1. Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

First Time Smoking A Brisket!!

Discussion in 'Beef' started by swirv, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. swirv

    swirv Newbie

    Hey everyone!

    I have my 9lb brisket and will be starting my process tomorrow morning and will be smoking it early Sunday morning. Here's the plan:

    1. Marinade in DR. pepper for 12 hrs
    2. Pull meat out of marinade. Rub veg oil on the meat then my actual "rub". Inject apple juice in a few parts. Wrap in Saran Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
    3. Wake up at 3am, pull meat out To reach room temp. Apple juice in the water pan. Toss the brisket in the smoker
    4. I plan on flipping it every 3 hrs. At 170 I will wrap in foil and was thinking to use the juices from the water pan to put in the foil wrap. Throw it back in the smoker til the meat reaches 203 and pull it out
    5. Wrap in foil again with either apple juice or more juice from water pan. Wrap in a blanket and into a cooler for an hour

    Some questions about my process:
    1. My brisket is huge...too big to fit in my propane smoker. I could cut a 1/4 chunk off. Is this a bad idea?

    2. Is 12 hrs too long to marinade the meat in dr.P? Suggestions?

    3. Is it ok to use the juice from the water pan after smoking?

    4. How long do I actually "smoke" the brisket? Do I just keep adding wood until the brisket is finished?

    This is my first time smoking anything...so any suggestions would be extremely appreciated. I will try to post pics throughout the day!!
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That is one FINE looking whole packer brisket!!!

    Be sure to do a boil check on your thermometer probe to verify it's accuracy...you can verify your smoke chamber thermometer with this probe, so you know what your smoke chamber temp is actually running at. Don't submerge your probe to the cable insertion on top, or it may be toast, just dangle into water or rest the probe over the side of the pot in about 2" or wtare for the boil-test.

    Here's some info on what your thermometer should be reading per you elevation above sea level, as the boiling-point of water is lower at altitude/elevation:

    Boiling Point / Atmospheric Pressure / Altitude

    Hope this all helps at least a little...first smoke huh? Brisket? If this comes out even half-way close to your expectations, you'll be hooked on brisket for life!!!!!!!!! Then, we can talk about how you'd like to do your next one...with burnt ends, maybe...

    I'll be hangin' with ya for the weekend...have a trimmed whole packer in the smoker as I type, for a Saturday evening dinner...but, I'll be here off and on, so fire away if you need anything else.

    Looking forward to seeing your first brisket sliced and plated, and reading about your experience with the smoke, and the dining pleasures when the smoke clears on Sunday!!!

    EDIT: Forgot to mention this, but I would also forgo the room temp rest prior to smoking...it brings on possible food safety issues with larger cuts of meat, but mostly if it's injected or otherwise tampered with. This also reduces smoke reaction time, slightly...cold meat takes on more smoke than warm meat will when it first hits the smoker. I go straight from the fridge to the smoke...with larger cuts of meat, they will heat through and cook evenly, unlike thinner cuts like steaks...that's where bringing it up to room temp prior to cooking will help the most...I still don't practice that method very often...benefits have been negligible for me, at best.

    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013
    iamswanny likes this.
  3. [​IMG]      Hello Swirv.  Thought I'd sign in and offer my humble opinion but as usual Eric has got ya covered.  Just remember patience, patience and MORE patience and keep that door closed ( no peeking ).  I'll also be in and out all weekend so we will help all we can.  GO FOR IT!  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

  4. webowabo

    webowabo Master of the Pit

    Wow... Eric covered ya on that one.. ;) I totally agree with both Eric and Danny...

    I cant wait to see your brisket... yum yum!:yahoo:
  5. [​IMG]I'm in.

    Happy smoken.

  6. swirv

    swirv Newbie

    Thanks everyone for your advice and insight!!!  I greatly appreciate it.  I do have some questions though still:

    I planned on keeping the temp around 215-225, preferably at 220.  Would you guys suggest a higher temp?  Is there a such thing as phasing it with the temperatures (i.e.: Starting out at higher temp to ensure the meat reaches 140 within 4 hours, and then turning it down for the remainder?)

    Also, I am pretty sure the point muscle was already trimmed off of this brisket.  If I recall correctly, the butcher said it is a "Flat Cut".  Does this change anything with regards to my preparation and/or cooking temps?  

