Small brisket flat questions

Discussion in 'Beef' started by nomnomnom, Mar 14, 2014.

  1. nomnomnom

    nomnomnom Fire Starter

    So I bought a little ol' 3lb brisket flat to practice with. I don't wanna dump $50 into a full sized brisket and ruin it so I figured I would start small. Any tips from you long time smokers? I have a WSM and was thinking of smoking it at around 250-275. My main thing is.....from what I have seen on tv and from other sites....a lot of people keep it really simple and just use salt, pepper, and beef broth. What do you guys recommend for rubs, time to cook, time to throw in a pan or foil, etc?

    My plan was this. And stop me if it sounds wrong.

    1. Rub it the night before with salt, pepper, and maybe a dash of a Memphis style pork rub

    2.The day of, inject it with beef broth (since it is so little I'm afraid it might dry out)

    3Smoke with hickory at 250-275 till it reaches around 140???

    4.Foil or pan it in some broth and butter for the rest of the time till it hits 190

    5.Hopefully eat it.
  2. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sounds like a plan.  Welcome to the forum
  3. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sounds good, post some Q view !
  4. bigwheel

    bigwheel Smoking Fanatic

    Well the most important part of brisket cook is to start with a good mop/sop. This the one I use. This is directions for a well trimmed packer but should do ok on flat. Just cook it fat side down so you can work the mopping. The typical rule for normal sized flats around here is 3 hrs in the smoke and 3 hrs in the Noo Yawk Crutch. Litle bitty 3 pound prob make 2 and 2..anyway get some good color on it..wrap as instructed and cook it till it dies and gives up. Best of fortunes. Headcountry rub is my favorite..but you can rub a brisket with about anything and be ok. Fajita seasoning works real well.

    Walter Jetton's Mop Sauce (Slightly tweaked small batch*) (Rev 3/14/14)

    Used this the other day on brisket and came out very good. Not sure its any better or worse than the original but it made use of some stuff on hand and made a smaller amount etc. Enough for two briskets.

    3 cups water
    1 cup leftover black coffee (or another cup of water if you dont have any coffee handy)
    1 heaping Tablespoon of Better than Bullion Beef Base
    1/2 cup Lea n Perrins Wooster sauce
    1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    1 T. onion powder
    1 T. garlic powder
    2 T. butter
    1 t. chili powder
    2 t. Franks Hot Sauce
    1/4 t. Frenchies prepared mustard
    1/4 of a big bay leaf
    black pepper and salt to taste

    Heat it all up slowly in a SS sauce pan. Cook the brisket fat side down and apply the hot mop to the lean side using a SS Tablespoon starting at about hour 3. Then maybe once an hour after that. When the brisket hits 160 (or whutever ever temp you like) in the flat lay out some tinfoil and throw half a handful of rub and a handful of brown sugar out on the foil. Lay the brisket on the foil lean side down. Pour about a cup or so of the hot mop over the top and seal it up. Continueth to cook till it dies and gives up. In an ideal world when the brisket gets done 195-200 and passes the poke test you want cool the brisket down for about an hour and dump off the accumulated juice. Defat the juice..slice and reassemble the brisket and add enough fresh mop to the defatted juice to equal a cup or so dump it back over the top then reheat it slightly yet again. Fan the slices like a deck of cards when your dumping the mop so a little juice gets in between each slice.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
  5. nomnomnom

    nomnomnom Fire Starter

    Welp, it sucked. Tasted like Jacks Links beef jerky and had the consistency of a cheap steak. It was only 1.8lbs. I'm thinking the flat was too lean and small or something. Good thing it was only $9 :)
  6. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Give us some more details about the actual cook, and maybe we can all figure out what went wrong.  You talked about how you PLANNED to cook it, but what is PLANNED isn't always what people end up doing  [​IMG][​IMG]

    What temp did you cook at ?  How long ?  Did you foil ?  If so, when ?  What was finishing temp ?  Did it pass the poke test?  Did you let it rest ?  Did you slice it across the grain ?
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2014
  7. hickorybutt

    hickorybutt Smoking Fanatic

    I'm puzzled that the taste was so off...  Texture is one thing - since it is a flat, it won't be as tender and juicy as a full packer.

