Newb to the brisket

Discussion in 'Beef' started by twinstick, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. twinstick

    twinstick Newbie

    For a few years now all I've ever smoked was pork. I've done more butts than I can count, and lots of ribs. I've got a system for it that I've learned from here and they always turn out great. But now my buddy and I want to do a brisket. 

    First, it looks like 225 seems like a good place to smoke it. On pork, I usually do about 210,put it on at 10 night before and it's ready about dinner time I usually wrap the pork butt and around a hundred and sixty-five degrees. is that still the case with a brisket? the brisket I am going to get it will probably be around 15 pounds I figure I'm going to have to cut it in half to get it into my smoker. I'm thinking that the cook time will be less probably about 10 to 12 hours does that sound about right?

    one last question what do a lot of y'all use 4 rub? For pork I use a combination of brown sugar paprika and a few other ingredients. but I've been reading that a lot of people just use salt and pepper for there a certain type of rub I can make that it is generally better than others? also any other tips or tricks would be appreciated. I'm going to be smoking for about 10 people and using my Masterbuilt 30 inch electric smoker. Thanks for all the help. Clayton 
  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'll pitch in my two cents.  By the time this thread is finished though you should have about $3963 worth of change.

    Yes, cutting the packer in half will shorten the cook time.  It will be interesting to see how you cut it.  Separating the flat from the point would be your best bet. 

    Your temp and timing should be about right.  I've had stubborn cuts of beef and pork that took way longer to be done than I expected, and others that cooked faster.  For long cooks you can always start low n slow and switch to hot n fast if needed on a stubborn cut.  Better to be done early and let it rest than be drumming fingers wondering when it will be done. (In actuality, I do all my big cuts of meat low n slow to start then switch to hot n fast to finish after I wrap them). 

    Rubs?  I am a SPOG guy when it comes to brisket (kosher salt, course ground black pepper, a little onion and garlic).  That's personal taste.  I found that pork rubs are too sweet for my taste on brisket and beef in general.  I'm also not a big fan of paprika on brisket, but some folks swear by it.  The trick with all rubs (and brines) is to find the combination that enhances the meat flavor without hiding it.  With brisket I like to let the meat, smoke, and simple spice take turns on my taste buds with each bite.         
  3. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

  4. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit have a pretty solid plan so far.  You can smoke / cook brisket at any temp, from 200 to 400, depending on the time you have, the smoker you are using and the results you are looking for.  I do all of mine at 250, mainly because that's my smokers sweetspot, but I also do a lot of briskets where i will smoke them for 4 hours at 250 with hickory or pecan wood, then foil them (which is usually around 160 IT after 4 hours), then off they go to a 300 degree oven to finish until probe tender.  You will get several responses that you need to cook to a certain IT, but that is far from the best method.  Each piece of meat will cook somewhat different, the best usage of IT is to use it for a guideline only.  I only use it for telling me when it is time to start checking for tenderness.  Once the brisket reaches 190 or so, you can start checking it every 5 degrees of increase for tenderness with a toothpick or temp probe.  Once the probe slides in with little to no resistance into the flat section, the meat is done.  Pull it from heat, open the foil for about 10 minutes to vent the steam and heat to stop the cooking process, then stick it in a cooler, or just covered up with towels or an old blanket for at least an hour or 2 for a rest.  After that, open the foil up, slice across the grain and enjoy.  Be careful and save the juices left in the foil, these can be used to add moisture back in case you end up with a dry product and can also be used when vac sealing or storing leftovers.  Once sliced, brisket will begin to dry as does most proteins, so saving the au jus will come in nice and handy.  Rubs...salt and pepper with some garlic and onion work well, but just plain old salt pepper does just fine too!  As far as time, best to figure 1 1/2 to 2 hours per pound, but in the end, she's done when she's done...patience!  Best of luck with your beef! 
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  5. From my perspective (and I am certainly no smokehouse champion) the brisket has been the most difficult to figure out. I believe many make mistakes because they don’t understand the cut of meat itself, distinguishing from the point, flat, cap, etc. and not realizing the brisket is likely the largest, toughest piece of meat many folks attempt to tackle on their own…but I do believe the biggest mistake folks make (myself included MANY times) is rushing the cook and not allowing the meat to rest.

