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Smoking a brisket at home (split from the Ontario board)

  • Davwud Aug 10, 2009 08:12 AM
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I hope to get some pictures to document this. I tried a brisket once before but really didn't know what I was doing. I didn't cook it nearly enough.

I'm figuring on putting it out on the rack before bed on Friday night and refueling a couple times overnight.

DT

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  1. I think brisket is one of the tougher pillars of BBQ. And I've been using brisket mainly to make corned beef or pastrami, which has its own merits. Eventually, I'll get to it. I've seen enough pictures of burnt ends to make me drool.

    24 Replies
    1. re: grandgourmand

      I reread the link above on making a BBQ brisket and it says to get an even ended flat. Mine is a bit thin on the one side so I'll probably have some good burnt ends.

      DT

      1. re: Davwud

        I can help you on this....I have made it 4 times and never dry...I put the point side nearest the hotbox on the smoker, flat in the cooler area as the flat is thinner.... I marinade a day or two, (I mail order Moore's Marinade from Alabama) take out of the fridge and inject with the marinade, do a mustard slather (a'la Paul Kirk), add rub and put it on...I never cook higher than 250* usually 220-230, when temp spikes I lift the lid. I have cooked with other meats like ribs or shoulder, put them over the brisket, easy basting plus I make my own basting mop too...and the other meats cook at higher temp than brisket usually so it works out...but usually start with brisket then add the other meats when the time is allotted giving the brisket 3-4 hours alone...but if there are no other meats, try placing the fat you cut from the cap on top rack to keep moist...I cut some 2" x 2" wood for rack stacking...lmk if this helps and I can provide more if you want…oh, and yes I do the ‘Texas Crutch’ sorry, but crust not that important to me as you know this hunk of meat takes forever….

        1. re: ebay3392

          Nothing wrong with the "texas crutch" if it doesn't interfere with your finished product.

          I don't use foil on the BBQ, but I will once the brisket is off the heat.

          I'll wrap the brisket and let it rest for at least an hour. The rest in foil usually assures a beautifully moist end product.

          I tend to get a serious, crusty bark on the brisket and it actually needs a little moisture to bring it back to a more edible stage.

          Davwud, let us know how you do. ebay3392 has some good advice.

          The only thing I would add is that it's a learning curve to get the feel for this cut of meat. Keep it simple and concentrate on constant steady smoke and temperature control.

          The first great brisket I ever achieved had a complex "salt and pepper" rub!

          1. re: Pantz

            This will be a work in progress as the week goes on. But so far, here is the game plan.

            I have a home made rub. It has no salt in it so I will add salt. I'm gonna rub it at least 48 hours before hand. It may or may not matter but since it's sitting in the fridge, what the hell. I'm debating slathering with worch. first but haven't decided.

            It will go on the smoker around 11pm with refueling at 2 am and 5 am. At 5am a spritz of beer as well.

            Around 9 am I'll start checking for doneness. I'll put a probe in it when I start. The theory is that somewhere around 205* is perfect. I'm guessing around noon Saturday I'll pull it and wrap it in foil and place it in a cooler for upwards of 4 hours.

            I'll save as much of the juice that comes out of the foil and re-disperse with seasoning again on some chopped beef. I'll chop the point and slice the flat.

            Again, this is moving target at this point while I continue to read.

            I have my smoker down to the point that I can keep it between 200 and 250. It's a wider target than I'd like but I'm doing what I can without staying up all night.

            DT

            1. re: Davwud

              how can you regulate your smoker so you don't have to tend to it constantly? I was going to have my friends in Texas bring me one of those zig zag charcoal box things that Dave Klose makes...but they canceled their trip so that went for not...

              1. re: Davwud

                That's how you can tell someone has cooked real BBQ. They serve it up and then end up sleeping in a lawn chair a half hour later.

                Looking forward to your results!

                1. re: Davwud

                  In my experience, internal temp of 205F in the flat is too high for slicing, mine usually finish between 192F and 196F-each one being different and it really more of a fork test than temperature at that point.
                  When your flat gets to this temp, you can seperate the point and the flat, wrap the flat in foil to rest in a cooler and put the point back on the smoker to be cubed later for burnt ends.

                  Good luck!

