Brisket help needed. Cooking in 2 days,

Discussion in 'Beef' started by fpmich, May 5, 2014.

  1. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    It for a friend, so I don't want to screw it up too bad.

    I've never cooked brisket on smoker, or oven, in my life.  So you can see why I am asking for help.

    My plan so far for 14 lb. packer brisket.

    Step 1.   Wash and trim fat cap to liking. (some say all, some less).  I'll probably go with thin layer.

    Step 2.  Remove silver skin from the other side.

    Step 3.   Trim as much of the fat vein as possible, from between point/deckle and flat without entirely separating the two.

    Step 4.  Inject or not.  (I will ask questions on this later down)


    A.  Smoker Temps?   I've read from anywhere between 200* to over 300*.  That's quite a range.  My instinct is for 250* - 275*.  Right or wrong?

    B.  Rub. Should I apply rub a few hours before smoking, or right before?

    C.  Is misting/mopping required once an hour for first four hours of smoking recommended, and does it help with smoke absorption?

    D.  Should I smoke it in a foil pan, or directly on grates with drip pans underneath for smoke all way around?  I use a side firebox horizontal smoker.

    E.  Will trimming most of the fat reduce the cook time, and will it still have a chance of remaining juicy?

    F.  If trimmed close, like I mentioned, how long should I expect for it to cook at 250*-275*?   It will be around 12 to 12 1/2 lb. after trimming, I'm guessing.

    G.  Is injecting recommended?   My understanding if it is injected, then it has to reach 140* in under 4 hours, which may be too quick for a slow cook.

    If I torched the injecting spots first, and wiped needle with a alcohol wipes between each one,  would it still be okay to treat it as un-punctured meat?

    H.  Do you just add a little more rub to point cubes to make burnt ends, or add a little sauce too, before finishing cooking?

    Thank you so much for your help.
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  3. brooksy

    brooksy Master of the Pit

    No Boundaries has you way more than covered on this cook!! Just stay calm have a few beverages and everything will work out perfect.
  4. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    He certainly does, Brooksy!

    [​IMG]  Thanks Noboundaries!     Obviously you done more than one or two.  I can also tell you were a good flight instructor!

    OK. No injecting on this first one.  (Wasting good Burbon...LOL)  I wasn't planning on it unless there was a very good reason anyway.

    Now I have another question or two.

    If I am to foil, I understand that I should foil tight to meat so as to keep it from simply steaming.  Is this right?

    Any reason not to just finish cooking in house oven at  265* - 275* after it is foiled, until temp is reached.  If it's wrapped, it's not going to get any more smoke anyway. Right?  I suppose you could unwrap it in smoker at end to crisp up the outside a bit, but most of my friends, as do I, have false teeth.

    So crunchy bark is not quite as good as it was when younger.  Still tasty, but by the time we're done chewing the rest of it is cold.  [​IMG]

    Making burnt ends.   Any reason I can't separate the point after cooking, leaving it intact, and cut it up later and cook on a grill in pan? 

    Our friend lives over 100 miles away.  Obviously she is not going to get it right off my smoker.  Everything will have to made here, chilled, packed, and reheated up at her house.

    And this stupid question.   I have a meet slicer.  Would it be okay to chill meat over night in fridge, then in freezer for an hour next day, slice and vac pack single servings ( 4-5 slices), to freeze for her later use?  Or is it best to leave meat whole, cut into small sections for her to reheat and slice by hand?

    Thank you so much for your help.
    Last edited: May 6, 2014
  5. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  6. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Noboundaries, you were right on the money with your instructions!

    Thank you for your help.

    OMG!  I just cut a small piece off to taste at 170* (on the way down from 200*)  I couldn't wait.  I re-wrapped it back up though for cool down.

    I have had brisket from restaurants and didn't care much for it.   Was never planning on cooking any, ever,  until this one came up.

    I didn't pay for it, so what the heck.  Right?  LOL

    When I tasted it my knees buckled, and stomach growled for more.  I have never tasted brisket like this in my life!