    Last question:

    I've been reading diff opinions as to foiling vs not foiling.  What is the difference really?  Does foiling yield a juicier and more tender brisket?

    Thanks again guys, about to start the marinade and will take more pics here soon!
  7. swirv

    swirv Newbie

    More pics before the marinade!! Pics of the fat cap and thickness.

    Question: since the point muscle had already been trimmed off. I was considering cutting the brisket in half right at that fat line that you see next to my index finger in pic #2. Think this is a good spot?

    Thanks again guys!!

  8. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    iamswanny likes this.
  9. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013
    iamswanny likes this.
  10. Hello Swirv.  I wish I could say different but as usual Eric is right on point.  He doesn't even differ much from the PM I sent you.  He claims to be from Wyoming but I am convinced he really lives somewhere in south Tx. [​IMG]    All kidding aside he gave GREAT advice.  Follow that and you just can't go wrong.  I only differ with Eric in that I love the fat on beef and pork.  I know it ain't healthy but not like I eat it every day.  I will continue to monitor just in case Eric is busy and you need help, but other than that I'll shut up now.  Nothing more I can add.  Waiting to see the final product.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

  11. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    Thanks Danny. I actually grew up a bit farther north and to to the east a few skips and hops...never been to TX, but know some folks down there...really down to earth, good people.

    I really do enjoy smoking and dining on brisket...so does the family, friends and relatives, and quite a few of my co-workers. Everything that it brings along the way is just icing on the cake for me, as every smoke is a new adventure...something always changes the game to keep things interesting. To say brisket is my favorite cut of beef to smoke would be a serious understatement. Sure, I adore a nice 22lb 7-bone whole beef rib...separate the ribs from the eye for a super-meaty rib lunch and prime rib dinner...fantastic entree items!!! But the brisket, oh, the things I can do with brisket...sometimes I even impress myself, and that takes some doing...LOL!!!

    And, thanks for coming along for the ride and helping a fellow smoker on his quest!!! Tutoring someone on a solo mission isn't easy, and I often forget some key points that others will be quick to bring into the mix...two or more heads and pairs of eyes and ears are ALWAYS better than just one.

  12. swirv

    swirv Newbie

    I have to say guys, I've been apart of a lot of forums.  This forum offers some of the most helpful and friendly members I have ever encountered!!! Thanks Danny, I am forever grateful for the assistance and support that you and Eric and everyone else has been so kind to offer.  I did a dry run with the Smoker just about 30 minutes ago, let it run for about an hour and half.  Was "seasoning" my makeshift bake pan/wood pan.  I wanted to set everything up and see how difficult it was for me to regulate a consistent heat.  I found a sweet spot that fluctuates from 215-225 give or take a few degrees.  Unfortunately,  its been pretty windy here in MD the past couple of days.  A gust of wind came through and blew out the flame at one point.  I think I am going to make some sort of wall or barrier that will help block any strong gusts, just in case!

    Eric, you were spot on about that pan.  It held up perfectly fine, however, the first 10-15 min it put off a pretty bad smell!!  

    More pics to come!  Thinking I may be staying up late tonight to get this bad boy in the smoker and going around 3am. Once I get a good consistent temp that I want for about 30 min straight, then i will head to bed for the night and let it smoke. 
  13. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ah, yeah, if you have wind, that's your worst enemy for temp control, so block/shelter as needed. Precipitation will cause temp drops, but not temp fluctuations like wind can. The flame-out, obviously is bad thing, so breaking the wind should greatly reduce the risk of that.

    OK, regarding getting stable temps, are you using water in the water pan? Water will help reduce high temp spikes...the down side is that when the water evaporates out and the pan is nearly empty, temps will go on the climb, and you may see 40-60* or higher temp before it settles in again. I'm not entirely familiar with that smoker, but hope it has at least a 4qt water pan capacity...depending on how close to the heat source the water pan is, and how high your burner flame is set at to maintain temps, will determine how fast the water evaporates. If you come back outside and see high chamber temps, suspect a dry water pan...crack the door and have a peek...add cold water to return things back to normal, without adjusting the burner before adding water, or you'll be starting from scratch on lining out temps again.

    I'll chat with you later about it, but sand or gravel in the water pan will eliminate the temp spike from a dry water pan after boil-off...part of the wet-to-dry chamber method I use.

    Oh, for smoke woods, if you have chunks, you can use therm with chips to extend the smoke output beyond the time your chips will last.

