Brisket Adivce

Discussion in 'Beef' started by zotie, Jan 19, 2015.

  1. All-

    I made my 2nd attempt at brisket, yesterday and I'm looking for some feedback as to what I might have done wrong, (although I have a good idea)

    1st attempt whole packer no injection foiled at 160 took it to 203 (before I knew about the toothpick test) rested it for 2 hours and dug in.  Flavor was great, but it was more like pot roast and it pulled apart still moist though.

    This last attempt I decided to go Naked no foil. I did a whole 14lb packer Black Angus Choice grade injected the flat pretty good and the point slightly.  I trimmed back the fat cap to 1/4" all over removed a large chunk of the dekel on the top of the point and underneath but still left a really good band of fat in-between the muscle, just removed the stuff that i knew wouldn't render.

    Smoked it on my lang 36, used a maverick temperature probe and a thermapen for spot checking


    3:00AM Roll out of bed with images of perfectly smoked brisket as motivation

    3:10AM Get a chimney of charcoals going, Pull Brisket out of fridge throw on rub (S&P) (injected the night before)

    3:30AM Put the chimney in the firebox and put 9 small splits on top

    3:30-4:00AM Start up and clean up procedure

    4:00AM Lang is stable at 275 Brisket Goes on Target 250

    5:00-10AM Splits every half hour maintained 250 clean fire

    10AM 160

    10-1 Maintained 250 Clean fire

    1:00PM 170

    2:00PM 180

    3:00PM 188 (according to maverick) Make my first butter check with thermapen

    4:00PM 196 (according to maverick) Check firmness with thermapen again

    4:30PM 199 (according to maverick) Check firmness with thermapen again

    5:00PM  201 (according to maverick) Check firmness wrapped in foil put to cooler covered with towels to hold

    7:30 Started slicing

    So when I was doing my toothpick test it would glide in at the point and on the sides of the flat as you worked your way closer to the center of the flat there was a resistance.  This started at about 185 on the maverick.  When I decided to pull the point the Maverick was reading 201 in the deepest part of the flat, The thermapen was reading 190 on the sides of the flat and 180-185 in the center and the point was at 190.

    I was worried that I was going to overcook it and dry it out and I figured that on average it was gliding in easy. The bark was great the fat had caramelized and got tacky/ sticky.  I think I sort of psyched myself out here, since I don't have a reference point as I've never actually had correct brisket from a BBQ joint.  Seems kinda silly that I have all this patience on a 13hour cook and then flip out on the home stretch.

    When I got to slicing I realized that something wasn't quite right... the flat wasn't super moist, it wasn't tough either, the best adjectives would by dry and crumbly kind of springy/snapy. It felt like it was either right on the verge or it had just been there. The point was great. 

    So did I over or undercook it? I'm trying to figure out the difference since it seems like there is such a small window.  At what point do you risk drying it out?

    Wasn't a huge fan of the foil holding either I felt like it changed the color and flavor of the bark, went from mahogany to black, smoke went from subtle to pronounced and slightly acidic.  But I guess I'm being a bit nit picky.  Thinking about switching to paper.

    I see lots of photos with brisket oozing juice, this was definatley not one of those.  However everyone that was here ate it as fast as i could slice it, and there were no complaints. 

    I'd appreciate any advice from the brisket whisperers.  Toothpick test only in the center?  What temp do you risk drying out brisket?  If its too fargone does it just end up pulling and stay moist or does it dry out?  About what temperature does that happen?



    Right Before I pulled

    After 2.5 Hours In foil
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2015
  2. bear55

    bear55 Master of the Pit

    I can tell you how I cook briskets.  I plan for one hour per pounds plus 2 hours at 235.  I pull them at 165 and foil taking the brisket to 195 before resting in an empty ice chest for at least one hour and 2 or 3 are better.  Slice and serve always moist and tender.  Taking brisket to 201-203 will be great for pulled brisket and difficult for slicing.  I believe that foiling helps shorten cooking time and hold in moisture.

  3. It does look good. I don't trim a packer much if any at all. I use the tooth pick test and if any part of the brisket does not probe like butter it is not done. I don't think you can dry out a brisket at that smoking temp. I never foil. I want the bark that I worked so hard for. your 180° IT says you under cooked it.

    Happy smoken.

  4. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    First off, great looking brisket and everyone eating it is a compliment.  I've found that I pick apart every flaw in my smokes while folks are whoofing down the results. 

