New Guy with a Failed Attempt

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Original poster
Dec 26, 2006
Satanta, KS
Greetings everyone! I will make this short...I'm new to smoking meat and tried my first brisket yesterday on my new Weber Smokey Mountain. It was a 4.5# pre-trimmed cut with a simple rub. Assuming around 70 min per pound, I calculated it should be ready around 7:30 pm (5.5 hours, I put it on at 2:00). My smoker temps were a little low, ranging from 220-230. Anyways, after the 5.5 hours, the meat was only 140! What did I do wrong? By 9:30 it was only 150, and in a frustrated attempt to finish it, I put it in a 360 oven for another hour until it reached 205. The final result was fair, just a little chewy from the rapid late cooking. Any tips? I didn't start with a fully hot smoker, but rather used a "reduced" Minion method to start and maintain the fire. I added more coals halfway through in an attempt to raise the temperature. Outside temps were in the mid 40's.

Sorry guy, sounds like you reached the infamous plateau (where the temperature rise slows and even stops for hours sometimes until the meat reaches a point where the connective tissue starts to break down and the temps start to rise again to gain the temp you need for that awesome tenderness. Practice makes perfect. Try again! However you didnâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]t starve so that makes it a successful smoke!
I decided a long time ago to never cook a brisket for the upcoming meal. If I want brisket for dinner tomorrow night, I will cook it over night tonight and foil it and put it in the cooler to hold warm until the dinner meal. I have been through too many of the same experiences you just had. Sometimes a brisket cooks fast and sometimes they cook slow, depends on the cut and grade of the meat. I know some pretty successful competition guys who alway cook 3 of everything they plan to enter so 1 can cook too quick, 1 can cook too slow and 1 can be ready just in time for the judging. It also lets them choose the best looking cuts to enter.

Don't give up, at least in this hobby you can eat your mistakes, and in most cases the mistakes are damn tasty. :D
Welcome to SMF. What Chad says it a fact. Every smoker, cut of meat, and user is different. Forget the time line.
You can finish off in an oven, but I wouldn't cook it at any higher temp than you'd smoke it. In theory, smoke stops penetrating at 140 anyway. It's cheating, but sometimes you have to in order to get sleep or just to keep sane.
It seems to me that it's a little harder smoking a long cooking meat like a brisket when the outside temps are cold, and/or there is a wind kicking up. But don't feel bad, listen to this: this past weekend I cooked two briskets, both 6 pounders, one for me and one for a friend.

I kept the temps about 240, and at about 11 hours one brisket was 175* and the other 151*. Both were in the same spot on the grill, and each time I basted em with Jeff's butter/water baste I flipped em and changed places.

I took the one out at 175* and the other one took another 3.5 hrs to hit 175*. Temps were in the 40's and a brisk wind was blowing. One was more tender than the other . Guess which one?

Good post! Your information clearly points out the difference in similar but very different cuts of meat. In other words, as posted above ..... it's just simply not done until it's done. Time lines give a general projection of when it may be done but with a brisket (or butt IMHO) throw out the rules and just wait until the temp is right.
So what are "until the temps just right"??? I hear some say 175...I hear some say 190...heck even 205.

I did a flat at 190 and mine too came out a little dry. Next time will try to do it about 175 and see if i get the liking!
Kaptn35, if you're looking for that magic, one size fits all temperature, don't make yourself crazy. All meat is different, just experiment until you find the "sweet zone" that fits you and your liking. When you hit that "perfect" brisket and it melts in your mouth, you'll just melt into a puddle on the floor. Good Luck

Keep Smokin
Kaptn35 The first thing I learned here is trade your watch in for a six pack. It's all about the temp. not time. I'm not too sure about the temp. but I think 175 is for sliceing and 200 is for pulling. But I'm sure in a couple of minutes some one will chime in who is sure about it. Just don't get upset it's like some one said "you still get to eat your mistakes" and I agree most of my mistakes still tasted good. And my neighbors never complained.
I hear your frustration. I did my first about 3 weeks ago - 5.5 lbs., 7 1/2 hours, 160* final temperature and it was still a bit tough - not exactly dry, but tough. The taste was there, so it wasn't a wash (as they said above, you get to eat your mistakes).

I kept the temp about 225 most of the way, hit the plateau after about 4 hours and stayed there for nearly 2 1/2 more hours. The last hour went pretty quick. After that, someone told me 190 for slicing and 200 for pulling - still waiting to do my next on - Maybe this weekend...good luck.

I never view it as a failure when things do not turn out the way I wanted. I take down notes and use those to my advantage . i write down things like where I purchased the meat , rubs, times and temps, wood I used also the wheather. I am new myself but have found taking notes to be very useful. Like it was said earlier you can always eat your mistakes. keep the faith!!
My 1st brisket was tough because I took it off too soon. My last one was done according to the advice here on SMF, PLUS, just before putting it in the smoker I injected it with 16 oz. of Chachere's creole butter....the result was the best brisket I have ever eaten. Tender AND juicy. Try it !!
Don't ever give up. I can promise you that I make as many mistakes as the newest. Most of them are due to that 6 pack Smokin for life spoke of, or maybe it was the second one. As long as it is not done and you still have wood, you are in mighty fine shape. Just keep smokin.
holysmoker, Welcome to SMF. Lots of great advice has been given here, to which I'll add. . . Always allow that brisket a chance to rest before slicing into it. It will allow the juices in the meat to redistribute through the meat.

When I notice that the brisket has reached the plateau, Iâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]ll double wrap it in heavy duty aluminum foil and add a splash (about ¼ cup) of apple juice to it just before sealing the foil. If slicing, Iâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]ll pull the brisket from the smoker at 165*-the carryover cooking will take it up to 170-175* while itâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]s resting. If pulling, Iâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]ll take it out at 195* and let the carryover cooking take it to 205*.

You can place the foil wrapped brisket into a towel or blanket lined cooler -toss a couple more towels or blankets over the brisket and close the lid. The brisket will remain above 140* for close to 4 hours. I place the foiled brisket in a baking dish first just in case the foil leaks and pour the juice back into the meat once itâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]s sliced or pulled. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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