    Sounds like you're almost ready for the slow-paced and long-winded brisket race!!!

    If anything else comes up in the ol' brain-waves, I'll drop you another note...kick me in the ribs if you have any more questions...happy to be of assistance.

  14. Eric and Danny have you covered. A couple of sheets of plywood or a tarp and a couple of trash cans may help on the wind. I look forward to seeing some smoke.

    Happy smoken.

  15. swirv

    swirv Newbie

    Ok. So I am pretty stoked to begin. I was wondering what you guys do for starting the smoker? Let me explain: do you put your wood in and fire it up? Or so you let the smoker heat up and then toss the wood in?

    I plan to wrap the wood pan up in foil and poke holes in the top to release the smoke. I figure this will make clean up fairly easy.

    I feel like a kid whose going to Disney tomorrow...steady staring at the clock lol

    P.S.: thermometer is calibrated perfectly. I am going to set my min temp alarm at 210 and the max temp at 230. My thermo will sound an alarm if temps deviate too much.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013
  16. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  17. swirv

    swirv Newbie

    It's 1:30a.m and here's an update. Pulled the brisket out of the marinade at midnight. Cut it in half and rubbed her down good! Smells amazing!!!

    Wood is ready, water pan is watered, going to try and stay up as long as I can. I am only going to be able to read the IT of one piece of the brisket.

    Should I put the thicker/larger cut on the bottom or top rack? I figure the thicker cut requires longer cooking time.

    Should I put the thermometer probe into the thicker/larger brisket or the thinner?
  18. Look forward to an update.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013
  19. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey Swirv-

    Guess I wasn't thinking far enough ahead before I signed off last night or I could have answered those questions for you ahead of time...I can't read you mind, though, at least not that I know of...LOL!!! As for the thicker piece taking the longest, in theory, that is correct, to a point...depends of total weight as well, and where it is placed in the smoker. This first smoke may have a bit of a learning curve as far as grate temp vs chamber temp. The vertical cabinet smokers I've used typically run a bit hotter on the uppermost grates, while the lowest grate is a bit cooler and also seems to get a higher humidity from the water pan. Also, the water pan acts as a heat baffle, as will any larger pieces of meat. This baffling helps to force more of the heat upwards along the cabinet walls before it travels inward towards the meat, which prevents it from being too hot on bottom and too cool on top. That said, there will be some experimenting involved in finding a happy medium where multiple pieces of meat will be finished close to the same time, and this is very difficult at times to achieve. On thing you can do is cooking rotate grate positions a couple times during the smoke, if timing is an issue.

    Where I feel a bit out of my element is that I don't know the characteristics of your particular smoker, as each manufacturer/model will vary somewhat in how the grate temperatures vary from the cabinet temperature. So, that will take a bit of time and a few smokes to find out how your smoker reacts with multiple pieces of meat, where you place them, etc. But don't worry about that too much...it will come. Keep some notes on which grate positions you used, which piece went where, if you rotated grate positions, which piece was finished first, etc...just little tidbits that will tell you what's going on inside the smoker later on down the road.

    As far as time estimates per pound for a given chamber temp to push the pieces of meat to a tender state at an approx 180-190* I/T, that will depend on convective efficiency of the smoker...how much heat is actually flowing through the smoke chamber...ventilation and BTUs.

    Speaking of ventilation, I forgot to mention this early on, but keep your top (exhaust) vent at least 1/2 way open. This will allow the smoke and heat to flow more freely through the cabinet, which increases convection and prevents stale smoke from accumulating in the cabinet.

    Your brisket seems to have had a fair amount of reaction to the marinade, judging by the discoloration on the surface. Looking good so far, rub and all!!!

  20. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I also forgot to mention...don't stick your probe into the meat until after a couple hours into the smoke if you didn't inject it...this will keep from pushing critters from the surface deep into the meat with the probe before the surface is pasteurized with heat. If injected, it won't matter, and you'd want to monitor I/T closely for the 40-140*/4hr rule, but after a couple hours has passed in the smoker, you can stick 'em without worries, but as mentioned earlier, keep the cabinet closed as much as possible. Door opening will loose heat, and then it takes some time for the smoker to recover and return to a stable temp again, as well as the very surface of the meat cooling slightly...it's a domino effect of sorts, and this all adds to overall cooking time.