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Newbie Brisket Questions

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi All,

I have a cheapo Offset Smoker I purchased from the Depot that I use as a grill and have always wanted to try to smoke a brisket on it. I am hoping you can help answer some of my questions and lessen the chance that I'm going to ruin a good peice of meat and about 8-10 hrs of my life.

1. Only heat source should be from the firebox correct? There is no other source of heat inside the main smoking chamber?
2. Where to place the thermometers to get an accurate reading of the heat inside the chamber. Do you also place one in the meat itself from the start, or can you stick it when it starts to look ready?
3. Where inside the chamber to place the meat? (e.g middle, sides.)
4. Best wood for mild smoke taste and best place to purchase. I'm from Boston if that helps.
5. Is there a size limit/requirment on the brisket? Can I try smoking a small one to start? Any other ideas on how to do a test smoke to make sure I dont mess up too much. (maybe with a chicken)
6. How often do you check on the meat during smoking? Or do you only check the fire/temp?
7. If I'm trying to feed 8 adults, how big of a brisket should I make?
8. Any other suggestions for a newbie like myself.

Thanks everyone, really REALLY looking forward to trying this. Always been a huuuuuuge fan of BBQ!

post #2 of 8
Lotsa questions there Y, I'll try to get ya started.
Yes, the only heat source should be from your fire box.
Best place to place the probe is near the meat so you know what temp the meat itself is getting, if you have 2 you could always put one in the meat from the start but I always probe my meats several hours in depending on what I'm doing.
Placement of the meat all depends on the particular smoker itself but make sure it's somewhat near your heat source.
Best wood for mild smoke, well it all depends on what kinds you can get. Almost everywhere has mesquite and hickory available but they are both heavy smoke flavors, apple is a light one that is usually available most places. You could still use a heavier (I prefer hickory) and not add a lot, also you won't have to add wood for the entire time, the first few hours and after that you can go off of heat alone, it will have picked up enough smoke flavor.
You can do a smaller brisket but just remember that it will cook a lot faster. You could always do a chicken for practice (and an excuse to smoke and eat it) or a fattie, or some boneless ribs or pork chops, hard to screw those up.
Keep a close eye on your heat temps, you don't want a lot of spikes, try and keep it 225-250 range, only open your lid when you need to.
Not sure what size you would need, sure someone else will chime in and give you more tips.
Good luck, and post pics.
post #3 of 8
Fire it up has you going the right way .... one tip that helped me put out a great product was to keep your chimney full open the whole time. i was a bonehead at first & tried to regulate my temps via the stack & trust me it's not good results.
post #4 of 8
Yep - Fire it Up has nailed it pretty well. I would do a couple of practice cooks just to get the feel for your smoker - hey, any excuse to cook!
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks Fire it Up -- lots of great info here. Going to do a test chicken over the weekend if the weather holds out. Wish me luck.

2 more quick questions.

1. I've read that you only put the wood into the firebox once its charcoaled, is that correct? Or can I just build a fire right in the firebox?
2. I have a standard oven thermometer (a little one that stands up). If I put this on the grates by the meat will I get a good temp reading, or will the heat of the grates interfear with the air temp.

Thanks again for everyones help.
post #6 of 8
I light my charcoal in a chimney starter then add it to the smoker once its all lit. I then add the wood immediately to the top of the coals.

Nothing wrong with the standard oven thermometer except for the fact that to get a reading you have to open your smoker and lose all that heat.

What I did (just replied with this in another thread as well) is use a digital thermometer with a probe. I stick the probe through a raw potato, and put that on my grates. This way I can read the smoker temps without opening the smoker.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Great idea regarding the potato! Last question regarding the wood -- do I soak it in water first, or just throw it on to the hot coals and let it burn?
post #8 of 8
No need to soak it. If you are using chunks, the water does not penetrate the wood anyway. Put it on the coals dry. It WILL flame up though. You will just need to learn how much coal and how much wood you need at a time. I am still learning that on my brinkman, although I almost have it down perfectly. Took me 2 smokes, 1 pulled pork (with ABT's and Beans) and 1 session of BB Ribs (with Fatties and Beans), to learn how much coal and how much wood to bring my smoker to temp.

The wood is more for the smoke then fuel, but when you are using wood chunks on top of coals, the wood is definitely part of the fuel, and adds to your temps.
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