    I will post more about the cook tomorrow night.  No pics today. 

    Today was a stressful day.

    I only had about 3-4 hours sleep last night, and was on phone this morning with my wife, who had flown out to CO., to be with her mother, who was rushed into hospital after collapsing a few days ago.  While I was talking with Deb in her mothers room, Mom passed away.  At least I was with her in voice, even if we couldn't afford both of us to fly out there.

    I didn't get the brisket on the smoker until almost 3 PM.    I'm pooped, and just waiting until it is cool enough to put in fridge.

    will post details tomorrow.

    BTW...  I took your flight instructions to heart, and didn't sweat the high spikes and too low temps for a few minutes.  Just let her go.
  7. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    OH MAN!  I just tried a small slice of the Flat end.  Wonderful smoke ring and flavor!  At least the ring was thick on the small piece I sliced.

    About 1/4" or more all the way around.
  8. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    fpmich, so happy to help with your brisket.  You so eloquently stated why smoking meat at home is so wonderful and satisfying.    

    So sad to hear about your mother-in-law's passing.  All my condolences and best wishes to you and your wife during the coming weeks.  My father-in-law's life clock expired just after this past Christmas and I was on the phone with my wife who was there when he passed.  Little miracles of love.

    Peace be with you my friend.

  9. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

      Thank you for your condolences
     "Little miracles of love".
    Yes indeed, What an accurate phrase!   And to think some people say there isn't a God, who blesses us, deserved or not.
    On to the smoke...

    I smoked for 6 hours constantly.  If I hadn't been to tired and stressed from life's happenings, I would've kept it in smoke longer before foiling.
    I kept it mostly in the in the 250* - 285 * range.

    Smoker was at 325* for 1st half hour or so, until I got it evened out at 270*  Used Hickory chunk only 1st hour.
    Some high spikes and some very low temps after start.  Usually corrected with just vent adjustment  Last couple or 3 hours it took more charcoal added, to get temps back up.  Same as anything else.

    I did spritz it with water from time to time.  By spritz, I mean Mist actually.  No stream, just a light spray of water.  I know the thin water coating will cool, by evaporation, but it also lets beef take more smoke.  It works for me anyway.  I only use water.  No rub fell off.

    After 1st hour, I decided to test the AMNPS out with a higher smoke temp in chamber.  Used Pit-master choice in it.
    SFB was still running hot, so I had to cracked my lid on Chargriller to keep temps in range.  AMNPS work great for about 3 hours, then went out when I closed lid tightly.  I think I did too good of a job of sealing my CG up. LOL  Thinking of putting in a 3/8" or 1/2" fitting, in the lid, for air supply for AMNPS, then I can cap off when not using AMNPS.  With a small supply of air, I doubt the smoker would have quit on me.

    I Love that little thing!  Added hickory and apple chunks to finish smoking.

    It stalled last hour  or soof smoking at 157* - 160*.  Foiled and put in oven at 270* for 3 hours until it hit 198*.  took out and temp rose to 200*
    Let temps drop still foiled.  Tested taste at 170* and became a believer in home smoked brisket.

    Finally put in fridge at 5:00 am after placing in new foil wrap, and saving all juice from other.

    Noboundaries, your are preaching to the choir on saving juices.

    I always have more than twice as much stock, broth, juice than I have similar meat in freezer.  I just cant toss it away! LOL

    Not only did I save the juice, but I saved all trimming fat from it after separating point from flat, and cooked it down with lots of onions, carrots . and celery, like I do stock, and am letting it chill to separate fat by tomorrow.  I was a soon-after depression baby.   My parents example of saving, and using everything, has not left me.

    Rub was light.  I thought I had made too much, but actually could have use a bit more.  It was enough though.  Great flavor, without the powdery flavor I hate.  Light is better in my opinion.

    I used, roughly guessing, cause I don't measure rubs.

