Being new to the forum, I understand I'll be kicked out unless I post some pictures. OK, here it goes, with bloopers included...
Back in April I bought a Luhr Jensen Big Chief smoker, and besides great smoked salmon and beef jerky, I smoked my first packer brisket. Because the electric Luhr Jensen can only hit 165-175F, I only smoked for ~2 hours before moving the brisket to a 225F oven, and eventually foiling at 160F and pulling at 200F. The result was fairly good. When I found out about the 40-140-4 rule from this forum, I checked my April notes, and discovered I barely hit 140F in 4 hours, and I probed several times prior to that. My wife and I were lucky!
Fast forward to this August when I got a 22.5" WSM so I could get serious, and broke it in with 2 Safeway select briskets (next time I'll go choice grade, now that I've found a source).
I used this rub as-is for the April brisket, but due to some suggestions that sugar on brisket should be minimal, I dialed back the sugars for the August briskets. In both cases the flavor was great.
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons white sugar (adjusted to 1/3 of for August)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (adjusted to 1/2 of for August)
2 tablespoons smoky paprika (adjusted to 1/2 of for August)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
After mixing and applying the rub, I Saran wrapped the briskets for an overnight stay in the fridge.
Blooper #1 - I used a recycled bulk-garlic shaker to apply the rub, but didn't see any sea salt coming out. Dang it, the shaker lid holes were too small for sea salt.
I filled the WSM ring 2/3rds full with Kingsford Competition, and dumped a 1/2 load of hot charcoals on top per the Minion method.
Blooper #2 - I forgot to put some chunks of green lump mesquite in at the start, and when I tossed them on the very top of the charcoals afterwards, they never did catch well or generate much smoke. I'm guessing I need to pack the green lumps in so they'll catch better.
I used a Maverick ET-732 thermometer to monitor the lower grill and brisket temperatures, and used a kiln thermometer (the gray unit) that I use for cooking rocks (you laugh, go see
http://orerockon.com/Heat_treating.htm) to monitor the upper grill temp, and a hand thermometer to monitor the upper brisket. And yeah, the lid had a built-in 5th thermometer.
I discovered the kiln thermometer responds instantly to temp changes, where-as all the BBQ/food thermometers take 15-60 seconds to show any temp change. It was revealing to lift the lid and see the instant heat loss, and the amount of time it took to regain the heat when the lid was replaced.
Only rarely did I lift the lid to check the upper brisket ITs.
Blooper #3 - you all say to "foil the water pan". Problem is, you usually don't say which side, so I assumed the water/fat-drip side. Once the water started boiling, the foil poofed up like a jiffy pop popcorn pan. I managed to tear some of the foil out so things could continue.
I pulled and foiled when the internal temps were at 165F to 172F, and I added a 1/4 cup of beef broth. I put the two foiled briskets into a 225F oven, foil directly on the oven racks, and when it looked like we wouldn't eat until mid-night, I cranked it to 250F.
BIG BLOOPER #4 - I used the hand thermometer to sample ITs in both briskets. At one point I poked the probe thru the foil top, thru the meat, and dang-it thru the foil bottom. Whoops. Out came gushing a 1/2 cup of steaming hot drippings, and fortunately I had foiled the oven bottom the day before.
I pulled and rested around 190, and then sliced up. The smoke rings were moderate, but I and my wife were very surprised by the flavor and moistness of the meat, despite them being select cuts. I did not separate the point and flat before cuttting, but will try that next time.
Next time, I need to get the green lump mesquite better situated for more smoke.