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gary s

Gone but not forgotten. RIP
Original poster
OTBS Member
Jan 6, 2011
Updated Information on Cooking a Brisket, Controlling, Temps and Smoke Stacks

A lot of this pertains to Stick Burners

It has been a while since I did these posts, and I have cooked and experimented a lot since then. These are all good read’s especially for those just starting out and even maybe some old timers too.






and this one


First let me say Thank you, to this Forum and the Members for being such a Great site and bunch of people.

What I said about choosing a Brisket still stands. But !! since Smoking has gained so much popularity with all the TV shows lots more people got into smoking, More contest, more backyard BBQ’s hence driving up the cost. So, pay close attention to the Marbling, Fat cap, Pliability of the Brisket you are looking at. Also, I am seeing a Better consumer selection of Briskets. One of my local stores that only carried Select, now carries Choice as well as Prime. Big difference in the price though. I have yet to buy a Prime, so I stick with Select and Choice. The last brisket I smoked was a Select but had so much marbling I thought it had been mis-labeled. It turned out Fantastic.

I know a lot of first-time smokers are scared of briskets. Don’t be “It ain’t that hard” But first get to know your smoker and how it cooks. That way you are not learning how to control your heat, your smoker’s characteristics, hot and cold spots, fuel usage, etc. while doing a long cook on a tough piece of meat. And yes, a Brisket is a Tough piece of meat “at least to start with”. I have said in previous post I started way before the internet, cell phones and all the great information at our finger tips. I learned by trial and error, by asking people I knew and pit masters at local BBQ joints.

After you are comfortable with your smoker, Pick your Brisket and you are ready to smoke.

There are as many ways as there are pit masters to prep and smoke a Brisket. I can tell you what works for me. I Don’t inject or rub it way in advance. Not saying that is wrong But WHY??? Why would you want to inject with a bunch of spices and stuff to change the flavor? Might as well cook a roast. I am more of a purest I like a good bark but want to taste the meat. Use whatever you like for a rub, I use Salt and Pepper, that’s it.

I pull my Brisket out of the Fridge, go fire up my smoker and get a cup of coffee.

I trim and season my Brisket while my smoker is heating up. Usually sits out about an hour before going on the smoker. Not Rocket Science so far.

O-K now we (you)are ready to Smoke. I’m a fat cap up guy, I won’t tell you it’s the best way or right way, just the way I learned and stuck with it. I also trim fat to about a quarter of an inch. Most all of my previous post says to smoke at 225 ° and I do most of the time. But there are occasions and circumstances that warrant a higher cooking temp. Examples; Weather and Temp. Size of Brisket, Time restraints.

Let’s address weather Most of the time here in East Texas the weather is great for smoking and I have plenty of time. Winter time, damp and rainy weather are another story.

I have found that heavy damp air needs a little higher cooking temp in order to get done in a timely manner. Also, it’s not that critical that you maintain a certain temp exactly. Now don’t mis-understand I am not saying Temp Spikes are O-K, but a little fluctuation won’t hurt anything. On those Rainy, Damp days I’ll run my smoker at 250° I have even run it at 275°.

Another thing is “If your lookin you aint cookin” I know most of you have heard that. But take it to heart, it’s true. Do not constantly open your smoker door, L-et it Smoke!

Also, I think everybody gets way to worried about the stall. “Don’t worry about it”

I never think about it or give it a thought. It’s just a natural process that takes place each and every time. I read all the time about members asking what do I do? “My brisket has been at the same temp for last 2 hours” “Do I need to crank up the heat”? “What do I do”?

The answer is NOTHING!! Don’t worry about it. Up until about 10 or years ago I didn’t know it even had a name. When I first started all, I knew was Brisket took a long time I had no instant read thermometer or remote temp set-up, so I really didn’t know. With all these new gadgets people can monitor their cooks from start to finish. The truth is I have these things but Never use them. Why you ask? I have cooked so many briskets and know my smoker so well I just don’t need to. The way I learned is what I still use today touch and feel. Now I sure wouldn’t expect some one who is new or their first Brisket to know this.

So, I would say the tooth pick test. When you insert the tooth pick if it goes in like it was butter then you should be good. If you haven’t already read the post I have linked at the beginning, please do so and all this will make a lot more sense.

Wrap or not to wrap? Hmmm ……. This is personal preference. I have smoked Brisket all kinds of ways. Sometimes I don’t wrap at all, most of the time I wrap in Butcher Paper, and sometimes I wrap in Foil. Let me explain. Sometimes I am in the mood for a good, smoky, heavy bark, No wrapping., But I found out many, many years ago the best brisket (for me anyway) was wrapped in butcher paper. And on occasion when I am strapped for time I’ll push it by wrapping in foil. When I first started smoking, no wrapping at all, then I discovered foil, actually a pit-master at one of the local BBQ places told me to try it,

I stuck with foil until the late 80’s when a friend of mine said to try butcher paper. I liked the results. So, I still use this method today (Most of the time).