    But for it to taste like Jack Links is bad!  How long did you keep the smoke on it?  I would think it would need to take smoke until at least 160 degrees before you foil it...  I know everyone has their theories on how long a cut of meat takes smoke, but I'm convinced that the longer you keep a meat exposed to the combustion gasses from a fire, the better things it does with flavor.

    I also am not a big fan of adding broth to smoked meat.  I feel it just takes away from letting the natural flavor of meat and smoke shine - that may have been where you got your beef jerky flavor.  But I understand you did it in an attempt to keep the meat moist.  Everyone has their own process and I know plenty of people use broth and put out great food.  But my preference is to steer away from it - just from my personal taste.

    Also, what was the grade of meat?  I know that the more fat/marbling there is on the brisket, the more flavor there will also be.  Fat isn't just a texture thing - those fat fibers soak up smoke and goodness.
  8. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    my policy is if your'e going to cook small briskets , look for the point cut.
  9. nomnomnom

    nomnomnom Fire Starter

    Yeah, I was thinking of a point cut next time. All I did was put salt and pepper on it. The pepper was some industrial grade or something, hehe. It was over powering. I did a few small injections of broth cause it was so small I was afraid it would dry. I smoked it at around 250 for about 3 hours and when it hit 160 I foiled it with a little extra broth and some butter. I let it go till it hit 190 but I was so damn hungry by the time it got done I didn't let it rest (late start due to an emergency root canal earlier in the day). It did not make the poke test. It felt as tough as it could be even at 190.

    It was 9pm and we were starving so........I think the mix of tooth meds and hunger may have ruined the plan :)
  10. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    At 190, it's possible that the problem with the brisket is that it was undercooked.
  11. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I was thinking the same thing.  At 250-275F a wrapped 3 lb brisket is going to hit 190F IT pretty quickly and with no rest the connective tissue doesn't have enough time to melt completely.  The resting time is so important.  

    I practiced with chuckies before my first smoked brisket.  My first chuckie came out EXACTLY like NomNomNom described and I pulled it at 190F too and sliced with no rest.  Good flavor but practically needed a chain saw to slice it.

    There's nothing wrong with small flats.  I like 6 lb'ers for my wife and I because we can eat on it for several days.  I SPOG them, LIGHTLY, then smoke and wrap the same as NomNomNom, same temps too.  Pull off the smoker at 200F IT and rest insulated for an hour or two. 

    You were so close NomNomNom but your belly and the clock got the best of you.
  12. nomnomnom

    nomnomnom Fire Starter

    Good to know. I will try that next time. Wait till 200 and let it rest for well over an hour. I have found that smoking meat is more of an art and mind over belly act than it is actual cooking. Damn tv shows make it look so easy but they leave out all of the important time consuming parts!
  13. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Don't know if this will help but brisket & Boston Butt are kinda the same..... They are both one of the toughest pieces of meat , IMHO til ya let them warm up and let the connective tissue melt and get happy with the meat tissue.... I usually pull both my briskets and butts at I.T. 200*-205*, then wrap in foil, towels and into the cooler for at least 2 hrs. Keep in mind when ya wrap, the I.T. will continue to climb a bit.... Hope this helps as well as the great advise ya already received....

  14. Not much I can add here other than I do a toothpick test on mine - once it goes in effortlessly several places I pull it, wrap it & let it rest.

    Sorry your first brisket didn't turn out the way you wanted but I'd say your next one will!  [​IMG]  
  15. mrtubbs

    mrtubbs Newbie

    hey guys;

    wondering about this same situation.

    i have a 4lber flat cut that i am going to smoke tomorrow. i agree with everyone that the thing that went wrong with nomnomnom's is that he pulled it early - at 190 i don't think it's done. i usually pull mine right when it hits 203.

    my question is that even though it is a smaller piece does the 1-1 1/2 hours per lb still apply? 4 lbs would be 6 hours tops. i worry that won't be enough time.

    my theory may be complete BS, but i feel like almost any lb size of brisket or pork butt requires a minimum of 6 hours, then maybe do about 30 mins a lb after that initial 6 hours. i.e. - a 12 lb cut would need an initial 6 hours, plus another 6 to equal 12 hours, whereas a 4 lb piece would need an initial 6 hours plus 2 more hours to equal 8. this is PURELY a theory that i have from my limited time spent smoking smaller pieces of 'large' cuts - mainly pork butt.

    my conundrum is that i am cooking for a few people tomorrow and want to have dinner ready around 6. don't want to start at 8 am and the thing be done at noon or the opposite happen and start at noon and it not be ready til 9pm.

