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My first brisket (with questions for the next)

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

So, after the hubby demanded to take the smoker on its virgin run, I got my try. Firstly, I will say mine was WAY more moist and tender than his.

 

He had nothing but the thermometer included, and I chose to do things like he did, though he stuck his newfangled thermometer to check the inside temps halfway through.

 

I used charcoal and pecan wood, adding the wood for the first time when I first placed the brisket on. I added wood chunks every 30 min for the first two hours, then once more at the third hour. I set the brisket fat-side up, I only used a rub of olive oil, pepper, salt, onion/mustard/garlic/chipotle/and chili powder, and I kept it completely dry (no mop or water or spritzing, etc). I kept the temps around 250F for about three hours, but by the fourth (when I wasn't adding wood chunks), the temperature started dropping and staying in the 190s. At hour four, the temp of the brisket was about 170, so I put it in an aluminum pan with a grill on the bottom (in an attempt to keep the bark; attempt failed due to steam and the whole thing was a sticky sort of wet at the end) and added half a bottle of Red Stripe which gave a thin covering of the bottom. Then I tightly wrapped the top with foil and set it back in the smoker. At this point, since the temps inside dropped to 180F, I added more charcoal and lighter fluid to kick up the temps with flames. About an hour later, the brisket was just under 190 and the temps in the smoker were around 210. Since I have no idea how to get a hot fire going without using wood, I 'cheated' and stuck the brisket (in its aluminum casing) in the oven at 400F for about 20 min.

 

The result was a decently tender brisket, but nothing like smokehouse restaurant quality, but it was definitely a cut above the stew-meat-tenderness that the hubby's brisket was. Also it felt that the meat was rather 'rubbery'. Not tough, but it wasn't a 'like butter' or 'sink your teeth into' and definitely not the 'fall apart' type. Almost like it was too moist.

 

In other news, his was WAY more smokey in flavor. We discussed that and came to the conclusion it could be because he used a half-and-half mix of pecan and hickory chunks, while I used only the pecan. Would this be a legit excuse? He also left his overnight in the rub (unknown ingredients), whereas I just slapped mine on about 20 minutes before throwing it in. He flipped his once and had a pan of water in the whole time. I never flipped mine and even left the fat-side up when I put it in the pan, and as I said, I had no liquids being added until then.

 

Sooooo, is there any advice you can pass on to me (us)? I'm feeling good because I topped the hubbyman in BBQ'ing, though I haven't mentioned the victory to him. He was a bit hostile when I said I'd be smoking a brisket after his, and I could do better (though he was very nice and said he liked it, but would have liked more smokey flavor). What can I say, I just rock the BBQ. first.gifBut really, I've been reading up on a lot of different sites, though this one has offered the most help.

 

Also, if someone could explain the best way to get the smoker back up to a hot temperature, I'd be greatly appreciative. I know if you leave things open, the coals burn hotter and quicker, but then heat escapes faster. If you shut things down, it burns longer but lower too. Or am I wrong in some aspect there?

Anyway, thanks in advance for any advice/suggestions!

post #2 of 14

HOWDY

You didn't tell us what size your brisket was. but you had a total cook time of 5 1/2 hours so I'm thinking real small. In order to have good anything coming off of a smoker. You have to be able to control the heat. I am betting you should have cooked it a lot longer than you did.

Yes the use of hickory adds a stronger flavor.

NO here is something everyone  should read. NEVER USE LIGHTER FLUID WHILE YOU ARE SMOKING. unless for some reason you like the taste of it. In fact buy a charcoal chimmeny and don't use the fluid any more. With a chimmeny you will be able to get your coals going before you add them to the smoker. That will help to get your temp up where you need it to be.

Take some time to read on here How others smoke on your type smoker.

Remember to do a Qview net time you smoke.

or you well be seeing thisth_nopicsye3.gif

Happy smoken.

