Tough not Tender Brisket - Help.

Discussion in 'Beef' started by grimm5577, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. Well this was my 3rd Brisket that I have done and I still can't get it to be as tender as I like so I'm looking for some help. Here's the process.

    Applied my dry rub and some worcestershire sauce 24hr in advance.

    Started the smoker, got temp to 230* and put the meat in. It was 14lbs of meat total.

    Meat smoked for just about 16 hours. Smoker temp went down to about 200* twice over that time due to me not watching the fire closely. It peaked at 250* when adding more fuel to the fire.

    I pulled the brisket's at around 165* an placed it in a pan with some apple juice and covered it with foil, let it continue to cook.

    I checked it every hour or so with a tooth pick until it slide in there nice and smooth as if like butter.

    I then pulled the meat wrapped it in a towel and put it on my un-lit gas grill (I didn't have a cooler big enough for the pan) I let the meat sit for about 3 hours before slicing. When I went to slice the meat seemed tough. Not horrible but certainly not pull apart tender.

    I'm thinking maybe i need to inject the meat with some broth or something? Or maybe it cooled down too quickly? any help would be great!


    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
  2. dumbwhiteperson

    dumbwhiteperson Fire Starter

    Do you know what the IT was when you pulled it out of the smoker? The end IT range usually is a factor in determining tenderness.

    Also, it could be that your brisket was pretty lean and not a lot of fat/marbling.
  3. IT when pulled and set to rest was right around 190* in the past I have waited till 200* - 205* but I wanted to give the toothpick method a try which it seemed perfect when stuck with the toothpick. I didn't check the IT after resting but that's when the toughness seemed to set in.

    Didn't put much thought into it being the actual piece of meat not being fatty enough.
  4. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    It could very well be the piece of meat you had, but it just seems to me you didn't cook it long enough.  The meat does not get less tender the longer you cook it, only more.  I use the toothpick test for all my briskets, but I also keep an eye on IT as well and most of mine don't get toothpick tender until well after 205 IT.  Best suggestion is to just cook it longer, maybe take them to 210 IT.  As they cool down, they do tend to tighten up a bit, but not enough to make it tough.  I would try placing them in a cooler, wrapped in towels as a better site to rest it instead of the gas grill.  Not much insulation there to keep the meat from cooling down too fast.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2013
  5. not long enough...shouldve gone with what you know to be good. i think thats a bit early to pull it off. i dont even start pokin at it til around 203* IT. and then into foil and wrapped in a towel then into a little igloo..always comes out right. really tender perfect for sammies. im against chopped or "pulled" brisket. haha.
  6. darn you got to it before me bruno!! haha... maybe its a texas thing.
  7. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    I never used a toothpick, that seems pretty small to probe to the center and get a good reading of tenderness.

    I use a bamboo skewer and try it in a few places.

    I usually dont eat the brisket (except for a few slices) until the next day. I just wrap it in foil and put it in the fridge, no special treatment

    Next day put it in the oven to warm it up for dinner, its still very tender.

    I agree with the others, maybe you just need to cook it longer. I usually cook mine at about 260f (cooker temp) higher temp might help you too
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2013
  8. dumbwhiteperson

    dumbwhiteperson Fire Starter

    I always inject beef broth if I'm doing just a flat, it makes me feel better and I think it benefits from it.

    But next time I would try getting your meat at a different store or look for one with good marbling and fat content. That could be the difference.
  9. I think Bruno and Turn and Burn have found my flaw, pulling it too early. Next time I will try leaving it on till 205* - 210* IT and then see how it is with a toothpick / bamboo skewer test.
  10. yeh just let it do its for toothpicking and bamboo stickin i choose to use turkey lifters, they do the trick and plus you can lift the bad boy out with no awesome for chickens and butts also. best $3 i ever spent..haha. im sure theyre more expensive now.  but something to look into. if you already have them, awesome!! [​IMG]

  11. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Sorry Turnandburn, I was accomplishing nothing at work except for posting on SMF threads...  Dumbwhite is right on with the internal marbling as well, more internal fat, equals more moisture, more gooder, but as far as that goes, I have cooked a number of select grade right next to choice grade and they all come out pretty close to each other.  I cooked one of each this past weekend at a comp and you'd be hard pressed to tell me which was which in a taste test.  As far as injections go, most commercial injections are for flavor and and moisture retention, using concentrated beef bouillion, msg and phosphates.  Injecting straight beef broth or a combo of seasonings or marinades will help with flavor, but still may fall short on helping with moisture retention.  For tenderness, it's pretty much cook time only, it's a tough cut of meat and you just have to let it cook to break down all the collagen and internal fat, with tenderness, you get moisture.  I do agree with Turnandburn a bit on the size of the probe, obviously the larger the probe, the more resistance you'll get as you check for doneness making you cook it longer to make it probe tender and not just toothpick tender, but I just hate probing my nice, juicy flat with too big of a probe..LOL.  I try not to probe any cooked meat with anything larger than a toothpick until it has had it's proper rest, to help the meat retain as much natural moisture and juices as possible.      

    The best brisket you will ever have, is a properly cooked brisket, given a proper rest, sliced and placed in vac seal bags with some of the au jus from the cook, frozen, then reheated about a week or more later after it was cooked.  Drop the baggie in a pot of boiling water for about 30 minutes after defrosting and it will knock your socks off.  Something about being vac sealed just pulls the moisture into the meat, then by steaming it to serving temp, just makes it darn good.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2013
  12. damon555

    damon555 Smoking Fanatic

    I'm dying to ask....How did you fit a Packard on the smoker? [​IMG]

  13. I would think it's obvious I had to cut it. It just wouldn't stay folded.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
  14. i agree with ya there...those turkey lifter prongs are no bigger than a bamboo skewer tho.. and for me, i like them just for the fact that theyre stainless and have no grain like wood(bamboo, or toothpicks) i like to know if theres resistance against that smooth surface then its definitely the meat not being my theory on it at least. and i dont go all prison shank on it,LOL. i gently slide it in and see what the brisky has to say about it, she'll let me know when shes ready. man all this talk is making me plan my next brisket now...[​IMG]
  15. plus you can probe two spots at once?
  16. now ur talkin! [​IMG]
  17. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I may be way off base here, but if it did in fact probe tender, it was done even if it was still in the mid 190˚'s. If it had cooled significantly after resting, it would have tightened up some, but it shouldn't have been tough.

    This may seem like a stupid question, but how did you slice it? I ask only because there are 2 distinct grain patterns on a packer (never tried to slice a Packard) and if you're not slicing directly across the grain, the meat will appear to be tough and rubbery.
  18. Mdboatbum, it wasn't super tough like leather, but it wasn't fall apart tender like a brisket should be.

    I did my best to stay across the grain.

  19. dougmays

    dougmays Limited Mod Group Lead

    Packer  is the term you looking for. Damon555 is referring the car from the 50's and 60's called a Packard :)

    I agree with ButtBurner..use something a little thicker then a toothpick like a prob or bamboo skewer...if its tender enough those larger diameter items will slide right in and out

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