Brisket Finished FAR to Early - Question

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stljammie

Newbie
Original poster
Aug 13, 2022
4
0
Hi All - New to the forum. I'm not sure if this is the place for this, but I had a few questions around smoking a brisket on a pellet grill. I completed my first attempt a little while back, and while the brisket wasn't bad, it finished far earlier than expected.

First thing - equipment. I have a Louisiana Grills SL700. Pellets Used - Pit Boss Oak Blend.

From my research, I concluded I'd probably need about 11 hours, so I started the smoke at 7:15a. I kept reading that I should be expecting a stall in the 165 degree range - I never hit the stall. The brisket finished after 6.5 hours. I still don't understand exactly what happened and am looking for some tips. I didn't get all that much of a smoke ring, and it'd obviously be even tastier if it were on for 11-12 hours vs 6.5.

I got the brisket from Costco. 12.61 lbs USDA Prime. I trimmed off 4 lbs 6.8 oz of fat for a final weight of 8 lbs 3 oz. Solely seasoned with salt and pepper.

The trimming went alright for my first batch. Fat wasn't too thick at the top and the fat in the meat rendered pretty well. I was a bit confused on the point on this brisket though as I was expecting more of a flap to cut off.
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For those who have critiques on the shaping and trimming of the brisket, fire away.

I set the grill at 250, so I guess question #1 would be - should I go lower (225)? The only water pan that I had was a square 9x9 pan (which has since been replaced). I put the brisket in the back half of the grill and let it sit and cook.

tempImageV4zhbV.png


I stuck a thermometer in the thickest part of the meat and looked at the reading from my pellet grill's screen every hour:
(All degrees Fahrenheit)
Hr 1 = 81
Hr 2 = 132
Hr 3 = 154
Hr 4 = 166
Hr 5 = 177
Hr 6 = 192
Hr 6.5 = 203

With all this said, and with the grill setup, is there anything obvious that I did wrong or anything you'd recommend trying? I'm most likely going to start at 225 degrees the next time around. I also know that my grill's internal thermometer could be incorrect, so I'll do tests shortly to see if that's also an issue.

Feel free to send over any critiques, glaring issues, things I should never do again. I'm on this forum to learn, not for an ego boost. I know there's a lot here.

Overall, the brisket was ok. The group I served it to loved it, but I knew it could have been far better due to no smoke ring and because I knew it should have been done a lot later. I ended up putting in the oven on and off at its lowest setting for the remaining hours till dinner. Looking back on it, I should have just put back on the pellet grill in a pan. The flat was pretty dry, which made sense - but surprisingly not as dry as expected. The rest of the brisket was pretty juicy somehow.

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Last question would be, the dark brown portion of the fat in the meat below...how can I eliminate that in the future? Is this a trimming situation? Does this always happen?
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Thanks again for reading!

Sincerely,

A Big City Beginner Smoker
 

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tbern

Master of the Pit
SMF Premier Member
Dec 27, 2015
2,056
969
Southwest Minnesota
Welcome to the forum from Minnesota!! I am no expert with brisket, but it won't be long before those that have the experience to help you will come along! Enjoy your time here and thanks for sharing all your pics of your cook!
 

gmc2003

Epic Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Sep 15, 2012
13,807
9,124
Welcome aboard, I have a couple of questions/answers:

1. The thermometer that you used. Has the accuracy been verified?

2. It sounds like the brisket was under cooked. The flat will be dry when under cooked. Next time start probing all over the flat when you reach 195*. Probe it with a skewer or something similar. The skewer should go into the meat with very little resistance.

3, 250* is fine for a temp, and forget about getting a smoke ring with a pellet smoker. The ring doesn't add anything to the flavor. It's just a puff your chest out thing.
 

kevin james

Smoking Fanatic
Jul 30, 2012
439
318
Sacramento, CA
A couple things.

1. I agree with gmc2003, it sounds like it may have been under done if it was dry, but then again how was the texture? Was it pull apart tender, or was it still a little tight? Or on the other hand did it shred when you sliced it? All are indications of it it was cooked perfectly, if it was under done, or if it was over done.

2. You say it was done way too early, but you don't really specify what that means. What time did you pull it off and what time did you serve it? I ask because you should be resting your brisket at least two hours anyways, and four hours is better. With a hot hold, you can go longer than that. See below...

