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Newbie who loves beef brisket and wants to make it at home

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
So I just picked up my first smoker-a $20 yardsale special Brinkmann electric...you can stop laughing now. I know that they're not really considered pro quality, but nonetheless, I'm going to make the best of it. I've been boning up on modifications (temperature controls and whatnot), but I want to try it out stock first to get the feel for it. My wife and I frequent a local BBQ joint that has beef brisket that you can literally pull apart with your hands and melts in your mouth. That's what I want to make-where to start? I've tried the search function but this place is a little overwhelming at times. I have a few basic questions to start:

Where to get the meat?

Does the average supermarket sell these types of cuts at the butcher's counter? How about warehouse/club stores? I notice that they typically have a bigger pork selection than supermarkets but I'm not sure about other cuts of beef.

What kind of wood?

We heat our home with wood and I came into some apple a while ago that I set aside, but is apple a good wood to use with beef? If not, what is? Would I be better off with a blend of chips/chunks?

How long/how hot?

I have a digital probe thermometer so monitoring the temperature isn't really a problem.

What about that water pan?

I've heard everything from "fill it with sand to keep it hotter inside" to "only use water" to putting everything in from apple juice to beer.


Obviously a lot of this is preference. I like sweet and smokey flavors with a little bit of kick and BBQ sauces I've experimented with in the past have included ingredients like honey, tumeric, grape jelly, and adobo sauce. That being said, if I want brisket I can pull apart with my hands, are there things I should be doing before (like injecting the meat or marinating it), during (like mopping it often, etc...) and after (I've been reading a lot about packing meat in coolers, etc...after smoking for an extra long cool down).

Basically if anyone could give me a start to finish recipe to follow just so I could get my feet wet it would be much appreciated. I'm looking forward to experimenting, but for now I'd like to just practice toward a goal (ie: an edible piece of meat...lol)
post #2 of 12
Hi, Congrats on the new (for you) smoker!PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif

I can't answer all your questions, but you'll get lots of answers from lots of people, I'm sure.

What I can answer:

Where to get the meat? All of our grocery stores carry briskets, butts, etc., either vacu-packed or at the meat counter.

Wood? Apple is excellent. I use it all the time. With beef, I'll use both hickory and apple. Blending apple with others (cherry, etc. is a good thing, also)

I'll defer to others for the other questions. I Know what I would do, but since I'm fairly new to smoking also, I wanna wait and see if I'm right before offering advice...

Make sure you do some Qview of your smoke.

post #3 of 12
I don't want to throw water on your excitement and enthusiasm, but before you tackle a brisket...the orneriest, toughest, meanest piece of meat on a steer to tame (Everyone of them is an adventure) would you consider cooking a couple of chickens...then maybe a few pork butts before attempting a brisket?? It sure would be a good learning curve for you and your new cooker to get acquainted....In the mean time you'll have had some good eats...and can do some research on the different approaches to cooking brisket...Just an idea...HTH

Have Fun!!
post #4 of 12
Ok first things first WELCOME and you have quite the list of questions so here go's
1 Don't worry about the cost of your smoker there are some here that spends 50.buck too.
2 Alot of us go to Sam's or Costco or even Restaurant Dapot. But you can buy anything from the gricery store or a good ole timey Bucther shop.
3 You can fine wood chips all over Homeless depot or Lowe's ot a gas store like me
4 I personally smoke most of my meat at about 240-250° but then chicken and turkey alittle hotter at maybe 295-325° Then we smoke by temp here not time except for ribs.
5 If your smoker has a water pan you use it with water or apple juice and yes beer
6 Ok prep is usually done the night before and it could be triming (if you chose to) your meat and then rubbing the meat. Then you leave uit in the frig overnight. The next thing you should do is get the 5-day E-course it's free and will give you the basics of smoking meat. here's a link to it.
Then you need to stop into Roll Call and introduce your self so we can get to know you and your equipment too.
post #5 of 12
No worries, you won't get laughed at on this site for any smoker, just so long as it smokes food...and you never boil your ribs.

My first smoker was the Brinkmann Electric Gourmet and it worked well enough for many, many smokes.
I have since converted it into a propane smoker but can give you a few tips on using it.
Firstly your element, make sure it sits on top of the lava rocks and not under them.
When adding wood to it place your chunks or chips in between the front two curves of the element but make sure the wood doesn't touch the element, this will give you good smoke and the wood shouldn't catch fire.

With the water pan you can get a higher temp if you fill it with sand but I always felt that without a water pan the smoke didn't penetrate the meat nearly enough.
You can fill with sand (place a piece of foil over the sand if you do, helps with clean up) and then use a water pan on your lower rack but after trying the sand I ended up going back to water.
A piece of foil in the bottom of the water pan will also helps a lot as far as clean up goes when you have to dump the water and add fresh.

