Brisket And Burnt Ends

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by daricksta, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Had a 5 lb. remainder--including the point--of a whole packer brisket so I decided to try my hand at my first attempt at burnt ends. You can see from the photo that I got some nice color but, for the most part, the meat didn't get crunchy enough for me. I cooked them at around 235-243° for two hours in a foil pan, for the most part following Jeff Phillips' online recipe. They turned out really flavorful. All in all I think a good first effort.

    For the dry rub (photo # 3) I made it from Steven Raichlen's Kansas City Sweet & Smoky recipe. I also used Stubb's Original BBQ Sauce for the burnt ends.

    The entire brisket took about 24 hours to cook and I don't know why. It hit its first stall at about 150° and I left it wrapped  in red butcher paper for 12 hours, or basically all night. When I took the paper off, the paper was soaked and dripping in grease. The brisket was very wet on the outside but wound up at the end with pretty good bark. No idea why the brisket kept stalling. What's also confusing is that despite being exposed to the oak wood pellet smoke for so long a time it really didn't absorb that much smoke flavor. Again, no idea why since I've cooked briskets in my MES over wood pellets before and they turned out nicely smoked. Well, I've got one more whole packer brisket to smoke sometime as well as a small flat. I'll figure it all out the next time, or the time after that.

    What took the smoke so long was that, per Meathead Goldwyn, I was trying to get the finish IT to 203° but it stalled for a couple of hours at 201° so I pulled it. Next time I'm pulling it at 200° because the flat came out too dry.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I've never tried the butcher paper method. Have you gotten good smoke flavor in the past? It just seems to me that if the meat stays too wet, especially with rendered fat, that would hinder smoke flavor, and definitely reduce the formation of bark.

    I've only taken flats above 195* for pulling...185*-195* for slicing, depending on how stubborn it is.

    I also finish burnt ends on open grates for 2-3hrs...never in a pan...always get a nice crunch and popping, tender chew. I separate the point/flat when the point hits the mid 150's (flat is usually nearing ~165* so by then)...lose less moisture when slicing.

  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Well it sure looks good from here!

  4. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    Looks tasty! The foil pan limits smoke contact compared to being on an open rack. I like Bear's rack inside the foil pan so when I cover the pan with foil the meat only touches the rack, keeping it elevated out of the juices. I have used butchers paper a few times with good results. I prefer to smoke on an open rack for maximum smoke exposure then at the stall put it on a rack in the foil pan and tent with foil when I want to generate more juices. I like all three: foil, paper and naked. I have a large top round for roast beef I've never made before and will smoke it naked the whole time.
  5. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That's why I removed the paper, because the meat surface was too wet. But the brisket was exposed to the wood smoke for 7-8 hours after that. Granted the pellets snuffed themselves out and I had to relight the AMNPS a few times. This never used to happen this often. Perhaps because the oak pellets are a few years old but they don't feel like they've absorbed moisture. But there were also times I thought the tray had gone out but when I pulled the AMNPS from the smoker there was still wispy smoke being generated. And yes, I've gotten much better smoke in the past using these oak pellet as well as the Texas Crutch.

    How do you keep the burnt ends from falling through the grate? I think I'll not use a foil pan next time even though Jeff Phillips uses one. As for finish IT, the last time I cooked a flat to 198° IT the fat wasn't rendered nearly enough. For my tastes it's gotta be at least 200°. I've got a whole packer brisket in the freezer right now. I decided that next time--since I have to split the brisket since the entire thing won't fit on a single rack in my MES 30, I'll wrap the flat in paper when it reaches 150-160° but I'll leave the point naked, There's no throwing briskets around inside my little electric smoker so the bark will be fine.

  6. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks, Al.

  7. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Kurt, The burnt ends turned out fine. It was just the flat that lacked smoke flavor. They were smokier than the flat which was cooked naked on a rack before and after the paper wrap. Jeff Phillips believes in placing the brisket in a foil pan to catch all the juices and cut down on the cleanup. I prefer to stick the brisket parts right on the racks. As I commented to forluvofsmoke, I have one more whole packer in the freezer. Next time the point will remain naked and I'll wrap the flat in paper when the stall hits. What I don't understand for this time was why the brisket point stalled so many times. I even tried removing and reinserting the probe but it didn't make any difference.

