Brisket - Using Advice from SMF (w Q-View)

Discussion in 'Beef' started by whtplainssmoker, Apr 9, 2011.

  1. Mike from White Plains here.  I joined SMF this afternoon after successfully implementing the advice I received from reading SMF.  I'm a novice, having only dabbled with smoking by using a smoke box on my Webber Silver C propane grill.  Results there were good, but I wanted to switch over to charcoal and give it a whirl.  Bought the Brinkmann Verticle Charcoal Smoker on the cheap from Home Depot and figured I would give charcoal smoking a shot.

    Upon seasoning the Verticle Smoker using the manufacturer's instructions I quickly learned that there were some flaws with the Brinkmann.  Temp too low, charcoal gets choked etc.  I read SMF many posts (sorry for not knowing which ones to link to) on the subject and learned that 1) the charcoal pan that comes with the Brinkmann is useless; 2) the thermometer is useless (its about 40-50 degrees low); 3) I should purchase a square wok to use as a charcoal basket (or make my own); and 4) I should experiment a few times before trying a brisket.

    Well, I followed all the advice (except for # 4) and the results were great. Here's the breakdown:

    Purchased a 5.75 lb Brisket and made a basic rub from America's Test Kitchen (chili powder, brown sugar, salt, pepper, cayenne)


    Mixed the rub and spread it all over the Brisket (flat cut with fat) after I made some criss-cross incisions in the fat layer, bagged it and refridgerated it overnight.


    Flip side.


    Got up this AM at approximately 6:30 AM, took out the brisket to get it up to room temperature and started firing up the Brinkmann.  As you will see below, I used the old charcoal bowl as a holder for the chimney starter.  I also modified the Brinkmann as recommended by buying a square stainless steel wok from Home Goods for about $12.00 (its on the ground in the picture below), and put a 14" terra cotta plant holder in the bottom to catch the ash.  The wok fits perfectly on the rails for the old charcoal bowl.  Used a combination of Kingsford Briquettes, and Cowboy Lump charcoal as the fuel and added some hickory chunks and some cherry chips for an initial burst of smoke.


    Initial problems I noticed were; 1) used a little too much charcoal such that it was hitting the water pan; 2) temperature ran a little hot to start (presumably because of too much charcoal and the lump runs a litte hot).  To monitor the temp, I used two Taylor probe thermometers.  One with the probe in the chamber, one in the brisket.  Temp was running 240-280 to start, but after I removed some charcoal, it ran around 230ish fairly steadily.  Noticed that I would need to add more charcoal when the temp dropped to around 180ish, then it would rise up and drop back down.  I don't think this was a terrible problem, but it does require a little monitoring. (by the way in the shot below you can see how perfectly the wok sits in the rails)


    At one point the temp in the chamber dropped to around 175, and the brisket (which had reached 161, dopped back to 157.  At that point I through a handul of lump on top of the pile (cold), and when it caught, the chamber bounced back up to 240ish perhaps a little higher for about few minutes then settled in a around 240, and the brisket started rising again. (had to also add water to the pan twice during the smoke).  Didn't mop the brisket during the process.  At around 1:00pm (about 6 hrs) the brisket was around 182 degrees and I took it out of the smoker. It looked really good.


    Tightly wrapped it up in tin foil for a couple of hours to let it finish and to rest.  But when I finally got a chance to taste it, it is delicious.


    Would have liked to keep the temperature a little more constant, but overall the results were very good.  The brisket was very tender and had a nice smoke ring and that smokey hickory flavor.  One problem is a lot of the char is on the fatty side, which people may not eat (but then again you can eat the crust without the fat underneath).   Do SMF smokers usually keep the fat on a brisket flat or cut it off?  If you cut it off, does the brisket stay moist?  What temp do you like to bring the brisket to before reomoving it from the smoker? I've seen some recommend as high as 200 degrees.

    I also may have to drill some holes to lower the wok holder down a bit to get it further from the water pan.  But the recommendation for the wok in the first place greatly increased air circulation and made the Brinkmann a lot easier to use.

    Best part.  I get to eat this tomorrow too.  This was the experiment to see if I could do this.  I've got this baby wrapped up tight in the fridge and will warm her up tomorrow slowly in the oven tomorrow before dinner. The family is coming over tomorrow for some dinner and we'll be enjoying this, plus some homemade mac and cheese, homemade slaw, BBQ chicken and some asparagus.  The chicken was the backup plan if this was a dissaster, now its a side dish. 

    Thanks for all the advice and here's to more smoking Q!