My post on “How to control Temps” pretty much covers it all. Get to know your smoker, Fire Management and Practice. Experiment with different wood types to see which flavors you like best and use seasoned wood. Once you are comfortable with your smoker I promise you won’t be stressed out on your smokes. After years and years of smoking, to me it’s about like cooking a burger, nothing to it. At first, I know that’s not the case, But, don’t over think it or try to hurry it up, it’s done when it’s done. Happens to me sometimes.

I have a good-looking Brisket on, Fire is just right but it takes 2 hours longer than I expected to get done. It happens. It is not an exact science. But after a while you will figure out by looking and feeling about how long it will take. I always allow myself 12 to 14 hours

And most of the time that is plenty. You will know when to add a split automatically after you get familiar with your smoker and the wood you are using. It will come naturally.

Starting out does take some practice to achieve good fire management and figuring out how much and often you need to add splits. But again, not Rocket Science, just practice.

I have friends who will fire up their smoker once or maybe twice a year and are in a panic the whole time only because they are not familiar with their smokers, wood and second guessing themselves. And other friends who are just the opposites. Even though they only smoke a couple of times a year, they are O-K because the have smoked enough in the past to know what their smoker will do. Smoking Meat is like anything else the more you do it the easier it becomes. And Remember It should always be fun.

Some of you that know me, Know I was asked to Cook BBQ for my Grandson’s wedding.

Never hesitated Got my #2 son to bring his smoker over so I could have 2 going.

I did 6 Briskets, 5 Pork Butts, 25 Racks of Ribs, 32 Chicken Halves, 12 pounds of sausage and 4 gallons of Baked Beans. Had so much fun doing this it was unreal. We fed about 1 hundred people and a some even took some home. So, make your smokes fun, have a good time and enjoy the good food.

Smoke Stacks a touchy subject.

I think there are about as many opinions on Smoke stack size and length as there are on ways to season your meat.

There are some guide lines that should be followed when building a smoker in order for it to work properly. There are several guides and formulations out their that will guide or serve as a guide to help you build a functional smoker. One of the Members On this Forum has a great guide Dave Omak .

My #2 son and I have built several RF smokers. We even built one insulated, RF vertical which works really great. Every time we build a smoker we try to improve on it based on the previous smokers. One thing we have both come to the conclusion on is a bigger stack.

If you Follow Feldon’s guide (Kinda where everyone started and improved on) it does have some flaws when it comes to RF builds.

I am an advocate of a larger Smoke stack. My reasoning is moving a lot of air through the smoker. What you don’t want is STALE smoke. It imparts a very bad taste, a creosote taste.

Using good seasoned wood, proper fire management are all key factors in having a clean smoke. You need plenty of air flow too. I have upper and lower vents in my Fire Box Door, but sometimes I will crack my door to get even more air. the stack I have on my smoker is a 4-inch ID pipe and does a good job, but in the future, I am going to change it to a 5 inch for better air flow. I posted a piece (above) on stacks and had my friend who has a PHD also shed some light of stacks. The bigger the smoker the more air you need to move, and not trapped and slowly moving through your smoker. I am not saying go overboard and put a giant stack on your smoker, but I would consider going bigger.

Also keep in mind the look of your smoker. Even thought it needs to function properly it can and should look good. No reason not to have a Functioning and Good-Looking Smoker.

Funny thing back several years ago I got into a discussion on stack size and length, got kinda out of hand and I was told to just cut my stack off and see how that worked. Instead of trying to help and have a discussion that was his way of saying his way was the only way.

I don’t believe that for a minute. There are all kinds of ways and methods to accomplish the same thing. What I know is you don’t want Stale or Dirty smoke.

So, Air Flow, Fire Management, and enough exhaust is key to a great smoke and some great tasting food.

Sorry if I get a little long winded, but it’s hard to cover and explain in just a few lines.

I am almost always around and glad to answer any questions or help find answers if I don’t know them.

Thank you

Well written and very informative post Gary.

Point for sure.
A lot of guys can use this!
That's why I send people to you, Gary!!

Thank all of you for the nice comments. I really do appreciate each and every one of them.
I think of all the people that shared what they new with me so I try to do the same thing.

Great post Gary!!
Being somewhat mathematically and physics challenged, I won't even pretend that I understood everything you said about stack size. But I did manage to grasp the basics. Now I can start deciding about stack length for my MES (can't really do much about diameter).
As far as briskets go, my friend....... Before I did my first brisket, I read everything you had ever posted about brisket. I followed your advice to a T and my first brisket was a total success. I have to say that your posts should be mandatory reading for anyone contemplating throwing their first brisket on a smoker. It made it soooooo simple and easy.
Thank's Gary, Lots of practice , I tell my wife I'm still looking for a "10" so I'll keep trying to get there.

My wife and Kids will tell I am super critical when it comes to BBQ Especially Mine. Still striving for the perfect Brisket

My wife and Kids will tell I am super critical when it comes to BBQ Especially Mine. Still striving for the perfect Brisket


LOL---I've seen your Briskets---They're already Perfect!!!

Wish you (and your Smoker) weren't so far away!!

Thanks Bear, I do love to smoke some Briskets

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