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Brisket problems

John H

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Hi first post and looking for a little advice. I've cooked about 5 small briskets (I'm in the uk and they are pretty small and usually just have the flat on them which is the less fatty portion if I'm correct?) and they have all come out as tough as old boots. I'm trying to work out what I'm doing wrong, I 'cook' them in a uds smoker at 250f and wrap them at 170f then bring them up to an internal temp of 203f. The smoker has a very poor/thin heat shield with a load of 1 inch holes drilled in it which I'm not sure the heat shield is even working as it should.

WHERE AM I GOING WRONG?!
 

bregent

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I 'cook' them in a uds smoker at 250f and wrap them at 170f then bring them up to an internal temp of 203f
If it's tough then it's undercooked. If it's falling apart but dry it's overcooked. Don't cook to a specific temperature, that's not how briskets work. Cook until they become tender. Use a probe to test and when you can poke it with little resistance - like poking jello - then it's done. Brisket flats with no fat cap are extremely difficult to get right unless you use a pan with a braising liquid.
 

John H

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If it's tough then it's undercooked. If it's falling apart but dry it's overcooked. Don't cook to a specific temperature, that's not how briskets work. Cook until they become tender. Use a probe to test and when you can poke it with little resistance - like poking jello - then it's done. Brisket flats with no fat cap are extremely difficult to get right unless you use a pan with a braising liquid.
It's usually tough and dry lol
 

hardcookin

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Probe tender in the thickest part of the flat. Could be anywhere between 195-210.
I usually wrap my brisket in butcher paper when I get the desired bark I want.
The butcher paper helps retain some moisture.
 

gmc2003

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When I do brisket flats I smoke them on the grate until about 160 to 170*. Then pop it into a disposable aluminum pan on a small grate with some beef broth(covered). Cook until the internal is in the 190* range then back on the grate. When it hits around 205* I'll start probing for tenderness. When I probe I'll usually go across the thickest part of the flat.

Chris
 

Preacher Man

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Steve Rachlen says to make a bacon weave and place it on top of the flat if you're just smoking the flat.
 

zwiller

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If it's tough then it's undercooked. If it's falling apart but dry it's overcooked. Don't cook to a specific temperature, that's not how briskets work. Cook until they become tender. Use a probe to test and when you can poke it with little resistance - like poking jello - then it's done. Brisket flats with no fat cap are extremely difficult to get right unless you use a pan with a braising liquid.
+1 but I don't believe fat cap really helps. Fat does do not magically melt and enter the meat. It just renders and falls off. In researching brisket for like a year I find that overdone is better than under and guys just do not get this. "Tough as old boots" is most definitely under cooked. I just ran my first flat last weekend and overcooked it slightly (started to break up when cutting). Disappointed initially but it was very tender and tasty and family now is into brisket so it was a win in my book. I
 

Preacher Man

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I don't believe fat cap really helps. Fat does do not magically melt and enter the meat. It just renders and falls off.
If moisture does not penetrate from the outside, then why do guys spritz their meat to keep it from drying out? Or put liquid in the pan/wrap midway through the smoke? Or put a water pan in their smoker?
 

gmc2003

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I can't answer the spritzing question because I don't spritz. Liquid in the wrap braises the meat, and water in the pan helps keep the smoker temps on the low down.

Chris
 

zwiller

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Spritzing is done to prevent bark from getting overdone not to keep meat from drying out. Water in the smoker is also believed to help smoke adhesion, adds thermal mass, and temp control as Chris says. Some liquid may be absorbed if panned/wrapped but does not really penetrate like many think.
 

walshs00

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Joined Nov 23, 2018
I hate to write up another thread on the same topic. I have a 3lb flat that I'm smoking sunday and just wanted some opinions. I've read this thread and a ton of others about small flats. I'm going to season it with just kosher salt and coarse ground pepper. I have a wireless thermometer and am going to wrap in butcher paper once it hits the stall, then smoke until tender. Just wondering if i should leave as is or inject it with beef broth to prevent drying out. Also should I put water in the pan? Pan is pretty big on the WSM 18
 

walshs00

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I have injected and not injected--and never noticed any difference. Some swear by injection. My opinion is that it does no harm at all. Plus, injecting makes you feel as if you are preserving interior moisture even if not true.

Small flat makes little difference either. However, long, slow cooking does matter--as does regular internal temperature monitoring. Plus, after you think the meat is done, wrap it in foil, surround it with towels for insulation, and let it set in a cooler or other insulated container for at least several hours. It will be excellent.
Thanks for the insight.
 

gmc2003

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I hate to write up another thread on the same topic. I have a 3lb flat that I'm smoking sunday and just wanted some opinions. I've read this thread and a ton of others about small flats. I'm going to season it with just kosher salt and coarse ground pepper. I have a wireless thermometer and am going to wrap in butcher paper once it hits the stall, then smoke until tender. Just wondering if i should leave as is or inject it with beef broth to prevent drying out. Also should I put water in the pan? Pan is pretty big on the WSM 18
As you've read there are numerous ways of skinning the cat. None of them are wrong. It all boils down to what works for you and your taste buds. If you've injected before try not injecting, if you haven't injected before try injecting. I do what I feel is right the day of the cook. Sometimes I feel like injecting sometimes not so much. Most times I don't inject brisket. I can however help you out with the water in the pan question. If you want to smoke it at 225* then yes add water. I smoke at 250* so I don't add water. I don't want to use the extra energy(more coals) heating up the water to run my WSM at 250* when she runs at that temp comfortable w/o water. My experience is - using water in the pan isn't going to help with keeping a brisket(or any other type of meat) moist. Just like adding apple juice, beer, or whatever to the water pan isn't going to instill added flavor. When the meat is tender then it is done. Not before, not after.

Relax, crack open a cold one and enjoy.

Chris
 

walshs00

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I like that point of view. Straight to the point. I've never injected and didn't want to on this smoke. Great info. Clear, cut, and dry. thanks
 

doubles shooter

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Joined Sep 28, 2014
Just taking a shot in the dark, but I've been thinking about trying the method I use for twice smoked ham. What about putting a pan of beef fat with a few holes poked in the bottom above the flat to drip on the meat? Probably wouldn't need much, just enough to keep the surface wet.
 

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