Smoking My First Brisket - with updates as they occur

Discussion in 'Beef' started by tbonejack, Sep 16, 2016.

  1. tbonejack

    tbonejack Fire Starter

    I got into smoking meat back in March.  And since then I've smoked a lot of meat with varying rates of success.  Lately the results have been very good.

    I've really been wanting to smoke a whole packer brisket, so I decided to give it a try this weekend.  As a sort of challenge, I made a commitment to have one ready for my son's Auburn football game party, beginning at 6:00 CST Saturday evening.  Counting my wife and I, there will be 9 adults at the party.

    After reading a lot of commentary on brisket (from Myron Mixon, Meathead Goldwyn, Jeff Phillips, and others), I understand that it's good to buy a high-quality brisket.  So I went to a very nice local butcher who has a clean shop and a passion for smoking meat.  He took me back into the cooler and showed me all his briskets.  He showed me the difference in Choice and Select briskets (the difference in fat marbling was evident).  He also had some Certified Angus Beef (CAB) Choice briskets, and the marbling on them was the best (he didn't have any Prime briskets in stock).  The butcher said many of his competition BBQ customers like to cook CAB briskets for competitions, but he also said he personally likes the non-CAB briskets.  He didn't push the CAB, but I decided to buy a CAB Choice because it had great fat marbling and easily passed the "bend test". 

    It weighed 14.4 lbs.

    Last night I trimmed it, injected it with beef broth, put it in a turkey brine bag, and added some homemade onion soup marinade.  It'll stay in the fridge for 24 hours before I take it out, add some rub, and put it on the smoker.

    Pics and the details of the smoke are forthcoming in subsequent posts.

    When it's all done I'm gonna face the music and post pics/results - no matter how bad they are.  Wish me luck, and please feel free to chime in and tell me if I'm doing anything wrong.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2016
  2. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You got this!

    Looking forward to the results!
  3. tbonejack

    tbonejack Fire Starter

    Here are some pics of the brisket.  I'm a rank amateur at trimming meat, so I'm sure I made some mistakes.  My goal was to trim the fat cap down to 1/4 inch, and to remove all fat and silver skin from the other side.

    Fat cap side, before and after trimming

    Other side, before and after trimming

  4. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    It looks good so far!

  5. tbonejack

    tbonejack Fire Starter

    Smoke Details

    - 14.4 lb full packer brisket, USDA CAB Choice

    - Will not separate flat and point until done

    - Injected with beef broth

    - Marinated in homemade onion soup in fridge for 24 hours

    - Using Meathead Goldwyn's Big Bad Beef Rub

    - Using Meathead Goldwyn's Texas Mop Sauce

    - Using 18.5" WSM, Kingsford charcoal, oak and apple woods

    - At 150 IT, will wrap in foil to avoid "The Stall"

    - At 203 IT, will wrap in towels and move to cooler to hold for 2-3 hours, then put on hot grill to toughen bark before slicing
  6. tbonejack

    tbonejack Fire Starter


    About how long will it take to smoke this 14.4 lb brisket at 230 degrees if I wrap in foil at 150 IT to avoid "The Stall"?
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2016
  7. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    6-14 hours...  Closer to the 6-8 range, but each piece of meat has it's own ideas.  Personally, if I were to wrap, I do it closer to 160 than 150.

    Looks like you're well on track.
  8. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    I usually wrap with butcher paper when I get the desired amount of bark I want. "Usually 160 -170 degrees"
    I have never put on the grill to toughen the bark up. But I will be interested to see how it works.
    I couple hour rest seems to work good with brisket.

    I'm going to be doing a 11lb flat tomorrow just so my smoker doesn't feel neglected. :biggrin:

    Good luck with your smoke tomorrow!!
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2016
  9. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    A 14 lb. brisket at 230 will take 20 hours +, if you wrap it at 160. If you don't wrap it at all it will take another 3 or 4 hours.

    We usually figure 2 hours per pound.

  10. tbonejack

    tbonejack Fire Starter

    Well, I started the cook a few hours ago.  I had planned to take some pics, but it was hectic getting started on time and I forgot.

