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Trying to figure what I did wrong with my 1st Brisket

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Had the smoker over a month, first brisket packet cut.


So, here are all the data.

- Brisket, Packers cut (8-9 pounds). Breed: Angus from Australia.

- Off-Set smoker, Brinkmann with few modifications. Sealed.

- Using iGrill 2 to monitor temp.

- Using wood chips for smoke (Hickory & Mesquite)

- Lump Charcoal and few briquettes for fire. 

- Hot, Humid weather.


Started at 1pm and finished at 11pm. 10 hours smoking of a 8lb packer cut @ 200-250.

Temp was steady between 220-260 for most of the time. Had a few dips in temp, but not for more than 20-30 minutes (only happened twice). I never went over 300 degrees. And rarely did I open the lid.


4-5 hours in, I hit the stall at 140. I wrapped it in foil, it was slowly and gradually increasing. At 168 after 3 hours stalling started to rise up again. I took it out from the foil. This is when I started to worry. The temp started decreasing!!?


Smoker was at 250, even went upto to 290… Brisket was still decreasing degree after degree!! It stayed that way until 157. That’s when I made an executive decision. People were hungry, I caved in called it. Aaand as I was about to take it out..it started to rise again!!! Back at 160..161..163 but I decided it was a first try and I have to learn from mistakes to get better.


I let it rest for 1 hour. Started slicing, it was very very very dry but edible.


So because I know it’s a learning curve, I'm trying to figure out what I did wrong, what I should do and not do next time. I did enough research to start my first brisket journey. Read everything from Jeff's Smoking Meat, Raichlen, Aaron Franklin, countless sites forums and youtube. There are so many variation so I thought stick with a simple method and see what happens.


Here are a few of my concerns trying to solve:


- Water Pan was only full for the first 3-4 hours, didn’t check after! (completely forgot about it) 

- Smoker chamber went down to 170-180 for 30 minutes on 2 occasions.

- After the stall, the temp. started decreasing!! WHY?!! Should I just left it for another 2-3 hours?

- Should I have not unwrapped the foil?!  (Dip in internal temp occurred after removing foil)

- Maybe I did cut a bit extra of fat layer when trimming.

- Is it normal to go through 12-15kg (30lb) of charcoal for 10 hours?

post #2 of 10

The stall usually happens at 150-160 not 140 and when it stalls it will only move one or two degrees in an hour. If you moved from 140 to 160 in three hours my guess is that you hadn't actually hit the stall. If that is the case, you might have unwrapped it while it was actually in the stall and thrown in out of whack. Sometimes you just have to ride it out and see what happens instead of trying to force it to cook.


On a second note, when I want a brisket for dinner I start it at 5 am. Then when it comes off early in the afternoon I wrap it in foil and store it in a cooler. That way I don't have to worry about messing with dinner time. 

post #3 of 10

And another note, most people let briskets get through the stall on their own then wrap around 170 just to retain some moisture at the end of the cook. 

post #4 of 10

It's a learning process.  First, start much earlier.  You'd rather have it done early, resting and wrapped in a cooler (without ice of course) than have to pull it early.  As in, it could sit in the cooler for 2 or 3 hours and still be warm and safe for dinner time. 


While I'm still learning myself, I think you may have wrapped it too soon,  I typically wrap about 165.  And once you wrap it, keep it wrapped until it finishes.


Your smoker temp dropping so low is probably one of the reasons it didn't progress.  If your temps were 160-170 for 30 minutes at a time, a couple of times, you essentially stopped cooking at that point, and moved to holding.  To get an effective temp rise in your meat, your temperature differential between the smoker and meat needs to be high enough.  Your temps were essentially the same as the meat, so no more rise, or even falling as you noted.  How many times did you open the lid to check it?  Probably a lot since it was your first smoke.  There's a saying, "If you're lookin, it ain't cookin." 


Ha.  I always say, baseball players usually don't hit a home run on their first try at bat.  Keep swinging!  You'll get there.

post #5 of 10
I'm running a Brinkman offset of my brothers and can answer the last question. YES! Those smokers love charcoal and eat it faster then Rosie O'Donnell eats donuts. I went through a bag and a half last time I smoked a shoulder.
post #6 of 10

Subbing.  Trying to work up the courage to do my first brisket!

post #7 of 10

Although there is quite a bit of description above it appears the max IT the meat reached was 168F.  On any brisket, the meat is going to taste dry and tough at that final temp.  The collagen didn't melt much at all. 


Here's an explanation of what happened when you took the meat out of the foil and put it back on the smoker.  Heat transfer is higher in foil because you create a semi-braising type (saturated) environment in the foil.  Liquid escaping from the meat essentially turns to steam in the foil.  Water conducts heat 25 times faster than air.  Steam is less than that but in a saturated environment the heat transfer is still higher than in a dry environment. 


When you took the meat out of the foil and put it back on the smoker, the heat transfer rate from the environment to the meat is going to drop.  Liquid escaping from the meat, instead of remaining heated while in the foil, is actually going to cool the meat as it expands into the dryer environment (don't read anything into this about water pans, that's another topic entirely).  By removing the meat from the foil you essentially created another stall while the meat was attempting to reach an equilibrium with the smoker due to the change from foil to smoker air.


Next time, just leave it wrapped and it would have all turned out fine.   

post #8 of 10

This sounds exactly like what happened to me with a fresh ham roast. I got into the stall, wrapped it, and then unwrapped it too soon and dried it out while the temp dropped and I waited for it to come back up. The conclusion that I came to is that unwrapping large chunks is not like unwrapping ribs. It just shouldn't be done, because it re-stalls as Noboundaries said.

post #9 of 10

Personally, I don't wrap at all.  Just start cooking sooner and ride it out.  10-12 hours or more isn't uncommon at low temp (ie: 225-250).

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks to all for the input and advice. Very much appreciated.


Hopefully next time will be a success, cant wait :)

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