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Yet Another First Time Failed Brisket Attempt Post

quickray

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Hi All,

New to the forum. I tracked this forum down when researching and trying to understand what I did wrong when smoking my first brisket. I hope some of the members here can shed some insight.

First, some background details. I asked the grocery store to cut a 12 pound brisket in half, with both lean and fatty portions. The result was a 6.4 pound brisket.

I started my smoker when arriving home and put a nice rub on the meat. It was mainly a mixture of salt and pepper. Once the Traeger got to around 225 I put the brisket on. I began at 11:20 am. Six hours later I check the temperature with my own digital thermometer. The brisket was only at about 145 degrees in the thicker part of the meat. The brisket was a deep red dark brownish color. It looked pretty dry too. But I did see juices coming out in some areas. I continued to smoke it, as 160 is the ideal temperature to pull off from what I’ve read.

Two hours go by, it’s 7:30 and the brisket has been on for nearly 8 hours. I take the temp again and it is barely reaching 155. What gives? Why can’t my damn smoker get this meat up to 160. Fearing I’ll overcook it I pull it off and wrap in butcher paper.

After wrapping in butcher paper I place it back on the smoker for another 90 minutes bringing the total cook time to 9.5 hours. Opening the butcher paper the juices were everywhere and the brisket looked good. I took the temp and again I’m struggling as I’m only at around 170-175. I even sliced a couple pieces just to see the consistency and it was a bit stiff, not floppy like a brisket should be. Back on the smoker.

I smoked again for another 90 minutes bringing the total time to almost 11.5 hours. Took it off and let it rest for 45 minutes. At this point it was almost midnight and I just had to go to bed. Sliced the brisket up but it still came out stiffer than it should be.

I have no idea what I did wrong. I cooked the damn thing for nearly 12 hours.

Could it be my smoker? I noticed the Traeger temps were all over the place, 225 down to 205 back up to 235…

Looking for any feedback.
 

kilo charlie

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Welcome to SMF!

I'm not sure why you had the brisket cut in half, but it's going to take nearly the same amount of time to cook the half as it will the whole brisket.

You're actually looking for an IT closer to 203F - a lot of people pull off at 160F ish and wrap it and put it back on the smoker.

The experts will be along shortly to give you all the in and outs of brisket
 

SmokinEdge

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First off, welcome to SMF.
Sounds like the cooker temp was probably lower that 225* you need a good remote multi probe thermometer to measure actual grate temp as well as IT of meat. At about 160* you can wrap and go back on. This is where you want to bump the cooker to 250-275* range, again going off the remote therm. Forget what the digital readout on the cooker says, they lie. For the finish temp you need to just probe for tender. Should go into the meat like pushing into a jar of peanut butter. Temps at this point can vary piece of meat to next anywhere from 195-215* most generally it’s in that 203-205 range, but not always.

You have to know the actual grate temp, and probe for tender. Also 225* is a tough temp to start out with. Generally cooking start to finish in that 250-275* range affords better success.
 

Steve H

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You smoke to IT temp. In my experience the time to finish is a rough, very rough estimate. There are numerous reasons why it can take 15 hours one day. And 9 the next. I have a brisket rolling at the moment. Been on for 7.5 hours. And I'm at 148 IT. But I'm not planning it to be done for another 6 hours. But, that could change. After you get past the stall. It could still takes hours. Or a couple hours. Heck, I've had SS take 22 hours before.
 

chopsaw

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It could still takes hours. Or a couple hours.
Yup . The last one I did raced to 170 IT , and actually probed tender in most spots . I could see where that would throw off a first time cook .
Wrapped in pink paper , took several more hours until it was done .
 

smokeymose

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Welcome to the forum from Indiana!
In my opinion (others differ), 225 is too low and it's going to take forever to get done.
I'm somewhat hampered because I can't get my offset to go lower than 260 or so and get the right smoke. Usually it's happy at 270-280, but everything seems to cook just fine.
Like others have said, take it to 200+ IT and probe. I wrap once it gets through the stall (usually around 160-170 if there is much of a stall at the temps I cook at) and leave it wrapped 'til done.
Try one at 240 or 250...
 

Steve H

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Welcome to the forum from Indiana!
In my opinion (others differ), 225 is too low and it's going to take forever to get done.
I'm somewhat hampered because I can't get my offset to go lower than 260 or so and get the right smoke. Usually it's happy at 270-280, but everything seems to cook just fine.
Like others have said, take it to 200+ IT and probe. I wrap once it gets through the stall (usually around 160-170 if there is much of a stall at the temps I cook at) and leave it wrapped 'til done.
Try one at 240 or 250...
Actually. The one I'm doing now is running at 240-250. I have no problem with that.

IMG_0628.jpg
 

quickray

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Thanks all for the info. Sounds like the 225 is a tough place to cook at, so I’ll try for 250 next time. I had the brisket cut cause there is no way the amount of people I have are gonna eat 12 pounds of meat. Lol.

Does anyone have a good recommendation for a thermometer to probe the meat? I have a basic digital one I bought from the store. Also, any hints on measuring the temperature of the grill itself, as it sounds like I need to ignore the digital readout.
 

smokeymose

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Thanks all for the info. Sounds like the 225 is a tough place to cook at, so I’ll try for 250 next time. I had the brisket cut cause there is no way the amount of people I have are gonna eat 12 pounds of meat. Lol.

Does anyone have a good recommendation for a thermometer to probe the meat? I have a basic digital one I bought from the store. Also, any hints on measuring the temperature of the grill itself, as it sounds like I need to ignore the digital readout.
There are several good brands. A lot of folks here use an Inkbird unit as do I.
Nothing wrong with your digital for probing and double checking temps, but you need something to let you know what the grill temp actually is,
and it's nice to keep track of the meat IT without opening the door....
 

Steve H

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Check out the 4 probe Inkbird set up. Good price and works well for monitoring smoker/grill progress.
 

kilo charlie

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Because my smoker has a window in the door I can "cheat" and use a cheap $5 oven thermometer to see the inside temps.
 

chopsaw

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so I’ll try for 250 next time
If it likes a steady 260 or 270 , let that be the temp of the day .
Makes it a lot less stressful .
I also have an Inkbird 4 probe . Use it almost daily .
 

Colin1230

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Really good advice above so I can't add much other than adjusting your start time. I normally have my brisket trimmed and rubbed the evening before and cooker set up and ready to light that way I get up early and the meat is on by 7'ish. Still, that puts me into late evening when finished. Over night brisket cooks work best for me simply because of the timing.
I'm sure your next brisket will turn out much better.
 

GaryHibbert

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First off, welcome to the forum. Feel free to ask any questions you have.
I agree--225 is too low a temp. I cook everything at 240ish.
I use the Thermoworks Smoke digital therm. Pricey, but deadly accurate. Whatever therm you get, do a boil test (adjust for evelevation--where I'm at, water boils at 207*) so you know how accurate the therm is and you can compensate if necessary.
As far as time goes, everybody has kinda hinted around it, but nobody has come right out and said it. Time is just an estimate. You have to cook to internal temp and probe tenderness.. Then you'll know when the meat (ALL meat) is done.
Just as an after thought, a vac-sealer will become your best friend. With one of those you can vac-seal any left over meats and freeze them for a rainy day. There are lots of brands of vac-sealers out there. I use a FoodSaver. Not the best by any means, but not the most expensive either.
Gary
 

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