David 

post #3 of 14

Hello my Texas sister and welcome to the fun.  Many good folk here with a load of experience that they are more than willing to share.  If you have specific questions just start a thread and someone with experience will be along soon to offer advice.  Spend some time doing some research on the forums, tons of advice and recipes already available there.  The trial and error method works well.  We will try to help you keep the errors to a minimum since we already made ‘em for ya.  We look forward to your contributions.  Now that the Welcome is over with.  My friend David got ya sorted with the time,fluid,wood,minion method issues.  As for who did what best I will only say I taught my daughters and they do the smokin at home now cause their hubbies are useless. icon_biggrin.gif You need to do a few modifications to that smoker.  Without meat get a fire goin in there and create smoke usin what ever so long as it's not toxic.  BIG smoke!  What you want to do is see where the smoke leaks are.  Seal every leak you can using stove rope, high temp silicone and such.  Next use the fire grate as a template and build or have built a grate outta 1/2" concrete reinforcing steel ( rebar ).  That thin grate will sag with heat and will rest on the ash cutting off air flow to your coals.  No air flow no heat.  Other option is build a charcoal basket.  You will find 'em in the build forums.  Leave that smoke stack fully open and use the intake vent to control the heat.  Last tip is go buy a cheap garden trowel.  Knock the wooden handle off and weld a 2-2 1/2' piece of that rebar to the shovel.  Now you can gently scoop out the ash without 'em blowin all over yer meat and you won't burn yer hands.  Let us know if you have other questions  Have fun.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

Danny

post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by themule69 View Post

HOWDY

You didn't tell us what size your brisket was. but you had a total cook time of 5 1/2 hours so I'm thinking real small. In order to have good anything coming off of a smoker. You have to be able to control the heat. I am betting you should have cooked it a lot longer than you did.

Yes the use of hickory adds a stronger flavor.

NO here is something everyone  should read. NEVER USE LIGHTER FLUID WHILE YOU ARE SMOKING. unless for some reason you like the taste of it. In fact buy a charcoal chimmeny and don't use the fluid any more. With a chimmeny you will be able to get your coals going before you add them to the smoker. That will help to get your temp up where you need it to be.

Take some time to read on here How others smoke on your type smoker.

Remember to do a Qview net time you smoke.

or you well be seeing thisth_nopicsye3.gif

Happy smoken.

David 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KC5TPY View Post

Hello my Texas sister and welcome to the fun.  Many good folk here with a load of experience that they are more than willing to share.  If you have specific questions just start a thread and someone with experience will be along soon to offer advice.  Spend some time doing some research on the forums, tons of advice and recipes already available there.  The trial and error method works well.  We will try to help you keep the errors to a minimum since we already made ‘em for ya.  We look forward to your contributions.  Now that the Welcome is over with.  My friend David got ya sorted with the time,fluid,wood,minion method issues.  As for who did what best I will only say I taught my daughters and they do the smokin at home now cause their hubbies are useless. icon_biggrin.gif You need to do a few modifications to that smoker.  Without meat get a fire goin in there and create smoke usin what ever so long as it's not toxic.  BIG smoke!  What you want to do is see where the smoke leaks are.  Seal every leak you can using stove rope, high temp silicone and such.  Next use the fire grate as a template and build or have built a grate outta 1/2" concrete reinforcing steel ( rebar ).  That thin grate will sag with heat and will rest on the ash cutting off air flow to your coals.  No air flow no heat.  Other option is build a charcoal basket.  You will find 'em in the build forums.  Leave that smoke stack fully open and use the intake vent to control the heat.  Last tip is go buy a cheap garden trowel.  Knock the wooden handle off and weld a 2-2 1/2' piece of that rebar to the shovel.  Now you can gently scoop out the ash without 'em blowin all over yer meat and you won't burn yer hands.  Let us know if you have other questions  Have fun.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

Danny

 

Yes do not add unlit charcoal or lighter fluid to the smoker with food in it. will give it an off taste. The chimney is the best way to go.

 

The mods Danny is talking about are great and highly recommended. So many threads on moding smokers you will be reading for days.

 

Not everyone has access to welding tools. So here are a couple ways to mod without much as in tools.

 

Sealing gaps around the lid. You can use aluminum foil to form a rope like thing around the bottom half. Keep it tight but loose. This way when you close the lid it will form a better than nothing seal. I did this with my old CharGriller and made a huge difference. Yes a more permanent way is best, but this will do the trick for a quick fix.

 

Single most important mod in my opinion is a charcoal basket. This will help on fuel consumption and heat generation. If the charcoal is sitting in the ash you need more to get the heat up, then you create more ash. it is just a vicious cycle. The better the air flow is the more efficiant your smoker will be.

 

I think you have an adjustable pan in the cook chamber to use for charcoal when grilling. If you do you can turn it upside down and use something to elevate it if needed to butt one end up to the side that has the fire box and form a tunnel like. This will help distribute the heat and help eliminate the very hot spot next to the fire box.

 

You can add a piece of a dryer vent tube to the stack and lower the exhaust to about 1"-2" above the grate level. It will help with the smoke circulation. Mixed reviews on if really needed. I did and seemed to work better.

