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Briskets - A Good Read With an Interesting Tidbit Regarding Water Pans

seenred

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Good morning my SMF Brothers and Sisters!



I'm sure many of you get the same periodic newsletter emails from Thermoworks that I get...they sometimes have links to good blog articles on smoking techniques and how-to's.  To those of you who've seen this already...sorry for posting repetitive information, but I found this to be a good read and thought members here - both the veterans and the newbies - might enjoy the step by step tutorial on smoking a brisket "Texas Style" ala Aaron Franklin.



Anyway, here's the link to that article:



http://blog2.thermoworks.com/2016/0...eature&utm_campaign=Dec2016-Smoked-Brisket-cs




For most of the brisket veterans here, there's not much new information, but if you're like me you'll still enjoy the read.  Most of us who view ourselves as experienced brisket cooks have perfected a process and a technique that we are happy with, but I still like to see how others are doing it.  I've tweaked my methods over the years based on what I've read and learned from the many expert pitmasters here at SMF. And for the brisket newbies, this is as good a step-by-step tutorial as any others I've read, although I want to give some DAP to other veteran members here who've posted excellent brisket tutorials in the past (gary s, Danny, et al).  This article does a pretty thorough job of explaining why certain methods are done to get the best end product.



The one tidbit that interested me the most relates to using a water pan.  The question of whether or not to use a water pan is an old debate here at SMF.  I for one, don't use one.  But this article gives a reasonable argument for re-thinking that.  




From the Blog:



[h4]➤ KEEP THE COOKER HUMID[/h4]

During the first stage of our cook, we’ll use a pan full of water to keep the smoking environment humid  as we bring the brisket up to 150°F  (66°C). The humid environment is necessary to slow down moisture evaporation, collagen breakdown, and fat rendering, so that all those processes can occur simultaneously.


Cooking brisket in a moist atmosphere also preserves tackiness on the surface of the meat, which is necessary for the best smoke penetration.



I've read many times the claim that a moist chamber promotes more smoke penetration...that's not really a new concept to me, although I've never been unhappy with the smoke penetration I get from a dry chamber.  But the first statement, explaining the other benefits of a water pan (evaporation, collagen breakdown, fat rendering), is what interests me.  I made up my mind years ago that a water pan provided no discernible advantages over a dry chamber...so if I ever tried to smoke a brisket with a water pan in the cooker, I don't remember it.  Reading this article makes me want to try it and see if the results are different/better. 



Many of my friends here are much more experienced brisket cooks than I, so please feel free to weigh in...



Red
 
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SmokinAl

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Hi Red,

I think I'm one of the few who always use a water pan.

I even put a pan of water in my Lang.

Al
 

bdskelly

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I smoke dry on the MES.  The stick burner has a pan of water in it. I read Franklins book when I had my smoker built and decided to start using water from the git go. 

Still, I've been successfully cooking  waterless on the MES all this time. Why change?

Interesting discussion and article Brother Red. Point for making us think about it. 

B
 

WaterinHoleBrew

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Hey Red, that was a great read ! I do get them emails but hadn't read that one yet ! Thanks for pointing that one out my friend ! Thumbs Up
 

seenred

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I smoke dry on the MES.  The stick burner has a pan of water in it. I read Franklins book when I had my smoker built and decided to start using water from the git go. 
Still, I've been successfully cooking  waterless on the MES all this time. Why change?

Interesting discussion and article Brother Red. Point for making us think about it. 
B
Hey B! I guess I need to read Franklin's book...to be honest, I never took all the hype surrounding him too seriously. But he's obviously not just a flash in the pan, so I suppose he must be doing something right.

Thanks for the point my friend! Thumbs Up

Red
 
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gary s

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Interesting, I have been smoking briskets for over 40 years and have tried quite a few different ways. I have cooked hundreds of briskets on ECB's  always with a water pan and they turned out great. I'll even slip a pan of water in my RF on occasion. Some of the guys on here swear that water in the Smoker is an absolute No No, while others wouldn't think about smoking without one.

