Need some brisket help

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Nefarious

Master of the Pit
Original poster
Oct 10, 2021
1,616
1,309
Seattle WA
I have been asked to smoke a couple of briskets for my niece's 30th birthday. I have not smoked a brisket before this ask, this is the second and last attempt before the event.

I have a recteq smoker and usually smoke at 180° for most of the cook, usually under 3 hours.

I got this brisket, 15+lbs
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And smoked it at 180° for 9hrs. Pulled it at IT 165° and brought inside to finish in the oven.

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Finished in the oven wrapped in butcher paper with a total of 13hr cook. I let it rest covered with several towels and put in the refrigerator to store for the next day. I plan to cook them, at least 2, the day before the event. This attempt was to get an idea of what changes I need to make so I tried to follow the plan.

I heated the brisket the next day in the oven, covered in aluminum foil. The taste was good but the meat was extremely dry.

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Smoke ring is good, but texture was too dry.

I did not use a water pan in the smoker and maybe 9 hours is too long.

What changes would you recommend to make the meat at least somewhat more moist?

Thanks, I appreciate your perspective.
 
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I personally find reheated beef tends to be dry, but that's me.maybe slice and reheat in some beef broth. I'm sure some of the pros will be around though.
 
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The biggest contributor in dry meat, typically, is the grade. Standard, select, choice and prime. The last brisket I got from HEB had no marks leading me to believe it was likely standard or select. Normally I buy choice.

In the future you could inject or brine ahead of time. That should also help.

As for me, I almost always set my temp at 250° and wrap at 165-179° and add just a touch of beef stock we make at home.
 
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I personally find reheated beef tends to be dry, but that's me.maybe slice and reheat in some beef broth. I'm sure some of the pros will be around though.
If we have leftovers, I always vacuum seal them for the freezer. For reheating, I thaw whatever it is and then drop it in the water and turn down the heat. Usually it gets hot enough after 15 to 20 minutes.
 
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I can only share my experiences. I use an electric smoker set at 225'- 230' start to finish. Many here smoke at higher temps, 225- 230 works for me. I can't imagine how much longer it might take to get the IT up and tender set at a lower temp or for any reason to try that. I have IT sensor probes that alarms go off at about 198' for me to start poking it. I just use the temp sensor probes for that. If some spots are still not butter soft, I let it go for another half hr 45 min then test again untill it is all tender. I personally do not foil wrap till I take it off to put in a cooler wrapped in towels for 2-5 hours to "rest" and get even more tender. It usually cools down to about 180 in that time frame to slice or pull.

My experience is that if a brisket or pork butt seem dry it is usually from not fully being cooked enough for the "magic" happening to soften it up. This is the reason that in early days briskets and pork butts were an undesirable cut of meat. Only recent years have we learned it has to be cooked a long time and relatively slow to make it tender. My ITs on both are usually in the 203-205 range to be poke tender and pulled off. Each chunk of meat is different, just as the amount of time two pieces of meat will hold from 163 to 170 in the stall will be different, where some people foil wrap to speed this up. 15 lb briskets have taken me 20 hours at times. Just did a 20lb PB that was 21hrs. All have been very tender and juicy. Good luck to you. Let us know how it works out.
 
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No mention of how much fat was trimmed? Best to continue the smoke into the stall for a bit. If I wrap, the IT on the thickest part of the flat would be closer to 170-180º. Agree with 801driver 801driver it sounds like the brisket was not cooked long enough. Time and temps are guidelines at best. Briskets get done when they are probed tender all over the flat, ie probing feels like going into a jar of peanut butter.
 
Great smoke ring! I'd only smoke at 180 for an hour or two then run it up to 275 or so. Do you know what temp you pulled it out of the oven the first time? I have not tried injecting any enhancers prior to smoking but some do. The beef broth for warm up is a great idea for warming up.
 
IMO cooking at 180°f for 9 hours is the culprit.
The moisture leaves the meat before the meat gets cooked.
Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
Use a higher temp.
Honestly, that was my initial thought as well. I just can't find any documented info to prove or disprove that notion.
 
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I can only share my experiences. I use an electric smoker set at 225'- 230' start to finish. Many here smoke at higher temps, 225- 230 works for me. I can't imagine how much longer it might take to get the IT up and tender set at a lower temp or for any reason to try that. I have IT sensor probes that alarms go off at about 198' for me to start poking it. I just use the temp sensor probes for that. If some spots are still not butter soft, I let it go for another half hr 45 min then test again untill it is all tender. I personally do not foil wrap till I take it off to put in a cooler wrapped in towels for 2-5 hours to "rest" and get even more tender. It usually cools down to about 180 in that time frame to slice or pull.

My experience is that if a brisket or pork butt seem dry it is usually from not fully being cooked enough for the "magic" happening to soften it up. This is the reason that in early days briskets and pork butts were an undesirable cut of meat. Only recent years have we learned it has to be cooked a long time and relatively slow to make it tender. My ITs on both are usually in the 203-205 range to be poke tender and pulled off. Each chunk of meat is different, just as the amount of time two pieces of meat will hold from 163 to 170 in the stall will be different, where some people foil wrap to speed this up. 15 lb briskets have taken me 20 hours at times. Just did a 20lb PB that was 21hrs. All have been very tender and juicy. Good luck to you. Let us know how it works out.
Well, the brisket was pulled from oven at 206° in the thickest part.
 
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Great smoke ring! I'd only smoke at 180 for an hour or two then run it up to 275 or so. Do you know what temp you pulled it out of the oven the first time? I have not tried injecting any enhancers prior to smoking but some do. The beef broth for warm up is a great idea for warming up.
Pulled from the oven at 206°.
 
What grade is the brisket? How much are you trimming. Are you injecting? What seasoning are you using?
 
What grade is the brisket? How much are you trimming. Are you injecting? What seasoning are you using?
The brisket was prime from Costco. I trimmed the non fat side some, I trimmed the fat side none. There was only about 1/2 inch of fat on the fat side. I smoked it with the fat side up.

I did not inject it, have never tried it. And the spices were just pepper and granulated garlic.
 
The brisket was prime from Costco. I trimmed the non fat side some, I trimmed the fat side none. There was only about 1/2 inch of fat on the fat side. I smoked it with the fat side up.

I did not inject it, have never tried it. And the spices were just pepper and granulated garlic.
Salt?
 
I’m not a brisket expert but I have turned out some great brisket and I’ve also ruined a couple and many that were OK.
From my experience I think the best advice is to bump up your cooking temp and don’t reheat in the oven. Better if you can just keep it hot until ready to serve, search for long rest times. For me, I use my Sous Vide cooker for the long rest. If you do have to reheat it, I’d follow smokerjims advice and reheat it in some beef broth.
Lastly, I save my trimmings (fat) in a tray to make tallow. When it’s time to wrap I’ll pour some of that tallow all over the brisket.
Hope this helps.
 
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IMO salt.is needed. Salt tells the meat to retain moisture just like it does in the human body.

I'd add beef stock or broth to the SV process at a minimal if you do not want to Salt the brisket but my first route would be to add some Salt to the rub.
 
Pulling at a specific temp is going to be a hit and miss sort of option. You pull when the flat (not the point) is tender all over via probing. The feel is like going into a jar of peanut butter. Admire the intent to not use salt, understandable for sure but I'm not certain how well the moisture in final product will be retained without it. I too subscribe to the notion that the meat can dry out before it gets done via extended low smoking temps i.e. <225º. Over the years I've settled on 2 hours at low to allow for additional smoke then crank to 275º, but I also use a Texas based rub of 50/50 cracked black pepper and coarse salt.
 
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