Overnight Brisket or The Tale of Two Briskets By Bill Scott, A.M. – (Amateur Cook)

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bill scott

Fire Starter
Original poster
Feb 16, 2013
Newhebron, MS
This article is in two parts. Part One, took place about two years ago. I meant to upload it to Jeff’s web site, but I think I forgot. Part Two occurred last night, February 15, 2013. If I had found Part One before this morning, I would have followed those instructions. But I didn’t find it until after I made my second attempt at brisket, so it will be interesting to compare the results. My first attempt turned out so well, I really think I could have put my brisket up in competition with anyone, which is really miraculous because it is the first time in my life I was really cooking and pulling, instead of burning and sawing.  I have no pictures for Part One, but the meat was about the same color after smoking. So now that you know the ground rules here we go.

Part One – Written Approximately Two years ago:

I haven’t had much luck with smoking meat, but after reading the material on Jeff’s web site I began to gain more confidence, so I thought I would set up an experiment.

I had cooked brisket in the past, for three or four hours over mesquite wood, while rotating it with other meats — chicken, steak, rattlesnake, goat organs, and other things a gentlemen doesn’t write about — it wasn’t bad. Tough as a snake boot, but it wasn’t bad. Of course, after consuming a case or two of beer, nothing seems bad.

After reading Jeff’s website, and a dozen or so others, I decided to set up an experiment. Perusing the Internet, I began to get the impression that if there were twenty ways to leave your lover, there must be one hundred and twenty ways to cook a brisket. If I was successful, it would be the first time I actually smoked meat in my life. I am 68, so my life has been pretty long, okay— and getting longer every day.  My memory is fairly good, if you don’t count forgetting when I ate last.

The funny thing about memory when you get older: I have a suite of computer programs that I started writing in 1978. I still know every nook and cranny of that code; but what I had for breakfast, or IF I even had breakfast… I have trouble recalling immediately.

To get started, I purchased a garden variety, fifteen-pound brisket from a Walmart store near where I live. I wanted a nine-ten pounder, but the smaller ones were only about five pounds and too small for a good experiment.

I measured the width of my Masterbuilt Electric Smoker and cut off the flat end to fit. I was left with a 14” by 11” brisket (after cooking). It may have swelled up a little during the cooking process. I put the remainder of the flat in the freezer for another day.

The point of the brisket had about a ¼ inch of fat on the thin side, and about one inch of fat on the thick side. The flat had about ¼ inch or less all over — even less in some places — you could actually see the meat. I did not trim any of the fat because I wanted the melted fat to flavor the meat as much as possible. I like fat and I’m terrified of losing weight. LOL!

I put slits in the fat, down to the meat, diagonally and crossways to form 1” squares.

To create the marinade, I got the following recipe somewhere off the net (Sorry Jeff):

1 Can beer (The recipe called for Guinness but I used what I had in the fridge – Bud Light. I stopped drinking 33 years ago. So I just keep some on hand because my best friend won’t come around if he thinks I’m out. He was a past Democrat U.S. Congressman, so other than a stiff drink, what does he know anyway?)

½ cup water

¼ cup Worcestershire

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS course, Kosher Salt

1 TBS course, ground black pepper

1 TBS Soy Sauce

2 TBS crushed garlic from a jar. Heaping tablespoons – I like garlic.

1 medium chopped onion, fine

I poured the mixture over the brisket. Put it in the refrigerator in a cheap aluminum roasting pan and turned it four or five times over a 24-hour period.

I poured the marinade off the meat and stored it in the refrigerator to use for basting later. Actually, it smells pretty good by itself.

Using Jeff’s Rub recipe, I worked the concoction down into the cuts I had made in the fat, then I rubbed the surfaces with about 1/3[sup]rd[/sup] of the recipe. The oil from the marinade made it stick nicely so I didn’t need to coat it with mustard or anything to hold Jeff’s rub to the surface. I patted it on thick, on the top, bottom, and around the sides.

I then returned the meat to the refrigerator and left it there for about five hours while I went to town to buy some apple juice. It’s a long way to town from where I live.

19:00 hours on Friday

I set the temperature on my Masterbuilt Smokehouse to 190 degrees, chopped some dried hickory with my little hatchet, (I cannot tell a lie) and put small, dried chunks of Hickory wood in the smoking tray. Very dry — the hickory was about two years old. I really like that Masterbuilt smoking feature. It’s my favorite thing about that machine.

When the temperature reached the 190 degree mark, I placed the brisket (fat side up) on the top shelf and poured water into the water pan, (about 1.5 inches deep). I learned quickly, if you fill the pan, the meat will just steam for hours and hours, so just put enough it the bottom of the pan to keep the meat from drying up.

