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My night from Heck with a Corned Beef Brisket

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
If anyone had read my other post
you know that I have never smoked a brisket and I bought a 2.6 lb. Flat Cut Corned Beef Brisket.

Well last night, after a day of hanging out with friends, making a fattie and just making some burgers and dogs for dinner, I decided I'd get that brisket smoked for sammies this week. Here's the play-by-play...

Saturday afternoon I took it from it's vacu-pack, rinsed it off and soaked it for about 6 hours and did a few water changes during that time to reduce the high salt content. The first thing I noticed was that it went from a bright red color to more of a pinkish/grey.

After drying I slathered it in Famous Dave's Texas Pit BBQ Sauce

Then an average amount of JB's BBQ store bought rub, a healthy portion of Brown Sugar and the seasoning packet included with the brisket

From there it went into a gallon sized Ziplock bag (it was only 2.6 pounds) and off to the refridgerator for a little over 24 hours. Then about 6:30 last night, after our company had left, I decided it was time. I was using Kingsford Charwood Lump charcoal and chunks of hickory wood on my Weber Kettle. I sat a drip pan with beef broth, onions, and garlic under the meat and a mini loaf bread pan with apple juice over the heat for moisture.
Here's a shot of it before the lid goes on

I did ok with riding the temp, averaging around 235". I assumed that this being such a small cut it would go rather quickly. I was thinking around 4 hours. Don't ask me why, that's just what I assumed reading how some of you do some big 'ol pieces of meat in that 10-14 hour time frame.

My mistake.

I had a slow but steady climb in temps for the first couple of hours then when it hit 135" it stalled for about an hour. Then about 5 hours into the smoke my Maverick ET-73 was reading 165". Yeah! My magic number! I thought I should double check with my cheapo dial thermo and it read 150". WTF?!? So I moved the ET-73 to a different part of the brisket and it only read 147".

At this point it stalled and sat there for an hour and a half.

At this point I'm tired and frustrated. I wouldn't mind an all nighter, but I would have paced myself earlier in the day if I'd known this was coming. I'd been on the forum most of the night getting caught up on my reading. At this time it's about 12:30 in the am and I'm thinking I've ruined this smoke and wasted my night. So I posted to the thread and a few PM's to see if anyone was up and looking.

and especially to

erain stayed with me and talked me down off the ledge from just trashing the whole thing. It was a very frustrating night. My computer kept crashing in the chat room (maybe it's time to dump the Windows 98, huh? LOL) so we started exchanging emails. I know he had to work today. Yet he kept feeding me information on why it was still fine. So if there's any special award for members going above and beyond the call of duty, erain deserves it. If not, erain you're my hero. Thank you for everything. I hope somehow I can help you or another member out like you did for me.

Sorry for the sappy notes. But I felt it was important to recognize these members.

About 1:00 am I ran out of charcoal and temps were starting to drop. I listened to ron p and I foiled the brisket. I added some apple juice and put it in a glass baking dish and threw it in the oven at 240". So finally about 2:00 am the ET-73 read 170". I had my cooler and towels ready. Then it happened....my wife and daughter BOTH woke up. The girl was upset because daddy was making too much noise, and the wifey-poo was flat out pissed with all the racket was going on. Thankfully I was pretty much done.

I'd intended to lay down on the couch for a while and watch TV while it rested. But you guessed it. I woke up at 7:30. I ran to the cooler and it was still fairly warm. I started to make a couple of slices and took a photo when my wife came down and said "you've got to be kidding me".

Needless to say I think my smoking career is going on hiatius for at least a week. Or at least until momma calms down.

For lunch today I sliced a hoagie, layed in a couple of slices of provalone, added a layer of brisket, and more cheese on top. Threw the whole thing in the oven at 325" for 15 minutes then under the broiler for a couple of minutes. Then topped with more of the Famous Dave BBQ sauce.

It was pretty good. Still a little tough though. But hey, I've got enough for lunch a couple times this week and vacu-packed another couple sandwiches worth for a rainy day. It might be tough but it's MY brisket and I'll eat it tough if I want to. LOL

So what did I learn...
1) I learned that the weight of a brisket has no bearing on it's density and therefore no assurance a "quick" smoke.
2) I learned that unless I'm ready to commit to doing a "real" brisket with a "real" smoker, this is probably best left to others who can.
3) I learned that I'm not disappointed that I did it. I'm glad that I've taken that step and looking forward to when I can try it again.
4) I learned that doing a brisket on a Sunday night when the wife and kids have to get up in the morning, might not be the best time to do this.
5) I learned that there are some super-dee-duper members of the Smoking Meat Forum.

Thanks for looking. And thanks again erain!
for being a pal.
post #2 of 17
I for one know how you feel. I can say it does get easier now that you know what you are in store for. Kudos for those that assisted that is what make this forums one of the better ones I read. Any and every time I need info or a question answered I have always found it with the support and help of this community. I look forward to the Q-Views and your next brisket. Once you get everything ironed out and get that perfect brisket you will enjoy the fruits of the labor.
post #3 of 17
Thanks for sharing that with us. icon_biggrin.gif I would imagine everyone has at least one misadventure while they're smoking. Some of us more than others.

I'm glad you were able to get the help you needed. Aren't the members great?

Looking forward to seeing the qview.
post #4 of 17
Dude, sorry to hear about your ordeal. Brisket is a funny thing to gauge. I am no expert on it by far, but being that yours was only 2.6 lbs,I'm guessing not alot of fat on it? I have done a few briskets and found that small ones with little fat or trimmed flats have ended up tough. Ones with more fat seem to turn out to be "melt in your mouth" delicious. Usually, with the more fat, the plateau can last for awhile to break down fat and connective tissue resulting in a more tender finish.

Someone can prolly explain better. just my $.02

Don't give up on brisket!

