Hi, newbie smoker jumping in to the deep end, need advice.. (whole brisket)

Discussion in 'Masterbuilt Electric Smoker (MES) Owners' started by jbow, Jul 2, 2015.

  1. jbow

    jbow Newbie

    I bought a MES 20 this week, it is the one with the digital display on top at the back. I don't know what generation, one I think.

    I decided to cook a whole brisket for the 4th and I got a nice choice aged one from the local butcher shop, 70+ bucks for meat. I know it maybe a little overpriced but they are a small shop and have good products.

    ----OK EDIT> I've been searching and reading since I posted and, if I'm not making some blunder, I am going to run the MES just a little higher, maybe 200 (and hope it is really 220). Going to just use kosher salt and either seasoned pepper or coarse ground pepper. Double wrap in foil at 150-160, then continue to cook until about 195, then begin to probe every five degrees or so until tender like butter. I hope, since it is a choice cut that it will cook a little quicker. I am still a little foggy about what to do with the "point", I assume that is the top part. Because of the time factor, I'll probably just eave it as is... but when done do I just slice it too or remove it or what?

    Thanks for any help... more info below.

    I pre-seasoned the smoker earlier this week and have both hickory and mesquite chips to put in it, plus I may add some crushed charcoal.

    I plan to keep it simple with either a packaged rub or some kosher salt, McCormick Seasoned Pepper, and maybe a little garlic powder, I am open to suggestions.

    I did not know that it was going to take so long when I planned and bought it but I am in the deep end already. I plan to rub, wrap, and refrigerate ice it tomorrow, take it out and wrap it in a couple of towels at bedtime tomorrow and I guess get going about 3:00 AM so it will hopefully be ready by 6:00 PM.

    This brings me to my questions. I have gotten different input on the cooking time and temperature. Mike at the butcher shop said an hour a pound and to cook it at 180 until it hits 150. Then take it out and foil it and let it sit an hour and it will be cooked medium.

    Then, I've read that if I don't get it to 190 degrees or maybe 200, it will not be tender. I've read that I should cook it for an hour and 15 minutes per pound, I've read that I should cook it for 1 1/2 hours per pound. I failed to mention that is it 12.78 pounds. I worry that I wont have it cooked in time or that I'll end up with a tough piece of meat. I'm thinking that I surely wont have time to cook burnt ends unless I cut them off and cook them the next day.

    I am thinking that maybe Mike at the shop said 180 because we did discuss how the MES shows about 20 degrees cooler than it really is at those lower temps so maybe 180 is really 200 in the MES.

    Still, if I start at 3:00 AM at 180 degrees will it be done by 5:00 so I can let it rest for an hour and eat at 6:00? Is that a possibility? I plan to use the built in probe and another analog meat thermometer I have so I can check both.

    I have some Texas style rub that I usually use on ribs and it is good, I have a spicy and a hot but they are very similar. I may just use one of them.

    Please, if you have any input let me know. I want this to workout well but I'll be honest, getting up at 3:00 is not something I look forward to... but I think (hope) it will be worth it.

    So time and temp? I pretty much have what I have. I don't have time to order a probe I can drop in through the vent, there is one at the store I could buy to use but I am not sure it would be much help to me. Heck, I could just put a meat thermometer/probe on a rack with the spike sticking down as a double check I guess.

    Oh and I almost forgot. I read about wrapping some sand in foil and putting it in the water pan to use as a heat sink so I did buy a bag of sand. The folks at the butcher shop said that they just put the pan in dry and watch the brisket and foil the thinner end if it starts to look dry... I wouldn't know if it did. So I'm thinking I'll just probe the center and foil the whole thing when it hits 150 and, if it is the correct thing to do, keep it going until it hits 190, rest an hour and slice.

    Am I on the right track? Should I foil it and keep it going until it gets to 190? Will it be done in 12/14 hours? Should I take it off at 150? Is 3:00 AM to late to start if I want to eat by 6:00? Cook at 180 (200 considering the MES being off on the temps)?

    Thanks for takin' the time to read this and offer help.

    Also, HOWDY... I am Julien aka jbow. I'm in the great state of GA.

    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015
  2. jbow

    jbow Newbie

    Is anyone home? Did I do something wrong? If I offended, I didn't mean to. I guess everyone is busy. I'll do it take my time, wait for the probe to go in like warm butter, and then eat. I probably am not going to trim much. I'll take some pictures since it is my first real smoke, well since a long time ago.

