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Bought Used MES40 Tried a brisket - what did I do wrong?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Wife grabbed me a flat cut 3.5 lb brisket which I rubbed and wrapped in plastic and put it in the fridge Friday around 8pm.  Saturday by 8am I had the smoker going at 250 with good smoke and I put the brisket in the 2nd rack from the top and put a big foil pan on the bottom rack and put in 2 cups water, 2 cups cherry coke.  Temp came up to 143 pretty quick, I'd say by 10:30am but then it just sat there all the way until about 4pm it finally started climbing again and I had to go out for a couple hours so I wouldn't be tending to it so I wrapped it in foil then by 7pm it was 190 so I pulled it and put it in a cooler wrapped in blankets for one hour. 

 

The bark was great the flavor was nice but the meat was super dry. Edible but not juicy in the way I am used to having bbq brisket.  A decent amount of juice, about a cup was in the bottom of the foil when I unwrapped it.  

 

Any tips on what to do different next time?  I know I could have rested it another hour but in this case I don't think those juices were ever going back in to the meat.  I feel like all the moisture came out of it during that long plateau.  

post #2 of 13

Also a newb here, so don't take the follow as gospel:

 

You ran up against "The Stall."  This happens when the moisture in the meat moves to the surface and evaporates.  Basically your meat sweats.  There are some tricks about wrapping the meat in foil to "power through" the stall, but I've only read about them.  

 

Brisket is one of the harder meats to smoke.  I'd say move to pulled pork for a few smokes to get used to how everything works. Pork but is way more forgiving and also really tasty.  You may end up not having to make a brisket again.....  :)

post #3 of 13

Couple of questions:

  • did you have a calibrated accurate therm reading the chamber temp?
  • did you have a calibrated accurate therm reading the meat temp?

 

Most stock chamber temp therms can be off by as much as 75+ degrees. Also that stall seems like it lasted an incredibly long period of time, usually a stall only lasts for 2-3 hrs. at most - especially in a small piece of meat like that one.

 

I am guessing you had a trimmed brisket flat - which is about the hardest piece of meat to get right since it is has a thin cross section and they tend to trim most or all of the fat off of it. For future cooks try a full packer brisket and leave most of the fat in place. Your other option if you stay with the brisket flat is to place it in a foil pan with a can of low sodium beef broth when the internal temp hits 165° - but you wont get any bark with that method.

post #4 of 13

You are in the right place to get started on the smokin adventures. Search out the knowledge that is within this site and it will speed up your learning curve and there is a lot to learn.

 

High on the list to learning is to known your MES (that is what I use). You stated that this was a recent purchase and probably first time use. Need to check out the MES temperature readings.Knowing the temperature of the product and the unit temperature is #1 IMHO. If you are taking the temps.from the MES unit they are known to be off several degrees. The Maverick dual probe digital thermometer (or similar unit) is needed to help you with temperature.

 

On the subject of liquid in the pan. Seems that most people using the MES would tell you that adding liquid to the pan can delay cooking time in the MES. Converting this liquid to steam has a cooling affect on the MES which can add cooking time. I don't use any liquid in my MES. Just keep this in mind if you use liquids on future smokes.  
 
Keep smokin
 
Larry
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by FatMaul View Post
 

Wife grabbed me a flat cut 3.5 lb brisket which I rubbed and wrapped in plastic and put it in the fridge Friday around 8pm.  Saturday by 8am I had the smoker going at 250 with good smoke and I put the brisket in the 2nd rack from the top and put a big foil pan on the bottom rack and put in 2 cups water, 2 cups cherry coke.  Temp came up to 143 pretty quick, I'd say by 10:30am but then it just sat there all the way until about 4pm it finally started climbing again and I had to go out for a couple hours so I wouldn't be tending to it so I wrapped it in foil then by 7pm it was 190 so I pulled it and put it in a cooler wrapped in blankets for one hour. 

 

The bark was great the flavor was nice but the meat was super dry. Edible but not juicy in the way I am used to having bbq brisket.  A decent amount of juice, about a cup was in the bottom of the foil when I unwrapped it.  

 

Any tips on what to do different next time?  I know I could have rested it another hour but in this case I don't think those juices were ever going back in to the meat.  I feel like all the moisture came out of it during that long plateau.  

 

What JRod said above about accurate temps, plus one of your problems was it took too long for a small lean piece like a 3.5 pound Flat.

I would have to say that pan with Water & Coke slowed everything up too. The liquids cool things down & don't really add anything positive in a well insulated MES. Juices are good when you foil, but not in a pan below. IMHO

 

Here's a similar size Brisket Flat (3.75 LB) that I did in an MES:

 

Bear

 

Edit: Also what Larry said, while I was typing my Reply.