Over the last 6 months or so, I have been really honing my brisket game, and I have been smoking a lot of them, on average probably at least one every other weekend, and sometimes every weekend.

Lately I have been smoking the day before serving, pulling around 195, and resting over night in a sous vide bath set at 141 to simulate the holding ovens the big name BBQ joints in Texas use. It works amazingly well, and the kicker is you don't have to stay up all night or wake up at the crack of dawn. I'll trim my brisket Friday night, throw it on the pit by 10AM on Saturday, wrap using the foil boat when I get the bark formation and color I want, and it's usually done by 10PM. I let it rest down to about 145, then vac seal and in to the sous vide bath set at 141 to hot hold it until I'm ready to serve for lunch or dinner on Sunday. It makes life easy as there is no worrying if it will be done on time, and they always come out great.

Yes, you do need to spend a little money to use this method if you don't already have sous vide equipment, but it's about a $200 investment that will pay dividends as you will use it often ($150 for an Anova circulator for example, and about $50 for a sous vide container and lid large enough to hold a whole brisket). Plus once you have a sous vide I guarantee you will use it for other things as well.

<Edit> Actually you need a vac sealer as well so that would be another purchase as well if you don't already have one, but also another good thing to have anyways if this is a hobby and you cook often.

Here is where I got the idea:
 
Last edited:

daspyknows

Smoking Fanatic
Jun 9, 2020
871
651
el cerrito ca
Did you just go by temperature or did you use a probe to test for tenderness? If the thermometer wasn't placed properly you might have thought it was to temp. I smoked one the other day and there was a 10 degree difference between the thermometer probes. It probed tender at 205 and 215. Obviously the 205 was the correct temperature to finish and the 215 was closer to the edge of the brisket.
 

stljammie

Newbie
Original poster
Thread starter
Aug 13, 2022
4
0
Welcome aboard, I have a couple of questions/answers:

1. The thermometer that you used. Has the accuracy been verified?

2. It sounds like the brisket was under cooked. The flat will be dry when under cooked. Next time start probing all over the flat when you reach 195*. Probe it with a skewer or something similar. The skewer should go into the meat with very little resistance.

3, 250* is fine for a temp, and forget about getting a smoke ring with a pellet smoker. The ring doesn't add anything to the flavor. It's just a puff your chest out thing.
1. I guess I'm not sure if the thermometer is verified. I have only used the probe that came with the grill and assumed it was accurate. I do have two other thermometers that I can work with to double check. Is there another process for verifying that I should be aware of? I'll look this up online as well.
2. That's good to know about the flat being dry is a result of not being done. I assumed the opposite. I have a few skewers that I can try working with for this. If the flat isn't done but the temp says 203 for the point, should there be any worry about overcooking the point?
3. Thanks for that point too. Read and watched videos all over the place that people loved their quality smoke rings. I'm not too surprised to hear this point.

Thank you for the feedback!
 

stljammie

Newbie
Original poster
Thread starter
Aug 13, 2022
4
0
A couple things.

1. I agree with gmc2003, it sounds like it may have been under done if it was dry, but then again how was the texture? Was it pull apart tender, or was it still a little tight? Or on the other hand did it shred when you sliced it? All are indications of it it was cooked perfectly, if it was under done, or if it was over done.

2. You say it was done way too early, but you don't really specify what that means. What time did you pull it off and what time did you serve it? I ask because you should be resting your brisket at least two hours anyways, and four hours is better. With a hot hold, you can go longer than that. See below...

Over the last 6 months or so, I have been really honing my brisket game, and I have been smoking a lot of them, on average probably at least one every other weekend, and sometimes every weekend.

Lately I have been smoking the day before serving, pulling around 195, and resting over night in a sous vide bath set at 141 to simulate the holding ovens the big name BBQ joints in Texas use. It works amazingly well, and the kicker is you don't have to stay up all night or wake up at the crack of dawn. I'll trim my brisket Friday night, throw it on the pit by 10AM on Saturday, wrap using the foil boat when I get the bark formation and color I want, and it's usually done by 10PM. I let it rest down to about 145, then vac seal and in to the sous vide bath set at 141 to hot hold it until I'm ready to serve for lunch or dinner on Sunday. It makes life easy as there is no worrying if it will be done on time, and they always come out great.

