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FAIL: 17-pound brisket - what did I do wrong?

noboundaries

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Never, ever, cook with the fat side down, always fat side up!
I cook with the fat toward the heat for protection. I've tried it both ways and the fat toward the heat gives a better result: sometimes that's fat side up (my Kettle and indirect heat); fat side down in my WSM.

In a pepper pooper it will depend whether the roast is directly over the heating element or off to the side for indirect heating from above.
 

BBQBakas

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Did you verify your grate temp with a calibrated probe? Notice you mentioned the point temp but what was the flat temp? BTW: temp is only a guideline. To know when a brisket is done, start probing for tenderness in the thickest part of the flat. The feel is like probing a jar of peanut butter going in/out.
That was one of my big mistakes. I took the temp in the wrong place.
 

BBQBakas

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Wow you asked a question and for sure you received the replies. I can say that the only thing I do different then the replies is I cook fat side up and use the water pan but I'm a no wrap guy also and never over 225.

Warren
Thank you to everyone for the feedback. Super helpful!

I've always done briskets fat side up. Last time the bottom got a little crispy and after poking around the web researching the great fat side up or down debate, I decided to do fat side down. Never again.
This pellet smoker seems to generate a bit too much heat underneath so I'm going to take suggestions and do'em fat side up and use an aluminum pan. Maybe I'll do 225 next time...how long per pound at 225?
 

HalfSmoked

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Thank you to everyone for the feedback. Super helpful!

I've always done briskets fat side up. Last time the bottom got a little crispy and after poking around the web researching the great fat side up or down debate, I decided to do fat side down. Never again.
This pellet smoker seems to generate a bit too much heat underneath so I'm going to take suggestions and do'em fat side up and use an aluminum pan. Maybe I'll do 225 next time...how long per pound at 225?
I have never done it by how long per pound just until its done. Some full packers have taken as long as 20 hours.

Warren
 

HalfSmoked

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Thanks for the like BBQBakas it is appreciated.

Warren
 

BBQBakas

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** MYSTERY SOLVED **

This has really been bothering me for the past week since the "incident". It just doesn't add up in my head. I have a 17-pound brisket, which should have required significant time in the smoker. I never went above 265° and cooked 15 hours. You'd think the brisket was under cooked and the fat didn't render completely, but the brisket came out way over cooked. Something was right.

So, I went to clean out my pellet smoker and spoke with Green Mountain Grills support. There was a bunch of ash in the bottom of my smoker which isn't normally there. That was a clue something was not working right.

It turns out their firmware needed an update. The software/firmware on my smoker was prone to voltage surges and heat spikes. The temperature wasn't regulating the way a pellet smoker should. So all the extra voltage led to all the ash in the bottom and excessive heat during the cook. Although my digital temp setting on the grill showed the temperature I wanted, inside was much hotter which would explain why my temp readings were off.

scoobbb.jpg
 

schlotz

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** MYSTERY SOLVED **

This has really been bothering me for the past week since the "incident". It just doesn't add up in my head. I have a 17-pound brisket, which should have required significant time in the smoker. I never went above 265° and cooked 15 hours. You'd think the brisket was under cooked and the fat didn't render completely, but the brisket came out way over cooked. Something was right.

So, I went to clean out my pellet smoker and spoke with Green Mountain Grills support. There was a bunch of ash in the bottom of my smoker which isn't normally there. That was a clue something was not working right.

It turns out their firmware needed an update. The software/firmware on my smoker was prone to voltage surges and heat spikes. The temperature wasn't regulating the way a pellet smoker should. So all the extra voltage led to all the ash in the bottom and excessive heat during the cook. Although my digital temp setting on the grill showed the temperature I wanted, inside was much hotter which would explain why my temp readings were off.

View attachment 467882
 

schlotz

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Well looks like you found the smoking gun. It just goes to show why it’s so important to have a reporting thermometer and not rely solely on built-in ones regardless of smoker brand.
 

BBQBakas

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Well looks like you found the smoking gun. It just goes to show why it’s so important to have a reporting thermometer and not rely solely on built-in ones regardless of smoker brand.
Just got a new thermometer. For the burnt brisket part of the issue was I started the cook before going to bed. Heat must've been spiking all night. I got up to check but didn't take a temp reading...lesson learnt (which rhymes with burnt).
 

joetee

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I don't know your smoker. Is your fire below your meat? If so, do you have a heat shield between the fire and your meat? How are you getting grill temp? Wireless probe or mounted thermometer on the door?
 

joetee

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Never mind. I read through some more of your posts and found you you said.
 