    2 parts Kosher Salt
    1 1/2 part fresh. medium ground pepper ( For myself, I would used 2 parts of course grind)
    1 part Cumin
    1 part Garlic Powder
    1 part Onion powder. (I used my homemade roasted onion powder,  A great flavor.)
    1 part Dried Thyme
    1 part Chile powder
    1/2 part Dried Rosemary,  (fresh is better)

    I seldom use same rub or seasoning each time for anything.  I always just eyeball, smell it, and use instinct.  Usually turns out OK.

    I applied it just before putting on smoker.  Tasted good to me.

    I'm thinking that our friend Marilyn is gonna love this!  (If there is any left to take to her. <grin>)
    I also think I will just slice up the point for her as it not as fatty as most as I expected, and skip burnt ends this time.  Would rather try burnt ends  myself first, before offering them to other people when I don't know what I am doing.  I've never tasted burnt ends, but I've got a good idea how they are.

    Only thing left now, is pics after I slice it, if I remember, tomorrow.

    I know one thing now... I  like brisket done right!  Is that a good or bad thing?
    noboundaries likes this.
  10. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey Frank, great write up!   Solid instincts and nice documentation.  First attempt and you are your own brisket king!  Congratulations buddy.
  11. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Sorry for delay in posting photo of finished product.   Things happen.  Ya know?

    I had wrapped it tight in foil and left in fridge two days before slicing.  You're right Noboundaries, no freezer time needed with this.  It sliced up very easy and nicely.

    I was surprised at how tender it was, even cold right from the fridge. 

    I was afraid I had rushed it a bit too much during the cool down.  I left it foiled, but just set it on stove top with no insulating at all, to slow the cool down.  In fact I opened the outside kitchen door to cool it more rapidly, so I could get to bed sooner.  But Hey...  I got away with it.

    I only have one photo, but it does show the nice smoke ring.

    And if you notice the cracks in the slice I'm just holding, with one hand, it shows that it will fall apart when warmed up. 

    This was cold, right from the fridge to slicing.

    This is from the flat portion.   I sliced about 3/8" thick and it's not dry at all. 

    I ended up slicing the point too, for our friend. 

    But I also saved enough meat from it to make enough burnt ends for 3 or 4 people, as a teaser, or BBQ sandwiches.

    And please...




    Someone pat me on the back.  I did not make myself a dinner, or sandwich, while doing all this for Marilyn. 

    Only a couple of bites that fell off of it, from terrible knife accidents.  LOL

    Do I have restraint or what?   


    Ray, you are one heck of a good flight/BBQ instructor!

    Thank you so much for your help my friend.  I really appreciate it!
    Last edited: May 11, 2014
  12. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Details of cook,

    So you can critique and give me more pointers.

    2:15 PM  Filled  coal basket 1/2 full of Royal Oak lump.  Put lit chimney of same on top,  Place Hickory chunk beside basket to smolder.

    Smoker reached 325* in short time.

    2:45 PM  Added rubbed brisket

    3:15  Closed vent to firebox and cracked chamber lid to drop temp.

    3:45  Put AMNPS with Pit Master Choice pellets in cooking chamber near sfb side.  Left chamber lid cracked, as it was still running @ 275*

    4:45  Misted meat with water.  Temp 250*.  Added tiny bit of lump.

    5:30  Inserted Maverick probe in meat. Misted meat.  Chamber Temp 277*  Brisket IT 91*

    6:15  Misted meat.  Added lump, temp at 215*  Closed lid on cooking chamber. Brisket IT 116*

    7:15  Pellets went out.  Not enough air (Going to fix this)  chamber temp 270*  Brisket IT 131*  Added Apple wood chunk and small hickory chunk.

    7:45  Misted Meat.  Chamber temp 277*  Brisket IT 140*

    8:45  Chamber dropped to 190*, added lump and temp at 253* in 15 minutes.  Brisket IT 153*  Added another Apple chunk beside basket.

    9:45  Chamber temp 246*  Brisket IT 159*

    10:30  Chamber temp 244*  Brisket IT 160*  Pulled Brisket and double foiled and put into preheated house oven at 260* 

    10:45 Brisket in oven set at 260*  Brisket IT dropped to 155* while transferring to foil and oven.

