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Smoking first brisket on ECB and had some questions

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

HI everyone, I've decided to jump in head first and smoke a 14 pound brisket in my modded ECB charcoal smoker. I'm approaching zero hour on and have decided on a last minute change of plan.


I've decided to use Royal Oak charcoal vs kingsford, because well everyone says to lol. If I use Royal Oak, do I need to add additional oak lumps for smoke, or will the charcoal do enough on it's own?  How much and how often to do I add wood (if I do) and is it right I should stop adding at about the half way point?


My other question is about wrapping in foil at the 150 degree mark, through the stall.  Some people swear by this method, some people say they will never do it again, but neither will tell the reasons why lol.  Should I wrap?  What's the advantages vs. disadvantages? 


Thanks for any input, advice, or warnings you can offer.  I will be sure to take some pics to share of my trials and hopefully success!

post #2 of 8

You may be in for a lot of tending, so don't plan on sleeping more than an hour or so at a time. Unless your fire pan is air-tight and you can control the intake draft for good control, the minion method won't work...been there, done that. If your smoke is not proven to run long and hold temps where you want, this will be a rough smoke to find out what it's capabilities are. My modded Brinkmann Gourmet Charcoal was a bear to get up to temp and keep it there...fuel use was high as well...tending was frequent, adding fuel every 2 hours to keep it cooking decent.


14lb won't fit the small grates...I smoked one on the Gourmet 15" grates after separation of the point/flat, but you could just cut it in half and run on 2 grates...hmm, I think that prep and smoke is HERE.


Lump burns hotter and faster than briquettes, but produces little ash...might not be what you want, but then again it may be just the ticket.


Foiling speeds up the stall, usually...but you gotta move quick, have everything ready, yank it, foil it get it back into the cooker fast, or you lose heat from the surface during handling...not much to gain if you dilly-dally. Foiling softens the bark...maybe you don't want that. But, if you rest it wrapped in foil/towels, foiling before resting won't make that big of difference on softening the bark, but stall-foiling does stop the development of a thicker bark.


Lump or charcoal will impart some flavor, but it's not the same as smoke wood, so keep the wood chunks fed for 6-8 hours, minimum. BTW, do not use mesquite lump to fire a smoker...damn that stuff has a strong flavor...yep did that, too...:icon_eek:...:icon_redface: Mesquite lump, however, is quite good good for open grilling.


For those who say they'll never foil again...I probably can explain in one word...BARK. To elaborate, the more time meat is on open grates the more opportunity for the bark to form and get darker, thicker and harder. Some love it, some hate it...some hate it on brisket and/or ribs because they like an easy slice and tender bite, but like it on pulled pork for the varied texture. Some like a killer bark on almost all large cuts of meats...I'm one of them...I rarely foil (or use a variation...I prefer a pan with foil tent when I do want to keep the bark softer, or to soften a well developed bark). There are tricks to controlling the bark, obviously.


Oh, and if you foiled and don't want to fight with tending the smoker, the smoking is pretty much over once you foil, so, unless you're a purist (and if you foil you aren't) you can toss it in the "O" to reach finished internal temps/tenderness...done that, too, back in the day when I did foil...:biggrin:


Good luck...you're in for a helluva smoke!!! I mean that in a good way. The experience will be enlightening, humbling and enjoyable, all in one...no doubt about it.


We'll be here rootin' for ya...and if you need more help.


BTW, please stop by the ROLL CALL FORUM and tell us a little more about your cooker (brand, model, etc) and your cooking experience so we can better help you in the future, and, to properly welcome you to the SMF Family.




post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the quick response!  I swear I'm more nervous now than when my first child was born lol.   It's actually great news to here that *if* I foil that can finish in the oven, as mother nature has decided that tomorrow will be a good day to rain on my parade.  I'll try to go all the way in the smoker, but if the weather says otherwise it's great to know I have options.


I'll had great success with fire management when doing ribs, call it luck but my backyard has conditions just right to keep the ECB at about 250-275 for 3-4 hours on one load of coal.  I'm hoping it was not a fluke.  I also picked up a bag of pecan wood lumps.  HD was sold out of everything else but this and mesquite.


I'll be sure to post in the roll call thread as I'm waiting for sweet smoked perfection tomorrow.


