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Take it easy on the newby please.

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Ok here goes my first post, PLEASE HELP!
All 3 times I have used this wonderful machine the meat doesn't turn out as hoped. I usually go for about 16 or so hours at about 225 going heavy smoke the first few and then just maintaining it after that. My problem is that while there is a good depth in the smoke ring, the meat(I've tried brisket and Boston butt in different instances) comes out very chewy and not resembling fall apart in any way. I've tried putting in a separate water pan on the rack above and below to get more moisture to no avail. PLEASE HELP!


Fortes fortuna e uvda. Fortune favors the brave
post #2 of 18

I checked your introduction post, but no mention of your equipment. What are you smoking on, and are you measuring internal meat temperature or probing for for tenderness? Brisket needs approx ~190* to get tender enough for slicing and pork shoulder needs around ~200* for pulling. For whole brisket or a 8lb pork butt 16hrs would be a sprint smoke @ 225*...mine take up to 24 hrs to get tender, then another several hours to rest. Always rest the meat for at least an hour (3-4 is better) before processing to serve. This allows the meat's juices to redistribute throughout the meat and gives more time for the connective tissues to melt away for a more tender chew. Most wrap their pork shoulder and beef brisket in foil and towels, then cooler to insulate for longer resting.

 

BTW, added humidity in the smoke chamber does not make the meat more moist. It keeps the surface meat fibers loose and results in more natural moisture evaporating from the meat. A dry smoke chamber is not beneficial to good smoke reaction, so finding a good balance for your smoker provides the best smoke reaction and moisture retention in the meat. Starting out wet with added humidity, then allowing the water to evaporate and not adding more (wet-to-dry method) give a good balance. If you want to know more on that just shout.

 

 

Eric

post #3 of 18

Not knowing your equipment I would have to say if it's chewy and it's a butt or brisket.

 

Then the answer is simple.

 

You didn't cook it long enough.

 

Both pieces of meat need to get to 195-205 IT to be tender & juicy.

 

If you don't have one I would get a good therm like a Maverick.

 

Al

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
My equipment is a Masterbuilt digital electric smoker and I use a therma pro wireless temp probe


Fortes fortuna e uvda. Fortune favors the brave
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
I was letting the temperature get to 165 as per everything I had read prior to recently joining this forum.


Fortes fortuna e uvda. Fortune favors the brave
post #6 of 18

Yep, you'll need several more hours (+) to reach an I/T that yields a tender brisket or pork shoulder. All things considered, that last 30-40* I/T may seem like an eternity getting there, but it's necessary and worth the wait. Now, if you're smoking a beef steak or eye of round and like med-rare, then, yes, much lower finished temps are desirable, but the tougher cuts of meats need higher finished temps over time to get tender...melts away the collagen, which is the tough stuff.

 

 

Eric

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Awesome! Ty you so much!


Fortes fortuna e uvda. Fortune favors the brave
post #8 of 18



For briskets and butts, 165°F is about where many folks begin to think about wrapping the meat before continuing the cook.......to around 200°F, or higher.

 

You'll nail the next one!

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Ok next question is fat side up or down on the brisket, and bone in or or out for a Boston butt?


Fortes fortuna e uvda. Fortune favors the brave
post #10 of 18

Wolverine, I normally go bone in for butts and fat cap up on both.  I usually trim the cap to about 1/4-1/3" and cross hatch score through it to but not into the lean before rubbing the seasoning in.  The bone will pull out cleanly when the butt is done.

 

For pulled butts in particular I normally move them to a covered roasting pan in the oven (200-225*) at 165* internal so I can save the juices.  After shredding or chopping the juices get defatted and most of it will mix back into the meat giving a far moister result the folks really like.  When pulled we use just enough mustard based sauce to flavor it a bit (it goes well with most any kind of sauce added later). We usually offer a choice of several sauces when serving but most folks don't reach for it.

