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First 4th July Brisket: Cut in half or leave whole?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

We're having a cookout this 4th for the family and a few neighbours. Grandpa is doing ribs and I'm doing brisket. I've only smoked brisket once and whilst it was ok, it didn't hold a torch to my pulled pork; mainly becauise I didn't cook it long enough I think. That was a 7-8lb brisket. I've never cooked for this many people and I'm a wee bit nervous. So, a few questions:

 

1. I have a 13-14lb brisket; do I cut it in half so that it cooks quicker? If so, presumably the chunk nearest the heat in my horizontal smoker will cook quicker; do you swap them over?

 

2. Last time round, I foiled it but didn't get much bark. How do I get my bark on?

 

3. I read in the beef sticky that some use a spray mop; doesn't that disrupt the bark formation?

 

4. Lastly, is it possible to "overcook" it? Can I leave it on the smoker for too long?

 

Any other tips "grate"-fully received! :icon_biggrin:

 

Nathan

post #2 of 11

I would leave whole and monitor my temps very closely and have the larger end nearest the heat source like you say.

 

I've read that wrapping it in Butcher's paper instead of foil will help with a better bark, but I haven't tried that method personally.

 

It is possible to overcook the brisket and dry it out a little but if you monitor your meat internal temperatures, then there should be no major surprises.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Seems like I'd best get it going on Sunday night. Not sure that my smoker is good enough at holding temperature to leave it unattended is where the problem lies.

 

How about if I don't wrap it at all? Is that an option?

post #4 of 11
You could just smoke it till you get the desired bark you like and then wrap. I will usually wrap my brisket with butcher paper around 165 - 170. I feel the paper lets it's breathe a little bit while retaining some moisture.
Some people don't bother wrapping their brisket. The most important part is monitoring the brisket between 195 - 210 to decide at what temperature it is done.
The thickest part of the brisket will be probe tender. It takes some patience because you can't rush good brisket.
post #5 of 11

Here are some good brisket recipes.

 

http://www.smoking-meat.com/tag/brisket

 

Al

post #6 of 11

Hi Nathan!  I'll answer these in order with my take on brisket.  Understand that there is more than one way to skin a cat, so you'll have to play with it and find the method that best works for you

 

1. I have a 13-14lb brisket; do I cut it in half so that it cooks quicker? If so, presumably the chunk nearest the heat in my horizontal smoker will cook quicker; do you swap them over?  I have a horizontal offset, and I leave it whole, with the point facing the heat source.  I find this gives me the best burnt ends.

 

2. Last time round, I foiled it but didn't get much bark. How do I get my bark on?  In my experience, foil can stop the caramelization process associated with bark.  There is some debate over the science behind it, but my belief is that foil stops the evaporative cooling process that results from moisture leaving the surface of the meat.  This same "reduction" process is what leaves behind the sugars from the juices that wick out of the meat during cooking.  Foil retains the moisture (ergo retaining heat), but it's my experience that it softens your bark or stops the process altogether.  For some people, this is OK, but I usually unfoil it for the last 15 or 20 minutes to solidify the bark a bit.  Personally, I try to avoid the "Texas crutch" altogether, if I can help it.

 

3. I read in the beef sticky that some use a spray mop; doesn't that disrupt the bark formation?  I mopped my first couple of briskets and butts.  I haven't really done it since, unless I am glazing something.  I would say the answer to your question is "It depends".  Your spray will have the effect of cooling the meat.  Remember, part of the process that creates the bark is letting the sugars (naturally from the meat, from your rub, or from your spritz) caramelize on the outside.  If you disrupt the reduction of the moisture (evaporation) or cool the meat beyond the point that is caramelizes, your impede the bark process.  However, on the flip side, if your spritz has a fruit juice or other sugar component, it may also enhance it.  It's an art, not as much a science.

 

4. Lastly, is it possible to "overcook" it? Can I leave it on the smoker for too long?  Absolutely.  The same process that breaks down the connecting fibers of the meat to make it tender also liquefy components of it.  At some point, the moisture runs out, wicked to the surface.  The sticky that Al linked above will include discussions over temperature, with the internal temperature (or IT) of the meat being where you should target for doneness.  Remember, meat will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat, a product of the outside temperature reaching some manner of equilibrium with the IT.  You'll want to pull it off 5 to 10 degrees lower than your target IT and give the meat an opportunity to rest while it finds that balance.

 

 Best of luck with it!  Be sure and come back with some pics and tell us how it goes! 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by nathanjwtx View Post
 

We're having a cookout this 4th for the family and a few neighbours. Grandpa is doing ribs and I'm doing brisket. I've only smoked brisket once and whilst it was ok, it didn't hold a torch to my pulled pork; mainly becauise I didn't cook it long enough I think. That was a 7-8lb brisket. I've never cooked for this many people and I'm a wee bit nervous. So, a few questions:

 

1. I have a 13-14lb brisket; do I cut it in half so that it cooks quicker? If so, presumably the chunk nearest the heat in my horizontal smoker will cook quicker; do you swap them over?

 

2. Last time round, I foiled it but didn't get much bark. How do I get my bark on?

 

3. I read in the beef sticky that some use a spray mop; doesn't that disrupt the bark formation?

 

4. Lastly, is it possible to "overcook" it? Can I leave it on the smoker for too long?

 

Any other tips "grate"-fully received! :icon_biggrin:

 

Nathan

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks all for the advice. Brisket on the smoker complete with lightening show in background!
post #8 of 11
Looking forward to some pics of the outcome...provided Dorothy and Toto don't show up to your lightning show as well. Stay safe!
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Weather blew over luckily. Hit 177 IT after just 5 hours. Was expecting the stall by now. Not foiled yet.
Edited by nathanjwtx - 7/4/16 at 9:04am
post #10 of 11

Check the depth of your probe to make sure you're in the heart of the meat.  I have two in my brisket right now (one in the point, one in the flat), and one of them was registering abnormally high.  Must have tugged out either when I put it on, or when the meat shifted as it warmed.

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
I figured out that probably my smoker is too small and that the thicker end was too close to the firebox. I took the thick piece off and wrapped in foil. It's now sat in the oven at 190.
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