Originally Posted by psouthwick
Entering the world of briskets....... I have gotten pretty good at smoking pork and enjoyed it but now the best half wants Briskets..... A few questions I would love answered. (I realize if I search I will find this but if you mind answering again I would thank you in advance)
1. Best size to look for when picking one? (how many pounds)
Depends on your smoker and personal preferences. If you want to smoke a whole brisket (packer), they need a large grate space, so unless you have a wide-body vertical or a horizontal/offset smoker, a packer is not the best choice unless you separate the point/flat muscles before smoking. A center-cut (trimmed flat) will fit on most vertical smoker grates.
2. I hear about trimming them.... do you really need to
This is also a personal preference. Some leave the fat-cap intact, some trim lean, some trim to leave a predetermined amount of thickness. I prefer lean-trimmed to allow for more smoke reaction with the meat (fat hinders smoke penetration/smoke ring). To go along with lean trimmed, I use a wet-to-dry smoke chamber humidity.
3. Wrapping in foil? Should you. At what temp do you wrap in foil. I never use foil with pork and it turns out great.
Many foil at around 165* or up to 180*. This will reduce bark formation, or keep the bark soft after formation. I no longer foil brisket when using a wet-to-dry smoke chamber.
. 4. Whats the best finishing temp for brisket....
For a basic brisket smoke (packer), you can separate the point/flat muscles mid-smoke smoke, as the flat will finish before the point. For sliced, the it should be tender around 185*, give or take...probe for tenderness before resting. If you want to pull the point, take it to 200-205*, again, probing for tenderness before resting.
If you wish to make Burnt Ends from the point, I like to rest it after reaching the upper 150* to lower 160* range. Rest for 30 minutes or so and cube to 1" to 1-1/4", toss in a light coating of sauce and return to open grates in the smoker for 2-3 hours @ 225* until the edges and some of the sides are crisp.
5. and the stupid questions of they day.... what is mopping meat.
Mopping is basting with a blend of spices and liquid of your choice, simply put. It adds moisture and flavor to the surface of the meat. The added moisture aids in smoke penetration. Generally, it is used with horizontal/pit smokers which do not have a fixed source of water (water pan) to increase the smoke chamber humidity. Mopping causes heat loss and increased cooking time due to opening of the smoke chamber, so keep that in mind if you plan on mopping. I don't mop...I let the water pan do its thing, then let it run dry about half-way through the smoke to bring it all home.
If you'd like more info on the wet-to-dry smoke chamber, go to the Wiki article, HERE, or directly to the Brisket thread, HERE. I advocate the wet-to-dry smoke chamber method only because I have consistently good results with it.
For a basic packer brisket with burnt ends:
Pulled point and sliced flat:
There are a few more variations to brisket in my signature line as well, if you browse a little.
PM me or ask here if you'd like to know more on any of the above.