    01:15 AM  Oven @ 260*  Brisket IT hit 198*.  Pulled from oven and left foiled on top of stove until temp lowered to an IT 140*

    05:00 AM  IT was 140* and I put in fridge, cleaned up some, and went to bed.  Whew!

    Any and all pointers and hints to improve, is welcomed!
    Last edited: May 11, 2014
  13. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Someone will probably come along and point out that your brisket didn't go from 40 to 140 in 4 hours or less.   Personally, I'm not that big of a stickler to that "rule".

    When you pulled the brisket from the oven at 198, was there a particular reason ?    Or just kind of a "Eh, I guess it's done" ?  Lastly, any particular reason why you slice it cold ?

    EDIT:  One additional question.  If you have a stick burner with a side fire box, and you are throwing wood chunks in on top of the coals, why use an AMNPS ?
    Last edited: May 11, 2014
  14. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    I hope this helps you understand my very 1st smoke of brisket.
    Last edited: May 11, 2014
  15. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Frank, thanks for sharing your details.  Great smoking log entry!  Creative use of wood and AMNPS too.  I have no idea how you restrained yourself from gobbling down that brisket.  I would not have been so disciplined.

    Your two biggest chamber temp drops were after misting.  Here's some food for thought concerning opening your chamber door.

    Opening any smoker is always going to impact your chamber temp.  You have one set of issues with a horizontal offset that I don't have with my vertical WSM when opening the smoker.

    Any time you open any smoker you get an influx of cold air that has to be reheated.  Vertical smokers are basically chimneys.  In a vertical smoker I get a short temp drop but the rising heat flow will easily reheat the cold air and increase the air mixing so equilibrium is reached again quickly.   The issue with vertical smokers is that you can end up with temperature spikes due to the chimney effect.  When you remove the top to mist or wrap you essentially create a top vent the size of your grill surface.  Sure, you dump heat, but you also air prime your fire and that is going to cause the fuel to burn hotter until equilibrium is reached again.  The longer you leave the top off, the higher the temperature is going to spike after you put the top back on.  I've seen temp spikes of 115F in my WSM when I left the top off accidentally while wrapping meat.   

    Offsets without baffles and chimneys on top have the opposite issue, low temps, because the fire isn't in the chamber.  Offsets are much more sensitive to dumping heat when you open the chamber door to mist or wrap, causing big temperature drops.  It can take can take MUCH longer to recover temps due to the nature of the heat flow taking the path of least resistance.  When you open an unbaffled horizontal offset you receive a huge influx of cold air (actually the hot air escapes, replaced by cold air).  That cold air has to be reheated.  In a horizontal offset without baffles, and especially one with the chimney on top, the hot air flowing from the offset actually rises to the top of your chamber and rides on top of the new cold air as the hot air flows through the smoker.  The cold air has to be heated from the top down, a longer process.     

    Baffling an offset increases the mixing of hot and cold air, shortening your temp drop period.  Reverse flow horizontal smokers do this quite well.  Offsets with the chimney just above the middle of the chamber on the opposite end from the fire also help with air mixing.  Do a little research how you can baffle your Chargriller and those huge temp drops you see above won't last long and you can mist to your heart's content. 
  16. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Frank, my apologies if I came across as antagonistic or anything of the sort.   Irony of the situation is that I asked the questions to find the reason that you did certain things instead of jumping in and saying "Well, I would have done X, Y, and Z" differently (which might have come across that very way.)

    WRT when you removed the brisket, the reason I asked is that some people, especially when first starting out, cook by temp.  "Oh, the brisket is at 200, therefore it MUST be ready".   Thing is, some briskets are ready at 190, while other briskets are undercooked even at 202 and need to be cooked even more.   It varies from brisket to brisket.   A good well to tell if the brisket really is done is to poke it with a probe or a toothpick.   It should slide in like a knife through soft butter, meeting very little resistance.