    There are several ways to prepare a brisket in a smoker, many folks have “cheat” and move to a pan finish off the brisket, but I have found that wrapping and resting in a small cooler works wonders.  It is the patience that tends to be the problem[​IMG].

    This is for a 10lb brisket…..

    Get the brisket home, unwrapped and rinsed well with cool (not cold) water. Even if you don’t completely understand the slice of meat you cannot miss the fat cap – the entire side of the meat is a layer of fat…..

    Contrary to popular belief, while this layer is very important in the smoking/barbecue process, it is the marbled fat that is within the meat itself the drives the flavor.

    Once the meat has been opened and rinsed it is important to first trim off any loose pieces of meat – you don’t have to discard them, but they will often cook much faster than the rest and again, contrary to popular opinion, these do pieces do not constitute the infamous “burnt ends”. It is best to simply remove them and decide what, if anything, you want to do with them separately.

    Now that the meat is rinsed and trimmed of loose ends you want to begin to investigate the meatier side of the cut. You will likely notice a thin membrane very similar to that silver lining left on venison (if your butcher is lazy) or over top of a rack of ribs. I recommend removing as much of this membrane as possible. In the process you will also want to trim down some of the layered fat, but NOT the marbled fat. Basically, any fat on the outside of the meat should be trimmed down, without pulling out any of the marbled/ribboned fat. You don’t need to cut it directly to the meat, but getting it close is a good idea. Once the membrane is removed and the fat on the meatier side of the brisket has been trimmed, it is time to address the fat cap.

    Flip the meat over so that you are looking at the cap. I prefer the cap to be as close to one inch thick ACROSS THE ENTIRE CUT and most of that I have come across are thicker and more importantly uneven with some spots having a thin layer of fat while other portions very thick. A good fillet knife is a God send in trimming that fat down.

    Now the meat is finally ready to “treat”….
    I treat a brisket both inside and out and I do so, so that I do not have to constantly open the smoker and impact the smoke and heat. The first step is the rub and for a brisket I have become found a nice flavor with the Open Season Mountain Man Bourbon Rub. I like to use a large glass baking dish or Rubbermaid Tupperware container and place the brisket in the pan fat cap down. Start with the meatier side and generously apply the rub. Don’t just shake it on, rub it in! Flip the meat and score the fat cap, I typically score it to within about ¼” of the meat, using crisscrossing patterns so that the it looks as if there are “x” across the entire cap. Once scored, apply the rub same as the other side. Cover the brisket and refrigerate over-night (12-hour minimum).

    The next day…get your smoker ready….you are going to want to put your brisket into a hot, smoke filled box right away, as opposed to let the temps climb with the meat in there. It is widely known that the longer the meat cooks the less smoke it can absorb. In this case most of the smoke will be absorbed in the first few hours of the smoke, so it is important that there is a good smoke going during this time. I suggest a good hard wood, such as hickory or pecan, (pecan is my choice) and you want that box holding 225-230 degrees. Cooking time will vary based on a host of factors ranging from the type of smoker you have to the conditions in which you are running it. A good rule of thumb is 60-90 minutes per pound, but I have seen it completed in 45-minutes per pound. It is also important to remember that in this case you started with a 10lb brisket, but it is likely less after all of the trimming. Once you get your smoker started it is time to inject and prepare the brisket, while the box is heating up.

