- 9 Posts. Joined 8/2013
- Location: Corsicana, TX
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First ever smoke - Suggestions/tips please!!
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I am smoking for the very first time this Saturday. I am planning on smoking s brisket. I am going to buy a 9-10 lb brisket. I am using an offset firebox smoker that I just refurbished. Any suggestions on dry rubs, cooking temps, cooking time, foil or not to foil? Also I plan on using pecan or oak wood to smoke with, or even both. Any suggestions are welcomed!!
First thing, did you make any modifications to this rig, such as lowering the vent stack to grate level, and installing baffle plates under the cooking grates near the fire box? Also, do you have an elevated fire grate or basket which will provide for ash fall-out so the fire doesn't get snuffed-out? If not, I would get that under way ASAP...I don't smoke on my Brinkmann Smoke n Pit n Pit any more, but without some of these basic modifications I believe you will be in for a fight trying to maintain reasonable and stable smoke chamber temps and keep the fire burning.
Of course you will need the basics like a charcoal chimney (don't use lighter fluid...eek!!!) and a temperature probe for your meat and/or grate temp monitoring. Don't trust factory temp gauges until you verify/calibrate them...many smokers do not have accurate temp gauges...not just the cheaper ones, either.
Getting your hands on your desired brisket size will depend on what your local stores have on hand, but that weight range is somewhat on the small size, so don't be surprised if you end up somewhere in the 12-13lb range, which is average, with 18lb being among the largest I've ever smoked.
For rub, keep it simple, especially the first few times around...brisket has a very hearty flavor all by itself and doesn't need much to bring out it's best characteristic flavors, so I suggest SPOG (salt, pepper, onion, garlic) at a ratio of approx 1:1.5:2:1.5 parts, respectively. Once you have a brisket or two under your belt, you may decide to expand the flavor profile of your rub and get a little more creative, but SPOG is mostly all I use for brisket, lately...KISS method seems to do them justice every time.
Depending on your elevation, I would try to maintain a target smoke chamber temp of 225-240* (measured near your meat with a probe) at lower elevations (sea=level to 2,500 ft) and 235-250* at higher elevations (3,000 - 6,000 ft). Bump even higher if you live in the Rockies at around 7,500 ft and up. I don't know your location/elevation, so I'm throwing this all in as a general statement...elevation does effect cooking time and temperature effects on food, specifically water evaporation rates from foods and the boiling-point of water, which directly related to the cooking process. Otherwise, opinions will vary on smoking between a range of 225* up to 275*, but low and slow seems to be the most beneficial for tenderizing the meat.
Cook to internal temp of around 185* for slicing, more if tenderness probing indicates it is not quite ready yet. Plan on about 2 hours/lb if you don't foil at some point, and at least 1.5hrs/lb if foiled at around 160-170* (smoke is no longer necessary once foiled, so you can cheat by placing in the oven at the same temp as your smoker...but I didn't say that...LOL!!!). Foiling speeds up the cooking process and keeps the bark on the meat from getting overly hard and crisp. Some don't foil brisket until it reaches their desired state of tenderness and/or internal temp, and I'm one of them. But it is a personal preference, I would suggest foiling for your first time around, then try not foiling next time so you discover first-hand what the two methods do for your brisket and cooking time.
Pecan and Oak would be great for your brisket...oak is heavier (which the stronger flavors of brisket can take very well) while pecan has a slightly nutty flavor and pungent aroma...good paring for beef, IMHO, although I am partial to pecan combinations for a variety of meats as well as poultry.
For a charcoal-fired pit, I suggest laying it fat-cap down to help protect the meat from temp spikes, etc...it will render down somewhat...maybe check out a couple of my packer brisket smokes for prep (in my sig line)...I run vertical smokers, so it's fat-cap up for me. Sometimes I (more often than not lately) I trim lean and separate the point/flat muscles prior to smoking for an even better brisket dining experience, but that's not something for the novice...you might decide later down the road to try this at some point.
Let us know if you need additional info or something unexpected comes up. And don't fear the brisket...just give it it's due respect. Once you get a good brisket out of the smoker you will be hooked. They are a great subject for smoking and are versatile in how you can finish them (sliced, pulled, burnt ends) and it's all great eating when you get your methods to click for your preferences.
Enjoy your first brisket, and your first smoke!!!
Seasoned wood only, and I don't soak it...that just delays the onset of smoke until the water evaporates...you'll see some extra steam coming out the vents on a cool day, but that's about it.
Oh, be sure to season the smoker before you put any food in it to cure paint, etc...otherwise your dinner might not be so tasty...
If you can get a pan under it, yes...de-fat the drippings by chilling, or use one of those fat separators while it's still warm. Don't forget to de-glaze the pan, too...lots of wonderful stuff in all that sticky gunk....
Edited by forluvofsmoke - 8/30/13 at 9:52pm
- 884 Posts. Joined 5/2013
- Location: Ding A Ling, Ontario, Canada On the banks of the Grand...
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I have never done a brisket, they are very hard to find in this neck of the woods. But when doing ribs, I put them in rack in foil pan, doing the 3 - 2 - 1 method and when it gets to the foil part, I will take the pan juice, mix it with some apple juice and garlic and some BBQ sauce and such and then put that in with the ribs when I foil them, sometimes, but not all the time.
Depends on the weight, but at the temps your running at, probably just under 1hr/lb, although I haven't used a horozontal pit for a few years.....could be closer to 3/4hr per lb..
If it tasted to your liking that"s what counts the most. Now you can relax a bit more on the next one...assuming you'll be smoking brisket again.....the rest will be easier.
ENJOY that brisket!!!!!!!