20:15 hours

I sprayed the meat with apple juice using a plastic sprayer I got at Lowes and added more Hickory wood chips.

21:15 hours

Sprayed the meat with more apple juice and ran the dogs off the porch. I did not add any more smoke.

22:15 hours

I began to baste the meat with the marinade sauce. I never turned the meat over during the entire process. I refilled the water pan and went back inside to finish watching a movie my wife selected. It was some weird thing where aliens had taken over the world and John Travolta played the villain. I can’t remember the name but, you ain’t missed nothing.

23:15 hours

I basted the meat again. Tough job with horse flies chasing you all over the porch. Ran the pooches off the porch again.

00:30 Saturday

I basted the meat for the last time and went to bed, hoping I didn’t wake up with a burning cinder to feed to my stinking, overweight, yard dogs, Dinah and BJ. We have cows down the road and those canines like to go over there and roll (if you get my drift).

I had originally thought I would cook the meat at 230 degrees for the entire process, but a friend told me about a TV show he watched where they cooked the brisket for seventeen hours at 170 degrees. I doubted the meat would tenderize at that temperature. So, I compromised — 190 degrees so I could catch some zzz’s, and then higher when I got up the next morning.


I checked the meat. The meat was still moist, I inserted a meat thermometer through the side of the flat. It read 163 degrees (perfect). When I removed the probe, juice starting running out of the hole the probe made in the meat.

I removed the meat from the smoker, and wrapped it good in plastic wrap. (I read somewhere that SaranWrap leaves a chemical taste so I used a product called “Cling Wrap” that has no color to it.) I also read where plastic wrap is safe up to 250 degrees. I guessed I would find out.

Then I wrapped the package in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Hopefully, this exercise would prevent the juices from escaping during the final cooking process. I increased the temperature of the smoker to 230 degrees, inserted my Taylor digital thermometer through the flat side of the brisket and returned the meat to the smoker. I sat there drinking coffee and eyeing a frisky hornet that seemed a bit too interested in the little bits of meat that littered the top of the smoker. Flies were showing up for breakfast. The dogs were nowhere to be seen. My wife was still sleeping.


The temperature reached my target temperature of exactly 192 degrees. I read somewhere that the meat needs to reach 190 degrees before the tenderizing process begins. I took the package out of the smoker and into the kitchen, wrapped it in several towels, and covered the final package with the aluminum roaster pan I used to marinate the meat.


The top of the roasting pan is still quite warm to the touch. Good sign that the little, ruptured fat molecules are busy doing their job of adding flavor and the meat is getting more tender. Well, I can dream can’t I? I haven’t eating since yesterday afternoon and the temptation to tear away the towels and make short work of the aromatic brisket is almost overpowering. My wife came out of the bedroom and asked, “what the devil is that smell?”


As I am writing this I am trying to decide how I will cut the meat. Should I leave it alone, maybe just a little piece off the side to see if it’s edible? Or should I slice it, pull it, or half it and take part to a neighbor who has a sick wife. I guess those decisions can be made in steps. First, I will see if it’s edible. I’m busy typing and wiping my chin.

Maybe I should check my email to see if my Liberian inheritance is ready for to be pick up or my enhancement capsules have been shipped. (Just kidding). Or, I could write another chapter to my next book, about a bunch of Einsteins that are synthesizing overlapping segments of a completed sequence of genomic DNA and the ordered stitching together of the four DNA bases. Aha, it’s time to go and taste the meat.


I removed the aluminum cover, the towels and the plastic wrap. I was happy to see that the plastic wrap was intact and peeled away easily. The meat is quite tender and can be easily pulled. I can’t make up my mind if the flavor is right. I won’t say that it’s sour, but there seems to be a little tinge of sourness to the flavor. I can’t put my finger on it. But just tearing pieces off the flat end, I guess I won’t know until I get into the main part of the meat. Of course, the outside would have a much stronger flavor than the inside will. All in all, I would say my experiment was successful. There is still plenty of juice inside the meat. It is not dry at all. There is no trace of the rub, at least I can’t see any. It probably washed away when I started basting it with the marinade.


I couldn’t stand the suspense, so I went back to the kitchen and cut the brisket in half. Even with a sharp knife the meat started coming apart. The middle of the brisket, all the way through was moist and tender. I could easily cut it with a fork. No kidding. And I was right. The sourness I found on the outside was completely missing under the surface. The meat was tender, moist and delicious. I am very proud of myself. My first, real smoked brisket was a fantastic success. Now, it’s time for lunch.

Part Two – Two years later

Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 7:15 am:

This was my second attempt at a pulled brisket. The first attempt, two years ago, turned out to be a huge success. Beginner’s luck? I was about to find out.