    WRT to the slicing cold, I did notice that you were cooking it for a friend but didn't see anything about vac packing it.   Thanks for the reply.    The reason I asked about it is that some people just automatically slice the entire brisket, then later try to reheat the slices in various ways.   If you aren't vac packing, it's better to leave the brisket whole for reheating and then slice it as it helps retain moisture.   This is true even when freezing.   Again, vac packing and reheating in hot water is the exception as it also is a great way to do it.

    WRT the AMNTS and chunks, my apologies vis a vis "throw chunks".   Not sure what the issue is with that exactly, but since you took umbrage to it, again, my apologies.

    Regardless of how you added the chunks, the use of the AMNTS still piques my curiosity as I can't say that I've ever seen anyone use one in a stick burner.  Wasn't implying that it was wrong to do so, just wasn't sure of why it was being used.  

    Again, thank you for your replies as it does help me understand your very 1st smoke of brisket.   And congrats on the successful first smoke of brisket
    Last edited: May 11, 2014
  17. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Quoting myself.  Good grief!  Is this worse than talking to myself?  LOL

    I thought you were thinking I was tossing chunks of wood on the fire while I was using Todd's smoker.  I wasn't doing that.  The main two reasons I used the smoker was to test it out in higher temps other than cold smoking, and to add a smoke flavor I didn't have on hand.  All I had was hickory and apple.

    Yes,I did probe meat in several places before deciding to take it out.  It just worked out that it was done at the temp suggested to me.

    Now please tell me what the heck WRT means. 

    I've been trying to figure it out and haven't.  LOL
  18. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic


    Actually Ray, the misting didn't cause the temp drops.  It just enhanced them a bit.  LOL

    I just used the temps drops as opportunities to do the misting, as I was going to be opening the sfb door anyway to add fuel.   I figured temps are going down a bit, why not mist and add fuel and relax through further drop and coming spike.  Temps never really got away from me.  It was an easier smoke than I have when doing ribs, when I'm trying to keep in much more narrow temp range..

    The chamber temps & internal temps I gave, was where everything was at before adding fuel, or misting. (Before opening any doors/lids)

    Actually, it never turned really dry, as I had fat cap up.  Next one, I doubt I will mist more than once, if at all.

    I use redneck baffles Ray.  LOL  cheap tinfoil pan lids, or in this smoke I used tinfoil over the sfb opening to direct smoke/heat down under the tinfoil pans that I used to catch the drippings.  Smoke was spread all across the chamber when opening door.  Smoke ring was the same end to end.

    Here a link to My smoker mods I made.  It'll give you a better idea of my setup.

    I have since moved chimney extension up a bit to about 3" above grate level.

    Thanks everyone for helping me better understand how to do brisket.

    Now that I'm hooked, I suppose my next two will turn out badly.  It never pays to get it right the first time.

    Makes you feel good and cocky, but comes back to bite us in the butt.  And not pork butt either. LOL

    Thanks guys.
  19. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    fpmich,  It's all good on this end.  I also had a long couple of days with little sleep so I'm pretty sure that I played a role.  My apologies to you as well.

    WRT = with regards to.

    Feeling kind of silly now as I completely missed the entire "And this stupid question" part both when I made my first post, and that last one where I mentioned not seeing anything about it previously.

    Apologies again for the misreading, the way the post came across, etcetera, etcetera.    
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
  20. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Demosthenes9, don't sweat it. 

    It was another dumb misunderstanding by me, on the internet, over and done with.

    WRT = with regards to.  Thanks for the explanation.  I would have never thought of that because it's not a phrase I often use. 

    Sounds like  lawyer.  LOL

    I did learn another thing though. 

    My vac packing was not thought out very well, on my end. 

    Only put a little juice in the pack, but still sucked it out and wouldn't seal right.  Oh oh. 

    I ended up putting the meat and juice in zip bags, removing as much air as I could, and then putting that in a vac bag and vacuuming.  The next time I want to vac pack something with juice, I'll freeze juice in  trays,  and then add one or two cubes to vac bag and seal.

    All in all, it was a good learning experience for me.
    Last edited: May 16, 2014

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