    You mentioned top round. That cut of meat is going on sale as London broil at Safeway this week, The meat dept. manager has become my buddy and he's the one who told me it'd be going on sale. I'm going to have him slice it up thin to use for my third batch of beef jerky. Jerky is surprisingly easy to make well.

  8. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I cube my burnt ends to around 1-1/4" to 1-1/2" and they have contact with 2-3 wires on the issues. They're big enough that 4-5 makes a serving for the average diner...although they're so darn good they go really FAST.

    Yeah, if you cut across the packer to fit in the smoker, you have mostly point muscle on one end and mostly flat muscle on the other. Kind of simplifies the process for burnt ends, as you can grab the point at your desired I/T and work your magic while the flat stays behind to get happy.

    I have yet to smoke whole muscle meat in a pan...well, at least I don't recall doing it...OK, wait, I did toss boneless/skinless chicken thighs into a pan once with garlic butter...LOL!!! Burnt ends on open grates are a thing of beauty. Nicely caramelized crust, and if the point is cubed at a low enough I/T, the interior texture is a unique experience. The meat will get more tender on the second round in the smoker, but not to the point that it melts all of the collagen...just enough still there to add a little pop in the chew. Still good interior moisture, as well. Anyway, that's how we've come to know and love burnt ends. I've pulled the point at much higher temps, rested for 30-40 minutes, cubed and back to open grates, but it just wasn't the same experience when they hit the plate...a bit drier, slightly overcooked and with a softer chew.

    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016
  9. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Eric, no foil pan next time I do burnt ends. I ate the last of those little beauties today. I got them more to the texture I wanted by sticking them in broiler pan in my countertop convection oven and broiled them at 450° for about 15 minutes. That darkened the bark and firmed up the outside of the meat a bit but they were still very tender and moist. The flavor was still 100% there. Pop, admittedly, no pop in the chew.

    Yes, when after cutting a whole packer in two one side is mostly point muscle while the other is either mostly or all flat (depending where the brisket is sliced). But with the point the flat still runs below the point separated by that line of fat. But I learned a lesson with that. The flat under point was thinner than the flat half cut from the point half. It was so thin that the flat was overcooked when I sliced it from the point before chopping up the smoked point to make burnt ends. Gotta figure out how to avoid this next time. Problem is that I ate so much of the burnt ends yesterday I really don't want to eat any more for a week or two.

    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016
  10. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yep, it does make a huge difference when you stay on open grates.

    Hmm, the if you get overcooked flat under the point again, you could just pull it apart and give it a rough chop for sandwiches. I made a huge pulled beef brisket sandwich with a crusty french bread loaf with cheese & lettuce a while back that was KILLER. It can be a pretty amazing dining experience if you go off the reservation and just toss caution to the wind...LOL!!!

  11. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Eric--NOW you give me that idea for using the overcooked flat? NOW??????

    But that's a great idea. Your idea works on several levels--all of them delicious. The wife and I love our crusty French bread. And where's there's bread in our house there's usually cheese of some type. We also love all types of lettuce. Hey, have you heard of AeroGarden? It's a countertop plant garden. We buy their seed packets for lettuce and herbs. It's extremely cool to watch that stuff growing in your kitchen. We use the lettuce in sandwiches and salads in addition to using the store bought stuff. The freshly grown herbs are amazing. You can also grow tomatoes but we had mixed results with that. At some point my wife wants to perfect making crusty French bread in her bread machine (she already makes her own hamburger and hot dog buns from scratch) but there are some really good take and bake loaves at major supermarkets now that are really good. Also we have a supermarket with a bakery that makes outstanding regular French and sourdough French loaves. Unfortunately we still have to buy the cheese for the sandwich and the mayo. Someday we'll make our own mayo. My wife does make this amazing ketchup from a recipe in a celebrity chef cookbook we bought at his restaurant. As you can see, we're really into home cooking.

    What I'm getting at is if you really want to go off the res and lob a high hard caution into the wind, you could smoke a beef brisket with homemade rub and brush on homemade BBQ sauce and pile the sliced brisket onto homemade French bread and place the homegrown lettuce over that. As for me, when the rainy days stay away for a few days in a row I'm breaking out my smoker and either smoking up the whole packer brisket or just a flat that I also have in the freezer.
  12. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You're crackin' me up, Rick!!! [​IMG]

    Yeah, I've dug around on the net for sprouting seeds, kits, etc, for growing greens, mainly...haven't pulled the trigger yet (dunno why not), but still have the bookmarks. Sprouts, greens, salad mixes all sound great to have fresh every day, and you know what went into them and how they've been handled.

