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Had some trouble with my brisket :)

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

New smoker here. Cooked a brisket flat over the weekend. My first time. I felt like I hit the right temps and followed the right procedure but it still came out rather tough. It was 3.5 pounds... so it was relatively small. I'm using a WSM 18.5. I'll walk you through what I did and maybe you can tell me what I did wrong. 

 

Prepped the meat with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

When the pit hit 230 i put the meat on (around 10am).

When the meat hit 165 I wrapped it with a little cola/beef broth/red wine/butter mixture. 

I let the pit temp come up to 250. I had ribs on there and like the way the higher temp seems to give it a better bark.

Poked the brisket a few times around 415. It felt relatively soft, and the temp reads were 198, 200, and 205.

I pulled it off and wrapped it in a towel for two hours.

Sliced it against the grain. 

 

It had a layer of fat that ran through the middle. The top half of the meat that was between the fat cap and the lower layer of fat was nice and relatively tender. The meat on the bottom though was very tough. I'm wondering if maybe i didnt poke the thermometer deep enough and was mislead by the top half. I dunno... it wasn't bad though. I also didnt really get much of a bark. I'm wondering if that was because of the low temp and the lack of sugar. 

 

Here are a few pics of the day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 11

The meat on the bottom was probably some of the point portion that runs under the flat, it's grain would be running the opposite of the flat, so you would have been eating it with the grain, not against.  

As far as bark, sugar will help but is not needed, it could have been just too light of a coat of rub, also could have been just the fact it only cooked for 6 hours or so.  

Were you happy with tenderness and moisture?  Brisket looks good.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

There was some good moisture content but the tenderness just wasn't really there. The layer in between the two layers of fat was tender. But the meat on the bottom was tough.

 

I didn't think about this before but i forgot to check if it was a select cut or choice. I'm guessing it was select because of the white styrofoam packaging. I usually see choice come in the black packaging. I could be wrong though. 

 

Flavor was good though. Will make for some great leftovers. Already planning on some chopped beef sandwiches.

post #4 of 11

A few thoughts:

1. always put your temp probe in from the side, that way there's no chance of it being too shallow or going through the meat.

2. I've read a lot about choice vs select and am not convinced it makes that much of a difference.

3. did you inject? I've had somewhat better results by injecting beef broth into the meat the day before

4. wrapping brisket in foil will soften the bark. try throwing it back on the smoker after you unwrap it to help firm up the crust

 

I've done nothing but packers and have always been pleased with the point, but the flat is usually too dry, even when I inject. Hard to find that magic solution!

post #5 of 11

A few thoughts:

1. always put your temp probe in from the side, that way there's no chance of it being too shallow or going through the meat.  This is correct, but when you are probing for tenderness, the toothpick or probe needs to be inserted into the top portion of the flat, at it's thickest area.  I usually will probe in several locations, making sure I have reached probe tender all over the flat.

2. I've read a lot about choice vs select and am not convinced it makes that much of a difference.  This can be true, however, if you have both grades available, always give yourself the best shot at a great end product, and that starts with meat selection.  When Prime is available, buy it, especially if it's only a little more than Select or Choice, trust me it's worth it.  The fact of the matter is, the briskets are never actually graded anyway.  It's the carcass itself, graded in the rib eye section that determines what the every piece of beef from the carcass will be graded.  So it is possible to get a brisket that was graded Select, that is actually better than a Choice, but that can also work vice versa.  Buying the higher grade of beef to start with, at least gives you a chance that you will have more internal marbling, which leads to a more moist and flavorful end product.  The most important thing to look at is internal strains of fat in the meat, sometimes you can see these from the surface, but you can always see them from the edges.  Flexibility in the flat section is a good indicator as well.  

3. did you inject? I've had somewhat better results by injecting beef broth into the meat the day before  If you are injecting straight beef broth, you are doing little to help with the end product as far as moisture.  An injection really needs some substance, such as the commercial injections available from Kosmos Q, Butchers BBQ or Sweet Smoke Q.  All of these products are competition tested and have quite a bit of success with adding to the richness of the beef and also helping to keep moisture.  If you are injecting with just plain beef broth, season it with some of your rub, bring it to a simmer, then strain (if you don't strain, your injector will hate you!).  This will help get your flavor deeper at least.

4. wrapping brisket in foil will soften the bark. try throwing it back on the smoker after you unwrap it to help firm up the crust

 

 


Edited by bruno994 - 5/26/15 at 12:56pm
post #6 of 11

Thanks Bruno. Great information.

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavesQuest View Post
 

Thanks Bruno. Great information.

You got it, anytime!

Happy smokin'!

post #8 of 11
I would guess you did everything just fine but had one issue and that was you did not have jut a "flat". If you probed the point area it would be soft and tender while the flat portion was still ready to be cooked a bit more. You are certainly going in the right direction in your process!
post #9 of 11

Mat,

 

The flat portion of your brisket was undercooked.  

 

Here's a pic you provided of your brisket.

 

 

 

 

See the little squiggly lines between the muscle fibers that the black arrows point to ?  That's the collagen/connective tissue still intact leading to a dry and tough brisket 

 

 

Here's a slice of brisket that is almost spot on:  (click on the photo to enlarge it).

 

 

 

Here you can see gaps between the muscle fibers where the collagen/connective tissues used to be.   They have broken down and rendered making the brisket moist and tender.

 

 

 

With regards to the top half being more tender than the bottom half, let's reference the same photo. (I'm feeling kind of wordy tonight, so my apologies for what follows.)

 

 

 

 

A brisket is made up of two parts (muscles), the point (pectoralis superficialis)  and the flat (pectoralis profundus).   On the piece of brisket on the left in your photo, the point is on the bottom.  On the slice that's in the middle of the picture, the point is on the left, the flat is on the right, and a nice band of intermuscular fat separates the two.     These two muscles have different characteristics.  The point is nicely marbled, the muscle fibers aren't as dense and there is little connective tissue.   The flat has very little marbling, the muscle fibers are tighter and there's lots of connective tissues.   As with other parts of a cow, this variation is due to the difference in the amount of work each muscle does.   Kind of like the difference between a ribeye and a Top Round.

 

Due to these different characteristics, the point will become tender before the flat does.  The point will become tender and juicy once the marbled fat has been rendered.   The flat will take longer as it becomes tender and juicy once the connective tissues have been broken down.   When you probed the brisket and part of it felt tender, it was the point you were feeling.  

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the help guys, this was very informative. I'm looking forward to my next attempt now! 

post #11 of 11

Don't worry about it, it was the first one, and you have the right attitude,” looking forward to my next attempt”.

 

Don't fool around with small pieces they don't cook the same as a whole packer, stay with seven to ten pounders in the beginning. After you trim it weigh the trim or the unit so you know how much meat you're dealing with. Don't take short cuts, wrapping is a short cut, learn how to cook brisket the right way, yah it takes a long time, there's a reason for it. Study it, the learning curve will be much faster.

 

Don't pay much attention to what you read about cooking/producing good brisket. Most of what you read is written by people making roast beef with a smoke flavor. In the last ten years I've had brisket cooked the right way one time, in a restaurant, it's rated in the states top fifty bbq joints, that's how rare it is. Sort it out yourself guaranteed it's worth the trouble.

 

Red


Edited by Red Farr - 5/28/15 at 8:49am
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