                  1. re: bbqD

                    I find the flat taken to 205 slices well if you let it cool enough to handle assuming your knife is sharp

                    1. re: bbqD

                      I usually stick a toothpick in it periodically and when it is tender enough I take it out....usually after the BBQ marathon related to brisket, if tender enough I grab it...people who have done it know what I mean by the marathon statement...you reach a time where 'enough is enough' . Last time I did it a month ago we had torrential rainfall on that Saturday and my temp was dropping in the low 190's at some point...i had a 4.5 lb small one and with the weather troubles it took 12 hours....but I never let the temperature spike as I have read that spiking temperature is a key ingredient to dry brisket.

                  2. re: Pantz

                    Thanks for the note..i forgot one important thing...the 'cut'...to determine the grain....me, i am extra cautious as i take a picture as well....for when it is done you cannot tell...big black burnt looking slab....funny, the last one had grains in different directions for the flat and the point...was cutting and getting a few long strands when i picked up on that and started cutting perpendicular to that after....

                    1. re: ebay3392

                      Find the grain before cooking....Make (take off) a small slice across the grain...Easy to see after cooking....On a packer brisket the point and flat grains are always different...It's two different muscles....

                      Fun!

                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                        I do this and it makes it real easy to find the direction to start cutting against the grain.

                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          I've read about this but don't quite think I follow.

                          DT

                          1. re: Davwud

                            Ok, I will try to help...have a look on the bottom of the brisket, not the fat cap top but the bottom meaty part...you should see lines running through it...this is the grain and cutting it when finished is best when you cut right angle or perpendicular to the grain..otherwise you will get long strands of meat...not a huge issue as then you can just chop it up fine and serve the brisket as chopped meat....tastes the same....you probably have had that before in a Q joint...but if you want sliced brisket and with the most aesthetically pleasing to the eye, make the small cut to show where the lines run to or the T of the end of the lines...your brisket should be shaped like an arrow with the point at one end and the two tips at the other...make the cut like I did in the photo attached...see the bottom is natural and the cut is on the top right part of the meat? i started slicing from that spot on when it was done. Hope this helps.

                             
                            1. re: ebay3392

                              Well that's kinda what I though however it just seems so useless. Is it really that hard to figure out how the grain runs??

                              DT

                              1. re: Davwud

                                Let me try to help you understand...

                                it's harder to determine the grain(s) after cooking, unless one has experience with the cut of meat. so, as the poster suggested, making the determination before cooking, when it's easier to make that determination, and then making a cut at that point, which is easy to identify even after cooking, is a good roadmap.

                                when everyone is an expert, these little helpful hints will no longer be needed. until then, they're good to see. i have a feeling there will never be a point where the entire world is an expert, so we'll just have to get used to seeing these types of tips.

                                1. re: Davwud

                                  Hey, send me a pic of it and I will tell you...will use paintbrush to update your photo...u still got me email addy right?

                                  1. re: ebay3392

                                    I think so.

                                    DT

                                    1. re: Davwud

                                      Maybe I'm lazy, but I hate to work so hard. I use a Webber Smokey Mountain, which, despite its total lack of technology, has got to be the easiest, most consistent device of its kind on the market. For any smoking up to 8 hours, the only tending it needs is to add some soaked wood chips once in a while for the first 4-6 hours. For longer smoking, it will need one water refill and (possibly) more charcoal. Miraculously, it can maintain a consistent temperature between 225 and 275 F with no work at all. I just love the thing--much easier than the old smoking box I used to use.

                                      For a brisket, I normally get a packers cut (ususally from Sam's), put on a dry rub (mostly made from salt and brown sugar, with some garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cayenne), and smoke it for at least 12 hours. After it is done, I find the easiest way to cut it is with an electric knife. Otherwise, it always seems to want to shred rather than slice.

                                      1. re: pgreen

                                        Agreed. I got my WSM this February, and it's so easy to use. Took a few tries to learn how to adjust the vents, but since then, it's fool proof.

                                        I don't worry about re-filling the water pan since I cover it in foil.

                                        Haven't done any brisket on it. Only pulled pork, ribs and chicken . And some other random meats.

                                        1. re: pgreen

                                          Agreed. I got the 22" WSM; it holds 220-250 for ten hours without refueling or much adjusting. In fact, I pretty much have to keep all the vents nearly closed (maybe 5-10% open), so it conserves fuel well and helps to keep the wood smoldering.

                                        2. re: Davwud

                                          just emailed you..