    Here's a teaser for ya...well, it may even be inspirational. I had to look, but this one's in my signature line..this was 6-1/2 years ago when I was still playin' with the SnP 40"...11.4lb packer (one of the smallest I've ever smoked):

    Burnt Fingers (modified burnt ends) about to come out and play with our senses...these things flew off the platter so fast it was ridiculous:

    Pulled flat on crusty french bread...had a helluva time cramming all the fillings into that loaf (all of the smaller flat, IIRC), and it didn't come through looking real pretty, but the eats were phenomenal...I think there were zero leftovers of burnt fingers or this sandwich:

    Carnivore's delight...spare ribs, burnt fingers and pulled flat sammie...that's a ton of meat in there:

    That was one of those smokes I did where I just went completely against the grain and wandered off the beaten path...but, then, I've been doing that for years...I mean, who pulls the flat, right? And, burnt fingers...what the heck is that? Ah, it was fun, and really good eating at the end of the day...two things that matter most to me when I cook.

  13. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    I keep reading about burnt ends in this forum and how good they are.  Prior to lately, I have never heard of them. Exactly what are they like. I mean is the meat burnt all the way thru or is it just the crust burnt on the outside or what????
  14. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Naw, Brickguy, the name is deceiving. Traditionally, at some BBQ joints, burnt ends are the edges trimmed off of brisket...the really dark crispy stuff. The way many of us make burnt ends here is to use the entire point muscle from the brisket. They are a unique texture and very addictive. Next time you decide to smoke a brisket, find a whole (packer) brisket and read up on BEs before you get ready to smoke it up. It is one of the treats you long for once you've had them and get them the way you like. Some do theirs differently than others because that's what they like, or maybe that's the only way they've tried them...anyway, there are different methods, from the internal temperature at which one cubes the point muscle (I go low, in the mid 150* range, other go closer to 190-200*)), to how they are finished (open grates or in a pan, sauced lightly or just more dry rub applied).

    If I smoke up a whole brisket and don't make burnt ends? Oh, believe me when I say, that day may not end well for me. Everyone loves BEs here.

  15. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Eric, the problem with cracking people is the pressure to continue to keep being able to crack people. Too many people who can't take the pressure crack under the pressure. Whether they crack up or down depends upon their personal orientation.

    That being said, I think you've left out quite a few steps here--like how you cut up the burnt fingers in the first place. So, you cook the entire point and then you cut it into fingers. And (I know you've heard this joke countless times), do you take the best brisket finger and then choose the person at the dinner table you like best and then give them the finger? I have more of these...

    And I need to tutor you on the how I what I like to see in text accompanying Qview. For instance, I see white cheese inside the crusty french bread but what KIND of white cheese, sir? Looks like thick-sliced mozz which would be fortunate for me because I love mozz. Or really just about any cheese of any color.

    Do you first slice up the flat into those rectangular shapes and then plop 'em onto the cooking rack? If so, why do you do this? Are those small hunks o' brisket also from the flat?  Why do you pull the flat after 5 hours? What's the typical IT when you pull it? Is it a whole flat or have you sliced it into rectangular segments?

    Honestly what's confusing me is figuring out which is which from your original burnt fingers post and this brisket and burnt ends one. Are those rectangular shapes cut up flat or cut up point muscle? I like your against the grain thinking because it results in much more tender and easy to slice brain fibers. But besides that, I still have a whole packer brisket in my freezer and I like the prospect of burnt fingers better than burnt ends. It's far less hassle than chopping the brisket up into smaller burnt ends pieces. From your two posts and if I'm seeing it correctly, both the flat and the point seem to be cut up into rectangular sections and the burnt fingers seem to be a smaller version of the flat pieces. Is this right?

  16. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ha! Yeah, I always crack up...never down. If your calling is to crack people, best you stick with the program, right?

    Never thought about giving anyone the finger when we plate up and sit down, but if I do I'll still save the bigger finger for myself...LOL!!!