 

Temp monitoring will be a key thing. It is worth the investment of a Maverick style thermometer. They will allow you to monitor the temp of the cook chamber next to the product and monitor the temp of the product...... Some items you cook to a certain temp and others you cook to a feel...brisket is feel. Use a tooth pick to probe the meat in different areas. If little or no resistance it is done. Pull and allow to rest at least an hour before slicing. Make sure to cut across the grain or it will seem tough and stringy.

 

In my signature I have my brisket and Aus jus. Take a look and see if anything I do is different. There are tons of threads on brisket and many was to do them. Just don't quit and keep going for it.

post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by themule69 View Post

HOWDY

You didn't tell us what size your brisket was. but you had a total cook time of 5 1/2 hours so I'm thinking real small. In order to have good anything coming off of a smoker. You have to be able to control the heat. I am betting you should have cooked it a lot longer than you did.

Yes the use of hickory adds a stronger flavor.

NO here is something everyone  should read. NEVER USE LIGHTER FLUID WHILE YOU ARE SMOKING. unless for some reason you like the taste of it. In fact buy a charcoal chimmeny and don't use the fluid any more. With a chimmeny you will be able to get your coals going before you add them to the smoker. That will help to get your temp up where you need it to be.

Take some time to read on here How others smoke on your type smoker.

Remember to do a Qview net time you smoke.

or you well be seeing thisth_nopicsye3.gif

Happy smoken.

David 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KC5TPY View Post

Hello my Texas sister and welcome to the fun.  Many good folk here with a load of experience that they are more than willing to share.  If you have specific questions just start a thread and someone with experience will be along soon to offer advice.  Spend some time doing some research on the forums, tons of advice and recipes already available there.  The trial and error method works well.  We will try to help you keep the errors to a minimum since we already made ‘em for ya.  We look forward to your contributions.  Now that the Welcome is over with.  My friend David got ya sorted with the time,fluid,wood,minion method issues.  As for who did what best I will only say I taught my daughters and they do the smokin at home now cause their hubbies are useless. icon_biggrin.gif You need to do a few modifications to that smoker.  Without meat get a fire goin in there and create smoke usin what ever so long as it's not toxic.  BIG smoke!  What you want to do is see where the smoke leaks are.  Seal every leak you can using stove rope, high temp silicone and such.  Next use the fire grate as a template and build or have built a grate outta 1/2" concrete reinforcing steel ( rebar ).  That thin grate will sag with heat and will rest on the ash cutting off air flow to your coals.  No air flow no heat.  Other option is build a charcoal basket.  You will find 'em in the build forums.  Leave that smoke stack fully open and use the intake vent to control the heat.  Last tip is go buy a cheap garden trowel.  Knock the wooden handle off and weld a 2-2 1/2' piece of that rebar to the shovel.  Now you can gently scoop out the ash without 'em blowin all over yer meat and you won't burn yer hands.  Let us know if you have other questions  Have fun.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

Danny

 

Yes do not add unlit charcoal or lighter fluid to the smoker with food in it. will give it an off taste. The chimney is the best way to go.

 

The mods Danny is talking about are great and highly recommended. So many threads on moding smokers you will be reading for days.

 

Not everyone has access to welding tools. So here are a couple ways to mod without much as in tools.

 

Sealing gaps around the lid. You can use aluminum foil to form a rope like thing around the bottom half. Keep it tight but loose. This way when you close the lid it will form a better than nothing seal. I did this with my old CharGriller and made a huge difference. Yes a more permanent way is best, but this will do the trick for a quick fix.

 

Single most important mod in my opinion is a charcoal basket. This will help on fuel consumption and heat generation. If the charcoal is sitting in the ash you need more to get the heat up, then you create more ash. it is just a vicious cycle. The better the air flow is the more efficiant your smoker will be.

 

I think you have an adjustable pan in the cook chamber to use for charcoal when grilling. If you do you can turn it upside down and use something to elevate it if needed to butt one end up to the side that has the fire box and form a tunnel like. This will help distribute the heat and help eliminate the very hot spot next to the fire box.

 

You can add a piece of a dryer vent tube to the stack and lower the exhaust to about 1"-2" above the grate level. It will help with the smoke circulation. Mixed reviews on if really needed. I did and seemed to work better.

 

Temp monitoring will be a key thing. It is worth the investment of a Maverick style thermometer. They will allow you to monitor the temp of the cook chamber next to the product and monitor the temp of the product...... Some items you cook to a certain temp and others you cook to a feel...brisket is feel. Use a tooth pick to probe the meat in different areas. If little or no resistance it is done. Pull and allow to rest at least an hour before slicing. Make sure to cut across the grain or it will seem tough and stringy.