    A great marinade for this brisket (10lb) – 1 cup apple juice, ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup brown sugar, and 3 tbsps. of the Bourbon Rub. Mix all of these ingredients together until it will flow out of your injector with ease. I line my countertop with wax paper and put the smoker great right on the paper. Take the brisket out of the fridge and place on the rack, fat cap down. Begin injecting the beef, attempting to get as even a distribution as possible. It is NOT recommended that you poke 100s of holes, focus on some of the thicker parts, and have the injector penetrate from the sides of the meat as well. You will want to use about 60% of the injection. Flip the brisket over, fat cap up, and repeat the process. The next step is a very important step with specific regard to moisture and tenderness.

    At this point the brisket is seasoned, both inside and out, and resting on the smoker grate, fat cap, up. You want to now “shape” the meat; basically you want to compress the meat as much as you can without crushing it. This is important because as the meat cooks it will compress on its own, if it has been stretched there is a much higher chance the brisket will toughen as it cooks. I basically place my hands on opposite ends of the meat and push them together as much as I can without using any real muscle power (if you get my drift). You are trying to squeeze everything together, but not to the point that you are wringing out the meat. I will do this all the way around the meat, trying to cover all angles. Once I am done, I usually sprinkle a little more of the Bourbon Blend on for good measure and it is into the smoke.

    You want in the 225-230 degree smoke and depending on your smoker you will want the fat cap up if your heat enters from the top or sides or fat cap down if your heat is generated under the meat. If you have a water pan, use it; I add 2 cups of apple juice to the pan as my goal is two fold - not to open that chamber until the meat hits my temperature mark and to use the pan to also capture the rednering from the cook. Find a nice “average” spot on the meat for the thermometer. Most always go to the thickest part; however, if the thickest part is also the smallest portion, you end up with a mostly overdone brisket. Find a location on the brisket that represents the best average thickness and insert your thermometer there. If you are planning to pull/chop the brisket you are shooting for an internal temp of 200-210 degrees, but if you want to slice and serve you are better off at 185-190 degrees, but here in lies what I believe to be the biggest problem. You do NOT want the meat to reach that temp while it is still in the smoker…If I am slicing my brisket it gets pulled at 175 and wrapped in foil. I then place it in a small cooler and throw a couple of towels over top. It stays in the cooler for a minimum of 1-hour before being served. If I plan on chopping it comes out at 190 and same process. It will actually stay VERY warm for several hours and it is a great way to smoke something at home, pack it and travel to a picnic, barbecue, etc…Be sure you save what ends up in the water pan - a cool trick to pour everything into a cup/bowl and let cool. Once at room temp, put in freezer for an hour (same hour the meat is resting)...most if not all of the fat will be at the top and solid enough to scoop out and all fo the mouth-watering goodness is underneath. [​IMG]

    I don't claim to have discovered all of the above information on my own, reviewing sites like SM, as well as, trial and error have certainly shaped my response.

    If you try this let me know how it goes – I’m willing to bet you’ll be the envy of anyone who tries it….

    Good luck!

  6. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Excellent post 12ringer...I especially appreciate your view on the internal marbling and fat content being way more important than the external fat...

    "it is the marbled fat that is within the meat itself the drives the flavor."

    ...not only does the internal fat add to the flavor, but it also increases the amount of moisture and gives the meat a much better mouth feel or chew as some refer to it.  Now a sure fire way to assure that you are getting a brisket with a higher amount of internal marbling is to simply buy a better grade of meat, such as USDA Choice or even Prime when available.  You can find Select grade briskets with good marbling as well, you may just have to thumb through the entire cooler section or if you can build a relationship with the local meat market manager and get him to let you go through the cases before he puts them out.  The external fat does little to add to the quality of the meat or the finished product other than protect it from direct heat or if you are cooking fat side up, it will self baste, but it can also wash off some of the rub as the fat drips over and off of the meat which is why I cook fat side down, plus I run a RF pit, so I am protecting the meat from the heat radiating up from the RF plate.. 