Hijack73

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You figured it out, which is great!!!

Burnt bottom on a pellet grill is always going to be a temp spike issue. I have it on my pit boss. Well...had it on my PB..

There was something wrong with the factory controller, but I didn't fix it, I ordered a Savannah Stoker PID. I should have made Pit Boss send a new one but I knew I was going to add a Stoker or some other kind of PID before I ever even bought it, so I limped along on a few cooks - but not before I did exactly to a rack of ribs what you did to a brisket and caught it happening to a brisket in the middle of a cook. Salvaged the brisket, gnawed on the ribs.


Temp spikes were wild. Only way I could use mine factory was to start smoking it on the smoker on P settings and finishing in my oven. I could actually get mine up to over 200 on P settings so got plenty of flavor and smoked it hot enough to not have the meat spoil.

Smoke fat side down or up doesn't usually matter. I go fat down for insurance. Had I not had that one brisket I mentioned fat down, I'd have really messed that one up. Fat was burnt and stuck to the grates.
 

ShanghaiBubba

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Just joined SMB after almost 10 years of coming to the forum and getting advice. I've been smoking meat since 2009 and have learned a lot from this site. I started with a $75 upright wood smoker from Home Depot, then graduated to a Camp Chef pellet smoker from 2014-2019. This year I stepped up to a Green Mountain Grill smoker (the big one). I've smoked a half dozen briskets that have all come out relatively decent; not perfect but I'd rate them 7/10 with minor tweaks needed.

Yesterday, we had friends over and I decided to smoke a 17-pound packer brisket purchased from my local market in Sonoma. It appeared to be well marbled and was trimmed up nicely to 1/3" fat and aerodynamic.
For reasons I still can't understand, the brisket came out absolutely terrible. It's my biggest failure to date and a waste of $70. The brisket came out like beef jerky. Take away my man card. Take away my smoker. What I did to that piece of beef should be punished it was so awful.

I need closure. Looking for feedback from the board.

VITALS
- 17.5 pound packer trimmed to about 16 pounds give or take
- slathered with mustard
- seasoned with about 3/4 cup mix of salt/pepper/garlic salt
- beef sat at room temperature 2-3 hours
- started smoking 9pm at 250° fat side down
- at midnight I bumped the temp to 260° and spritzed with Worcestershire sauce
- at 8am the point temp was around 190°
- at 9am wrapped in butcher paper
- backed the heat down to 225° and smoked until 1pm
- took off the smoker, wrapped in a towel and placed in my Yeti cooler
- 5pm I went to cut the end of the flat and I couldn't even cut it with a serrated knife. It was like cutting leather

The bark was black and kinda burnt tasting, perhaps from too much spritzing with Worcestershire? The fat on the bottom was crisp, almost burnt.
I'm baffled as to how my brisket turned out so badly. I cut up what I could and served it in a serving dish full of au jus.

Please help a BBQ brother out. What went wrong?
 

ShanghaiBubba

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Certainly hope it's mystery solved with the ash issue; however, a couple things I note are: 1. Not sure why you'd go fat side down. I know people do it, I'm just not sure why and haven't ever considered going there. 2. Usually I try and wrap as soon as I get the bark I need, which is usually at about 6 or 7 hours. It keeps moisture in, which is very important. Seems you went a long longer without a wrap hence your meat is losing moisture out into the cooker.

Point #2 is probably the more important of the two for me, as I know some will swear by fat side down...

KJ
 

FFchampMT

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Just got a new thermometer. For the burnt brisket part of the issue was I started the cook before going to bed. Heat must've been spiking all night. I got up to check but didn't take a temp reading...lesson learnt (which rhymes with burnt).
I smoked on a 2013 version of the GMG Daniel Boone for years. I discovered my temp controller was off by a good 30 degrees after I bought an independent thermometer and pit probe. There's also some adjustments you can do with the heat shield that sits above your burn box. Have you ever tried the 'toast test'?

The toast test is where you set your smoker to 250, let it run a good 20 minutes, then put about 8 pieces of bread down in a grid covering the grates, then check them in 5-10 minutes. You'll probably learn there's hot spots where some of the bread toasts faster than others. The firebox cover should be moved towards the hot spot. I learned no matter what I did, the exhaust side ran about 15 degrees hotter than the pellet box side, so briskets always went with point towards the exhaust.