I had misplaced Jeff’s cooking procedures so I just winged it this time. My wife, who detest the taste of beef, really like it and had been bugging me for months to do another one. The dogs are two years older, and their odor hasn’t improved at all.

I began this experiment by acquiring a fresh, 6.7 pound brisket on February 10, and leaving it unfrozen in the refrigerator until last night, much smaller than the previous one. I totally forgot about marinating the meat, or cutting squares in it as I did the last time. Oh, well… it will make the experiment more interesting.

In searching for brisket cooking instructions, (I did not find my previous article until today). I settled on 9.5 hours. That may have been a bit long for a brisket of that size, but I wanted to get some smoke on it during the first two hours, and I planned on sleeping past 6:00 am, Saturday.

My cooking device is a Masterbuilt 20070910, 30 inch, electric smokehouse smoker with a refrigerator style door and a digital head. The same one I used two years ago.

If you are a novice like me, this unit, or one similar to it, is an excellent beginner’s smoker. I don’t think you can screw up unless you do something entirely off the wall. I am not much of an experimenter when it comes to cooking, I usually follow instructions to the letter.

The smoker is 2.5 cubic feet of inside cooking, four racks, digital time and temp controls, air damper, a side-loading wood tray and a removable drip pan on the outside rear. I often use it with a meat thermometer in the meat, and the control unit on the metal top. The outside of the smoker is warm to the touch, but never hot. I would caution you that when you open the smoker, the steam coming from the inside is really hot, and if you happen to be wearing glasses, they will fog up immediately and you won’t be able to see anything for a while.

I have to be honest and tell you that the digital temp/time controller quit working after about a year and I didn’t send it in until after the warranty ran out, but if memory serves me, the company replaced it for less than $30, which I think is a small price to pay for a smoker like this one. Also, the water pan ended up getting a pinhole in it, because I didn’t line it with foil before I put the water in the pan, but it really doesn’t matter now, because the aluminum foil prevents it from leaking.

Friday night at 6 pm: I removed the brisket from the seal wrap and smeared the meat with French’s mustard and a then a heavy layer of Jeff’s spice rub. Set it on a cookie sheet and put it back in the refrigerator.

9 pm: After my Masterbuilt smoker had heated up to 225 degrees, I put the brisket in the smoker with the water pan less than half full. Don’t forget. Do not fill the water pan more than half. Then I put mostly hickory and a little apple wood in the chip burner. I did this again at 9:30, 10:00, and 11 pm, the second time with more apple wood than hickory, and the last time an equal apple wood and hickory.

6:45 am: I removed the brisket from the smoker. It is as black as tar and felt like loin cloth filled with hot gelatin.

I rushed it inside and put a meat thermometer in the flat side. I was mortified when the temp rose to 204 degrees and kept going up, I immediately warped it with Cling Wrap. The last time I returned the brisket to the smoker for two hours, but this time, I was afraid to cook it any longer, so after wrapping it tightly with plastic wrap (Cling Wrap), I wrapped it again with heavy, aluminum foil (shiny side in) and left it to rest. Now I am wondering if it is overcooked. I will find out a 9:30. Fingers crossed. Geeze, black as tar, over 204 degrees, feels like Jello… I hope I didn’t just create a bag of mush.

9:30 am: It was somewhat drier, which I expected. My wife loves it. But all and all, I’d have to say it was about the same as before, which proves my point that you can’t mess up if you have a good smoker and don’t set it to rest until the temperature reaches at least 190 degrees.

I won’t skip the marinade again as I did this time. I think not soaking it in the marinade lessened the flavor. The next time I will use the marinade and check the temp after it cooks for (1.5 hours * the weight of the meat).  This 6.7 pound brisket would be more moist if I had cooked it at a lower temperature (190 degrees) and followed the procedures in Part One.

P.S. I had fun doing this. I really love this site because it has made me a better cook. Stand by for experiment #3. The next time I will do something really outrageous and totally off the wall. I have cultivated some wild ideas using bacon.

Man is the only animal that speaks from the grave. They say you’re not really dead until your email stops, and all the forums delete your threads – Bill Scott
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.....looks great! Have a brisket in the freezer waiting and calling my name now!
Well, that was quite a tale Bill.

The brisket looks great but next time I want more pictures!  LOL  Us country boys need more pictures for all dem woyds!


Hey Bill, I'll be smoking my first brisket soon. Going to the big city tomorrow to by some meat, and some premo kitty litter... just ask my rat terrier, she sometimes likes to have little kitty roca treats... if you know what I mean. ;) Anyways, thanks for sharing the details of your experiences. That q-view looks really good to me! Pulled beef sandwiches?

BTW, that movie you and wife watched, I believe that was Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard. Excellent book, really long. I have to agree tho, the movie wasn't that great.
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