Yes, you do need to spend a little money to use this method if you don't already have sous vide equipment, but it's about a $200 investment that will pay dividends as you will use it often ($150 for an Anova circulator for example, and about $50 for a sous vide container and lid large enough to hold a whole brisket). Plus once you have a sous vide I guarantee you will use it for other things as well.

<Edit> Actually you need a vac sealer as well so that would be another purchase as well if you don't already have one, but also another good thing to have anyways if this is a hobby and you cook often.

Here is where I got the idea:

Thank you for that video. Wish this guy would have come up when I went through everything the first time. Great notes on the bark and even on the cutting. Couldn't find anyone that used a Costco brisket, so it was good to see how he went about the trim and how things looked at the end.

1. The brisket wasn't pull apart tender, but did cut alright. After watching this guy's video, however, I realized the tenderness wasn't quite there. It wasn't as easy to cut as I'm seeing in his video. It did shred a little bit and was defintely still a little tight. This could have been from how I went about working with the brisket once I thought it was "done" though. I'm now realizing that the "rest" period is actually how things should be...which makes sense. I'm used to just serving the food right when it is cooked (or after maybe a slight rest), but I obviously need to change up my thinking for cooking brisket. The rest looks more essential than I realized for getting the fat to actually render - which I'm realizing didn't quite happen after comparing my photos to the video. If the meat was shredding a bit, was it undercooked, over cooked, or did I just not let the fat render properly?

2. Going off point 1 and your question, from what I could tell on my initial research and through videos, "done" meant hitting 203 degrees internal temp. I could also tell that "done" had something to do with feel, and I figured I wasn't going to understand what that "feel" was like till I cooked my first one. I was expecting to hit that 203* right around 6pm to serve at around 7 or 7:30p. I didn't realize I needed as much time to let the brisket rest. I put the brisket on at about 7:15a. So when monitoring the temp, I was a bit surprised to see the brisket hit 203* at about 1:45p. The Brisket was only on for 6.5 hours and I was expecting at least 10. This could easily have been my equipment (or my lack of understanding about my equipment). I do feel like it should have stayed on for longer than 6.5 to help with the bark process and the fat rendering...should I just wait and pull it off at 9 hours in my next run?

I do think I'll need to look at a few other methods before going with the sous vide, primarily due to living in an apartment and not having the space for all that much extra equipment. I do think his method makes a lot of sense though.

Thanks for the comment and the video. Learned a lot from this.
 

stljammie

Newbie
Original poster
Thread starter
Aug 13, 2022
4
0
Did you just go by temperature or did you use a probe to test for tenderness? If the thermometer wasn't placed properly you might have thought it was to temp. I smoked one the other day and there was a 10 degree difference between the thermometer probes. It probed tender at 205 and 215. Obviously the 205 was the correct temperature to finish and the 215 was closer to the edge of the brisket.
I solely went by temperature for the first one - and mistakingly only used one thermometer. Should I even worry about putting in the thermometer the next time around?
 

3montes

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Dec 26, 2007
1,274
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Beautifull shores of Lake Superior
You have fewer problems than you think. That’s a pretty nice looking brisket. I have had prime briskets done in just under seven hours about the same size as yours. Prime grade seems to cook faster than choice grade for reasons I don’t know they just do. It’s not a problem to worry about. I don’t look at temp I go by tenderness. If the probe goes in without any resistance in a half dozen places it’s done.

I run my smoker at 250 for most things. I don’t worry about slight temp changes it don’t matter. I don’t monitor the internal temp at all. The only reason someone decided there’s a stall is because the watch the temp constantly. I pan my briskets when I see and hear the fat really start to break down. I will put some beef stock or tallow or even some dark beer in the pan for a bit of moisture but don’t cover it. Similar to the foil boat but using a pan.

When it probes tender I put it in the Cambro food keeper to rest. The longer the better. Best advice I can give is don’t over think it. It’s a simple process that has been made complicated by charts and graphs and the latest secret on You Tube. Once I decided to stop worrying about every little detail things became much easier and the brisket much better.
 

babydoc

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★ Lifetime Premier ★
Aug 13, 2022
113
85
A couple things.