    i wanted to ask nomnomnom about his experience, too. he said "I smoked it at around 250 for about 3 hours and when it hit 160 I foiled it with a little extra broth and some butter. I let it go till it hit 190 but I was so damn hungry by the time it got done I didn't let it rest"

    i'm wondering how long it took to get to 190 after the initial 3 hours. sounded like it took awhile cause he was so damn hungry.

    any and all opinions are welcome. planning on keeping a VERY detailed log tomorrow about my experience (time i put it on, time til it hits 203, outdoor temp, humidity, anything else i can think of) gonna shoot to cook it at 225-250.

    i, basically, feel like "the stall" is going to last the same amount of time no matter the poundage of the meat.

    thanks in advance! my first post but i almost always check this site before smoking anything.
  16. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Flats can be tough buggers.  For good smoke flavor smoke it at 225F until it hits the stall, then wrap it with braising liquid and bump the chamber temp up. Heck, you can bump it up all the way to 350F if you like to shorten the cook, but I usually go to the 250-275F range. I have done 350F before and it was juicy and tender.  Before I started smoking I roasted and braised many a delicious, juicy, tender brisket flat in the oven at 350F. 

    I like garlic infused beef broth as a wrapping/braising liquid.  A cup is plenty for the wrapping on the smoker.  Once at the target temp poke it with a toothpick right through the foil.  I tell folks 200F but it may need to go higher until you get no resistance.

    I've never done a 3-4 lbs flat.  I usually do 6-7 lb'ers because that's what my grocer carries.  But I have done plenty of 3-5 lb chuckies, same cut of the cow, and I've had some done in 5 hours, and one 3 lb'er took 8 hrs.  Crank the temp up to say 350F on a wrapped cut of meat and you can literally go from the stall to the finished product in as little as an hour and half. 

    What folks don't realize is that heat transfer is dependent upon temperature differences.  The larger the difference the more heat is transferred to the meat, that's why cold meat temp rises so quickly from say 37F to 150F in as little as 3 hours in a 250F chamber.  It is also why those last few degrees can take forever when targeting meat at 203F but the chamber is running 225F.  Adding a braising liquid increases the heat transfer too.  Liquid transfers heat 25 times faster than air alone.  You give up the bark but trust me, unless your friends smoke meat, they'll only taste the smoked meat and will love it. 

    Once the meat starts sweating (stalling), it is fighting the heat transfer so wrap it.  Once the water level in the meat drops, the temp can rise again.  Melted connective tissue is what makes briskets and chuckies moist.  There's a big debate at what point that happens but I'll stick to 160-170F IT.  Fat adds moisture too but most of the juiciness is from melted collagen, especially in a lean flat which by its nature on the bovine is one tough cut of meat.  If that collagen doesn't melt, or enough of it doesn't melt, you get a tough, dry tasting finished flat.  5F IT can make all the difference in a flat being dry/tough or tender/juicy.  That's when the toothpick is your friend.       
  17. lemans

    lemans Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Three great points stated in the above posts
    1- brisket as a pork butt is tought to smoke
    Gotta bring to 170 and then wrap.waot til IT 190-200 then into cooler to rest
    2- each piece no mater what size is ready when it is ready ! 1 1/2 hours is a good starting point but it's no written in stone. Tooth pick test should be the final word.
    3- heat transfer is finite. A piece of meat at 40 degrees will take on heat faster then a piece at 175. Especially if your target is 210 and the pit is running 235-250. The only way to smoke is patience. That why God made beer!
  18. fa1321tx

    fa1321tx Smoke Blower

    I have 1.5 piece of the flat I had to cut off last weekend to get my brisket to fit in my MES30 any tips on cooking it? 
  19. lemans

    lemans Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Burnt ends . Cut into 1 inch cubes coat with rub and put it into the smoker until they r little
    Tasty nuggets of joy
  20. the black spot

    the black spot Fire Starter

    For those off cuts i'd be tempted to cube them and and cook them in a stew in an open topped dutch oven in the smoker, maybe under a bigger fatty joint that will add its juices to the pan.

    It will act like a heat sink for the Q, so no need of an extra water pan or only part fill the water pan so when it boils off the tempeture will rise and help the stew. 

    Even better could be to make the burnt ends then add them to a stew in the smoker...

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