    Things are going well.  Temps are holding steady around 230 on the WSM.

    And it's a clear, cool evening.  Very nice.
  11. tbonejack

    tbonejack Fire Starter

    Well, the cook was a big success.  But it didn't go exactly as planned.

    Based upon advice I received here (I'm an amateur, so I can't tell good advice from bad), I expected the cook to take up to 20 hours.  So I adjusted my start time accordingly.  But the cook took only 12 hours (as verified by 3 different Thermoworks temperature devices).  So while it was a great meal for lunch, I had to refrigerate it and warm it up for the intended meal time of 6:00PM.  And that was very disappointing.

    But for lunch, the cook turned out excellent.  The edge of the flat was a bit dry, but the rest of the brisket was to die for.

    I'm guessing that the high quality of the brisket I bought played a large part in the success...the advice on cook time, not so much...
  12. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    Sounds like your cook was a learning experience. Thumbs Up
    It's always hard when somebody asks you how long will this brisket take to cook on my smoker. Because there can be so many variables...
    I would take some good notes and use it for future reference. And you will still end up with a few variables. 😊
  13. tbonejack

    tbonejack Fire Starter

    Yes, it was quite a learning experience.  But it was very positive.  My first brisket turned out close to perfect.  Except for the estimated cook time.

    The brisket cost $95 (Choice, 14.4 lb Certified Angus Beef).  But it was beautifully marbled and bent almost in half when I tested it in the butcher's cooler.

    We've eaten several brisket meals thus far, and my wife is making beef (brisket) stew to freeze as I write.

    I appreciate all the advice and support from users here.

    I enjoy sitting by the smoker all night long, with only the occasional beeps from my ThermaQ to provide company...and a few tunes from Lynyrd Skynyrd...and a bit of Jack Daniels...which Lynyrd Skynyrd would approve of...

    I love TBone steaks and Jack Daniels...thus my user name.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2016
  14. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Wow that guy really got done quick, but every piece of meat is different.

    Next time it may take twice as long.

    I have to ask, are you sure the pit temp was 230.

    If you were going by the factory therm in the lid, they can be much lower than the actual grate temp.

    On my WSM it's about a 40 degree difference.

    Anyhow I'm very happy to hear that it turned out well for you.

  15. tbonejack

    tbonejack Fire Starter

    Thanks for the reply Al.  I always appreciate your input, and your posted recipes.

    I have a relatively new Thermoworks ThermaQ with grate probe and meat probe.  And I have a brand new Thermapen.

    I can only go by the ThermaQ grate probe for assurance that I was at 225-235.  It consistently reported that temperature throughout the cook. 

    In outside air (90 degrees F here), the grate probe reads the same as the meat probe.  And the Thermapen reads the same as the ThermaQ meat probe in meat (200 degrees F).

    So I'd kinda lean toward believing that my temperature readings were correct.  But there's always a chance for mistakes on my part, since I'm a rank amateur with only 3 months of meat smoking experience.

    As I've read on other web sites by many meat smoking posters, different cuts of meat, and even different samples of the same cut, can differ wildly in fat marbling and other factors that determine cook time.  As a scientist myself, I can certainly believe that.

    But I will test my grate and meat probes in ice water and boiling water to further develop trust in their readings.  And I'll report the results here.

    Thanks for your reply.
  16. tbonejack

    tbonejack Fire Starter

    I should also say that the brisket was 14.4 lbs before trimming.  It had a thick fat cap and some fat on the other side as well.  I trimmed a pound or more of fat.  So the brisket was significantly lighter when put on the smoker.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
  17. uzikaduzi

    uzikaduzi Meat Mopper

    12 hours is nice and quick for a brisket that size smoked at that temperature. just to let you know, you can hold brisket for quite a while... i wrap mine and put it in a cooler and throw a pillow in there to take up the rest of the room. i've left one like that for 4-5 hours and it was still above 140 when i took it out. I do think it loosened the texture quite a bit but still tasted good to me. I've also kept it wrapped in a 200* oven to hold it... if you're shooting for 203 and have it wrapped well, you should be able to keep it like that for a long time. i do prefer the cooler option though

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