1. I agree with gmc2003, it sounds like it may have been under done if it was dry, but then again how was the texture? Was it pull apart tender, or was it still a little tight? Or on the other hand did it shred when you sliced it? All are indications of it it was cooked perfectly, if it was under done, or if it was over done.

2. You say it was done way too early, but you don't really specify what that means. What time did you pull it off and what time did you serve it? I ask because you should be resting your brisket at least two hours anyways, and four hours is better. With a hot hold, you can go longer than that. See below...

Over the last 6 months or so, I have been really honing my brisket game, and I have been smoking a lot of them, on average probably at least one every other weekend, and sometimes every weekend.

Lately I have been smoking the day before serving, pulling around 195, and resting over night in a sous vide bath set at 141 to simulate the holding ovens the big name BBQ joints in Texas use. It works amazingly well, and the kicker is you don't have to stay up all night or wake up at the crack of dawn. I'll trim my brisket Friday night, throw it on the pit by 10AM on Saturday, wrap using the foil boat when I get the bark formation and color I want, and it's usually done by 10PM. I let it rest down to about 145, then vac seal and in to the sous vide bath set at 141 to hot hold it until I'm ready to serve for lunch or dinner on Sunday. It makes life easy as there is no worrying if it will be done on time, and they always come out great.

Yes, you do need to spend a little money to use this method if you don't already have sous vide equipment, but it's about a $200 investment that will pay dividends as you will use it often ($150 for an Anova circulator for example, and about $50 for a sous vide container and lid large enough to hold a whole brisket). Plus once you have a sous vide I guarantee you will use it for other things as well.

<Edit> Actually you need a vac sealer as well so that would be another purchase as well if you don't already have one, but also another good thing to have anyways if this is a hobby and you cook often.

Here is where I got the idea:

Just coming across this now...but thank you for sharing! I've been on the fence about buying Sous vide stuff. I might pull the trigger now!
 

noboundaries

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Sep 7, 2013
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Roseville, CA, a suburb of Sacramento
The flat was pretty dry, which made sense - but surprisingly not as dry as expected. The rest of the brisket was pretty juicy somehow.

1. There's a lot of info on the Internet that says to put the probe in the fattest part of the meat. That doesn't work with a packer brisket. The fatty, less dense point is always the thickest part of a packer brisket and will register hotter than the flat, by up to 10°F. Stick the probe in the flat, not the point.
2. Probe the flat for tenderness and use Internal temp as a guide, not a destination. The fattier point is as forgiving as a pork butt, so no need to worry about it if the temp climbs up to 210°F or higher as the flat gets tender.
3. Putting it to rest in the oven on its lowest setting for several hours saved the flat from being a drier chew. I rest mine wrapped in foil in a 170°F oven setting for several hours (3‐5 on average).

250°F chamber temp is fine. 225°F works, too, but you'll learn a few lessons about the physics of heat transfer. The meat absorbs less heat energy per unit of time as the temp difference narrows. A brisket can take hours to climb from 195°F meat temp to probe tender in a 225°F chamber. It'll drive you nuts. Stick with 250°F or higher.

I do 225°F overnight so I can sleep, then wrap and crank to 350°F to finish to a probe tender flat. Then directly into a 170°F oven to rest for several hours. Magic happens during that rest.
 
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Retired Spook

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Jun 28, 2022
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Mine was wrapped in pink butcher paper at around 170-degrees and when I pulled it off at 203-degrees (3:30 PM) I wrapped it in foil over the butcher paper (to keep the oven clean) and it is in the oven resting for 2-more hours. I ran my offset smoker at 250-degrees and I thought it would take 10 to 12-hours but it was done in 7-1/2. I hope it tastes good...
 

noboundaries

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I got the brisket from Costco. 12.61 lbs USDA Prime. I trimmed off 4 lbs 6.8 oz of fat for a final weight of 8 lbs 3 oz.
That's a closely trimmed hunk of meat. I rarely trim more than a couple lbs of fat off a brisket that size. You're paying for fat with a Prime brisket. Use it. The Internet shows people OVER trimming brisket, IMO. I only trim away hard fat and discolored fat. The rest stays in place.

