My first time smoking and definitely need of help

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by afunari, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. Hi

    So this is my first post in this forum. Here's my situation:

    I have a Brinkman gas/charcoal combo with a fire box attached. I have been using it to do some regular, mundane grilling, but have decided to venture into the world of smoking. Yesterday I attempted to smoke a 4.5 lbs brisket, using wood charcoal and hickory. I did some research, learning that for every pound the meat should be smoked for 1.5 hours at temps between 180 and 200 degrees. As I was smoking, the temp never reached above 150. After 6 hours I took the meat out of the smoker. Unfortunately, I found the meat to be dry and overdone. I had the meat with the fat side up and assumed the layer of fat would simply melt and moisten the meat.

    I hate to ask such a general question like this, but what did I do wrong? I fully think that smoking is an art that has to be learned through trial-error. With that maxim in mind, I am not disheartened by my first of many attempts at getting this right.

    Any advice would be really appreciated. Thanks
  2. Have you checked your thermometers in boiling water to make sure they are accurate? Most of those stock ones are usually way off. Did you leave the exhaust wide open the whole time and adjust temp by the intake?
  3. jrod62

    jrod62 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    you need to smoke it around 225 . Don't go by the temp guage on the smoker it will be off by 50 degrees or more .
  4. Aleover,

    I will check the thermometers. I usually kept the exhaust closed (realizing that was probably a mistake by now), but did adjust the intake to raise/lower the heat.

    Any recommendations on where to get a decent thermometer.
  5. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    At those temps and that time frame I would have guessed it would have been underdone.   Briskey flats are difficult for even experienced smokers.  Why not start with something like a nice fat butt that may take a long time but is very forgiving.  

    But getting back to your question  did you foil the brisket?  Foiling help tenderize them and make them moist.   There again at the numbers you gave us I didn't expect the meat to be over cooked so definitely check your thermos.
  6. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I agree with the others - the numbers you gave us do not add up to cooked let alone overdone and dry. 

    Here is a great place to pick up a thermometer with a remote and he is a member here as well
  7. smokinal

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

  8. thsmormonsmokes

    thsmormonsmokes Smoking Fanatic

    Stock thermometers are garbage.  They're very low quality and always in the wrong place.  They do nothing other than make a smoker/grill look cool.  The one on my Char Griller is usually off by 70 or more.  I've seen it off by 100 degrees before.  I picked up a couple of thermometers at Sears for $15 a piece that I use to monitor cooking temps.  

    I'm no pro, but that's where I'd start.
  9. The Maverick ET-732 is a great Remote Thermometer Set. It has a probe for both the meat and the smoker (place it as close as possible to where your meat is located) on the transmitter and you can set alarms so you know low or high limits are reached in either location. Carry the remote in the house and you have constant info on where your temps are at. I think I paid $69.00 with free shipping at one of the BBQ equipment sites. Many here say you should foil wrap your brisket when it is around 150-160 internal temp and then take it up to 205 internal temp to get it really tender.

    Good luck on your next one!
  10. Presuming that your brisket cooked for 6 hours at 150, it would never reach the point where the connective tissue begins to melt.  Also, if you are on a budget, you can try one of these, or actually, two of these, place in different locations on the grill surface.



    When you say overdone, was that because it was dry & tough?  Tough may mean that it never reached temp, (180-205)  Dry, well, some parts of the brisket actually will be dry, as there is little to no fat inside.  The fat cap obviously will not be dry.
  11. Geez, I've never been on a forum where I got so much great advice so quickly. Alright, so here's what I am taking away from all of this:

    1) Control the heat at the intake. Don't completely close off the exhaust.

    2) Get some new thermometers.

    3) Start off with some easier meat tio smoke, i.e. the butt end.

    4) Wrap foil around the meat.

    Another question I have: how do you really increase the heat? Is it just a matter of the amount of charcoal and increasing the air flow?
  12. thsmormonsmokes

    thsmormonsmokes Smoking Fanatic

    Are you using the minion method?  I was having a devil of a time controlling temps for more than about 20 minutes at a time until I learned about the MM.  I used the MM on Sunday, and with my charcoal basket loaded full to start, I got a solid 6 hour burn without adding any coal.  I probably had another 2 hours or so if I needed it, and that was in cold, semi-breezy weather.  You have to do a little adjusting to the airflow through your cook, but not too much.  It's definitely the way to go.

    Google minion method and you'll find all the info you'll ever need on it.  There's a few good videos on it on youtube also.
  13. Yep.  I also have found that if your tuning plates are too low in realtion to the fire box, that inhibits heat as well.  I had to raise my tuning plates up to let more heat to go where I needed it.  And be aware of where you want the heat to go.  If there is a breeze out side, and you need more heat, turn your smoker into the breeze and let the breeze push the heat into the smoker chamber.  I see the fire box as an inefficiant unless you can maximize the use of the heat.  Let the heat and smoke go where you want it to go and give it a nudge if need be.  Use common sense and try different things to get the results that YOU want.  Nothing is written in stone.
  14. Thanks, ThsMormonSmokes. Will do some research on the MM method. Would you happen to have some cookbooks on smoking to recommend?
  15. berninga87

    berninga87 Smoking Fanatic

    Trust me, this forum has more information/recipes/knowledge/people eager to help than any cookbook or other website on the planet, everyone here is awesome! I have 4 smoking related cookbooks that I've received over the years as gifts, which I refer to once in a while. but I still come back here for the best methods/recipes. As for your issue with the brisket, they've already got you covered!
  16. Alright, so I have now smoked chicken and ribs successfully - at least according to the people who had them. This Saturday I am going to try the brisket yet again. I will be using all the advice you guys gave me. One final question: what is the general rule for the amoount of meat (weight) to smoking time?
  17. missed-em

    missed-em Smoke Blower

    This site has you covered - use the search engins and you'll find all the info -

    Check this out SmokingMeatForums.comForumsSmoking Meat (and other things)BeefLooking for Brisket Instructional

    All the info you need, but to answer the last question the general rule is 1 1/2 hrs per pound, but "it's done when it's done" - check the temps.

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