Grill on!

post #4 of 8

You're welcome...actually I thought I was kinda slow on response time at over an hour...:rotflmao:


Ah, if you have reasonably good results with it thus far, I recommend using the exact same fuel (unless excessive ash from briquettes will be an issue with a longer smoke...then go to lump, but it changes intake draft set-up, etc), sheltering from the weather/wind...set it up the same and you should be able to expect relatively similar results. Go with what you feel works well and stick to it. If you make any changes, they should be one at a time, otherwise you may have some head-scratching trying to figure out what you did that went south, if it doesn't work out as planned. The ECBs can be finicky at best, so if you find methods that work, you don't want to flirt with fouling them (well, maybe you do, just to see how it goes...gotta find out somehow, sometimes). Example: if low chamber temps were an issue burning briquettes, lump can help fix that...and vice-versa.


I haven't used my double-stacker Gourmet for a couple of years (has 3 cooking grates installed...can run all 4 with a bit more mods...over 4' tall), but this sure does bring back some memories.


Don't fear the brisket...some will say it's the toughest cut of meat to bring out of the smoker the way they like it...others say it's easy...it can go either way, really. Main thing is to be patient, don't count on 1.25hrs/lb...usually that just isn't gonna happen...(well, maybe at higher chamber temps, but I run 225* and bit under that for brisket). Full packer with light trimming is about 1.75hrs/lb for me (24+ hours is common in my rigs). Cook to temp? Sure, but don't forget to probe for tenderness a bit ahead of your expected target internal temp...I start poking around a bit @ 180* and most will be sliced tender between 180 and 190*. I have gone by shrinkage to some extent, then stuck a thermometer probe in to verify, then poked for tenderness. There's a few I have pushed to 195* for some strange reason. 200-205* is pulling temp...as in fall apart tender, so don't go that far unless you want pulled brisket...have done that as well...it actually makes for some freeking awesome pulled beef sandwiches unlike anything you'd find in a Q-joint.


Oh, you probably already knew this, but don't stick it with a probe for a couple hours after you get the smoke started, otherwise you need to treat it as a compromised muscle. More info on that can be found HERE. I don't inject for the reasons described...makes for much more relaxing smoking.


I think you'll be having a good time with this smoke...hey, if it does come to rain, there's no shame in firing up an indoor cooker to finish the job. Some of us don't have the luxury of a roof over the smoker, so when it hits the fan, ya gotta getter done somehow, right? I can do it under the stars or a roof, but didn't always have a roof.




post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Well we are 3 1/2 hours in and just had to do my first reload of the charcoal pan.  I've been sitting at 225-250 for the most part (occasionally I'll flair up when adding in the lump wood and it catches fire)  Meat is at 140 internally and slowly climbing. I opened the lid for the first time to turn the brisket and it looks fantastic, hope I get a nice darker bark though.  I'll be sure to post the finished product!

post #6 of 8

Hey, Brother, I was gone most of the day getting food for the 4th, and prepped a couple picnic shoulders...been in the Vault for 3 hours. Just catchin' up here. If you have a spot to place the chunk smoke wood where it's just around the outside but not completely on the coals will help with flare-ups...slows things down on the smoke wood end of things. Sometimes it's just too much heat and air to keep the wood happy...can't change the air without fouling the temps, so you gotta get the heat a bit farther away to slow it down.


Anyway, you're probably coasting along by now, I'm guessing, passed the stall and waiting for temps to push over the 180* mark...or, you might be resting it already waiting to slice and dine. You smoke hotter than I do, so I you'll be done tonight...:yahoo:...for brisket!!!



Enjoy your dinner!!!




post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

well with smoking and the reast we got to carve after 15 hours.  this sucker was amazing.  So thanks for all the help!  Everyone had seconds and sometimes thirds lol.  Was a smash hit and still had enough to pack up a some for later.


I had to prop the beast up on a can soe the rub didn't quite bark up around the center, but still very good.


What's really cool is if you look in the right hand side, it looks like my signature in the meat slice (Cash)  totally a fluke but still, pretty awesome!

post #8 of 8

Nicely done, brother!!! That looks like the makings for some very fine dining. I see what you mentioned about the signature...now that's a piece of meat with true, deep character!!!


See, and you were worried about pulling this one off...you just need a little confidence and get started in the right direction...then there's no regrets. Any time I can be of assistance, I'll do my best to help...no thanks required...just pass it forward is all we ask. Good eats and I'm sure some lessons learned from this for future smokes...every smoke is a walk through a culinary adventure, with something to teach us all along the way.


Keep on smokin'!!!




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