    Oh, I really went against the grain with the Burnt Fingers & Pulled Flat thread. That was just another one of my "what if" experiments where I set out to disprove the wide belief that I observed at the time: you can't pull the brisket flat because it's too lean. Well, OK, so, show me why you can't pull the flat and I'll show you how you can. Those who followed this line of thinking were not arrogant or ignorant...they were simply misinformed by someone's theory, or ill-tested experiment. If you don't prove or disprove a theory, then it's still nothing more than a theory. Call me a mad scientist (yeah, some have, and some still do on occasion) me a unknown quantity of unknown substances (a few have asked where I attained my higher education...I have none...I'm just a analytical thinker)...I've even called myself a rogue of sorts at times (before I realized the implication of malicious malicious intent here)...just don't ever call me after midnight. I'm just curious, and willing to step up, research and experiment to find new ways to achieve the universal goal...provide the best possible product and dining experience. What is best, anyway? Your best and my best are likely a wide-ranging list of variables, so how do you define best? That's open for discussion, however, ultimately it is the decision of the individual as to how to define and achieve said goal. In seeking my defined goal, I often find the answers to questions I haven't yet asked about methods that are considered traditional, or about non-traditional methods which I practice that evolve as I learn more. There are only rare circumstances in which I attempt to duplicate a previous meal item, including finished temp, texture, recipe, prove it as being repeatable, or, to decide if this particular food item satisfies my goal, so far as to not want for anything different. Times change...sometimes beliefs and opinions don't follow the changes and those individuals will continue down the same path, unaware of the benefits or unwilling to follow each his/her own. I digressed...

    Yeah, burnt fingers vs burnt ends is less processing for fingers. BFs (sure, you could call them best friends) are basically 1/2 the width of the point muscle at it's widest girth, then sliced into strips approx 1" thick. I have broke them down by splitting the strips down the center from the thickest portion of the point muscle, but stick to about 1" x 2" max width for finishing size. I cut BEs to approx 1-1/4 to 1-1/2" cubes...some end up a bit bigger. The result of BFs is a larger piece with less surface area per oz/lb for the formation of that jewel crust we love so much. I hardly notice it, though, as the crust is hard enough to maintain a rigid finger (just in case you do want to show it to someone...LOL!!!).

    For the pulled flat, IIRC, I smoked it to around 200* IT, rested in foil, then pulled. For BE's/BFs, I used to go close to 200* before resting/cutting, but I found out several years ago that we liked the BEs texture and retained moisture better if I rested an hour or so after the mid 150s IT, then finished processing for their final stage on open grates. I've tried just dusting with dry rub and with tossing in a bowl after drizzling with a light coat of thick Bbq sauce...we like the sauced version better, probably due to a deeper caramelizing and crisper crust. One of the few times I ever sauce my smoked meats, BTW. You know this already from previous posts, but there is absolutely no comparison between BEs pan finished and open-grate finished. Panned protects the meat from the dry heat which forms the crust...keeps the surface moist for longer, sure, but if it's crust you desire, open grates is the only way to get it, short of hitting them with about 400-500* indirect heat, or under a hot broiler. Either way, unless you turn over the BEs/BFs periodically when finishing hot & fast, you won't get a crisp crust on all sides. It would work, if that's your game...though it may carry some cons along with it, such as meat/sauce stuck to the pan...I don't want to lose any product taking short-cuts. I usually am running a low & slow smoker with BEs on the menu, so I opt for open grates and longer finishing time...good things come to those who wait...and, open-grate finish requires no fuss once they hit the grates. Toss 'em in and when they're done, they're done.

    The cheese in the sammie is mozz...think I mentioned it the linked'd have to read it know. That sammie meat was all from hand-pulled flat...long strands about 3/4" thick all placed length-wise on the bread loaf, then sliced about 2 to 2-1/2" wide and plated on it's side. Slicing is cross-grain, so yes, it gives a more tender bite and chew in the sammie, as the meat chunks/fibers are only as long as the width of the bread.

    Oh, I missed this one...the rectangular shapes you mention on the plate, I assume? (I know, ass-u-me) That's the finished burnt fingers, in all their glory. Weird part about BFs is that I don't remember making them since that thread...why? Maybe my memory is REALLY bad. Maybe we liked BEs better than it overall texture, or that a BF is several bites while a BE is one or two bites...huh, I just tried to answer a question I haven't previously asked. I'll just have to try BFs again soon and find out for sure...uh, that would actually give me a justifiable reason to smoke a whole beef brisket with only 2 people in the house. See what you did to me, Rick? HA-HA-HAAAAAAA!!!

    If I missed anything else, it was due to sorting through your humor...your fault, not mine...LOL!!!

    Later, brother!!!