I also cooked briskets fat down on my GMG because the drip tray is a direct source of radiant heat. Other than that I always used a smoke tube and put on a lavalock gasket on the door and enjoyed it for many years until the auger and motor became unreliable even after a replacement. Now it's parked on the grass and the WSM is my workhorse.
 

BBQBakas

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Joined Oct 17, 2020
I smoked on a 2013 version of the GMG Daniel Boone for years. I discovered my temp controller was off by a good 30 degrees after I bought an independent thermometer and pit probe. There's also some adjustments you can do with the heat shield that sits above your burn box. Have you ever tried the 'toast test'?

The toast test is where you set your smoker to 250, let it run a good 20 minutes, then put about 8 pieces of bread down in a grid covering the grates, then check them in 5-10 minutes. You'll probably learn there's hot spots where some of the bread toasts faster than others. The firebox cover should be moved towards the hot spot. I learned no matter what I did, the exhaust side ran about 15 degrees hotter than the pellet box side, so briskets always went with point towards the exhaust.

I also cooked briskets fat down on my GMG because the drip tray is a direct source of radiant heat. Other than that I always used a smoke tube and put on a lavalock gasket on the door and enjoyed it for many years until the auger and motor became unreliable even after a replacement. Now it's parked on the grass and the WSM is my workhorse.
Thank you for the reply. GMG just pushed out an update to their firmware that's supposed to regulate the heat better. Haven't tried the toast test but that's a great idea!
 

BBQBakas

Newbie
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13
Joined Oct 17, 2020
I smoked on a 2013 version of the GMG Daniel Boone for years. I discovered my temp controller was off by a good 30 degrees after I bought an independent thermometer and pit probe. There's also some adjustments you can do with the heat shield that sits above your burn box. Have you ever tried the 'toast test'?

The toast test is where you set your smoker to 250, let it run a good 20 minutes, then put about 8 pieces of bread down in a grid covering the grates, then check them in 5-10 minutes. You'll probably learn there's hot spots where some of the bread toasts faster than others. The firebox cover should be moved towards the hot spot. I learned no matter what I did, the exhaust side ran about 15 degrees hotter than the pellet box side, so briskets always went with point towards the exhaust.

I also cooked briskets fat down on my GMG because the drip tray is a direct source of radiant heat. Other than that I always used a smoke tube and put on a lavalock gasket on the door and enjoyed it for many years until the auger and motor became unreliable even after a replacement. Now it's parked on the grass and the WSM is my workhorse.
BTW, I think I'm going to try the next brisket fat side down to start, but when I wrap it I'm going to put it in a disposable aluminum tin with a cookie rack to lift it off the surface. Someone on this thread suggested the idea to help keep the bottom from burning.
 

tallbm

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BTW, I think I'm going to try the next brisket fat side down to start, but when I wrap it I'm going to put it in a disposable aluminum tin with a cookie rack to lift it off the surface. Someone on this thread suggested the idea to help keep the bottom from burning.
The smoke may "ruin" your cookie rack by coating it with a never ending source of creosote. If thats not an issue for you then go for it, just thought I'd bring it up.

Another option is to put a roasting rack on a disposable aluminum pan to lift it up. Why do I think this is a good idea? Because rack + pan setups have a TON of use haha. A brisket may be a little big for a rack but a single pork boat, large chickens, chuck roasts, pork loins, etc are all great fits :)

Something like this is good and is made to fit in or over foil pans. I own this one and another type of rack that is out of stock:
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I tried ribs in it but it didnt work so well with real sized ribs BUT I took wooden kabob skewers an put them through the ribs and that allowed them to stand up instead of lean and things worked better that way :)

You may see how this setup has many applications without ruining cookie or baking sheets in the smoker and u can go disposable very easily, collect juices, and lift meat off the rack :)
 

joetee

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BTW, I think I'm going to try the next brisket fat side down to start, but when I wrap it I'm going to put it in a disposable aluminum tin with a cookie rack to lift it off the surface. Someone on this thread suggested the idea to help keep the bottom from burning.
I just did a brisket fat cap down. It came out the best I've ever done. They say put the fat cap toward your heat source. Mine is below. I couldn't tell if had a fat cap when done. The meat on the bottom is usually a little tough from over heating. The heat coming from the lid is no match to heat source.
17# at 245 for 17 hours.
 
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