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JIRodriguez View Post
 

Couple of questions:

  • did you have a calibrated accurate therm reading the chamber temp?
  • did you have a calibrated accurate therm reading the meat temp?

 

Most stock chamber temp therms can be off by as much as 75+ degrees. Also that stall seems like it lasted an incredibly long period of time, usually a stall only lasts for 2-3 hrs. at most - especially in a small piece of meat like that one.

 

I am guessing you had a trimmed brisket flat - which is about the hardest piece of meat to get right since it is has a thin cross section and they tend to trim most or all of the fat off of it. For future cooks try a full packer brisket and leave most of the fat in place. Your other option if you stay with the brisket flat is to place it in a foil pan with a can of low sodium beef broth when the internal temp hits 165° - but you wont get any bark with that method.

Yes, I have a probe thermopen and I used an IR thermo and the interior walls said they 240.  Thanks.

post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by JIRodriguez View Post
 

Couple of questions:

  • did you have a calibrated accurate therm reading the chamber temp?
  • did you have a calibrated accurate therm reading the meat temp?

 

Most stock chamber temp therms can be off by as much as 75+ degrees. Also that stall seems like it lasted an incredibly long period of time, usually a stall only lasts for 2-3 hrs. at most - especially in a small piece of meat like that one.

 

I am guessing you had a trimmed brisket flat - which is about the hardest piece of meat to get right since it is has a thin cross section and they tend to trim most or all of the fat off of it. For future cooks try a full packer brisket and leave most of the fat in place. Your other option if you stay with the brisket flat is to place it in a foil pan with a can of low sodium beef broth when the internal temp hits 165° - but you wont get any bark with that method.

 

I agree about the importance of knowing the accurate temperature of the smoker however not about leaving on the fat. There are as many ways of cooking a perfect brisket as there are members on here however I trim off ALL (yes all!) the fat and it never ends up being dry. I marinade the night before and then smoke open for 3 hours before wrapping in foil for the remainder of the time. Once it has reached temperature turn it upside down (still in the foil) and then let it rest in a cooler or under blankest for at least 2-3 hours before serving. It will not be dry Thumbs Up

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearcarver View Post
 

 

What JRod said above about accurate temps, plus one of your problems was it took too long for a small lean piece like a 3.5 pound Flat.

I would have to say that pan with Water & Coke slowed everything up too. The liquids cool things down & don't really add anything positive in a well insulated MES. Juices are good when you foil, but not in a pan below. IMHO

 

Here's a similar size Brisket Flat (3.75 LB) that I did in an MES:

 

Bear

 

Edit: Also what Larry said, while I was typing my Reply.

Thanks.  Good tip on the pan liquid.  Yes, some of the flat had no fat cap at all...  

post #9 of 13

Let's start with the basics.   Was it dry and crumbly ?  Or dry and tough/elastic ?  If it was crumbly, then it was overcooked.  If tough/elastic, then it was undercooked.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Demosthenes9 View Post
 

Let's start with the basics.   Was it dry and crumbly ?  Or dry and tough/elastic ?  If it was crumbly, then it was overcooked.  If tough/elastic, then it was undercooked.

 

Definitely more tough but not horrible.  After wrapping it in foil and letting rest in the fridge, re-heating it actually made it better.  Sounds like I just wasn't patient enough.

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by FatMaul View Post
 

 

Definitely more tough but not horrible.  After wrapping it in foil and letting rest in the fridge, re-heating it actually made it better.  Sounds like I just wasn't patient enough.

 

Yup---Patience being a Virtue is more true with Smoking Meat than with most other things!!

 

Bear

post #12 of 13

Temp accuracy, and the flat if trimmed is a lean piece of meat      Check that temp gauge  and your thermometer  you check the brisket with.  Look for good marbling and a fat cap.  Trim the fat cap down  to about a 1/4 "  and with good marbling shouldn't be dry

 

Gary

post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by FatMaul View Post
 

 

Definitely more tough but not horrible.  After wrapping it in foil and letting rest in the fridge, re-heating it actually made it better.  Sounds like I just wasn't patient enough.

 

 

Yep, strange as it may seem, dry and tough generally means that it didn't cook long enough.   It needed more time at temp for the connective tissues to break down making it tender and juicier.  If you are going to wrap in foil, do so a bit earlier at the beginning of the stall as it will help power through and shorten the time.   Also, instead of pulling at a certain temp (like 190), poke the brisket in several places on the thickest part of the flat.   When the probe goes in and out with no resistance, like a knife through room temp butter, the brisket is done.   Pull from the smoker, let it vent for a bit to stop the carryover cooking then seal in foil and allow it to rest.

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