 

In my signature I have my brisket and Aus jus. Take a look and see if anything I do is different. There are tons of threads on brisket and many was to do them. Just don't quit and keep going for it.

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Wow, thanks for the feedback! I do not have a welder, but those modifications are something I can see a real need for. I was wondering if the smoke leaking out everywhere was normal. I cooked a 7lb brisket; it was the smallest I could find at HEB.

 

Looks like I have a lot to work on before my next attempt, and I'll admit I don't understand half of what you guys are recommending icon_mrgreen.gif. I'll work on getting the charcoals up and sealing up the grill better for now; I can't guarantee I can do much more before the weekend (when hubby wants to try again). But, yeah I'll read up on the forums. A lot of what I had read was about the meat itself, or various techniques I wouldn't be attempting, or using smokers I don't have, etc. Now that I've got a focus, we'll see what can be done.

 

Thanks again, and I'll hopefully post again with a winner!

post #7 of 14

The techniques and rubs and foiling or not are all good but until you seal the smoker better and learn to control the heat,  the results won't change much.  If there are things you don't understand, just KEEP askin and we will try to explain with words and picts until you get our meaning.  PLEASE don't be afraid to ask.  We LIKe helping new folk where we can.  Good Luck.  Keep Smokin!

Danny

post #8 of 14
Only suggestion I can give is try cooking a whole packer brisket. The flats tend to be dryer and harder to get just right. When you get the point just right ( or use some for burnt ends) you'll be in heaven and probably won't go back to the small flats. If you did a 7 lb flat in 5 and a half hours you're cooking to fast for a flat. All the best to you.
post #9 of 14

PLEASE folks before everyone jumps on me here I want to say this is only MY opinion and we all know what opinions are worth.  I am ONLY speaking of about Traditional Texas brisket IMHO!!  This is MY understanding of the process.  Maybe some other Texas folk will offer their take on it.  Chopped beef brisket sandwich was only created so that BBQ restaurants could use the small shreds that came off during brisket slicing, thus cutting down waste.  They simmered them in sauce and have made a fortune from it.  The burnt ends were developed because now and then there were flare ups on the open fire pits, and some of the pieces got a little burned.  Also some of the fattier parts of a point are really GREAT sightly charred, and how do we use up those portions?  Burnt end in sauce!.  I am not saying anything wrong with these by products but I will say that I and my old school friends back home have never set out to make either.  Traditional Texas brisket should be sliced; and the other while I am sure is VERY tasty, has been created to maximize profit for restaurants.  Well that is my 2 cents  If you enjoy Chopped beef and burnt ends, GO FOR IT.  What works for you is what is important.  Keep Smokin!

Danny

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by KC5TPY View Post

PLEASE folks before everyone jumps on me here I want to say this is only MY opinion and we all know what opinions are worth.  I am ONLY speaking of about Traditional Texas brisket IMHO!!  This is MY understanding of the process.  Maybe some other Texas folk will offer their take on it.  Chopped beef brisket sandwich was only created so that BBQ restaurants could use the small shreds that came off during brisket slicing, thus cutting down waste.  They simmered them in sauce and have made a fortune from it.  The burnt ends were developed because now and then there were flare ups on the open fire pits, and some of the pieces got a little burned.  Also some of the fattier parts of a point are really GREAT sightly charred, and how do we use up those portions?  Burnt end in sauce!.  I am not saying anything wrong with these by products but I will say that I and my old school friends back home have never set out to make either.  Traditional Texas brisket should be sliced; and the other while I am sure is VERY tasty, has been created to maximize profit for restaurants.  Well that is my 2 cents  If you enjoy Chopped beef and burnt ends, GO FOR IT.  What works for you is what is important.  Keep Smokin!

Danny

 

I would agree with how the chopped beef and burnt ends came about. As a Chef we have 2 cost areas we can control, food cost and labor cost. So if I am working with a product that is going to have a consistent waste, it is my job to find a way to use it. Sometimes you end up hitting the gold mine in turning %#*T into gold!!!! Look at chicken wings, 30 years ago you could not give them away, now they can cost you more than breast meat. So things in the "food" world are always evolving and changing. We have a local Steakhouse that serves beef skewers. They are the scraps from the steak trimmings and you never know how many covers they have each day. So they sell out quick and people actually show up early to get them. It is crazy, but it works.