**Dont know what I said applies** just saw Corn beef Brisket

Points for trying thoughPDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
post #5 of 17

Glad to be able to help you last night. I agree that Erain is a great help. Learned lots from him. Glad that you are satisfied with the brisket even thought its not as tender as you wanted.

Next time instead of getting a cornbeef brisket just look for a flat or point. You can get a packer but if you have a smaller smoker you will have to separate the point and the flat to make it fit.

Cant wait to see the pics. Let momma taste the creation and that may get you out of the dog house faster. If not make something she really likes to get brownie points.PDT_Armataz_01_42.gif
post #6 of 17
Don't feel bad man.... i think it hapens to all of us.Thats how we learnPDT_Armataz_01_05.gif .
Although i'm new to being a member to these forums i've probably got about 10 briskets under my belt & there were some real duds in the beginning.... tough as shoe leather & tasted like charcoal,lol. But the good news is we all need to make mistakes to perfect things. I for one had a 1st exp. on my all nighter sunday morning. I hit 2 platueas (which i never had before) . the brisket was a measly 6.5 pounder & that stubborn SOB took 14 hours. I ran outta charcoal as well & had to get more around 5am. We've all got a leg up on anyone else jumping into this hobby .... these forums are the best thing since sliced bread & the people in it are awesome. All in all i'm sure your next brisket will be a much better exp. for you from start to finish.
post #7 of 17
Dude, I understand the heck you went through, and my thanks to the folks who stood by you too. That is what the forum is all about.

Don't kill yourself over the experience....at least "now you know". It will be funny about three briskets from now once you get the hang of it. They are about the toughest smoke you can take on, and no two are EVER alike. With that said, you did well and gotten way more than what you spent on the brisket, out of it.

Congratulations on having undergone the trial-by-brisket. It does get better from here! PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #8 of 17
You are welcome, glad to help. I got one on as we speak.
post #9 of 17
dude, appreciate the words... was glad to help and just doin what other members have done for me. ron,brian, and others always around to help. kudos to them!!! i remember my first bacon smoke, was one of my first smokes as a member and this guy, desertlites to be exact, out of the clear blue started to help me out with the bacon. and i remember that and am grateful to him and all the others who have given me the knowledge i have today. so it is kinda a give back a little of what you take deal. it is a joint effort and face it, if you are having difficulties,go to forum for help, and not recieve help... then the forum failed you. we are all in this together and nobody wants anyone else to fail.

that all said i see your list of things you learned... you will always be learning and even when you get the moist tender brisky smoke down, you wont be satisfied. you will always be looking for ways to improve on it or try different seasonings etc... I think the biggest issue you had is not understanding the piece of meat you had. thinking it was a brisket when you had a corned beef brisket. same piece a meat but a whole lot different. glad you stuck with it, prolly went a little higher than needed.

you mentioned that it was tuff, make sure you are cutting against the grain. couldnt tell from the pic. the end view was sorta inconclusive to me but it looks almost like you can see the grain of the meat running parrelel with your cut??? but man it looks moist, and i bet is very tastey. i havent tried a corned version yet but hope to soon, i want to do the corning part my self as well. sorry about the length here but points from me for your effort and i think you did better than you think you did. keep it up and will keep on gettin better.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks erain. I did cut against the grain and after it rested in the cooler for several hours (accidently) I figured it would've been super tender. So that parts still a mystery to me.

Either way. It's already made a couple of decent sammies (edited and added the pict to the main thread) and have a couple more sammies worth vacu-packed and into the freezer. It's funny with almost everything I make, I try and stick a little back into the freezer for when I have a craving and don't have the time to smoke something.

The other day I bought an 8.5 lb bone in butt and a 5 lb whole chicken, but I'll probably wait another week or so for those. So start getting your rest for when I have another 1:00 am panic attack. LOL
post #11 of 17


I have smoked a few "boots" in my time. I have learned timing is critical. Still working on it!
post #12 of 17
It's what this forum is about, people helping people.

and don't be so hard on yourself. Briskets aren't easy and if you were able to eat it, that's a success in my book!
post #13 of 17
Wow Dude, that was one hell of an adventure you went on.
Great to know you got so much help from people.
I'm curious about how you went about reheating? I know the first time I smoked a corned brisket I sliced it and it was ok but tough, then I followed a suggestion by ronp and steamed that bad boy. It was super moist and melt in your mouth tender.
I did this another time but the cut had pieces taken off from both sides and didn't come out as moist, I believe this was due to the ends not being sealed so it couldn't trap as much moisture in. I really need to thaw a few out and smoke 'em up!
Sorry you got in a bit of trouble waking up the ladies in the house, at least it was for a noble cause.
post #14 of 17
My first brisket was kinda a disaster also, but everything since has gotten better
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
I didn't have the luxury (time) to steam it. Just had a couple of sammies heated in the oven. I added a pict to the thread of one of them. But yes, I'd like to be able to try it that way in the future.
post #16 of 17
Great post!

Let me tell you that my soon to be wife rolls her eyes at me everytime I mention the word smoking. I can't catch a break... The only time she is happy is when I am completly finished with a butt and she is eating it... Anything else forget it!

I have to give you props for bustin your hump and making it work out in the end.

The only person in this world that has to be satisfied with your cooking is you.

Rock On!
post #17 of 17
Ron talked me through my first Corned Beef Brisket and it's been Strami City ever since. I take them to 180 for slicing and I slice them thin. If I'm going to just eat on the thing I'll take it to 195 like a butt and they fall apart. I love em. The unknown can make a normal regular smoke seem like a disaster sometimes. Usually if I have a problem it is not allowing enough time for my project to cook and rest. Next time you do a butt slam a Corned beef brisket in there with it and take it to the end. They are amazing.
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