My advice is try it both ways, really pay attention and see what you think. Since I wrap after 5 or 6 hours I don't think is makes any difference.

Myron Mixon has won an awful lot of competitions using a water smoker, Just like the Rib King Johnny Trigg has won a ton of competitions using a straight flow Jambo.  I can't really tell a difference.

Gary
 

seenred

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Hey Red, that was a great read ! I do get them emails but hadn't read that one yet ! Thanks for pointing that one out my friend ! Thumbs Up
Howdy my friend! Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the point!

Red
 

seenred

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I'll even slip a pan of water in my RF on occasion. 
Hey Gary...thanks for weighing in Brother!

So I'm reading this as saying that you cook briskets in you stick burner both ways?  (With and without water pan)  If so, what, if any noticeable differences do you see and taste in the finished brisket from either technique?

Red
 

gary s

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Hey Red I can't tell any difference. I quit using the water pan pretty much all together . Maybe if I am doing just ribs and sausage I'll go with water SOMETIMES  but all my smokes this last year have been With Out 

Gary
 

seenred

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Hey Red I can't tell any difference. I quit using the water pan pretty much all together . Maybe if I am doing just ribs and sausage I'll go with water SOMETIMES  but all my smokes this last year have been With Out 

Gary
Thanks Brother.  That lines up with my thoughts too...I've been smoking briskets for years in a dry chamber on several different types of cookers with great results. 

Appreciate your input Gary!

Red
 

forluvofsmoke

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Hey Red, interesting read, and I found similarities to what I started doing several years ago, with some twists. I never knew about Franklin's method, the unlined butcher paper, etc. Maybe it's just me but I don't pay much attention to the pros or their methods, competition cooks, etc...never wanted to go that far, so I just focus on my own immediate needs/wants.

Some of what he states is right here on SMF (notice the article dates):

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/141647/brisket-with-wet-to-dry-smoke-chamber-q-view-method

And, much more than brisket covered here:

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/a/wet-to-dry-no-foil-smoke-chamber-method-for-smoking-meats

I'm a proponent for using humidity (or lack thereof) to your advantage when hot smoking, and agree 100% that smoke sticks to meat/food more when the humidity is higher. Some smoke chambers, depending on configuration and, what you're cooking, run a elevated humidity, naturally. It took me a couple trial and error smokes to put together the pieces of the puzzle back then, but using humidity up front, then reducing it by omitting added water during mid-smoke does can have a big impact.

A major difference with my method is that I don't wrap in paper (or foil) if I decide to preserve the bark I created...not even when resting...no Texas Crutch for me. Resting is a time to keep the meat elevated on a grate over/on a roasting/baking pan, and cover with a towel (or paper towels) so it can breathe. Bakers rack works fine, or with smaller removable smoker grates just slide it out and go get yourself set up for resting on a pan. The best bark you'll ever get is the bark you preserve after the smoke. You have to realize at this point that you're not done cooking until you serve it, and if you destroy the bark due to the resting method then you've lost some of the potential in the texture of your bark.

Since I got my WSM 18 and really got to know it I have not used water in it since the end of the 1st or 2nd month of smoking in it. However, I have not been wanting to really push the envelope like I was back when I developed that method for my smokers, and then shared it here.

Higher humidity for smoking, low humidity for bark development/preservation...yep, I'm all over that.

Eric
 

hardcookin

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Red good post.
I have tried smoking brisket with and without a water pan. And myself didn't really notice any difference.

But I am also under the belief that large stickburners will collect condensation and sweat the steel without a waterpan.
 

seenred

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Hey Red, interesting read, and I found similarities to what I started doing several years ago, with some twists. I never knew about Franklin's method, the unlined butcher paper, etc. Maybe it's just me but I don't pay much attention to the pros or their methods, competition cooks, etc...never wanted to go that far, so I just focus on my own immediate needs/wants.