It takes a while to get to a proper temp and mine always liked to run 200-225 but even if you can only achieve 200 or slightly higher that will be sufficient for cooking.

If yours was like mine there was no exhaust on the top so I ended up drilling a few holes to vent the smoke.

For wood I started out with hickory but these days I like to burn mostly oak and add some different woods depending on what flavor I want with what meat.
Brisket I would do an oak and hickory, or even just hickory would be great!
Pecan is nice and similar to hickory but a little sweeter and not quite as heavy and makes for a great smoke as well.

For meat I usually go 4-5 different places depending on what I want to do.
Check your local circulars for deals and sales, lots of times around here things like chuckies go on sale for $1.99lb, great price!

Good luck with the new toy and your first smoke on it PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #6 of 12
One trick that I found from some other members is to go into the advanced search and then hit the drop down menu and click search by "title only" and you will pull up far less posts that you need to go through and you will get right to the point much quicker.
post #7 of 12
Welcome aboard, sir!

I'll share my brisket procedure with you:

(1) I buy brisket that has already been trimmed from a local Angus rancher.

(2) I marinate it overnight in the following:

1 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons black pepper

(3) I pull it from the fridge, rub it, and let it sit for 30-45 mins. Here's the rub I use:

1/2 cup paprika
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons oregano

(4) I put it in the smoker directly on a rack (fat cap on top) with the smoker temp at 250* and mesquite chips for 3 hours.

(5) I wrap the brisket in foil after 3 hours and put it back in at 250*

(6) I let the brisket temp reach about 185-190* in the foil. This will only take 2 hours or so.

(7) I pull the brisket and let it rest in the foil for at least 30 mins. The temp will continue to rise.

(8) I slice and serve some tender, juicy brisket with BBQ sauce on the side.

I hope this helps some!
post #8 of 12


First of all welcome to smf, if you have questions on bbqing you'll find them here.

Second, I'd have to agree with corncob here, and do some chickens or pork butt or ribs, so you can get a feel for your smoker, before doing a brisket, but if your set on a brisket, take the 5 day course, I did and it helped a lot.
post #9 of 12
I used this recipe from williamzanzinger (http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/for...ad.php?t=90144 post #8)

A bit salty for my taste but everyone raved about it and I got no leftovers from Easter!

I cleaned some of the fat off, rubbed it, let it set for 45 minutes covered and then into the smoker wioth Hickory and Maple. 220 degrees, fat side up, 8:30 pm and at 5:30 am it was at 165. I double-wrapped it in foil and stuck it back in until it reached 200. Sat in the cooler covered with a towel for 2 hours then I sliced it and stuck in a tupperware container. (this was Saturday, pulled it out Sunday, in a pan in the over covered with foil and all of the juices and heated it up for dinner)

Just buy a piece of something and smoke it...write down your methods and results and then compare. Dont be afraid to change things up and try new things. Get your neighbors or friends to be the critics...it helps and they love ya for it!
post #10 of 12
Welcome to the forum. Don't worry. No one is going to laugh at you about your smoker.

You've got lots of good info already but you may also want to read the brisket threads in this section.


Lots of good info there as well.

Good luck and have fun.

post #11 of 12
Also, I'd recommend what others have said before. A brisket is a tough piece of meat to do well. It's just naturally tougher, easier to dry out, etc. My first smoke was pulled pork and it was excellent! Did that and a couple beer can yard birds, and then felt I was ready for a brisket. It was ok. Then I did one that was horrible. THEN I hit the homerun with one on Super Bowl Sunday (talk about coming through in the clutch!). I'm hoping tomorrow's works out, cuz the Mother-in-law is in town and bought the brisket - she's the toughest critic of them all!!

Good luck, and read up on here, post some q-view, and you'll learn quick. Though I'd take on an easier beast your first couple times...
post #12 of 12
There's some pretty good advice already been handed out here. I'll just toss one more thing in the mix.

Realize that the brisket will be cooked when it reaches 125*-140* (depending on who you ask). All you are trying to do after that is render connective tissue and get it tender. What I have been doing of late is rather than pulling a brisket at a particular temperature, I go by how the thermometer probe feels when going into the meat. If you still feel resistance, it needs more time. If it glides in smoothly, your brisket is tender, as you described in your original post.

All briskets are different, even if the weight is the same. It'll take time and practice to hit your goal regularly.

Good Luck!

To the OP - I really like your user name. you are under the hood of my truck!
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