Preventing Brisket from going dry

Discussion in 'Beef' started by erik, Sep 30, 2009.

  1. erik

    erik Fire Starter

    Hello all,

    I've smoked a few briskets and they have come out to rave reviews. However, I think that they are coming out slightly dry. They are very flavorful, and lord knows it doesn't last very long. But is there a good way to keep brisket moist throughout a long smoke?

    Mostly, I've seen that the more fat in the cut, the more moist it ends up, of course. However, selecting a cut is very hit and miss in my area so I can't just choose the best marbled beef, I'm stuck with whatever is on hand. I prep my brisket by putting some mustard on it, then a good amount of dry rub. I usually do this the night before and let it sit in the fridge, covered, overnight. Then I get up, take out the brisket, go outside to setup my ECB, and once the lump is going, put the brisket on. The first 2 hours I just let it go and make sure the temps are as good as I can get it. After that, I try to mist it with some apple juice once and hour like I do with a pork shoulder. I try to get the brisket up to ~170 then foil it up and put it in an oven at 250 until the brisket hits ~200. In my intro, I stated that I have some trouble keeping the ECB consistantly in the 225-250 range. Generally, it runs consistantly in the ~210 area, so slightly below ideal and therefore slightly longer cooking times.

    Any suggestions? Holes in the method? From what I've read, injection is said to be ineffective because the beef tissue won't let it seep through like pork would. Is it just a case of the longer cook times and I need to bear down on my rig? Thanks!
  2. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Good morning. Are you wanting your brisket to be sliced or pulled?
  3. erik

    erik Fire Starter

    Generally, I like to slice it.
  4. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If you are going to slice it you are taking it to too high of temp...

    Final temp of 180-185 max should work...
  5. coyote-1

    coyote-1 Smoking Fanatic

    If you have salt and sugar in your dry rub, rubbing then letting it sit overnight is tantamount to a curing process. That will dry it out a bit.

    Some folk cut off the fat cap in order to get the smoke more into the meat and increase the bark. With my last brisket, I cut that cap off. I bubbed the meat, put it on the smoker - then put the cap back on top. After two hours, I flipped the meat - then I put the cap back on top! That way you're using the fat to keep the meat moist, while still getting smoke into the meat and getting a bark too. The cap came off for the final hour, but at that point I put it on the rack above so it could still drip down onto the meat.
  6. bman62526

    bman62526 Smoking Fanatic

    Appears to be sound advice...

    Cut back on the salt in your rub, or don't rub until the morning of.

    And yes, 180 - 185 should be good for slicing - also, maybe foil at 160 instead of 170??

    Another issue might be the should try and maintain 225 - 235 I think, in order to get less dry-out effect.
  7. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Well if your slicing it, and that is the way I prefer it as well, the 180 should be your limit on internal temp. Are you using a quality accurate thermometer? I dont know you setup or equipment, but accurate therms are paramount in a good outcome. If it is one of those multi colored ones that come standard on most smokers, you may want to check it against another one for accuracy. If you have a Sams club in the area, they sell the big packer briskets. That is where I get mine. In the past, I have been forced to use the smaller ones at local stores that were all trimmed and it turned out dry. If you get a nice big packer, you can trim some of the heavy fat off, but I would leave at least 1/2 inch on and smoke it fat side up. How much salt are you using in your rub compared to the rest of the ingredients? When I do a brisket, I usually set the rub on the night before and smoke in the morning. 6-8 hours and its good to go. Next time, try smoking it at 225-235. Make an accurate reading of the internal temp at the thickest spot on the meat. When it hits 175 internally, remove it and foil it, wrap it and stick it in a cooler for at least an hour. It will continue to cook and should be mouth watering moist when you pull it out.
  8. scrapiron

    scrapiron Smoke Blower

    What about doing searing it? Wouldn't that seal in a lot of the moisture? I have never done one, but recall a link where someone sears theres and when they put the thermometer in it shoots out liquid. Just a thought. I am sure someone will let us know.
  9. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Searing the meat won't seal in the juices, rather it caramelizes the outside to give added dimensions of flavor to the meat. There was a link on here somewhere but I can not find it, perhaps someone else knows where its at. Some will sear a brisket for that reason, some won't. I have yet to try it but I think that if it gives the flavor to it like it does a steak on the grill, it would be pretty good.
  10. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Im with the meat hunter on this one too. I would pull the brisket at about 175-180 I like i'm alittle on the rare side so. Make sure you towel and cooler it for aleast an hour so that the juice can recirculate back to the inner sections of hunk of meat. The main thing is to spritz the meat during smoking and let it rest and then you will enjoy a nice piece of meat.
  11. bigbaldbbq

    bigbaldbbq Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Last brisket I did I took it to 187 and let it cool a bit in a cooler before I sliced it. It was moist and tender. Try backing the internal temp down a bit.
  12. alx

    alx Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I start checking the meat at 180 degree.I use a thermapen and if it goes in and out of meat like warm butter-no resistance-I cooler it....The flat of brisket that is....

    Have had tender at 180 and sometime 200degree.I go by feel.....

    The toughness of brisket will vary ALOT.

    The point is usualy taken to 200-205 since it has fat like a pork butt....

    I inject-trim fat cap-never spritz or mop-only lift lid to foil-cook at 250-265-Judges seem to like it.......Many ways to do it.Since i get a tender product at higher temps i dont feel need to spend all day on a 15 pound packer....Less then hour per pound for me.....
  13. herkysprings

    herkysprings Smoking Fanatic

    I smoked fat side down, and when I foil I foil with the meat side down. Seems to work for me.
  14. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    perzactly! i think searing is the most understood technique of meat preparation.
  15. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    I saw that post, and have had similar experiences. It's hard to argue when meat is spitting juice a foot or more. But the popular theory right now is that searing does not seal the meat. I sear mostly because I like the flavor. I suggest you try and see what you think about the moisture. It won't hurt anything.
  16. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Interesting idea. The fat cap going on and off each side of meat along with the drippings didn't disturb the bark?
  17. I totally agree with ALX, but I spritz and mop. Like ALX says, there is a lot of ways to do it. All the best...[​IMG]
  18. erik

    erik Fire Starter

    Thanks for the tips! I'll try pulling the meat earlier, and maybe foiling a bit earlier. Maybe trying to mess with the fat layer too, although the butcher I normally go to has brisket in packs, they don't really have a bunch of beef around except for steaks.

    For my thermometer, I use a Webber digital to check the meat. I have the crappy default on on the ECB, and I only trust that as a ball park guess, which is why I lean on the meat thermometer to tell me what's going on.
  19. visilor

    visilor Fire Starter

    When you foil your brisket, do you put any liquid in with it? That might help the moisture.
  20. smokeguy

    smokeguy Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    All the previous tips should get you well on your way to a nice juicy hunk of meat.

    Since you slice it it's critical to slice it the right direction to keep it as tender as possible which usually translates into more moist meat. Or at least perceived as more moist meat.

    If you don't end up chewing it like jerky and it is "swallow-able", then it's perceived as more moist. So, slice it against the grain. Doing so is like taking the first chews since you've already cut through the toughest bites.

    Cutting it with the grain leaves the chewer doing all the work instead of the knife. Cutting it thinner rather than thicker also does the same by letting the knife take more of the "chew".

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