The 1/4" rule probably has more to do with competition and Internet content than home smoking. The big BBQ restaurant guys who trim online show closely trimming a brisket. But, when you watch their servers cutting the "fatty end," the fat cap is basically intact.

I don't let my wife watch me trim meat. She wants all the fat gone.

Fat is flavor, that's why there's Prime, Wagyu, etc.
 

noboundaries

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Mine was wrapped in pink butcher paper at around 170-degrees and when I pulled it off at 203-degrees (3:30 PM) I wrapped it in foil over the butcher paper (to keep the oven clean) and it is in the oven resting for 2-more hours. I ran my offset smoker at 250-degrees and I thought it would take 10 to 12-hours but it was done in 7-1/2. I hope it tastes good...
Was that temp the flat or the point? Did the flat probe tender or resist penetration?

There's another misconception about resting a packer in a 170°F oven. But, one question first. Will a 203°F packer continue to absorb heat energy in a 170°F oven? Think about it, because the answer is no.

Heat flows from hot to cold. The packer is giving off heat to the cooler oven, but at a very slow rate because there's not much of a heat difference between the meat and the oven. Yes, the oven will cycle because it is giving off heat to the cooler kitchen by venting. That slow release of heat from the meat allows the internal meat temp and melted collagen to equalize.
 

pit 4 brains

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250°F chamber temp is fine. 225°F works, too, but you'll learn a few lessons about the physics of heat transfer. The meat absorbs less heat energy per unit of time as the temp difference narrows. A brisket can take hours to climb from 195°F meat temp to probe tender in a 225°F chamber. It'll drive you nuts. Stick with 250°F or higher.

Magic happens during that rest.
Great advice there. You'll be ordering pizza long before that thing is done at 225. >250 and <300 is a good place to be. You have to soak a lot of energy to get those fibers broken down. Resting is absolutely paramount before slicing.
 
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thirdeye

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250°F chamber temp is fine. 225°F works, too, but you'll learn a few lessons about the physics of heat transfer. The meat absorbs less heat energy per unit of time as the temp difference narrows. A brisket can take hours to climb from 195°F meat temp to probe tender in a 225°F chamber. It'll drive you nuts. Stick with 250°F or higher.
I've never heard it expressed quite this way, but I agree. Cooking with a pit temp close to the target temperature adds a lot of time.

Resting - yes, a long rest always benefits a brisket. Two or three in a cooler for 5 or 6 hours is giving you the 150° to 165° holding temp. But there is no arguing that long and controlled hot holding times make a big difference.

Probing - I don't stick them until hour 5 or 6. As long as the pit temp is in the neighborhood, I know the meat is cooking. When I do stick them, here is my preferred spot. The point will take care of itself.
7NG7H.jpg

Probing - I think it's mandatory, probably because I learned to cook by sight, smell, feel and listening to the sizzle on some things. My preferred probe is an ice pick.
GIEb7.jpg

Injecting - This always helps. I can't remember the last brisket I didn't inject. The options are endless as far as what to inject.
 

Retired Spook

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Jun 28, 2022
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Somewhere in Texas
Was that temp the flat or the point? Did the flat probe tender or resist penetration?

There's another misconception about resting a packer in a 170°F oven. But, one question first. Will a 203°F packer continue to absorb heat energy in a 170°F oven? Think about it, because the answer is no.

Heat flows from hot to cold. The packer is giving off heat to the cooler oven, but at a very slow rate because there's not much of a heat difference between the meat and the oven. Yes, the oven will cycle because it is giving off heat to the cooler kitchen by venting. That slow release of heat from the meat allows the internal meat temp and melted collagen to equalize.
I didn't probe the point but the flat was like butter - however, I've smoked better briskets...

This one was a little strange, as I mentioned it finishing much earlier than expected. It was a Prime brisket from HEB but I am not sure if it was a "packer," technically? I did not turn the oven on I just used the oven to let the brisket rest and come down, slowly. It wasn't bad, but I've smoked better - or maybe the meds the doc Rx'd are affecting my taste buds...

I've had better luck smoking just the point so I might stick to that going forward. Anyways, it will taste good in tacos and it will make a good brisket hash.

There's always next time!
 

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