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post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

2 questions, For y'all

1) Is there a way to tell if the brisket is full of Fat in the middle before you buy it? You'd Think a $50. 10 lb brisket wouldn't be all fat in the middle. From a Meat store.

2) do y'all take your briskets off by internal temp or Time? if Temp what temp?

Thank Ya'll


post #2 of 27
Originally Posted by Papa7326 View Post

2 questions, For y'all

1) Is there a way to tell if the brisket is full of Fat in the middle before you buy it? You'd Think a $50. 10 lb brisket wouldn't be all fat in the middle. From a Meat store. (Not real science in that. I use feel. The tighter the brisket feels, the more muscle [My technique])

2) do y'all take your briskets off by internal temp or Time? if Temp what temp? (I again go by feel. When the thickest part is probe tender [as much resistance a knife going through room temperature butter] I pull it.)

Thank Ya'll


post #3 of 27
Don't even consider pulling before about 200 IT. And be sure to then wrap in foil with a little liquid. Wrap in a towel or blanket and drop in a cooler. Two hours is great but it will stay much longer.
on brisket, if you pull it too early you'll be sorry. Undercooked brisket can be super tough.
post #4 of 27

My Dad worked as a Butcher and he taught me this 40 years ago...Lean meat stays flexible and limp even when very cold, or at least well short of frozen. When Fat is cold it gets hard and inflexible. So pick up the Brisket and see how limp it is. The more limp, the Leaner it is.


Time is just a guide to gauge how early to get started to have it done when needed. To determine doneness go by Temp and Probe Tenderness. When the Internal Temp (IT) gets to around 190°F poke it with the therm probe. When the probe slides in with no resistance, the meat is done. This should happen between an IT of 190 and 195°F. At this point you can let it rest, tented with foil on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes and slice it or foil the Brisket, rest about 15 minutes to cool slightly, then wrap in towels and put the whole deal in a cooler to hold hot up to 5 hours. The reason I rest 15 minutes before going in the cooler is, the meat is now perfectly tender and good for slicing. If you go in the cooler straight from the smoker, you risk it getting over cooked as the IT continues to rise while it is resting. Carryover, is the continued rise in IT  as the exterior and center of the meat equalizes. Carryover can raise the IT 10° or more resulting in a  perfect for slicing, about 195°F, Brisket  climbing to over 205° and turning mushy only suitable for Pulling...JJ

Edited by Chef JimmyJ - 5/27/14 at 5:12pm
post #5 of 27

Yup as stated above I go by the toothpick test to tell when brisket is done - not time & definitely not temp. Some briskets will be overcooked at 200*. I've had them get done at a wide range of ITs - anywhere from 187 up. Each brisket is different...


Edit: Too slow  :icon_mrgreen:

post #6 of 27

Hello, good afternoon, both JJ and Smoking B gave you some good advice, briskets are different, I cooked one Saturday that was on for 13.5 hours, It usually takes about 12, But it's ready when it's ready. Even if you buy Choice it will vary some in tenderness, I have had some that were absolutely fantastic couldn't ask for better, then go back next time and get another "choice" and it be just good not great.



Gary S

post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 

13 hrs do you wrap it?

post #8 of 27

Yes I wrap about 5 - 6 hours in, I use butcher paper and smoke at 225º


Gary S

post #9 of 27

Butcher paper wrap????    Why butcher paper versus foil?

post #10 of 27

 Butcher paper doesn't hold as much moisture in and steam the brisket like Foil does. I was wanting a better firmer bark and still having a juicy tender brisket at the end. Several years ago I tried it and have been doing it that way ever since. The butcher paper holds in some moisture so it doesn't dry out. I used foil for years and years with great results, just liked the way it came out using b.p..   One advantage to foil is it will be less likely to dry out. When I used foil, I would unwrap and put it back on the smoker to firm up the bark.


Hope this helps, be glad to answer any questions you have.


Gary S

post #11 of 27
Originally Posted by Weekend Smoker View Post

Butcher paper wrap????    Why butcher paper versus foil?


Foil is a hard core seal. It locks in ALL the moisture and conducts heat, too well, " Steaming " the Brisket. For those inexperienced in perfect timing, you may end up with a pile of Mush instead of moist, tender, sliceable meat.


Butcher paper in contrast, is more forgiving, letting the meat " Breathe " yet still holding in enough moisture that the meat stays moist. Paper also maintains a better Bark with more texture than Foil. Paper can let some Smoke in but not let the meat over smoke, better than foil for folks that like Smokey Meat. Paper is a semi-conductor it allows the meat to continue cooking but at a slower rate than foil. Add about 25% more time compared to what it usually takes with foil. When it is time to Hold, the paper keeps the meat warm but protects from overcooking. Paper absorbs Fat.


