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On a quest for better brisket

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I got an MES 40 around Thanksgiving of last year and have smoked several briskets so far. Decent enough to get eaten up at family gatherings, but not what I would call great. I've never gotten a smoke ring, and while I know that's not and end unto itself, from what I understand it is indicative of how deeply the smoke and flavor has penetrated the meat.

So this evening I'm smoking a brisket for the 4th, and I'm changing several things up a bit. Which of course may be a big mistake since the family is coming over. Thought I'd post the process here (with a few pictures) so that when things go wrong y'all can tell me what I did. :)

For my rub I used to blend cracked pepper, salt, paprika, and garlic and onion powder, and apply it to the brisket 24 hours in advance with a mustard 'glue'. Read somewhere that the salt draws moisture out of the meat, which dissolves the salt and blends with the other favors then gets pulled back into the meat. And that if the rub is too powdery it can absorb the moisture and partially trap it on the surfaceand not let as much of the flavor really Also read somewhere that the smoke blending with he meat
post #2 of 19
Thread Starter 
Must have hit post on the first one. Anyways, also read that the smoke blending with the moisture pulled out by the salt is the main way that the smoke penetrates the meat. So started to wonder if applying the rub 24 hours in advance might kick off that process before it starts smoking and might be one reason why I'm not getting as much smoke penetration. So just using a salt and pepper blend, and applied it (with) the mustard about an hour before it went in.

Kept it in the fridge while the smoker warmed up. Also wanted to up the smoke in the MES so I added a foil tray with additional chips, poked holes for air, and put it above the element sort of below the drip pan.

Set it 225, and babysat it to keep the tray loaded with chips for the first 3 hours or so. It's a 16-pounder.

post #3 of 19

 Hi Tim  Apparently the electric smokers do not produce the awesome smoke ring. Good news is that that is not the determining factor on taste. Did you like the flavor? Then it was a good smoke! Now is time to play with different processes  to see what you like!



post #4 of 19

I have been smoking since I was tending the firebox for my dad long long ago. Let me help you with the MES understanding. First of all its my personal observations, which I think pretty highly of, but you may not. With an electric smoker you will not see a smoke ring, I have not seen one in 30+ years smoking with an electric smoker. I also have stick burners, pipe pits they are a very very dry smoker that makes that deep red smoke ring.


But don't dismay, you also have advantages with an electric. First and formost it doesn't require constant tending, which is a good thing so you can leave the door closed and prevent the cycling of the heating element. See a fire burner with dry heat will normally quickly recover from opening which is good for them because with that dry heat they require alot of moping and spritzing to help retain the moisture.


With an electric you seldom if ever need the water tray. Seriously its a drip pan in an electric. Since you don't have to worry about moisture, if you have a remote IT sensor, you can smoke while you sleep in bed tonight. The fire burners will catch cat naps all night tonight, while checking the temp and mopping and spritzing. Its a completely different smoking experience.


So don't worry about that smoke ring while you sleep tonite. I don't think I ever ever seen that TBS from an electric either, yes stick burners do, but I always used the vent to regulate the smoke. As you use the MES40 you'll see what I mean.


I usually rub with the basics, no mustard, but salt pepper, garlic and onion, and sometimes I use a bit of massaged in Lea & Perrins as my sticky glue.  Sugar is great on ribs, but with a long smoke it really tends to burn, its my opinions again here.


As to using chips, I did it for alot of years, I still do upon occasion but I have one of those auxilary smoke generators that goes 12 to 18 hours. Its worth it. to sleep all night. Check out A-MAZ-N Products above in the sponsor section, BTW I think there is a 4th sale going on. I can only speak for myself, but they are good folks to deal with.


This is turning into a novel. Man if I can help, I can offer opinions anyway, let me know. I like my MES. I am sure your Brisket will be legendary today (already LOL)


Remember its about enjoying the smoke, and as a wise man says, Patience.


::EDIT:: ROFLMAO, I type too much, too slow!

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
The brisket doesn't come off for another hour or so. I absolutely agree that the smoke ring doesn't determine the flavor, but have been thinking about it as an indication of how much smoke penetration I got. The changes I made are really all about trying to maximize how much flavor and smoke I can get into the meat.

Foamheart and So MS Smoker, You're both probably right that I won't get a smoke ring, but a friend of mine occasionally gets one on a brisket with his MES 30 so seems possible.

I've heard good things about the A-MAZ-N products but didn't have it and wanted to see what I can do what I already have.

Foamheart, I've never done ribs but want to. You mentioned adding some sugar - would you use white sugar or brown sugar?