    The real question; is it possible to smoke a packer brisket, covered or not, so every part of the brisket is perfectly moist and nicely colored with great bark?  That's the challenge.  I've found that wrapping a brisket provides a more even cook throughout the brisket than leaving it unwrapped for the entire cook, but you give up the bark.  IMO wrapping is more important when smoke roasting at a higher temp, 250F and above.  If you've ever smoked a lean cut of roast beef you'll know why.  Smoking at a higher temp will overcook the outside of the beef roast.  Smoking at a lower temp, 225F or less, will give a much more even cook from edge to center due to slower heat absorption but the smoke will be long for a brisket.  

    You'll find what works for you, then the cut of meat will throw you a curve.  Briskets are ornery that way.  
  5. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    It really all depends on what you are looking for in a brisket...everyone has different ideas of what brisket should be like.  Everyone has different ideas of what good BBQ is...I want my brisket to be fall apart tender, you should be able to hold the slice up, but with just a little shake, it will break.  If you have never eaten brisket like this, you don't know what you are missing.  With that being said, I rarely pull a brisket from the smoker that has an IT of less than 210, although I do not use IT as my guide for when to pull a brisket, I ONLY use the toothpick test for doneness.  I use IT just a guideline for when to start checking for tenderness.  Brisket should be melt in your mouth tender and a sure fire way of accomplishing this is buying the very best meat available, starting with nothing less than Choice grade beef, but preferably Prime grade when available or at the very least, when affordable.  I cook hundreds of briskets every year (between comps, practice cooks, catering, friends and family) and the biggest factor in how a brisket turns out is the quality of the meat. You can help make a lower grade improve by wet aging.  Buy the brisket 3 to 4 weeks ahead of time, then wet age it in a fridge that gets little usage.  You can turn a decent Choice or even sometimes a good Select into one awesome piece of meat with 3 to 4 weeks of wet aging.  

    This past year I won the brisket category in cook offs 5 times out of the 13 events, with only missing the Top 10 twice.  This is some slices from a Prime grade, IBP 15 pound brisket, wet aged for 28 days.  Melted in your mouth like butter.  The slices up towards the point were hard to keep together, but the slices taken from the lower portion of the flat held together nicely.  I pulled this one off at 212 degrees internal.  I strongly suggest to everyone that has never been satisfied with their brisket, to cook it until the toothpick slides in like a hot knife into butter.  Worst case scenario, you have some awesome chopped beef....
  6. If it was dry and crumbly you over cooked it. that said the picture looked great, Keep on trying till you get it just the way you want. Everybody has their own ideas and methods. You'll find one that works for you.  I have posted several time about brisket, here are a few links, maybe there is something there that might help.

  7. David-

    Thanks for the info, I think I jumped the gun and got impatient [​IMG], which is really stupid considering I didn't look at it for 12 hours and freaked out in the last 30min.   It was passing the toothpick test at about 190 everywhere but the center of the flat was 180,  I was worried it was going to dry out, So I pulled it thinking that 2.5hrs in the cooler would even everything out.  Obviously not.  I think I've got the sickness I'm going to attempt another next weekend. So on this one wait until the whole flat probes like butter?  So do I have this right?: it goes from 1. underdone and tough 36F-185F 2. done moist and slice-able 190F-200F 3. overdone moist and fall apart 200F-2010F 3. very overdone which would be dry 215+  Thanks.

    Thanks at least it did look good and I got that meat candy tacky fat layer which was great. Glad to know I'm not the only one who beats them self up after a smoke thinking of all the things that could have been done differently and how to improve the next time while your guests are cramming meat in there face looking at you in bewilderment. 

    I'm looking for it to be done the way you mentioned.  I was worried about it drying out but if I go past 210 its not going to dry out the worst that will happen is it will just fall apart? So I'm assuming you don't wrap either. I do the wet age thing on all my beef this was a Black Angus Choice with 3weeks of wet age on it. Thanks fort help!
  8. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    A Select grade brisket cooked to 210 will dry out, but can be revived by just placing the slices in a pan and pouring the defatted au jus from the brisket cook or beef broth back over the meat.  A Choice or Prime should not dry out cooking it to these temps due to the higher content of internal marbling, but every so often, you'll come across a poor quality higher graded brisket, just the law of averages.  I do wrap, after 4 hours of smoke, which is typically around the 155-165 IT mark during the cook.  I place the brisket in a full size aluminum pan with either beef broth or reserve au jus from a previous brisket cook, then seal the top tightly with a sheet of foil. With my RF pit, usually by that time I have a nice mahogany color to the surface of the meat.  Wrapping will change and soften the bark, but it's a process I've used for the past few years and it works well for me.  To reset the bark, I just simply open the foil up and vent for about 15 minutes before I put it into a cooler or my Cambro for the rest, this also stops the cooking process, which when cooking to a higher IT is vital, you don't need the carryover cooking that the rest will usually give a piece of meat.   

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