Paper is not the way to go if you are in a hurry and trying to Push through the Stall. Paper gives some insurance over Foil. Keeping Brisket moist without overcooking...JJ


Here is some more detail on how it works, info on Type and Weight of paper to use and How to Wrap a Brisket ... http://texasbbqposse.blogspot.com/2010/12/butcher-paper-wrapped-brisket-posse.html


Gary S types faster than me...Good Job Buddy!...JJ:biggrin:

post #12 of 27

Not really I am a two finger typer   JJ gave you a lot more detail than I did on the use of paper. Starting out I would probably go with the foil, until you feel comfortable enough with your smoker and cook times, then try the paper, may or may not like it better. I have had lots of practice, been BBQing and Smoking for 40 years, and like I said just switched to paper a few years ago.


Good luck


Gary S

post #13 of 27

Lots of great information above, I have used paper, but prefer the speed up in my cook times I get using foil.  As far as the bark, just simply open the foil during the venting phase and your bark will reset, otherwise, yes, foiling will soften up the bark.  

As far as the rest, the longer the better, you should allow the meat to naturally cool down, preferably reaching an IT of 160 or below prior to slicing to prevent to much moisture loss.  This allows the meat which was under stress during the cook process to relax and redistribute its natural juices throughout the muscles, not all towards the surface, which is why you will have excess juice when slicing hot.  

As far as tenderness, if you have had a piece of brisket that was not tender, in my experience, you didn't cook it long enough. Anything that is cooked long enough (with some sort of wrap) will get tender (Select, Choice or Prime grades).  The big differences between the grades of meat is more the mouth feel or chew that a piece of meat has.  The better the grade, the better the internal marbling, the better the mouth feel, this is what gives you the "melt in your mouth" feel that we all love.  Selects will rarely get this good, you can get them tender, just not butter tender.  Choices are better, but you still stand a chance of getting a not so good Choice (due to the way beef is graded).  Prime or Waygu is an almost guaranteed melt in your mouth feel when cooked right.  

I know that most preach that anything above 205 is just good for chopped or pulled meat, but I strongly disagree.  I cook all my briskets to toothpick tenderness (when the round toothpick slides in the middle of the flat with little to no resistance), not worrying about IT, but for grins and giggles I usually check them when I pull them, 99% of the time, they are above 210.  I always slice my flats (for competition or at home) and yes, some of the slices don't hold up, but it is some really good eating.  

The biggest key is patience when cooking a brisket, it's done when it's done.  Use the IT as a benchmark, when to wrap, when to start probing for doneness, etc., but don't pull that brisket from the heat until it is probe tender, you won't be sorry!              

post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 

So y'all are telling me not to use my internal thermometer.

post #15 of 27

Nope, use it, it's an invaluable tool, but on big cuts like brisket and pork butts, there are other signs of when they are done.  On pork butts, when you can wiggle the blade bone out cleanly, it's done.  On a brisket when you can easily slide a toothpick in the flat section, it's done.  I don't use meat thermometers anymore because I have streamlined my process, I know my cook times on all my meats down to the minute on some.  Most of this comes from knowing your smoker, but it also comes from the fact that I cook 8 or more competitions a year, so I have to know my timelines for the turn ins.  When I cook at home, I cook like I'm at a comp, same temps, same sizes of meat, same everything, I'm always practicing.  

By all means use the meat therms, but work towards using them as a guideline, not a "this is what the book says" so it's done kind of thing.  This all comes with experience and knowing your smoker or smokers.  Use the IT as a guideline on when to wrap, or when to start probing for doneness for sure.  Some folks use the color of the meat to know when to wrap, I always did too, until I learned my smoker inside and out, now this took nearly a year and a half of experimenting with different cook temps and methods of fire management.

post #16 of 27

Good Q comes from practice, keeping track of all variables and using ALL your tools. These include, look, smell, internal temperatures, smoker temperatures, tenderness at various stages and techniques learned from those with experience. So use it all. Try different things, foil, paper, low and slow, hot and fast, fat up, fat down and anything else you read about...JJ

post #17 of 27
Originally Posted by Papa7326 View Post

So y'all are telling me not to use my internal thermometer.



Internal thermometer is great for 2 things.  First, as a guide.   It will let you track the progress of your cook and can give you a general idea of when to do certain things, such as foil when it hits 150-160, or to start probing for tenderness when it hits 190. 


Second thing it is good for is to do the actual probing.  Just try sliding it into spots on the thickest part of the flat.  When it goes in with very little to no resistance, like a knife through butter, your brisket is ready.


Short version is that some briskets might be tender at 190 degrees, others at 195, yet others at 205 or even more.   If you pulled your brisket based on internal temp, more often than not, the brisket won't be "done".  It will either be undercooked (dry and tough) or overcooked (dry and stringy).  It really sucks that you might spend 14 hours cooking a brisket and end up with something tough and chewy because you pulled it 30 mins earlier than you should have, or dry and stringy because you left it only 30 mins longer than you should have.

post #18 of 27

I have had a few brisket failures. It happens. under done, over done, dry, it don't matter...Make Chili!...JJ

post #19 of 27
What is a normal yield for an untrimmed whole brisket?
post #20 of 27

Plan on about 50%. Lean brisket more, really fatty brisket less...JJ

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