    I used to use an off brand wood Smokey Mountain type smoker and it did a good job. Actually my favorite way to use it was to get coals going in the bottom, remove everything other than the bottom rack (I don't remember, I may have put it all the way down) and cook thick cut steaks that way. They were the best steaks I've ever had. Then I somehow got an electric model of the same smoker. It never worked well. It would blow fuses no matter where I plugged it, I finally trashed it. For grilling, I wish I had bought the Weber Genesis years ago, it uses a lot of gas but MAN does it ever do a good job with indirect heat on some chicken leg quarters.

    So, I am going to prepare the brisket in a bit, wrap it and put it back in the ice box. Taking it out at bedtime, getting up about 3:00 AM to get it started... wish me luck!

  3. duresk

    duresk Fire Starter

    The great thing about smoking meat, is there are lots of different ways to get great results. You will find people that wear by certain temperatures and other people that say they are wrong and say to cook it at another temperature. I usually cook my brisket at 250 degrees. It does shorten the cooking time down a bit. I wrap in foil at 150-160 degrees. That helps keep the meat moist. It does make the bark a little soft, so when the meat is about ready, I take it out of the foil and put it back in the smoker to get the bark a little more firm. 

    I would aim to have it done sooner than later. If it is done early, you can double wrap it in foil, then wrap it in towels, then put it in a cooler. That will keep it warm for a few hours. It will keep the temperature hot enough to not go bad. 

    The first few times I fired up the smoker, I was stressed and nervous. That goes away after you do it a few times. 
  4. tom 178

    tom 178 Meat Mopper

    Hi jbow welcome to the forum!

    Sounds like you are n the right track for the brisket. Do you have any other thermometers for the oven? If so put one in and see how close it comes to the MES one. I think keeping it whole with the point on top is the way to go. I did one that I was having problems fitting it into a MES 30 so I separated the point and flat. I will not do that again. I think the flat gets better with the points fat melting down through it. Good luck with yours and hopefully you will get some replys from some of the experts around here ( pictures might help as people like to see them and drool). [​IMG]

    I got a couple of Butts and a couple of tri-tips going today so I'll be around.

    Oh and my MES 30" door temp is +35 degrees from what the Maverick reads.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2015
  5. jbow

    jbow Newbie

    Thank you, I am going to go for a 4:00 AM start to be safe, and cook at 250 and maybe lower it a little, foil it like you said and take the foil off for the bark like you said. I use the probe to check for tenderness.

    I have been stressing a bit, but I'm trying not to. I just want it to be right. I'm sure it will be.

    I'm cooking a pot of Boston baked beans from dried Great Northerns using the Durgin Park restaurant recipe. Having homemade vanilla and homemade peach ice cream, corn on the cobb.. OH Yeah!

    Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it.

  6. jbow

    jbow Newbie

    Wow, I knew that the temp of the MES was off, I was thinking about 20 degrees. I don't have a digital to lower through the vent but I do have a analog meat probe that I can put in there. I have a glass thermometer for clipping on a pot, I may put it in there too. I'll try to keep the probe part from touching anything. Maybe I'll run out and get a digital if anywhere is open.

    So.. If I want 250 should I set the MES on 225? Then again, I'll be double checking it with the analog probe. When it hits 150 I'll stick both probes in the meat so I'll be sure of the internal temp, then I'll be sure to foil it at the right time. Williamson Brothers sauce on the side for dipping!

    Thank you!!  Julien
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2015
  7. jbow

    jbow Newbie

    Oh hey... if you're still around. Do you add water to the pan or no? I know some do and some don't, I am leaning toward adding some but I don't want it to make it not have a bark.


  8. duresk

    duresk Fire Starter

    I used to add water, but I haven't lately. Mostly because my water pan isn't that big.
  9. jbow

    jbow Newbie

    Hey everyone,

    I got up at 3:30 and got it in the smoker by 3:50, it was already 150 degrees and I had taken the brisket out of the ice around midnight but I left it wrapped in cling wrap and wrapped in a couple of towels so it was still a little colder than I had hoped but I think everything is going OK.

    I started out at 250 and after an hour or so dropped back to 225 then after 3 hours the IT was about 145 so I dropped to 190. 190 is where the folks at the butcher shop said to cook it but I get conflicting info. So it was rising and the IT stalled at 157 for a couple of hours then I checked and it had dropped to 154, that worried me so I called the shop and they said, no worries, they sometimes do that but that at 157 it is done.

