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Brisket: smoking and their cooking time in different types of smokers

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I'm a newbie in the smoking world, and so naturally I have a few questions.

I'm using a bullet shaped smoker with a water pan with hardwood lump coal. I've done salmon and two briskets (a 3lb flat and a 13lb packers cut that is currently resting in tinfoil wrapped in towels in a cooler as I type).

I've read many forums and threads about smoking meats and I've discovered that my stuff gets done much sooner than what many say is the normal cooking time. For example: I smoked the 13lb brisket at 220-250*F, and it was done with an internal temp of 190*F in under 8 hours. According to what I've read, I should have expected to smoke it for about 1.5 hours per pound, putting it at least upwards of 15 hours.

Do water smokers cook that much faster than an offset one? This leads me to my next question.

Low and slow, right? Well, if I'm reaching the appropriate internal meat temperatures much faster than "normal," will the meat come out much different than if it took twice as long? Should I drop my smoking temperature so I get a longer, slower smoke? Or is brisket done when its done, as someone put it on one of the threads.

Oh, and I've checked my thermometers and they seem to be accurate. Thanks in advance for your help, and I'll let you know how my brisket turned out later tonight!

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  1. Brisket is done when it is done. I neither cook by time nor temperature. My brisket is dodne when a temperature probe slides into the center of the flat like its going into butter.

    I use a WSM on a kettle bottom with the vents wide open and a clay dish instead of the water pan. Takes about 5 hrs for a full size flat.

    1. Cooked (BBQed) my first one 50+ years ago....Every one of them is an "adventure" ~~ Some more stubborn than others...They're done when they are done. ~~ Remote thermometers are a good tool....However when it's time for the rubber to meet the road, I depend on my Thermapens......

      Enjoy!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Uncle Bob

        Where are you monitoring the temperature. You should be taking it at the grate. You might also check your thermo in boiling water and ice water.

        1. re: Cameraman

          When/if I monitor temperatures while cooking... obviously the meat is at grate level....Where else would it be?? ~~ When I think, based on years of experience.. it's getting close....I whip out my trusty, and very accurate Thermapen just to check....

      2. "Low and slow, right? Well, if I'm reaching the appropriate internal meat temperatures much faster than "normal," will the meat come out much different than if it took twice as long?"
        _______
        Tenderness of a brisket and other connective-tissue-laden meats depends on the extent to which you transform collagen into gelatin within the meat. And that transformation is a function not only of final internal temperature but also of time. This is the same reason why sous vide cooking works - why you can make super tender meats cooking them no higher than, say, 130 degrees, but holding them at that temp for a couple days.

        So yes, if you're slower bringing a brisket fully to temp (and you don't dry it out one way or another along the way), you'll wind up with a more tender end result.

        I recommend cooking to 190 however you normally would. Test it and see if it meets your expectations. If it is not tender enough for you at that point, wrap it in foil and rest it for a couple hours, either in your oven at the lowest setting (<200) or even just in a cooler.

        Brisket isn't easy to cook for a set dinner time with optimal results.

        3 Replies
        1. re: cowboyardee

          Yes it takes time to break down the connctive tissue. You could take a slice of brisket and cook it in a hot frying pan for a few minnutes to where it is 190f but we all know it would be tough as shoe leather. I smoke a 15 # packer cut in my Cookshack Ameique at 225f for a final meat temp of 190 to 195 , takes about 24 hours.

          1. re: malibumike

            Thanks everyone. My brisket did turn out very good, but next time I'll cook it even lower to increase the cooking time.

            I'm still surprised that the thick point gets done well and the flat doesn't dry out. Now I just gotta try some different recipes....

            1. re: malibumike

              That's how I do mine but Myron Mixon wins competitions with the high and fast method.

          2. Also keep in mind that external air temp. plays into how well your smoking device hold heat and keeps an even temp.

            A recipe and time chart may be set up for April in Tennessee , but if you try and do it in 100+ degrees in Texas or in near freezing temps in Minnesota, the smoking time to finished temp will vary wildly. I have both a Treager pellet-pooper and an elec. Brinkmann. For cold days I made a thermal foil blanket wrap to keep temp. stable. In the summer, ti's easy for temps to spike and stay higher than you like if not careful.

            As mentioned above, it's done when it;s done. I constantly test my thermometers and remote probes for accuracy and often add two if not three additional std grill probes therms. to my smoker itself usually in the lid and then one at grate hgt (or two, if two grates).

            It's a science indeed. But it's also an art.