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20 Hours Until Deadline And No Experience. Am I Out Of Luck? (Brisket & Spare Ribs)

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you guys so much! To those that said hello in the "Roll Call" section...thanks! You made me feel right at home.

I have a couple of questions but before I get into that, let me say that I'm the kind of guy that will read for weeks to get the answers I'm looking for and I'm the first guy on other forums that will tell the new guy to "go do a search" or "read the forums" before posting a question that has been asked a million times but in this case I have NO TIME!! I need to try and get some direct answers to my questions before tomorrow. If any of you guys can help I would really appreciate it!.

1. I'm seasoning my smoker as we speak. Threw some charcoal and some hickory wood in the fire pit and got her up to about 500 degrees. It soon went down to about 300 but now I can't seem to get it under 290.
I closed the damper almost all the way and the smoke stack is about 1/2 open. Is there a trick to getting the temp down to 210 -230?
I'm sure it'll take a lil getting use to but if ya have any tips for me that would be nice.
EDIT: Question #1 has been answered. I've been playing around with her and I've been able to keep her around 230 for over 1 1/2 hours now.

2. What is optimal temp to cook a 5lb brisket along side of spare ribs? Smoker temp and internal meat temp?

3. I know cook times vary depending on several factors but how much time should I allot for this cook off? I would like to have everything done around 3:00pm to 5:00pm. How long does a typical brisket and ribs take to cook on a smoker?

4. When building my fire should I just use charcoal and add small amounts of hickory directly on top? Should the wood be soaked in water first?

5. Exactly how would YOU cook these ribs and brisket (start to finish - from the rub to the carving). If you have time please enlighten me.

I have a lot of questions and lots of the information I'm asking for depends on personal preference but any help would be appreciated.
Got lots of family coming tomorrow and I don't want to disappoint (ya'll know how it is).
I'm going to attach a couple of photos so you can get an idea of the meat I'm working with.

Thank you so much guys and gals!

PUBLIX...Were shopping is a pleasure :-)
post #2 of 22
The very first thing to do is to make sure you have a proper therm. Those that are mounted on the smoker are normally off by quite a bit. Try to catch the temps on the way up. Once you get temps that high it's real hard to get them down quickly.

I use the 3-2-1 method for my ribs (spares).

With brisket it is a little more difficult to time. The norm would be 1.5 hours per pound but it doesn't always work that way. Some times less most times more.

My target temp on both ribs and brisket is 240ish. I don't get to worried if they are a bit lower or higher.
post #3 of 22
Also start early then wrap the meat in foil and then an old towel and place it into a dry cooler for at least 15-30 minutes for the ribs and an hour for the brisket. This will allow the meat to reabsorb the juices. You can leave them in the cooler longer if needed to keep them hot I have held butts and briskets four hours with no problem others say they have held good temps even longer
post #4 of 22
Leave stack damper 100 % open. Control temp with firebox damper and size of fire. As your fire falls down temps will drop. Add only small amounts of fuel after that about once every 30-60 mins depending on your smoker. You can open lid to cook chamber and vent heat if needed. Hope this with others that have commented help.
post #5 of 22

Dont wait to long to start

Also, if you are only 20 hours from deadline it is important to know that the brisket could take anywhere from 8-14 hours to get done. I know that is not a very specific cook time but meat has a mind of its own and you should prepare just in case it takes a long time to get that brisket done.

Better safe that sorry. good luck with your smoke!!!!
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
You guys are wonderful...thanks!

So I should start my brisket early and then put the ribs on when the brisket is 3 to 4 hours from being done?
Sounds like a plan. Keep an eye out. I'll be updating w/pics.
post #7 of 22
Always leave yourself alot of time you can always wrap it in a towel and throw it in a cooler for a couple of hours. Being done earily is better then late.
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 

Okay guys today is the day

Okay ladies and gents. The time has come...

