. I don't know if this would make a big difference or not.

Dabaslab
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03 08 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have to foil it pull before 195. I pull mine at 187. If I foil, i wrap at around 165 until 180. Then back on the smoker until 187. Did you have anything on top of it in the cooler? That will squeeze the juice out everytime, I finally figured that one out!

Could also of been what i call "bad cow". Luck of the draw sometimes.
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Doc1680
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03 08 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A couple of things Tom.

1) It could very well have been a case of "bad cow disease".

2) This may stir the pot a bit. It could have been because you cooked it fat down. I have heard good and bad about both. But for me, I like to start fat down for a couple of hours to let my rub set then flip it fat up for the rest of the cook. This, IMO, lets the fat run through the meat as it renders down keeping it moist. Some say it doesn't matter cause the fat will come up through the meat. That might be , but it would seem that the majority of it would just drip away.


That is the best thing about BBQ. Most of the time you can still eat your mistakes! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03 08 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I might as well chime in. I trim to about 1/4" of fat, and cook it fat side up the entire way. I also foil at 165*. When i do that, I put in about a cup of liquid, 50-50 water-Dale's Sauce. I pull the meat out of the cooker at 195 and let it rest about 1/2 hour (usually the longest I can stand).
Slice it across the grain and then pour the broth out of the foil back over the slices. That way the meat is moist and very tender. That technique has yet to fail me, but like several have said, there's some meat that just isn't as good as others.
Good luck with your next brisket
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Tom C
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03 08 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies everyone. I'll just have to keep at it and give some of the suggestions a try. Just bummed me a little to have the first packer as well as the first brisket in the new smoker turn out dry.
At least I can say that I nailed the temprature control in the smoker for a long 11 hour cook. This was the first time I used lump charcoal in the smoker and it really made the controling easier.
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JamesB
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03 08 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like you've got everything under control. As mentioned, all briskets are unique... I still get one that comes out dryer than I would like from time to time. Pulling/chopping is a great way to salage one of these...

Just remember to use the internal temp as a quide. I've had briskets 'done' at 185 and some not until over 200. I usually find that they are ready to pull off the pit and rest at around 190. The brisket will tell you when it's done. I start checking around 185 by probing it... I take a fork, thermo probe or similar and when it goes into the flat and pulls out with very little resistance, it's done.

Don't give up! The next brisket you cook might very well be the best you've ever tasted!

James.
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bigabyte
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03 08 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You may have overcooked it. That stall you got at 190 was probably when the point was finally loosening up and rendering. I have rarely had a brisket where both the flat and the point were perfect at the same time. The flat is moist and tender first and if pulled off then, you will have a good moist flat but you won't be able to pull the point meat. If you keep cooking it until the point is pullable, then the flat will be dried out. This is why I like to seperate them and then toss the point back in the smoker for burnt ends. One thing you will notice about briskets is that temperature does not tell you when it is ready, but is a guide to tell you when to start checking. I spent a long time trying to find the perfect temp to pull briskets at, but never found a temp that yielded consistent results. What I do is start checking tenderness when it hits 185, and when the thermo slides in easily I pull it, wrap it with foil and towels/blankets and in an empty cooler for a couple hours to rest. I prefer not to foil briskets during cooking unless I am doing a hot and fast cook, because foiling at lower temps has always given me a dry brisket.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03 08 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll throw in a few cents to give you more to ponder and make you a head case next time you cook one..

My father never used a meat thermometor for briskets and neither did I until I found this forum. It really screwed me up trying to get the perfect temperature and tenderness. It was really screwing me up my first year at competitions where timing is so important. http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4337&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0 I got the best advice from SmokinOkie or Allsmoke about poking for tenderness as well as temps when they get around 185. When the probe slides in and out easily they are done. I like my eating briskets fork tender but for comps you have to slice them pretty.

Since you are practicing....Just another method...
With a 10# or so packer, trim off only any bad looking spots. Coat with oil and rub. Put on smoker fat up for about 2-3 hrs. Flip to fat down and set in foil boat for 2 hrs. Wrap in foil and flip. Every two hours, flip and add a layer of foil and massage it a bit (yeah, I know Shocked ). Take temp at about 8rs if you just can't stand it. At about 10-14 hrs depending on size and smoker and temps, during one of your flips around then you will feel it loosen, get tender and smell done. Take a test slice earlier rather than later but don't cut the whole thing in half or cut all the way through the foil. You can wrap it back up and cook it more if you need to. When it is done, wrap it back up and let it rest hot for 30 mins or so before slicing.