    However, your temps that you suggest to pull the brisket off of the smoker are a bit misleading.  Not saying they are wrong, but these numbers work for you, but they work for you because of your method, your smoker, your desired tenderness for the meat.  You are banking on carry over cooking to take place during the rest, when this is not always possible.  And by all means, the rest is one of the most crucial parts of a brisket cook, right behind PATIENCE.  This is why the only true test for doneness is the probe test, with either a toothpick or a smaller diameter temp probe.  A brisket that has been cooked truly low and slow, 225 or below and cooked for a long period of time may break down at an earlier IT than 200 or above, as Demosthenes9 has pointed out on other threads concerning this theory...

    With regards to getting the connective tissue to render, I mentioned in an earlier post that it was a function of temperature over time.   It's possible for a brisket to be nice and tender with an IT of 180 degrees.  The big drawback is that it takes a LOT of time to do this.   

    So yes, it would be possible to have a brisket get tender at 180 or so IT, but for the most part, this will not happen.  Each and every piece of meat reacts a different way to being subjected to heat for long periods of time.  I have found as I tend to cook only higher grade Primes and Choices, that the additional internal marbling will lead to faster cook times.  Typically an hour or so less than a Select at the same cooking temps.  I use a RF pit, cooking at 250 degrees, I will finish a 15 pound brisket to probe tender (which will typically be around 210 IT) in 8 to 8 1/2 hours.  However, when cooking a higher grade, they will usually finish up in 8 hours or less.

  7. This is what is the best part of forums, people can share ideas and experiences.  I obviously didn't intend to mislead anyone - I have used my Stumps RF 3x5 as well as  BGE and MES 40 with the method above.  Of the three, the brisket from the MES was a little tougher than I would have liked, but also had the most issues with that smoke maintaining a temp range of 225-235 AND I rushed the rest a little with that one...

    Thanks for sharing your insight, it will give me something to think about with my next brisket.

  8. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Not a problem Joe...was hoping you wouldn't take offense to my post.  I was definitely not saying you were wrong, just that your method might work for you but not others.  And you are completely correct, that is what makes forums a useful tool for hobbies like ours, everyone has a method to their madness and sharing so that others may learn from you is invaluable.  I peered over so many pit builds before I embarked on my build 3 plus years ago, picking others brains and borrowing ideas from other pit builds.  
  9. twinstick

    twinstick Newbie

    thanks for all the help guys. I'm a little concerned with how big the meat is going to be in my smoker. I thought about separating the Point from the flat before I put it in the smoker. Is this a good idea or will I end up messing up the meat? Again thanks for all the replies.
  10. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    You have to have enough space for the smoke to get around all side of the meat (i.e. not pressed up against the smoker wall). You can separate the point and flat but the flat by itself is still pretty big. You might just want to cut it down the middle (but I have never done that so who knows.....).
  11. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    I love separating the point and flat for cooking.  As long as you leave a nice fat cap on the bottom of the flat, you'll be just fine.  When I do a trim on a brisket for a comp, I all but separate the 2, just leaving a little fat on the cap holding them together.  Here is a pic of one of my trimmed briskets....

  12. Interesting, I never thought to do you basically separate the point, but leave it attached via the fat cap?

    If that is the case, do they come off at the same time?

  13. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Yes.  This allows the point to get more heat than when it is covered in thick fat and cook on about the same time frame as the flat.  Due to the higher content of internal fat, the point will typically need another hour or 2 of cooking than the flat, to properly render out the collagens, fat and connective tissue.  It also allows for more smoke and more rub to hit more of the meats surface, generating more flavor throughout the brisket.  When I cook comps in Texas (IBCA), we only turn in slices from the flat, so the point is left for my visitors or sponsors to come and enjoy, if I was cooking a KCBS contest, I would be making burnt ends out of it.  When I cater or cook briskets for individuals, I slice the flat, then cut off the thicker part of the point, usually about 5" long, then slice it.  The remainder of the meat left on the point section I will chop.  This way my customers will get from a 12 pound precook weight brisket, about 3 to 3 1/2 pounds of lean slices (for the ladies), about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of fatty slices (for the men) and 1 pound of chopped (for the kiddos).  A variety of meat from one piece.

Share This Page