It's about 8:05am. Got started around 7am this morning. Got the brisket rubbed, got the smoker preheated to around 235 and threw that bad boy on.
I guess I'll throw the ribs on 11:30 or so if I'm to use the 3-2-1 method.

I'll keep you updated. Hope this doesn't turn out to be a miserable failure! Pizza Hut is our back-up plan PDT_Armataz_01_25.gif
post #9 of 22
You'll do just fine! Do you have a probe therm and have tested it (in boiling water and ice water?).

Here's some links about what temp boiling point is at different elevations:




just to make sure you know what to look for.

Pops ยงยง
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks Pops!

I drove out to Wal-Mart last night trying to find a decent thermometer but all they had were the el cheapos. I have a crappy meat therm (you can see in the pic) but it has not been tested.

hoping for the best but expecting the worse.

Just put the ribs on...
post #11 of 22
Just cook the ribs till the bones are poking out, and you can test your thermometer in boiling water. Water boils consistantly at 212 degress F or 100 C at sea level. It reduces at higher elevation, but even here at a mile high it boils at an average of 203 degrees. using this method to test your thermometer will get you close enough.
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
When you guys talk about wrapping for an hour or so (as in the 3-2-1 method) do you mean wrapped in tin foil and still on the smoker or wrapped and removed from fire/smoker?

The brisket has been at around 160 internal temp for a long time. What temp should it be before I take it out? I want it tender but not falling apart. It actually still feels raw when I stick the temp guage in it...I could be wrong.
post #13 of 22
190 is what your shooting for on brisket. You are likely at the plateau at 160 and it will stay there for awhile. If you want to hurry it a bit, wrap in foil at 170 degrees, but whatever you do, DO NOT increase the smoker or oven temp.

As for the ribs you can either wrap in foil and leave in smoker, or you can move them to the oven. Doesn't make a difference once they are foiled.
post #14 of 22
When we talk about foiling during the smoke we are talking foil it and many of us add a little liquid like apple juice with it then back into the smoker till it reaches temp or time depending on what your cooking. Many of us use a double wrap of foil
post #15 of 22


Hey Pitfall,

You have gotten some great advice from some of the best minds on the SMF.

Follow their advice and you will be amazed at the results.

Just remember, smoking meat is an all day affair and cannot be rushed and the time spent around the backyard / smoker is time meant to be savored and enjoyed with good friends and family.

So relax and let the stresses of the week slip away as you wait with anticipation for the cullinary delight you are about to tickle your tase buds with.

It will happen....just give it the time it requires and relax with friends and family while you wait.

We look forward to good reports and qviews of your first success.
post #16 of 22
It takes a while to get all of the associated accessories you need, grill gloves thermometers etc, we all started that way. looking good so far and good luck
post #17 of 22
The use of foil can be confusing, since it has so many purposes. For the 3-2-1 method, after cooking for 3 hours you foil the ribs,and put them back on the grill for two hours ( I actually foil for less than 2, but that is personal preference). This is to increase tenderness of the ribs. Then remove from foil, put back on grill and cook until done.

For butts and brisket, smoke the meat for a few hours, then foil and put back on the smoker until reaching the desired internal temperature. This is to speed up cooking time. Keep in mind that while the meat is wrapped in foil, it won't get accept any more smoke. After cooking is done, take the meat off the smoker and let sit in foil for an hour or two to absorb the juices.

You can also use foil keep cooked meat warm by placing it in dry cooler, wrapped in towels or newspaper. I also use foil to reheat meat in oven. Good luck and good smoking!
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 

I'm Hooked!

Thanks to all my new friends here at SMF! The cook out was a huge success and everyone loved it!
I have never in my life made something as tasty as this smoked brisket.
I attached some pics of the meat as it was still cooking and some that were taken after it was all done.
What do you guys think...not bad for a first timer!

WOW...thanks again everyone.

Until next weekend...
post #19 of 22
Ahh, picture perfect.points.gif
post #20 of 22
Looks real good! Great job, now I'm hungry for brisket.
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