    I am using a kabob (I can't think) sticker.. to check the tenderness. The point and the middle of the flat seem tender, like "butter" but there are other places on the flat where it is hard to spear.

    So, I bumped the cooking temp to 215 and am thinking about foiling it. It just started to drain in the drip pan in the last hour. I'm not sure what to do... I'm thinking since there seem to be tough places I should foil it and cook it a couple more hours. It is a really good "choice" cut, it had nearly an inch of fat along one side and is well marbled so I'm thinking it will be ready at a lower temperature but I'm not sure it is done at 157... but that is the way they cook them. Are there cuts good enough to be done and tender at such a low IT? Since I bumped it to 215 it is back to 157, it makes me think it is stalled and from what I have read, that is good.

    Should I wait a while to see if the IT begins to rise again?

    Should I foil it and lower the temp for a couple of hours then wrap it in a cooler? (We aren't going to eat until around 6:00 PM)

    Should I foil it and raise the temp?

    I know you cannot be sure and I know I am asking for an opinion. It looks and smells good!

    IT 158 while typing this it went up a couple of degrees. Maybe I should be cooking it a little hotter... I don't know.

    Am I right that it will get more tender when I wrap it in foil and towels and put it in a cooler for a couple of hours?

    Well, thanks... I know that is a lot.

  10. duresk

    duresk Fire Starter

    With the IT being at 157, you can foil it. Keep it foiled and on the smoker until the internal temp hits 190ish. Keep the smoker temp at 215. 
  11. jbow

    jbow Newbie

    Thanks... foil it is!

  12. jbow

    jbow Newbie

    Thanks all. It turned out OK, not tough but not quite pulling apart. It was as tender as a good bone-in ribeye with a taste very much like prime rib, in fact it was a lot like prime rib in every way. I think maybe I put just a wee bit too much smoke on it. I used almost all mesquite, I put one or two loads of hickory in the tray.

    All things considered, it turned out well.

    I think I am going to practice on flats or smaller packers. I'm not sure what other beef cuts are good to smoke, that may take less time but I'll find out. I usually barbeque or smoke pork or chicken... so the beef was new to me. I'm glad I did it and I really appreciate the help.

    Between 4 adults (one only had a small piece) and 4 kids (two 12yo and two under 8) we ate over half of it. So I guess it was good. [​IMG]  

    I may chop up what is left and put it in a pan with some sauce and either grill on indirect or smoke it on high to see what I get.

    Thanks again. BTW, the beans were tasty but didn't make a thick red sauce like Boston Baked Beans should. I'll try the recipe with the Bush's Baked Beans from here next time.

  13. I've been smoking the "Best Barbecue Beans on the Planet". You can find the recipe on the bottom half of this page. http://bbqu.net/season3/305_4.html

    I've started smoking them the day before I smoke the meat and put them in the fridge. A couple of hours before the meat's finished, I pull them out and heat them in a 325 deg oven for a couple of hours. This boils off some of the liquid and makes the beans caramelize on the top. A world of difference compare to smoking and serving.
  14. duresk

    duresk Fire Starter

    I am glad everything worked out. Make sure to write down what you did and what you want to try different next time, that way you don't forget it. 
  15. jbow

    jbow Newbie

    Thanks. It was good. Tasted like, well... beef. Sort of like prime rib. I'm not sure if I will do it again soon. I think I like pork better. I'm putting on a Boston Butt and the leftovers from the brisket tomorrow AM. I'm going to smoke the butt, oh and some country style pork ribs. I'm going to cut up the leftover brisket into 1" squares (or so), put it in a pan with BBQ sauce and put it on the grill on indirect heat, I may put it in the smoker for a while. I'm not sure I want to use that much gas... the Weber Genesis is a GAS HOG. I thawed it out yesterday so I'll see how it does. It was slightly undercooked but still god and tender because it was such a good choice cat and at 70 bucks for 13.5 pounds, it should have been, I expect it will make some nice burnt ends or some approximation thereof.

    As for the baked beans... I have a counter depth fridge and there is never room to put a pan of baked beans it is, I'd have to put them in an ice box but... hey, that just occurred t me as I was typing this. ;-)

    I do have cans of Bush's baked beans to try the BB recipe on here. Going to look for Boston Butt and country rib recipes now. I wish Masterbuilt included a cookbook or had one online.

    Thanks again! (BTW, I am NOT going to get up at 3:30 AM to do this one...) I'll start about 9:00 AM and hope it is done by the afternoon, if not, it's going in the oven!!

  16. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit


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