Brisket Blues

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Original poster
Mar 4, 2024
Hi All, could really use some advice with my brisket game. I have now cooked 4 and only 1 was edible. Below is how I cooked the last one...

Started with a 6.3 pound brisket from Costco. Nice looking brisket, Rubbed the night before. Took out of the fridge about 10am the next day. Got the pellet grill preheated to about 250 and put the meat on at noon. Placed 2 probes in the meat. At around 2pm I put a pan of water in the smoker for moisture. The meat temp rose gradually and at about 5pm it was about 175. I wrapped it in foil and put back until about 203, at which time I pulled to rest. I took it off the heat at about 8pm and we cut into it at 9. Hard as a rock and dry. That said, there was a lot of juice in the foil, just none in the brisket!

I have a relatively new Camp Chef grill and feel it holds the temp really well, so I don't think that's the problem.


Thanks for any direction you can provide.

With a small piece of flat, once it hits 150~160°, I put it in a foil pan with some liquid (broth, beer works well) and cover with foil. Cook until probe tender. I suppose you could put it back on the rack at the end to firm up the bark, but I don't.

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First off, was this a whole packer or a flat? 6lbs is a pretty small whole packer…

How did you trim fat? Did you leave about 1/4 inch on the fat cap and cook fat cap down?

if you are trying to start out with flats only, I would stop that immediately. Flats are a challenge when separated from the point. I had a few failed flats early on.

I always make a whole packer and cook it at 275 till probe tender which like JLeonard JLeonard said, can be different with each cook. I stopped wrapping and all that a while back.
JP, first, welcome to SMF from Southeast Missouri.

Now, in reading everything you wrote, you have what we all will assume is a brisket flat, and, as noted, the hardest thing to do when starting on the brisket journey (experience talking).

Flats can be done, but it has been my experience that the have to be done ever so slowly. My first successful flat was smoked at no more than 225° F and I left most of the fat on.

You have to be sure that your cooking chamber is what your probe is reading. I use a simple oven thermometer sitting on the grate I'm cooking at.

Wrap at 165, or dont as Sandy pointed out, but, when it probes tender, do wrap and rest for as long as you can! For a small flat, start your cook at 8 am, believe me, it's going to still be hot even after 3 hours (we all typically wrap in foil, then in towels and put inside a dry cooler [known as FTC]). Probe tender is key!
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I assumed it was a flat when he said the IT reached 175 in 5 hrs (noon-5pm)... No way would a whole packard be that in 5 hrs ...

When we mention probe tender (for doneness)... I usually start poking with my probe around 190 degrees (every 5 degrees after)... When we do this we poke it in in all different places of the flat (4,5,6 places)... When it slides in and out with no resistance in all places it is then done and ready for the cooler rest... This can happen any where's starting around 190 degrees IT up to 210+ if needed...
Smoking to meat temp will result in failures quite often. I use meat temp as a guide to start poking the meat with the probe. It is done when it is tender regardless of what the meat temp indicates. I don't use a meat temp probe at all except toward the end of a cook, and then it is usually just to see if the meat resists (needs longer in the smoker) or it slides right in (done).

Like others have said, 6 lbs is probably a flat. Ugh. Buy a full packer next time. And when you do, probe the flat for tenderness, not the fattier point, which will lie to your face and tell you it is done when it still has a while to go.

Briskets get their juiciness from melted collagen, not anything injected or what has oozed out. Collagen is what makes brisket and well-worked muscles tough and dry if not cooked long enough. It is counter-intuitive, but a fact.

Meat-heat-time makes for a great brisket. You can't smoke or cook a brisket with your thoughts. Leave it alone and learn what a probe poke tells you.

You've got all the info you need to achieve your 2nd edible brisket. Your next one will be a success.

If you are going to smoke flats, I'd recommend following the writeup by SmokinAl SmokinAl
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