 

Sometimes BBQ is an end unto itself and sometimes it just cooking dinner.  For the latter I often do 3-6 butts or a whole packer or two even though it's just the two of us most of the time.  We vacuum pack it for future meals. 

 

You will notice the use of "normally", "usually", etc above.  That's because none of this is written in stone and every cut of meat can be different as can ambient temps and the time you have available.  Keeping a basic log will help, especially for things that are new or that you don't cook often.

 

Thank you for your service and keep the questions coming.

 

 

Lance

post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by WolverineMarine View Post

Ok next question is fat side up or down on the brisket, and bone in or or out for a Boston butt?


Fortes fortuna e uvda. Fortune favors the brave

 

  Bone, left in the meat, adds flavor.

 

  As for the fat cap, it is often placed so as to somewhat "shield" the meat from the heat source. For example, some reverse-flow offsets have a plate running under the cooking grate that gets really hot, relative to the cook chamber temperature. Placing the cap down will both allow it to render and to protect the meat from an increased opportunity to be robbed of moisture from this extra, radiant heat.

 

 If the heat source is diffuse enough, than it really won't matter and is "dealer's choice." Some people feel that cooked with the cap up, the meat will be basted and moisturized by the rendering fat as it flows down the meat.

post #12 of 18

If it starts as a bone-in meat, keep it bone-in. If the bone is removed you need to follow more strict guidelines for handling & cooking to assure food safety. Any questions regarding this, please visit the FOOD SAFETY FORUM and read the header written by Chef Jimmy J. He explains it in detail.

 

I always smoke fat-cap up with brisket and butts, and I cross-hatch score the fat to aid in rendering and reduce shrinkage of the cap which causes bare meat in spots. No issues if it happens, but it looks a lot nicer when it comes off the grate.

 

 

Eric


Edited by forluvofsmoke - 9/21/16 at 8:28pm
post #13 of 18
I am pretty similar to LancerR... I cross hatch the fat before the rub, wrap at 150-160 or 12 hours which ever is first and continue to 203... 203 seems exact, but for my tastes it seems perfect... this is past perfect slicing brisket, but you can unwrap the brisket 1 hour before it's done to re-firm it up a litthe if you want (I dont) the only thing I've had come out good over 12 hours of smoke but hits over 195 without wrapping was a fatty pork butt... everything else I've done that long and hot smoke without wrapping has come out dry. I also like to cook brisket specifically in a smoker above 225... more like 240-260. Pork butt has always seemed very forgiving to me and 9 times out of 10 anything that isn't tender is under cooked
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by uzikaduzi View Post

I am pretty similar to LancerR... I cross hatch the fat before the rub, wrap at 150-160 or 12 hours which ever is first and continue to 203... 203 seems exact, but for my tastes it seems perfect... this is past perfect slicing brisket, but you can unwrap the brisket 1 hour before it's done to re-firm it up a litthe if you want (I dont) the only thing I've had come out good over 12 hours of smoke but hits over 195 without wrapping was a fatty pork butt... everything else I've done that long and hot smoke without wrapping has come out dry. I also like to cook brisket specifically in a smoker above 225... more like 240-260. Pork butt has always seemed very forgiving to me and 9 times out of 10 anything that isn't tender is under cooked

 

That depends on your cooking method, cook chamber humidity, and how you rest the meat. I haven't foiled any larger cuts of meats for the past several years, and I don't get a dry finished product.

 

You may find some useful and interesting info HERE.

 

 

Eric

post #15 of 18

I certainly keep my water pan filled through out the whole smoke... i tend to use it as a crutch though to maintain temps in my offset... this could be very much in my head but i think (without having a roaring fire) that it acts as more than just thermal mass and really prevents it from going above about 250. maybe it just works that well as a thermal mass, but something like sand or gravel doesn't seem like it would act as well as a heat sink since the water is constantly absorbing tons of heat in it's liquid to gas switch and being frequently replenished compared to say sand or gravel which would take additional heat for sure but would more so just slow temp changes. this also allows me to have a cleaner burning fire and not have to pre-burn wood or use charcoal and have little to no air intake restriction.