                                  2. re: Davwud

                                    ____________
                                    ___________/

                                    cut a corner across the grain while raw and follow the direction of cut after it's cooked

                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                      Exactly!!!!

                    2. Doing four briskets on Friday night for a weekend BBQ with the U of O "O" line. I only do packers, flat with the point. Will trim excess fat off, coat with mustard and hit with some brisket rub I acquired from Hawgeyes.. Will cook at approx 250 on my FEC100 with hickory pellets. Will go on about 10PM Friday, will be done around noon or so on Saturday. After hitting fork tender or around 190 internal will wrap in foil and put in a cooler or Cambro for a couple of hours. Then I will trim off the points, slice the flat and put into aluminum 1/2 pans, put on ice in chest to cool off and then into the refer for the event on Sunday. Reheat in oven at 250-275 and add some beef broth.

                      Points go back into the smoker for 2-3 hours for further rendering of fat, will make very nice burnt ends for my beans or a personal sandwich on Sunday.

                      Go Ducks!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: duck833

                        I made brisket for the first time a month or so back and it ended up being outstanding. I tried to follow Steven Raichlen's recipe:

                        http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                        First, I let the spice rub cure overnight. That probably helped things. From there, the whole operation was a guessing game. To start, my grill was MUCH too hot. I'm talking 100 degrees higher than what he suggested. Oh well, I put the meat on there (in a roasting pan) and let it go. I added chips and coals every hour for the first 3, then started to keep an eye on the temp. In another hour, I was at 192...faster than I should have been, but I let it go for a while. Once it hit 195, I took it off. I let it rest for about 30 minutes, then ended up putting it in foil for another hour plus as sides were prepared.

                        It ended up being fork tender and delicious. I just bought another brisket at the farmer's market yesterday and bought another brisket. I can't wait to make my next brisket.

                      2. I have a Cookshack Amerique smoker and use about 4 oz of wood for smoke, I put in about a 15 pound packer cut brisket(has a lot of untrimmed fat), set the cook temp to 225f and the probe to 190 to 195f takes about 24 hours, meat is very tender. I wrap it up in heavy duty tin foil and wrap that up in a beach towel for about an hour to seal in juices. Delish

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: malibumike

                          Cookshack is one of the best electrics out there. Very conservative on wood so no smoke ring but tha's okay.

                        2. You got optimum weather for the ol' brisket...hotter it is the less charcoal and wood you need....lucky you, it always rains when I plan to Q...hope it turns out awesome....doing 4x pork shoulders in a few weeks to help out a friend who is throwing a backyard shindig.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: ebay3392

                            Buts, picnics or whole shoulders??

                            DT

                            1. re: Davwud

                              Four ten pound picnics my friend....helping a Hawaiian themed party so using soy sauce pineapple sauce mixture.

                          2. Okay, so it's midnight and the smoker is cranked up and the meat is on. I've just checked and it's clocked at a smidge over 250*. Next stop, 3am.

                            DT

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Davwud

                              Okay, so 12 hours later and I'm at 189* and the beast is looking very tasty. I've been spritzing hourly since 9am.

                              The smoker is running a bit hot. It's been sitting at just under 300* for the last couple hours. I've almost starved it of air but it won't come down. It's possible the thermo probe is coated and not reading right. It seems to happen.

                              DT

                            2. about 10PM here in Oregon, got four briskets on, about 60#'s total weight. Running around 230 degrees, 100% hickory pellets, did a CYM coating and then rub, did not wait after that, right in the smoker.

                              Heading to bed, these big guys won't come off until around noon or so on Saturday. Nice thing about a FEC-100 is you never have to check the fire. Hopper full of pellets and we are good for the night.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: duck833

                                If you got steady thin blue smoke for 4--6 hours you should be fine. Really don't need smoke the entire time

                              2. Two smaller briskets were done in 10 hours, the bigger ones 11 1/2, pulled the final ones, wrapped in foil and letting sit for a few hours in my Cambro, going to slice into one for a sandwich for lunch for myself and my neighbor. Will take the points off and put back into the cooker for a few hours for burnt ends.

                                Another brisket cook finished.

                                Cheers!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: duck833

                                  Took mine off at 14.5 hours. 201*. Wrapped it and put it in a cooler bag for slicing in a couple hours.

                                  DT

                                  1. re: Davwud

                                    Good luck. Your timing and temp seem right (with brisket in particular, every roast behaves a bit differently, so you can't be exact). Remember, the best crusty bits belong to the cook!