    P.S. I smell like a smoldering pile of hickory.
  2. Great job on your looks Delicious. You sure tackled a tough smoke right out of the box. I trim my brisket fat cap before i rub it down and it seams to take more smoke that way. Welcome to the board and excellent job on your first Q-View...hope to see many more.[​IMG]
  3. tyotrain

    tyotrain Master of the Pit

    Now that is some great looking Q.. Nice job bet it was tasty[​IMG]
  4. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Very nice job...looks good..
  5. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Great Looking Brisket...
  6. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    For your first try with a new charcoal smoker you did a great job! Your brisket looks delicious. As for trimming the fat, I trim most of it off before smoking. The rest will melt off. I have found that you get better smoke penetration, and if you leave it on most people trim it off before eating the brisket so they take a lot of the flavor of the bark & throw it away.
  7. Thanks for all the welcomes and for the congratulations on my first true smoke.  The brisket was moist, delicious, and of course had that nice hickory smoke flavor.  I owe that to a lot of the advice I got here.  Looking forward to sharing future endevours! 
    Thanks for the advice.  I figure most people will tim off the fat an lose out on some tasty bark.  Do you find with the fat trimmed off, the meat still stays moist?  I guess with the water pan, that wouldnt be too much of a problem.  Also, I think I saw on one of Smokin Al's posts, that he put the fat on a grill level above to render and act as a self baster from above.  Is that a recommended technique?
  8. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I don't know if anybody ever tried that trick before. I just thought of it a few smokes ago & it keeps the meat moist without any mopping or spritzing. So I recommend it, especially for a long smoke or overnight smoke. 
  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I thought of Al's trick a long time ago, but I wasn't smart enough to try it.

    He proved it works great!

    I like to leave about 1/4" of fat on my brisket, because I love to have it mixed in with my bark.

    I do however, cut diamonds through the fat to the meat, so seasoning can hide in the nooks & crannies, and so smoke can get into the meat.

  10. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Smarter than the average Bear!
  11. So the fat trick I saw Al pull off recently was a new trick. I like the idea, but doubt I could leave this smoker unattended overnight. But I'll have to file that in the tricks to remember file.
  12. chris_harper

    chris_harper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That looks great for your first time! I smoke my briskets fat side down. I don't trim any fat off before smoking it. I am going to experiment with my next brisket. I have a 10-lb'er and a rack of baby backs in the fridge for next Saturday (if I don't decide to smoke it today). Also have a fatty in there waiting to be smoked. If I have time I will smoke it this evening. I gots to do some work in the garden also. Plus it is supposed to rain this evening. So today might not be a smoking day.
  13. Had the Brisket yesterday with some homemade mac & cheese, homemade coleslaw and some grilled asparagus (olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic).  Meal turned out great and everyone said the brisket was some of the best they had ever had.   I asked if they were just blowing smoke, and they said no.  So I would say my first charcoal smoke was a success.  

    My critique of myself was I should have reheated the brisket a little longer in the oven to let it steam in its own juices a bit more.  I only had it in the oven for about 45 minutes (at around 275) to bring it back up to moderately warm tempurature (145).  I would have liked it hotter.  I also thought it could have been a little more tender, which I assume will come once I figure out how to regulate the temperature in the smoker a little better and/or would have been better if I let it sit in the oven a little longer on the low temp.

    A friend of mine at work recommended separating the fat cap a little and getting the rub underneath.   Then smoking the brisket with the cap side up.  He says you get a nice result with the rub right on the meat and the fat basting the meat.  He also recommends (if not serving the same day).  Wrapping the brisket up tight in heavy duty aluminum foil then reheating the brisket in the oven the next day at 220 for a couple of hours. 
  14. Looks real good. Haven't done a brisket yet. Going to try to do one in the next couple of weeks. Hope it turns out like that one.
  15. Great looking brisket man!

    I usually trim some of the fat from mine. But! I don't trim it all off! I usually leave a thin layer to help moisten the meat through out the smoke. The results I have found from doing this have been great. And to be honest the thin layer of fat isn't even noticeable after the smoke because the fat melted away into the meat. I too am new to smoking and have learned a lot from SMF. What I have found on temp to pull a brisket is 195 to slice and 205 to 210 to shred....depends on what you want.

    Again great job man! And welcome to SMF!
  16. reardenreturns

    reardenreturns Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Great looking smoke. I've heard that cold meat takes smoke better than room-temp (people here feel free to disagree with me), but I usually put my briskets on cold(ish). This, I think, enhances the smoke uptake and keeps it away from the food safety danger zones.

    Great looking meat and technique the way you've done it tho. Looks tasty. :sausage:
  17. lexoutlaw

    lexoutlaw Smoke Blower

    looks good man.....

    i too usually trim the fat....but not all off, it keeps that baby moist. looks like ya got it down, a brisket is a patient smoke....just keep that temp down and a beer in your hand, and it will be perfect.
  18. I dont trim off the fat. I thinkt he fat adds good flavor to the meat, and I find that the smoke penetration is still fantastic. I also put the brisket in a pan so that it bastes in its own juices while on the smoker. Turns out really nice. Bottom of the brisket is full of flavor. I also mop it a bit for the first few hours every hour.  Its the recipe that is in a book that I have and it turns out great.    I am going to try doing one just putting it on the rack though.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2011
  19. fife

    fife Master of the Pit

    [​IMG]To the forum and [​IMG]
  20. looks great!

    Welcome aboard, there is a lot of knowledge in here. As for smokin Al's tip it is a great idea, I took his idea one step further last week, I had some steaks I wanted to smoke so I seasoned some bacon and put it on the rack avove the steaks, as the bacon cooked the fat drippings on the steak gave them a great flavor.

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