 

it does make a lot of sense if i was more intensively controlling the temps through the intake to slow the burn of charcoal or by turning down a gas burner, but restricting a raw wood fire seems to produce a bit of creosote in my experience... on the other side of this, i don't see places like Franklins using water pans... maybe the sheer size of their smokers allow for a nice clean burning wood fire without as much risk of exceeding the desired temp range, or maybe i'm just lazy and haven't master how to control a wood fire with air intake without producing heavier smoke than i desire. I do appreciate the insight and will certainly experiment with other ways of maintaining temperature without the water pan crutch.

post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by uzikaduzi View Post
 

I certainly keep my water pan filled through out the whole smoke... i tend to use it as a crutch though to maintain temps in my offset... this could be very much in my head but i think (without having a roaring fire) that it acts as more than just thermal mass and really prevents it from going above about 250. maybe it just works that well as a thermal mass, but something like sand or gravel doesn't seem like it would act as well as a heat sink since the water is constantly absorbing tons of heat in it's liquid to gas switch and being frequently replenished compared to say sand or gravel which would take additional heat for sure but would more so just slow temp changes. this also allows me to have a cleaner burning fire and not have to pre-burn wood or use charcoal and have little to no air intake restriction.

 

If you ditch the water and trim back your fire you'll use FAR less fuel. And, your meats won't dry out. I did the same thing back in the day with my SnP 40"...that hog would boil-off a gallon of water in 2 hours and I had condensed water dripping out the bottom constantly. In my Brinkmann Gourmet I learned to ditch the water and I'm doing the same thing with my WSM-18. Yes, water will absorb heat...that's the start of the problem, though. It absorbs thermal energy only to waste it as evaporated water, which in turn, cools the smoke chamber...wasting fuel. Water is not a thermal mass or heat sink...it's a high-temp spike buffer...that's all it's really good for.

 

Sand or gravel is a true heat sink as are fire bricks, lava rocks and any other mass you add. If you want more stable temps while reducing fuel use, mass is the answer.

 

it does make a lot of sense if i was more intensively controlling the temps through the intake to slow the burn of charcoal or by turning down a gas burner, but restricting a raw wood fire seems to produce a bit of creosote in my experience... on the other side of this, i don't see places like Franklins using water pans... maybe the sheer size of their smokers allow for a nice clean burning wood fire without as much risk of exceeding the desired temp range, or maybe i'm just lazy and haven't master how to control a wood fire with air intake without producing heavier smoke than i desire. I do appreciate the insight and will certainly experiment with other ways of maintaining temperature without the water pan crutch.

 

If you're burning raw wood, then you need a smaller, hotter fire to reduce production of soot. Use smaller splits and add fuel more often as dictated by your chamber temps, but a hot fire burns cleaner. Big smokers need a bigger fire, but they still burn a hot fire, and all the mass of their cooker helps to maintain a stable temp. If you have a 2000lb cooker beside a 200lb cooker, you know which one will have less temp peaks and valleys.

 

 

Hope that helps. Water pans in vertical smokers are necessary to maintain indirect heat, however, just because the manufacturer calls it a water pan doesn't mean you have to use water. Horizontals definitely do not need a water pan...baffles and such to reduce grate temp variances (if not a reverse-flow), sure, but not a water pan. I learned the hard way on that subject...I battled with that SnP 40" until I gave up on it and went to a vertical gasser with higher capacity. Had I figured out the water pan issue early on, I might have kept the SnP 40" around for a few years longer.

 

 

Eric

post #17 of 18
Appreciate the advice sir... I'll have to do some testing, but basically, you like a humid beginning and a dry second 1/2 if I'm taking this right
post #18 of 18

Yes, you read it correctly.

 

 

Eric

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