Hey everyone. I'm relatively new to smoking but I've made so pretty tasty things up to this point. I apologize in advance for the long post.
Here's my brisket story...
So last weekend it was pretty cold outside. Not sure how cold but it was below 20 degrees. Cold temps have never had much of an effect on my MES 40 (2012 version) so I picked up a tiny 2.7 pound brisket flat to experiment with. When I got it home and unpackaged it, I noticed that there wasn't much fat on it. I was concerned with the meat drying out since there wasn't much fat content so I marinaded it for four hours. The marinade I found online and used is called "Best Odds Brisket Marinade" and is as follows:
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
After it was done marinading, I made up a quick rub. If I remember correctly, I used salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder and fresh thyme. I should have written down what I mixed because it turned out pretty tasty. I fired up the smoker and put the brisket in. The smoker temp was 225. This was according to my Maverick ET-73 probes. My MES controller temp is always off so I don't pay much attention to it at all. I let it go except to add chips every hour or so. About an hour and a half after I put the brisket in the smoker, the wind picked up outside. This caused my smoker temperature to go crazy. At times when there was a gust of wind, my smoker temperature went down as much as 40 degrees below my set point. I tried increasing the smoker temp a little bit no matter what I did, the wind seemed to suck the heat right of the smoker. Regardless, I left the brisket in the smoker until it reached an internal temperature of 170 degrees. I then took it out of the smoker, put it a disposable aluminum pan with a half a cup of chicken stock, covered the tray in foil and put it in a 250 degree oven. I still had it probed. After it reached an internal temperature of 190 degrees I turned off the oven and left the tray in it to let the meat rest. After a half hour I pulled the tray out of the oven and sliced the brisket. It was extremely juicy but the meat was still tough. I don't think I allowed it to get to a high enough temperature. At this point I was so frustrated since from what I read, brisket should take around 1.5 hours per pound. That brisket should have been done in around 4 hours but it cooked for 8 hours! I figured it took so long because of the wind sucking the heat out of the smoker so I then planned on figuring out something to prevent this from happening again.
So after this debacle, I first tested my probes in an ice bath and boiling water. All temperatures were good. Then, after reading on here about others having problems with wind, I added a 3 inch, 90 degree chimney pipe to my side vent so the wind wouldn't have as much effect on my smoker temperatures.
Fast forward to yesterday...since yesterday's temperature and wind were similar to last weekend's conditions, I decided to give another brisket a try and compare to my experience last weekend. So I headed to the store and picked up another brisket flat weighting 2.77 pounds. Once again, it didn't have much fat on it whatsoever so I marinaded it for 4 hours. Same marinade as last week except I used balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. While the brisket was marinading I fired up the MES to see if the vent chimney mod helped with my fluctuating temperatures. It worked beautifully. I actually had better control than ever. I only had a small temperature variance below and above my set point.
So I put a basic rub (salt, pepper, cayenne) on the brisket and popped it in the smoker around 3 pm. I had the smoker set at 225 degrees. Once again, the 225 degrees was according to my Maverick temps, not the MES controller temp since it's not exactly accurate. I left it alone other than adding wood chips every 45 minutes or so. After 3 hours I stuck the probe in the brisket and it was only reading 153 degrees. I increased the smoker temp to around 235 degrees and let it go except for adding wood chips every 45 minutes or so. At around 10pm the internal temperature of the brisket was 178 degrees. I took it out of the smoker, put it a disposable aluminum tray with a half cup of chicken stock, covered the tray in foil and put it in a 250 degree oven. I still had it probed. At about 2am the brisket temperature was 202 degrees. I shut off the oven with the brisket still in it to let the meat rest. I removed it 30 minutes later and sliced it. It was delicious and was so tender and juicy that I could easily cut it with a fork. Yum. Being as though it was so late, I cleaned up a little bit and went to bed.
This morning I thought I'd check my probe temps again. I checked the three probes that I was using yesterday. In boiling water the temps of the three probes were 212, 217 and 218. In an ice bath, the probe temperatures were 35, 35 and 36.
So my obvious question is, WHY THE HECK ARE THESE TINY LITTLE BRISKETS TAKING SO LONG TO COOK?!?! I thought for sure with the wind not being a factor due to the chimney pipe mod, the brisket would have cooked closer to the 1.5 hours per pound estimate. Is the marinade doing something to the meat thats preventing it from cooking faster?
Once again, I appreciate all your help guys and I thank you in advance! Sorry for the long post!