    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
  17. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Eric, whenever my wife or I have properly cooked a brisket--either slow cooked in a slow cooker, a Dutch oven, or my smoker, it's always pulled apart. Some people may think that's overcooked but it's the way we like it. Frequently part of the flat will still slice for great brisket sandwiches will other parts will shred.

    You said never to call you after midnight. That set my brain a-turnin'. Do you remember an old Stones tune called Midnight Rambler? Or the Clapton tune After Midnight? Maybe I can call you the Before Midnight Analytical Thinking Mad Scientist? It suits you! I also like to experiment with each smoke, trying this or that technique. What if I smoke this brisket flat naked while I wrap the other one? What if I cook these racks of St. Louis style ribs on my Weber over charcoal briquettes and wood chips or pellets and at the same time cook these baby backs in my smoker over wood pellets? Given they're different cuts of pork ribs but how different or similar will both sets of racks taste? However, your ideas for experiments go far beyond what I think of. Do you also experiment with your own dry rubs and/or mops or finish sauces? After reading this last post of yours I really wish we were neighbors. Not only to taste your Q but to watch you at work. You so rarely meet creative individuals applying their thinking skills to outdoor cooking. I really love that stuff but there's no one to share it with that I know of in my area.

    It's a poor smoker who blames his forgetfulness upon the expert wit and humor of others, my friend. But besides that, I'm in your same boat. Only the wife and I in the home so it's brisket for two. I do share some with my favorite bro-in-law. Both our grown kids have flown. My son doesn't like beef brisket anyway (he's no fruit from my loins!) and I think my daughter likes brisket OK but I can never remember. But as I've said I've got that 14 lb. whole packer brisket in the freezer and I'm gonna smoke it up whether or not it's just for the two of us. BTW, my wife didn't eat ONE BE that I made last week. Too bad that left all of them for me...

    With my first attempt at burnt ends I used Jeff Phillips' recipe as a guide. I had cooked only the point (with flat meat under the fat layer) and pulled it at 201° as you've already read. I free formed the cutting of the BE so they were different shapes and thicknesses. On any TV cooking competition show I would've been sent home packing. It seems like it'd be a big hassle to continually turn BEs over on the rack. BFs would be much easier because of their larger size. But with my next stab at BEs, I'm going to follow the road map you laid out. Unlike you I don't measure anything before cutting or slicing. No, I tell a lie. When prepping Chinese food I do my best to follow directions for length, width and thickness of meat and also for the vegies. After grilling and BBQ (smoking) stir frying Asian food in a wok is one of my favorite ways to cook food. Now, don't get me started on Panini presses and pressure cookers. They're both next on that list.

    When you wrap the brisket in foil to rest it, do you stick it inside an insulated cooler or leave it on a cutting board in the kitchen or something? I've become a big cooler fan. The brisket's wrapped in foil but I place it at the bottom of the cooler and then place a couple of thick towels over it. It'll stay hot to warm inside the cooler for hours, just doing its juices redistribution thing. After it's cooled I vacuum seal the leftovers which serves to intensify the smoky and other flavors. I do my best to leave the vacuum sealed packet in the fridge for a couple of weeks before chawing down on the brisket again. Same thing works well for smoked cheese. 3 weeks in a vacuum sealed packet in the fridge. Delightful and smokily delicious flavors result.

  18. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  19. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    I was too busy to check in with SMF last week and all that activity has left me pooped. I just wanted to let you know I will read your entire post but it will be later today. Didn't want you to think I was ignoring you. Just want to be fully awake and alert for reading so my comments, as always, are finely honed yet surprisingly accessible with a modicum of humor sprinkled on top to make it pop.

    And speaking of tops and pops,  was always a Beatles fan. I liked some Stones songs but the Fab Four will always be Top of the Pops to me. I'll be back later. Besides got my own post to make about my Maverick ET-733 and what I learned about it yesterday while smoking up some teriyaki beef jerky.
  20. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey, Rick,  I can understand that as good as anyone. I just spent the entire weekend low & slow smoking, rotisserie smoking, smoke/char-grilling lunch and dinner for a smaller gathering of family & friends. One meat and two sides for each meal Saturday, then one meat only for lunch and two meats plus one side for dinner. I just got home from work and still have to finish unloading the rest of my gear and supplies from Sunday night and I'm still recovering from the, not brown-bottle flue. Just tired, especially after getting up at 4:15 this morning. That chore might have to wait for another day.

    Sharp wit does not appear in the absence of sleep.


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