I'm fairly new to smoking and today I made my second attempt at beef brisket. It came out dry and tough, luckily I had some turkey and sausage in with it and they both turned out great. My first brisket turned out dry as well. The brisket was about 4 lbs which is small and I smoked it at a steady 225 for 6 hours until the IT was 165. The day before the smoke I applied rub, wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. The next day I added a little bit more rub before putting it in the smoker. Do I need to go with a bigger brisket? Could it be the rub that I am using (pre-made stuff I bought at the store)? At this point I really don't know what I am doing wrong. I am Phoenix, AZ which is a very dry climate. Could this be impacting my brisket? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
Brisket...what am I doing wrong?
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Did you stop cooking when the IT hit 165*? If so that is probably your problem, it wasn't done yet. Brisket needs to go to at least 190* for the fat to break down and make the rest of the meat nice and tender and juicy. Once it hits about 185* start probing it with a toothpick or probe, it should slide in with no effort like warm butter.
You can also wrap it in foil when it gets around 160* with some juice in the foil and continue cooking until around 190*. This will basically braise the meat and help it get juicer.
Smaller brisket are a little harder than full packers just because there isn't as much fat in them to break down and get juicy.
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You're smoking on a WSM 18.5" correct? If the IT was only at 165* that's not high enough IT wise? I let mine smoke til the IT is 203*; however, as they say, "they're done when they're done"? You should've wrapped her in foil (Texas Crutch) and finished her off til she was between 195*-203*. The foil allows you to add to moisture back in (beef stock/marinade/mopping liquid) and keeps what's left inside? Are you using a grill thermometer? Maybe you smoker's thermometer is off? Mathematically briskets should take 1.5-2hours/lb. See previous highlighted statement.
4#'s is a smaller brisket; however, if done properly should be tender and juicy. PGSmoker64 (Bill) suggested a toothpick as the way to tell if the brisket is done...it should go in easy like room temperature butter. If not, give it time.
We've all had bad experiences in cooking this/that and the other, briskets are no exception (It sucks cause they're kinda pricy mistakes?). Everyone will tell you the brisket (as a whole) is one of the toughest parts of the bovine to successfully Q. Which is probably why Texans love 'em so much..they're a stubborn bunch!
Great advice from all above. I would suggest not rubbing the meat the night before, unless your rub is very low in salt. Salt will pull moisture out of the meat. I would suggest, especially with such a small brisket, to try marinading. There are several commercial marinades that work very well, to mention a few Stubbs, Allegro or just make your own with some beef broth, worcestershire and some herbs and spices.
One more note, there really is no need to foil the brisket during the cook, unless you are running behind and need to make up time. I don't trim or score the fat cap, and I smoke it cap up. The last two briskets I smoked at a higher temp (265*-275*) and had excellent results. I'll start probing around 185*/ Once I've found the tenderness, then its off the smoker into foil and wrapped in towels and the cooler for 45min-1 hour.
I took me a few minutes to find it, but I think this is one of the better tutorials for brisket here on SMF:
It took me a few months to muster up the courage to try again but I'm proud to upload some Q-View and report that I've had my first successful brisket. For the first 7 hours I used royal oak and then threw in some hickory for the remaining 4 hours. I've never tasted so much flavor in a brisket. I did a boneless Turkey breast as an insurance policy and it turned out great too. How long is brisket good for leftovers?
Congrats on your smoky success! Brisket leftovers will be good for awhile if vac sealed or at the very least freezer bagged with some broth or if you saved the au jus from the cook. Just drop a baggie in boiling water for 30 to 45 minutes and you'll have even better brisket. If just stored in the fridge, they should be good for the remainder of the week, if they last that long. Try and avoid warming it all up more than once, only reheat whet you need, because each time you heat it up, it takes more of the goodness away.