 

Me personally I like the cubed burnt ends, but not a big fan of chopped beef. Love a great sliced brisket!!!! So I don't really set out for chopped beef, but if things went wrong with my cook I do have options to utilize what I have....I find that using the smoked meat in other Ethnic braised meat dishes can add another level to them......

 

Jeramy

post #11 of 14

Asinine, Welcome neighbor! Keep tryin' and doing good food. I certainly appreciate how dedicated you are.  Sounds like you are giving the spousal unit a run for his money.

 

Cooking a smaller piece of brisket is normally more difficult than a larger brisket.  I agree that chopped beef is not preferred at my house, sliced is preferred. But they love cubed burnt ends.

 

My preference is to use Pecan for smoke, not as heavy, but still good flavor. The home boss wife.gif has a more sensitive palate than mine.

 

Danny (KC5TPY), from the explanation you might be part Texan and that's a good thing!!!

 

Good luck and Happy Independence Day!!  usa.gif

post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asinine View Post


 

The result was a decently tender brisket, but nothing like smokehouse restaurant quality, but it was definitely a cut above the stew-meat-tenderness that the hubby's brisket was. Also it felt that the meat was rather 'rubbery'. Not tough, but it wasn't a 'like butter' or 'sink your teeth into' and definitely not the 'fall apart' type. Almost like it was too moist.

It wasn't quite done. Look up a bunch of posts on brisket here and you'll see time and again references to "probe tender" and "cooking to tenderness".

 

In other news, his was WAY more smokey in flavor. We discussed that and came to the conclusion it could be because he used a half-and-half mix of pecan and hickory chunks, while I used only the pecan. Would this be a legit excuse? He also left his overnight in the rub (unknown ingredients), whereas I just slapped mine on about 20 minutes before throwing it in. He flipped his once and had a pan of water in the whole time. I never flipped mine and even left the fat-side up when I put it in the pan, and as I said, I had no liquids being added until then.

Hickory has a MUCH stronger flavor than pecan, so yes, that probably played a part.

 

Sooooo, is there any advice you can pass on to me (us)? I'm feeling good because I topped the hubbyman in BBQ'ing, though I haven't mentioned the victory to him. He was a bit hostile when I said I'd be smoking a brisket after his, and I could do better (though he was very nice and said he liked it, but would have liked more smokey flavor). What can I say, I just rock the BBQ. first.gif

Yeah, I'll offer a little advice. Go easy on your husband. BBQ is supposed to be fun, but if you start trying to outdo each other, it can turn ugly really fast. If he's the one who decided he wanted to try BBQ as a hobby, why would you want to take that away from him? If you decided to try it together, that's great, but do it TOGETHER. Work on developing recipes and techniques that you both agree on. I don't mean to sound preachy here, but I've seen many times where one spouse takes up a hobby, then the other jumps on board, turns it into a competition and ruins it for both of them. It doesn't always have to be about winning. 

 

Also, if someone could explain the best way to get the smoker back up to a hot temperature, I'd be greatly appreciative. I know if you leave things open, the coals burn hotter and quicker, but then heat escapes faster. If you shut things down, it burns longer but lower too. Or am I wrong in some aspect there?

Anyway, thanks in advance for any advice/suggestions!

Every smoker is different. You've been given a lot of advice already on keeping temps, so try a few things and see what works. The Minion method works well, but you'll need to seal up leaks in your firebox. As others have mentioned, lighter fluid is generally a no-no, so get a chimney.

Good luck and let us know how the next one turns out!!

 

post #13 of 14

WHAT??  Was I just insulted by a Tx. Brother?? DON'T make me show you my belt buckle!!   ROTF.gif  Just to set the record straight.  ALL Texan; born, bred, raised, and have my descendants carrying on adding to the Republics population.  All in fun my friend.  Keep Smokin!

Danny

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdboatbum View Post
Go easy on your husband. BBQ is supposed to be fun, but if you start trying to outdo each other, it can turn ugly really fast.

Ah, no worries there. People who start spending time with us think we're going to be divorced by the time our dinner's done. :D He's actually the competitive one, and I'm the one who wanted to start BBQing... so *he* tried taking it from me. But yeah it's all in good jest here. He'll never stop until his is better than mine (though he claims his is because it had that more-smokey flavor), so I don't mind taking some credit sometimes.

 

I've taken steps using some silicon tear-drop tape and sealed up the amazingly giant gaps. I'm actually shocked there was that much space... it's no wonder it was escaping like crazy.

 

I'm going to do a trial run on some baby backs right now just to see how the sealing works.

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