Hey all! It's been WAY too long since my last smoke (thinkin' now...8 months, maybe more???), and especially too long since my last brisket smoke (12 months, maybe), so for a small get together (oldest son & wife, other son's co-worker & family), I had two packers in a -10 to -20*F freezer since last summer, and they were just dying to climb into a smoker. They weighed in @ 12lb-12.4oz and 15lb-2.2oz, pre-thaw. I started thawing 'em out in my 4.2 cu ft Q-fridge on Thursday (04-13-12) after cutting back the thermostat to let the frozen meat keep the unit chilled by themselves while monitoring fridge temps twice daily, and started grinding dry rub ingredients on Tuesday (04-17-12) after work, finishing with grinding the dried cherries and adding them into the blend along with the salt, today. I wanted another shot at this dry rub as well, because it was too darn good to overlook on a come-back smoke, and especially with guests coming to dinner.
Dinner is planned for 7:00 PM Thursday. I know this may sound like I'm starting way too early, but packer briskets usually give me a pretty long run for the money, sometimes over 24 hours to hit finished temps, so I don't want us all to be standing around waiting until midnight for dinner.
I guess this is my chance to find out if I've still got it to go...so, let the fun begin!
Recipe per Cherry & RBP Brisket Rub, found here:
Dry rub blended up (double-batch, about 2-1/4 or so cups, and I used all of it) and ready to go this morning:
Briskets trimmed lightly, fat-cap scored down to the meat for rendering/basting and rubbed heavily for the long overnight/all-day ride...the 15lbr scored:
12-3/4lb rubbed, about 5 minutes after the second and final application here...I took about 3-4 minutes between applications...worked on edges and one side of one brisket, then did the same on the other and went back and forth, until it was time to finish dialing in the Smoke Vault and toss 'em in. They got about a 15 minute rest before hitting the smoke:
15lb rubbed, 6-7 minutes after third and final application:
I got pretty decent overall coverage, a bit light on the edges, but I only applied there once, while the top/bottom got hit pretty heavily.
About 15 minutes into the smoke, I was attempting to get some quick and rudimentary grate temp variance readings. I've only smoked 2 packers once before, if I recall back that far (a 17lb and an 18lb pair of monsters for a family reunion), so I wanted to make sure where the warmer/cooler grate position would be, as I wanted a bit hotter for the largest of the two. The Vault (or the packers) fooled me. I originally placed the heavier one on the second grate and the 12-3/4lb on the forth grate...temps were opposite of what I thought, with the upper being 15* warmer, so I reversed the packer's grate positions. Oh, my normal smoking grate temps are a bit hotter on the left and most left rear on most grates, so I put the point (thickest potion) in those areas for a bit more overall even cooking between the point and flat cuts. Oh, if you had not noticed, I use 2 grate spaces for each larger cut, as shrinkage later down the road will bulk them up and make them thicker, usually contacting with the next great above if single grate spacing is used. Also, the baffling effect of larger cut is quite prominent when they are too close above each other.
I've moved everything since these were taken, and did a bit better placement of therms, so it will look different when I come back with pics sometime later tonight.
Well, smoke is on @ 2:45 PM MST. I already had one small battle with mother nature...was checking grate temps and door thermometer readings when I saw a wall cloud approaching with heavy rain in the distance. I put a propped up lid over my chamber vent (can't find my vent stack mod anywhere, which acts as a weather guard, also) to keep rain from dripping onto my brisket. Could be an interesting evening...time will tell.
Smoke provided by mostly cherry and pecan chunks, with a little apple @ 220-230* target grate temps, with the 15lb riding @ about 15* above the 12-3/4lb...should work out about right, with water in the pan, wood chunks broken down to various sizes with smaller for a quicker onset of smoke, and medium to larger sizes to carry the smoke for most of the duration.
Mother Nature is supposed to try and make things wet and cool during the smoke, with a 60% chance of rain today and day-time highs of 60* (showing 72* right now with rain...hmm) and winds of 17-24, gusts to 34, 35* tonight, 20% chance of rain, 9-15 with gusts to 21, and 52* on Thursday, 30% chance of rain with winds about the same as tonight. It's do-able...I can handle it!
I may place a roasting pan with a few cups of water to catch drippings, then, defat and pour over the sliced flat when it's all finished up, but the baffling effect of the pan under the meat may be too much going on with already having two slabs of meat in there...maybe, just don't want to botch-up my placement of briskets for even cooking, though. I may have to do grate temp monitoring in a couple extra places if I do go that route, just to be sure what it's going to act like.
I haven't decided just yet, but I'm thinking about another ride down Burnt Ends Boulevard with the point cuts...hmm... we love 'em ...wife, kids and everyone else (including myself) may be a bit disappointed without them...it's a packer thing here. There should be plenty of beef to go around for the dozen or so I'll be feeding with this smoke, regardless of how I finish the points. Taters will go in late in the smoke (around 2 or 3 o-clock), around 4-5 hours before dining commences, depending on size, to finish up while the flats are resting and burnt ends are getting their double-smoke (if in fact I do them).
So, finally, after all these months in smoke cessation, I'm having a relapse to the addiction, and I'm smoking again! OOOOOH, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
If I'm lucky, and I do mean really lucky, mother nature and these two packers will let me catch a nap for several hours during the night so I'm not dragging my tail-end all day tomorrow.
2 hours into the smoke right now...updates will follow, so stay tuned!
Thanks for peekin'!
Edited by forluvofsmoke - 4/26/12 at 8:49pm