                                2. Well, the company has left and it's all over by the crying. All I can say is, "I NAILED IT"!!!

                                  To say the least, I was astonished at how great it was. I figured an excellent brisket was all I could hope for. This thing was a revelation. It was easily the best brisket I've had. Never before have I understood the Texans about brisket but now I get it. It was truly amazing.
                                  My first couple slices were samples and I couldn't believe how good it was.

                                  Anyway, enough self promotion, down to the basics.

                                  I left a witness mark on it so I'd know where to slice. It worked well in that I was totally on the right angle. I also peeled the point off and was under the assumption that I could get the grain that way. Also correct. The trick is, you have to scrape the fat off. When I pulled the point off, the grain seemed to be running in a different direction but that was just an imprint of the point. I scraped the fat off and the grain was easily identified.

                                  So in the end, I'm a huge brisket fan and I can't thank all y'all enough.

                                  Pictures to follow.

                                  DT

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Davwud

                                    Congratulations! I got my WSM last winter, quickly got the hang of pork, then tackled brisket. I've had excellent results, though I sometimes think that the center of a brisket still needs salt. I guess pork is naturally more salty.

                                    If you think Brisket done right is a revelation, put your smoker to work with the next step: cured meats. I've done bacon and pastrami, and both were the best I'd ever tasted. I suppose sausage is next, but that involves equipment I haven't been able to convince myself to buy yet.

                                    1. re: sbp

                                      Can I do it with an offset box barrel smoker??

                                      I keep thinking of trying Nova and smoked cheddar when the weather gets colder.

                                      DT

                                      1. re: Davwud

                                        You probably can....wait until it's cold like you said...but also I think you use a ridiculously low amount of litl charcoals, like 4-6, and lay the chunk of wood on top of it. That's for the smoked salmon and cheddar.

                                        Bacon and pastrami, pretty straightforward on the smoker. Still a lot temp, though. I usually smoke the bacon at about 175 or lower.

                                        1. re: Davwud

                                          Nova and smoked cheddar are "cold smoked" (temps no greater than 90 degrees)- difficult on both an offset and a barrel smoker like my WSM (you have to modify them to isolate the heat source even further from the food). However, smoked meats and Northwest style smoked salmon are hot smoked. You want to try to keep the temp between 180-230, the lower end the better. (Too low -- around 140, say, and you are in the danger zone for bacteria).

                                          Bacon works fine -- after the curing period, you smoke it till internal temp of 150. This takes an hour or two in the smoker, so I load on the wood. For pastrami, you want to get it up to about 165-180 (different sources say different temps). You're not shooting for fall apart tender because it is a slicing meat, and because the curing process changes it's texture. I have done mine at 180, since I wanted the pastrami to be nearly tender but not fall apart. This is an easy target with a conventional smoker, and it still takes several hours to get the meat there. Once brisket is smoked, foil wrap to rest. Then, before serving, steam it for an hour to heat it through (which also keeps it moist).

                                          1. re: Davwud

                                            For cold smoking just use a simple homemade smoke generator. Tin can with top opened but still attached and a hole drilled in side near the bottom. Insert a new soldering iron, fill with wood chips or pellets and cold smoke away.

                                      2. Almost forgot the pictures.

                                        DT

                                         
                                         
                                         
                                        19 Replies
                                        1. re: Davwud

                                          Yes the pictures. The best part.

                                          Looks really good Davwud. Sure it tasted even better

                                          1. re: Davwud

                                            Hey, looks like you nailed it as you said....question, how did you you cut up the point, the thicker part? I have only bought and cooked the flat part....until Walmart in America as per my other posting where I got it so cheap....read that most chop the point and slice the flat...

                                            1. re: ebay3392

                                              It's best to seperate the point after cooking and slice or pull it. Pulling works very well. The point cubed and re-cooked as burnt ends is becoming very popular.

                                              1. re: ebay3392

                                                I chopped it and used it for sandwiches. I had two trays of brisket. One sliced and one chopped. One of chicken. Smoked, broken down and then grilled sauced.

                                                I trimmed away a bunch of fat and it almost left a V grove between the flat and the point. When it was done, a knife slid through there like a hot knife through butter. I scraped the fat off the flat and the grain was staring at me. Easy figure out how to slice.

                                                Attached is the three pans of meat. One of the whole birds and the pot of beans I made along with it.