Thanks for the replies!
post #6 of 19

Hello my Tx. brother.  Foamheart got ya sorted with the electric smoker.  And if your friend gets a smoke ring on his, folks will want to know.  We get asked so often about brisket that I have now pre-written my technique and here is my opinion.  Hope it gives food for thought.  I am going to ASSUME you are asking about a packer brisket.  Different parts of the country are known for different smoked meat and styles.  For Texas it is sliced brisket.  As I am OLD school and from South Texas; I am going to give you my take on traditional smoked Tx. style sliced brisket.  This may sound boring  but trust me, folks were doing brisket like this a long time and the taste of a traditional, properly cooked and smoked brisket is a thing you will not forget.  I do not  trim my brisket, I trim when I slice.  I do not use rubs ( salt and black  pepper or cayenne pepper only ).  I season the meat as the smoker comes up to temp.  I do not add sauce.  I serve it on the side.  I try to let the taste of the meat and smoke shine.  IMHO rubs and sauces detract from the taste of the meat.  Quality brisket doesn’t need to have the taste hidden.  I do sometimes mop/baste to add a slight flavor change.  Bark belongs on pulled pork, not sliced brisket as it CAN be hard and tough.  I would say that IF you are going to foil and continue to cook a mop is NOT necessary because you will probably add some sort of Au Jus to the foil , but if you want to mop to add a certain flavor it ain't gonna hurt it.  I don’t foil until the rest period.  I don’t do burnt ends ( but they ARE good ).  I would run the temp round 275-300 ( 280-290 if you can be that accurate ) Wood SHOULD be mesquite by tradition, but pecan, oak, and hickory are good ( in that order INMHO ).  Having said all that I must admit ( if lightning doesn’t strike me ) that this isn’t the ONLY way to achieve a great tasting  brisket.  This is all personal preference based on tradition.  If you LIKE rubs and sauces then by ALL means add ‘em.  MANY threads here to help you with those.  It ain’t rocket science but the KEY!!!! to brisket is patience, and patience, and more patience;  and leave that door closed!   My MAIN advice is to write down everything.  Weight, temp, rub, mop, wood, time, foil/no foil, and anything else you can think of including weather conditions.  Next time you will have options to change whatever.  Find what you and the family like and stick with it.  Good luck.  Be sure to let us know how it turns out as we are a nosey bunch, and don't forget the Q-view.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!


post #7 of 19

I use raw sugar which is more like a light brown. Standard light brown sugar has vanilla , dark brown sugar has molasses. Where I live there is sugar on the sides of the road from the trucks hauling.


What this does is seal the meat. It caramelizes with the heat, thats good, too much heat it burns and turns back, thats not good.


With ribs you don't use IT, I use the amount of draw back of the meat from the bones. Well actually I look for the cooked protein (blood), exiting the bone.  If I am worried about them being on too long, I grab a bone and if it will turn lose with effort its past supper time. Most competitors use the fold back approach, I've never done it, it involves bending the rib back until the skin cracks.


I, on a pit used mop and flop on ribs, no foiling. With the MES I don't think that is possible because of the slow recovery time of the electric element. With and electrics its all about how long you can keep the door closed. Thats why the added the tray re-loader external. Someone told me to qadd 15 mins everytime you open the door. Not sure I agree, but it does dump your heat load which has to be recovered.


All smoke is about low and slow, fired pits vs. Electric is about how you achieve it. Maintaining temp while balancing humidity.


Enjoy the smoke, have a great 4th and I hope your Brisket becomes and 4th of July tradition.

post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Foamheart, many thanks - you've made me really want to try my hand at ribs. And I didn't know about that difference between light and brown sugar.

Danny, thanks. I share many of the same philosophical influences, and I count myself privileged to have tasted of such places as Kreuz's, Louie Mueller's, and the more recent Pecan Lodge. I like a basic rub of mostly (if not completely) salt and pepper and agree with the mantra that well smoked meat has nothing to hide and needs no sauce.

To no one's surprise, I did not get a smoke ring. But I got more smoke flavor than in the past, the crew ate a good bit of it, and we had fun. I'll call that a success.

post #9 of 19

That really looks good. Congrats.

post #10 of 19

 Well done Tim! It looks great.  Keep doing it to what you and friends like. That is what matters most!



post #11 of 19

You may not have a smoke ring, but that's some awesome bark! yahoo.gif


Thanks for the Q-view

post #12 of 19

Looks like ya ended up with some fine food.  GREAT job.


post #13 of 19
Looks amazing.

How long did you have it in the smoker for, and how long did it rest?
post #14 of 19
Good job!
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone!

Kevsdad, it was 16lbs so I had it in there about 21 hours. Most of the time abot 225. Jacked it up at the end because I was running out of time. Took it out at 190 IT. This one I only had time to rest it for about half an hour. Normally I'd prefer at least an hour. Thankfully it didn't dry out. Munching on some leftovers now, as a matter of fact.
post #16 of 19

Now THAT is what I think a brisket should look like! Looks awesome man. I also have an MES 40 and I'm smoking a lil 10 pounder tomorrow, hopefully I can yield similar results. Did you use an injection?

post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Cajun Smoke,

No injection. Nothing against them per se, just never felt like it needed it.

By the way, I've mostly worked in the 13 pound range myself, but Tuesday before July 4th my choices were limited at my local Sam's Club.

Have fun and please let us know how yours turns out (with pictures)!

post #18 of 19

TimD, looks great and you are spot on, a well cooked brisket needs no injection.  The internal fat will take care of that.

post #19 of 19

I injected. But i think yall are right. It was so juicy when i cut into it that there probably no need for the injection. next time im not injecting. I'm about to make post about it if yall wanna check out the results!

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