Originally Posted by Pocketaces
I am picking up a 15+ pound packer cut brisket on Thursday night. The current plan is to smoke it with my side fire box rig with lump and apple wood.
I'd like to separate the point from the flat and make burnt ends with the point then continue to smoke the flat.
I plan on starting the smoke sometime Friday night in order to cooler it around 3pm to eat around 6pm on Saturday.
I've read about 5 pages on this site of peoples past smokes. I feel like I don't know anything.
How hot should I smoke this thing?
How long will it take?
What type of rub should I use?
Do I put any liquid in the drip pans?
Should I trim fat off of this thing?
So, any tips, tricks, preferences, things not to forget, "watchouts" ANYTHING at all would be very much appreciated.
I also did a lot of searching on the forum but if there is a thread of threads detailing everything that I need to know would be great too.
Thank you all and I promise Qview. I just hope this thing turns out.
Thank you all!
Awwright, Pocket....advice you want, here ya go:
Don't be afraid nor overwhelmed. A brisket is merely a piece of steer and if you have smoked other meats, you then have experience, right? Forget the "oooh, a brisket" fear-making crapola you get from so many places and just plan your smoke, allow for extra time (a couple hours) and relax.
Now, to your questions...
1)- Smoke it at 225-250F smoker temp. That's the word from the Official Gods. I learned that way and so should you. However, I have since experimented, discussed with other advanced smoking dudes, and experimented while taking notes. I now smoke my briskets at 300F and cut many hours from the smoke and have as good, if not better results with my full-packer briskets. Point of note: I always separate my point and flat prior to smoking. I don't know if that makes any difference, I just prefer it that way since I always use the point exclusively for burnt ends, and this technique makes it easier that way.
I know this will bring howls of complaints and accusations of smoking-blasphemy, especially at this site, but I stand my ground. I will not argue with facts, nor success. The bottom line is you want your brisket at over 180F internal temperature, and the route you take to get there is up to you. I will never suffer through another 12 to 16 hour smoke at the measly 225F ever again.
2)- It will take however long it will take for that particular brisket to reach 180-F internal. No two animals are alike, and no two briskets are either. When smoking a brisket it is a labor of love and desire, not speed nor hunger. There are no two "stalls" that are alike either. I've had 45 minute ones and 3 hour ones....so be prepared, and thus, always plan for extra time.
3)- Whichever flavours you like, brother. I used to go with the heavily spiced rubs, then the homemade, perfectly tailored to my liking ones, then Magic Dust, and now I swear by the nekkid brisket. We all evolve, and no answer is better than the other except the one that says "whatever you like". My favorite is CBP and kosher salt only, ovr hickory. Nothing else needed to bring out and showcase that wonderful beefy brisket flavor.
Just know that what your neighbour likes you may hate. It just is that way. Go with what you know, and experience is the best teacher.
4)- I've never been a fan of drip pans and even less of "flavoured" ones. This is probably since I've always used an offset wood and charcoal smoker forever. If you want one, go for it. From what I have learned, they seem to be necessary for gas and electric smokers. I'll leave it at that.
5)- If you buy a full packer brisket at the grocery store, it has already been trimmed enough to smoke as is. I prefer to trim further as some of the fat cap can still be kind of thick. It is your call. If you decide to trim, go ahead, just leave about 1/8 to 1/4 of fat on the packer...you'll need it in the smoker.
As far as tips:
Once I place my brisket into the smoker I do not lift the lid for the first 4 hours. Period. Nothing. I just feed wood and charcoal as necessary to maintain temp. At the 4 hr mark I check it, rotate it if needed and mop it. Every 45 minutes after that, I mop or spritz, depending what method I'm using. Same liquid, just different delivery and I personally prefer the spritz. I have several dedicated 1 pint spray bottles for this and they work just fine.
Your spritz or mop should have some fat in it, be it oil or butter. For the liquid I prefer orange juice or coca cola, though coffee and other soft drinks work fine. Just be sure to pour them out loong before hand and let them go flat. Root beer is good too. Since the purpose of the spritz/mop is to maintain some surface moisture, the flavor is not so much important. I've used beer too, but have gotten better results by drinking it and using the soft drinks for the spritz instead!
At around 140 F internal or so, you are going to hit the dreaded "stall". That is when the meat stops heating up and may actually lose internal temperature. It is perfectly natural, and no need for panic. Jacking up the smoker temps won't help. Just ride it out.
After the stall, you will find that the internal meat temperature rises fairly quickly compared to "pre-stall" so it is all good. During the stall, just maintain smoker temps, keep your mopping / spritzing cycle and enjoy the ride! This is a perfect time to re-connect with the family and wife. :)
Have some good potato salad, cole-slaw, Funyons, and other goodies set up and ready as a side for your brisket. Baked beans are almost always a necessity.
Hope this has helped you a bit. Just enjoy the experience, and know you will only get better!
Edited by Rivet - 9/27/11 at 3:21pm