                                                DT

                                                 
                                                 
                                                 
                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                  What a feast!!!

                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                    My user id might say it all. I have smoked hundreds of briskets and grew up in Austin and have been all over the Texas brisket circuit. Lockhart, Elgin, Taylor and other small towns in the hill country.. It is the only meat I smoke because I cannot get it where I live now...forget about the best in town.
                                                    I have learned the hard way and thousands of dollars. And what I have learned for me are 2 things: 1.. understand your smoker (mine is a New Braunfels barrel)
                                                    2. Keep it simple...and I mean simple like only salt and pepper no fancy wood.
                                                    I have figured a way that is easy on me.
                                                    In my fire box at 8:30 pm, I put in a very large hunk of oak don't worry about red or white
                                                    OR hickory or pecan (from the hickory family. On top of that I throw in ahalf of a large a bag of Kingsford charcoal. Let it burn for about 1/2 hour. Close down inlet to about 1/2 inch and stack opening 1/4 inch. Season brisket and put it at the farthest end of the barrel away from the firebox. Cover all lids. Go to sleep.
                                                    Wake up 6 to 7 am. This should give you about 9 hours of smoke.
                                                    The temp will be low 300's to 200' don't worry about it that much.
                                                    LIght your house oven to 200 degrees. Take brisket out of the smoker and place on rack in the oven. At 2 pm in the afternoon, wrap the sucker in foil with about a 1/4 cup of beef stock sealed in. At 4 pm remove it from the foil and place back on the rack until about 6pm.
                                                    Easy and works incredibly well, no fuss, no anxiety.
                                                    you should be able to get tender moist brisket with burnt ends if you wish.

                                                    1. re: bbqbrisket

                                                      I'm just funnin with ya but ya would kinda have to be from Austin to do a Texas bisket in the oven. <smirk>
                                                      Seriously some of the best brisket I have had has been in Texas Hill country.

                                                      1. re: bbqbrisket

                                                        Wow...wish my smoker is that regulated...I have a Brinkmann Cimarron horizontal with offset firebox...I have to tend to it like a baby...was thinking about getting one of those zig zag charcoal holders that Dave Klose makes, any comment on how efficient these units are? Pretty hefty price without freight to get one up here so just curious..thanks

                                                        1. re: ebay3392

                                                          Get a Big Green Egg and never look back. ;)

                                                          1. re: Fritter

                                                            Ahhh....i know....it was my first choice but the wife thought due to my clumsiness and breaking of easy breakable stuff that we best go with the 1/4" steel type. She is probably right.

                                                            1. re: ebay3392

                                                              I think you would really have a hard time breaking one. A lot of folks throw them in the back of the truck and tote them around to BBQ competitions.

                                                            2. re: Fritter

                                                              Is there really enough floor space on one?? I saw one today and it seems kinda small.

                                                              DT

                                                              1. re: Davwud

                                                                That was the other objection with it...not enough real estate and having to use those stackers that you can buy....and with some BGE forums saying the 24" XL unit is not preferred over the 18.5" ones made my mind up.

                                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                                  On a large I can easilly smoke two 6-8 pound pork shoulders at a time. They make stackable racks as well. There's a lot more cooking space than you might think at first blush.

                                                                  1. re: Fritter

                                                                    That's the thing I was worried about, last weekend I smoked 3x 10lb shoulders for a friend's party and had to do a fourth 10lb one in the gas bbq with hickory chips...seems with friends and family calling in 'favours' i may be in the market for a second smoker unit. Now to break the news to the wife!!!

                                                                     
                                                                     
                                                                    1. re: Fritter

                                                                      Okay, I'll take your word for it. FWIW, I have a Brinkman "Bullet" type one and the dance floor is about the same except it has two racks on top of each other.
                                                                      I had no real issues. Certainly my Silver Smoker has more room and I'm quite happy with it.

                                                                      DT

                                                                      1. re: Davwud

                                                                        Here is my unit...notice lots of wood under the stairs...haha

                                                                         
                                                                        1. re: ebay3392

                                                                          Nice. Mine is under my photos section if you care to look. Not as good as yours but it does the job quite nicely.

                                                                          DT

                                                                          1. re: Davwud

                                                                            Much cheaper than the BGE, but with less versatility, is the Weber Smokey Mountain. I got one this February and love it. Low maintenance and great capacity. I've done 30lbs of pulled pork on it once.