Practice like this, take what you need and adapt it to your liking. You certainly did not think with all the good and questionable advice around here, including mine, you'd nail your first brisket! Very Happy
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Tom C
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04 08 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mrcustomsteel,

Well, as with all things BBQ, there seems to be several ways to achieve a goal. I certainly will have a few things to try on my next few briskets. It does seem that using temps and cook times as a guide verses absolutes will help me the most.
I knew that I would hear several ideas as to what happened. It's what I love most about the Ring. Everyone willing to put their thoughts out there to help someone out. Very Happy It will be fun trying to get it dialed in. Thanks again to you and everyone for the input. I'm sure that with more practice it will come together. Very Happy
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mrcustomsteel
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04 08 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom, You are right that there are no absolutes here. It IS much easier now that I use thermometors. I'd never go back. I've certainly eaten my fair share of screwed up briskets doing them the way I described above but I've always had fun smoking them. You might have had a bad cow like some suggested. You never know. When's the next smoke?
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Tom C
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05 08 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well,

After reading all the posts I said to the wife yesterday, Ooh let's try it again next weekend!..... She said I'm on my own and I could just get myself up for that one! Laughing I don't know what her gripe is, I let her go back to sleep after we got the brisket in the cooker. Laughing
I'm sure I'll be back at again. right about the time we run out of shrink wrapped leftovers. By the way, my neighbor raved about the brisket we pulled and sauced up. He provided me with som free oak wood so I've provided him with some Q in return.
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BigAL
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05 08 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm also going to give my .02 here. I think I've tried every way possible to do brisket, and there are MANY variables.

Bad cut: I've had actual side by side and one is great one is good. The cow didn't know the rules. Very Happy

Fat up/Fat down: Where is your heat comming from? I truely believe that if the heat is comming from below, fat DOWN! That is how my smoker is, and the fat will protect the meat. Your also above boil'n point, where does steam go....up.

Flip/flap: Put it on there and leave it alone. Keep moist after the first couple hrs to form a nice smoke ring(that I can't prove, have read other wise that moisture doesnt help smoke ring........ie Wooodog)

Foil temp: If that pos meat has a hard time break'n the "stall", I'll foil. But 95% of the time I foil at 160-170...or when I feel like it. I put it in a foil pan fat down, nothing added, and cover w/foil. Put back on smoker(tried oven and didn't work for me, hard to drink beer inside Wink )

Time to pull: I've learned you can't use temp. Trial and error has proven to me that when you can put a probe in the flat and it feels like butter, it's done. Start check'n at 195 if your therm is about right.

Cooler: Use the cooler for beer and brine'n birds. I've tried coolers, towels, preheated oven, leave in smoker, and just pull off and put on counter at room temp. I use counter at room temp.

Rest time: I usually let it rest a good 2 hrs. Slice and put back in juice, then in fridge. Next day warm up and it's great.

I've smoked my share of briskets and I'll puff my chest out and say I've done many very good briskets........none in comp's. I also know that someone can produce the same or better briskets and not follow one bit of my advise.

All this BS I wrote is what I do, but you are the only one who knows your smoker and it takes practice to get it right. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Good luck on your next one, the WILL keep getting better.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05 08 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom

I just hope that my first brisket and pork butt will look as good as yours. Wink

Nice to know the smoker works fine... I'm sure you'll have better results next time. Smile
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Tom C
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05 08 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BigAL,
You make some great points to consider. One thing that I did that may have played a part was that I had a pan of water under the brisket. My thought was that it would help keep it moist but that steam coming up may have just kooked it faster. Question
Like you said, I'll just have to learn how to get a good one off of my smoker. They all work a little different.

JoeD,

Thanks! I have no doubt that your smoke is going to ROCK! It really is looking great! Even with the problem I had with this brisket, I'm having a blast cooking with a smoker I made myself.
I read somewhere that every smoker needs to be named to work right. I'v given it some thought and have decided to give it my dad's nick name of "Sandy". I like the idea because I built the smoker mainly with the tools and welder he left me when he passed away a few years back. The whole time I was building the smoker I kept thinking how pleased he would be knowing I was using the stuff he left me! That has added to the enjoyment of the smoker!
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diatri
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05 08 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The one thing that I agree with BigAl on is using a foil pan. There is nothing like cooking all day and then have all the juices run out of a hole in the foil. As far as all the other bits and pieces, I've tried alot and have not yet settled on one method. I have always used a thermometer. Comes from having a mother that was a professional cook for thirty years. Mainly use it to make sure the internal temp of the meat is up above "Bad Bugs" stage. One intersting reciepe that I did find for brisket one time was to brine it over night, and then season before going on the pit. I thought this would taste like corned beef?
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Tom C
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10 08 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

diatri,
I most certainly would not give up on the thermometer all together (would not feel safe), just not rely on the final cook temps as being absolutes. I'll just tart checking when I see 185 or so.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10 08 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ok ill throw in my .02 as well.

unless your brisket stalls out @ 160 or so,or you are pressed for time,dont foil it.
dont ask me why but whenever i dont foil,(brisket,butts,whatever)it comes out better.

also another thing i noticed is to much smoke will dry out your meat.especially if you smoke it heavy the whole time.i like a nice thin smoke the first few hours,then after the bark starts to form,you dont really need any.
(i noticed in your pics you had a big heavy smoke ring,this could be part of the problem.)

mopping seems to help as well.and if its foiled up,ya cant mop it.i start to mop about half way through,and mop every hour on the hour.

i also agree with everyone here saying that temp may not be the deciding factor on when its done.the "butter" test may be the best.

although i am full of s--t,so dont listen to me. Wink
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Tom C
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10 08 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks big_jake for commenting. I noticed that it seemed to have a heavy ring as well. Not sure why. I used lump charcoal until I ran out about three hours in. Then I used oak until I could get more lump a bout two hours later. It did seem to have a heavy ring though.
I also tend to agree on the foil. This was my third brisket (first on this smoker) I foiled it sooner than the ones I did in the past and it turned out the driest yet. I will have to try one without to see how it goes.
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