Brisket Success... then near failure... need some advice!

Discussion in 'Beef' started by vulnox, Mar 22, 2016.

  1. vulnox

    vulnox Newbie

    Hello all!

    I had an MES30 and now have a 22.5 WSM.  My first smoke on it was a cheap-ish rack of ribs to test it out and it went pretty well.  My second smoke was a brisket, which I loved doing on my MES, but could never get a good bark or smoke ring.

    So I prepared the brisket and put it on the smoker at Midnight with coals set up in the minion method with a small indention where I dropped the hot coals.

    I think I screwed up first by putting too much wood on top of the hot coals as I got a pretty big fire going in the coal area, which I am guessing is a bad thing as my smoker temps rose really quickly.  So I closed all the vents which put it out, then I opened the top one to full and opened another to quarter.

    Temps climbed, and leveled out around 260.  Higher than I wanted, but even with all vents but the top one closed I couldn't get it to drop.  Around 1:30 I gave in and thought as long as it doesn't go higher than 260 overnight I should still be alright.  I wasn't concerned with the heat hurting the brisket, just it causing it to be done way earlier than I needed.

    Next morning I woke up and checked the temp, it was now about 285 at the cooking level.  I probed the brisket at that point and it was 207!  This was at 9am, and I started with a 13 lb brisket before trimming.

    So I took it off at that point.  Man, what a PERFECT looking brisket though.  Perfect bark, could even see the pink of the smoke a bit where the bark had some breaks.  

    But I had about 9 hours before I had to serve it.  I would always let briskets rest for a couple hours when done on the MES, but 9 hours...

    I did as much searching as I could and couldn't find anything that gave me a solid plan for this, outside of one or two posts I found that said to either refrigerate it, or keep it warm if possible in the cooler using a warming tray or something.  I didn't have a warming tray, just the cooler and towels, but thought I could use our oven as long as I didn't have it super high.

    So I wrapped it as tight as I could in foil and put it in our oven set at 190.  This held the brisket at about 185-190 until I took it out around 4pm.  Then I let it rest until 6:30pm when we cut it.

    Bark was still alright, but the brisket was pretty dried out and went from being probe tender to having a good deal of resistance.  I basically had to toss about 1/3 of the flat because all the areas near the surface were super dried out.  It was still pretty good the more you got towards the center.

    So it seems keeping it on heat that long in the oven killed my nice brisket, right?

    What SHOULD I have done?

    Thanks very much!

    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    You only need to keep it above 140. Many Ovens, set on warm, hold at 150°F which is perfect. Well below causing further evaporation and will cause minimal further connective tissue breakdown. At 190, the temp water in a pot simmers, the moisture was cooking out. It was just to hot a holding temp...JJ
  3. jonestrada

    jonestrada Newbie

    Why did you avoid the cooler and towel method? I usually have the opposite problem and I'm trying to hurry the cooking time up. Not sure what I would have done, but these are my ideas of approaching the problem.

    I would have started with the cooler and towels until the IT came down into the 150's first. In the mean time I would have used my thermometer to monitor what "Warm" actually meant on my oven. If the temp stayed around 150 I would then transfer from the cooler to the oven. To prevent it from drying out, I would have placed the brisket in a pan with a roasting rack and filled the bottom of the tray with beef broth before covering the top with aluminum foil. Maybe baste it every so often if I still need to stall for a couple of hours.
  4. vulnox

    vulnox Newbie

    Thanks for the replies!  If I remember correctly, it was a busy day, I did put it in the cooler with as many towels and blankets as I could fit, but it dropped to about 150 in the matter of about 2 hours, putting me at 11am, no way it was going to make it to 6PM while staying at a safe temp to prevent bacteria.

    I will try the warm in the oven instead of 190, didn't consider that, as you said, I was on the border of full on boil for water in normal conditions.  Lesson learned, hopefully I will have a more stable and lower temp next time and it won't even be an issue.

    Thanks all!

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