Help me get more color and flavor on my brisket

Discussion in 'Beef' started by dragonslayer, Jun 8, 2014.

  1. dragonslayer

    dragonslayer Fire Starter

    Entered my first contest last week.  The brisket came out with good moister and texture, but really any color or texture to speak of.  I smoked it on the lower rack of a Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5, with a lot of water in the pan, using natural lump charcoal, and soaked hickory, cherry, and mesquite chips.  I trimmed the fat cap but it might have been a bit thick and rubbed it.  I smoked it in a foil pan for about 6 hours and then foiled it and cooked for about another 6 hours.

    Here is what I am thinking of doing next time:

    Smoke right on the grate

    Use the upper grate

    trim the fat cap down a bit more

    Use less water in the water pan

    Use the 3-2-1 method

    What do you guys think? Any other suggestions?

    Last edited: Jun 8, 2014
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Interesting plan.

    Trimming:  Some trim close.  I leave a nice 1/4" fat cap because frankly I'm too lazy to trim it close.  Like I said below though, I'm not competing, I'm eating. The guys on TV trim it close so that's probably what works for competition.

    Wood:  Personally, in my WSM I never use chips.  I prefer chunks buried in the charcoal and throw more on about every 90 minutes to two hours if the chunks are small, like golf ball or raquetball size. Your mix of woods is an interesting choice.  I have used cherry or pecan with either hickory or mesquite, but hickory, mesquite, and cherry?  Hmmmm, can't help you there. 

    Rack choice:  I usually smoke two meats at a time when I do brisket, something quick on the top rack like chicken or tri tips, the brisket on the bottom rack.  I use a drip pan on both levels with a rack in the pan to allow full smoke circulation.  I have smoked briskets alone on the top rack with the drip pan on the lower rack and never noticed any difference in color, smoke ring, or flavor between the two ways of smoking.   

    Smoke:  Not having smoke on the meat for the entire unwrapped time will cause a very shallow smoke ring, or no smoke ring at all.  Chips, even soaked ones, tend to carbonize quickly once they start smoking so you're going to get a lot of smoke for a short time.  Chunks give you smoke for a longer time.

    3-2-1 method:  I'm assuming you mean you'd unwrap it at the end of the smoke to firm up the bark.  Nothing wrong with that as long as you unwrap it at an internal temp and timing that will allow it to keep cooking without overcooking or undercooking by turn-in.

    Give your method a try before the next competition and see how it works.  Trial and error if often the best teacher.       
  3. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You won't get nearly as much exposure to smoke when in a pan during smoking, so going to open grates will make a big difference there. With some fat-cap remaining after trimming, going from open grate to foiled and back to open grates should give a bit more of a bark and darker color on the bare meat, if that's what you're looking for. Possibly a 7-3-2 for timing if you're looking at 12hrs overall cooking time...less time foiled may increase the overall cooking time by about 30-45 minutes...or s light increase in chamber teps can offset cook time...5-8* higher smoke chamber temp could make up that difference.

    Dry rubs can contribute a lot to the color as well. If you use chili powder or paprika in the rub, they give a darker color. I would not recommend the use of processed/refined sugars for a long smoke like brisket, as they tend to scorch, especially if you get a few chamber temp spikes for too long, or very high temp spikes...that, and sweet with beef doesn't taste right to many folks. Getting farther above the water pan (upper grate) will increase smoke exposure and create a slightly darker color, as well as create a better environment for smoke penetration and smoke ring development.

    I couldn't see much smoke ring in the pic when I zoomed in...even though this should not be considered as a judging point for comp cooking, it may indicate a lack of exposure to the smoke chamber gases when cooked in a solid fuel fired smoker, and that in itself can indicate the level of smoke flavor, to a degree. Electric smokers don't form a smoke ring due to not burning a fuel for the heat source...that's why comp judging should not be based partly on smoke ring, because the smoke ring is not from smoke...(I know...then why is it called a smoke ring???)...another post on another date for that...back to your issues.

    For the most part, I think your change in planning is heading the right've learned what most of your issues were caused from and are taking corrective actions. You're doing alright...the next runs will be successively better.


    EDIT: and I now see that I'm a slower writer than I used to be...[​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2014
  4. I agree with rub choice. My rub is heavy on paprika and chili powder. Ditch the pan and go right on the grate! using a pan makes it sort of steam in its juices rather than roast. Good luck on your next como.
  5. stickyfingers

    stickyfingers Smoking Fanatic

    Really sounds like you should have been fine, but I agree above all else continuously using wood is your best option during those first six hours. At least change to chunks....if not sticks.

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