Some of what he states is right here on SMF (notice the article dates):
http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/141647/brisket-with-wet-to-dry-smoke-chamber-q-view-method

And, much more than brisket covered here:
http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/a/wet-to-dry-no-foil-smoke-chamber-method-for-smoking-meats

I'm a proponent for using humidity (or lack thereof) to your advantage when hot smoking, and agree 100% that smoke sticks to meat/food more when the humidity is higher. Some smoke chambers, depending on configuration and, what you're cooking, run a elevated humidity, naturally. It took me a couple trial and error smokes to put together the pieces of the puzzle back then, but using humidity up front, then reducing it by omitting added water during mid-smoke does can have a big impact.

A major difference with my method is that I don't wrap in paper (or foil) if I decide to preserve the bark I created...not even when resting...no Texas Crutch for me. Resting is a time to keep the meat elevated on a grate over/on a roasting/baking pan, and cover with a towel (or paper towels) so it can breathe. Bakers rack works fine, or with smaller removable smoker grates just slide it out and go get yourself set up for resting on a pan. The best bark you'll ever get is the bark you preserve after the smoke. You have to realize at this point that you're not done cooking until you serve it, and if you destroy the bark due to the resting method then you've lost some of the potential in the texture of your bark.

Since I got my WSM 18 and really got to know it I have not used water in it since the end of the 1st or 2nd month of smoking in it. However, I have not been wanting to really push the envelope like I was back when I developed that method for my smokers, and then shared it here.

Higher humidity for smoking, low humidity for bark development/preservation...yep, I'm all over that.


Eric
Great input Eric...appreciate your perspective! And it was a good refresher for me to go back and re-read your wet-to-dry thread and article. It had slipped my mind that you had done a lot of work on this very subject over 3 years ago.

Thanks again for sharing your insight! Thumbs Up

Red
 
Last edited:

gary s

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Hey Red, interesting read, and I found similarities to what I started doing several years ago, with some twists. I never knew about Franklin's method, the unlined butcher paper, etc. Maybe it's just me but I don't pay much attention to the pros or their methods, competition cooks, etc...never wanted to go that far, so I just focus on my own immediate needs/wants.

Some of what he states is right here on SMF (notice the article dates):

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/141647/brisket-with-wet-to-dry-smoke-chamber-q-view-method

And, much more than brisket covered here:

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/a/wet-to-dry-no-foil-smoke-chamber-method-for-smoking-meats

I'm a proponent for using humidity (or lack thereof) to your advantage when hot smoking, and agree 100% that smoke sticks to meat/food more when the humidity is higher. Some smoke chambers, depending on configuration and, what you're cooking, run a elevated humidity, naturally. It took me a couple trial and error smokes to put together the pieces of the puzzle back then, but using humidity up front, then reducing it by omitting added water during mid-smoke does can have a big impact.

A major difference with my method is that I don't wrap in paper (or foil) if I decide to preserve the bark I created...not even when resting...no Texas Crutch for me. Resting is a time to keep the meat elevated on a grate over/on a roasting/baking pan, and cover with a towel (or paper towels) so it can breathe. Bakers rack works fine, or with smaller removable smoker grates just slide it out and go get yourself set up for resting on a pan. The best bark you'll ever get is the bark you preserve after the smoke. You have to realize at this point that you're not done cooking until you serve it, and if you destroy the bark due to the resting method then you've lost some of the potential in the texture of your bark.

Since I got my WSM 18 and really got to know it I have not used water in it since the end of the 1st or 2nd month of smoking in it. However, I have not been wanting to really push the envelope like I was back when I developed that method for my smokers, and then shared it here.

Higher humidity for smoking, low humidity for bark development/preservation...yep, I'm all over that.

Eric
Thanks Eric for the great post.  You said what I have been saying forever "Get To Know Your Smoker" that is the most important thing you can do
 

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