Author Topic: 1st brisket verdict... not terrible, not great, just okay... why?  (Read 2323 times)

Offline Ernie_in_NC

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Well, just finished eating the first brisket I've ever cooked on the OBS. Not as good as I had hoped. Why? Well, here are my thoughts. Your thoughts and suggestions are appreciated.

My main complaint from my brisket is that it was not juicy, but pretty dry. To clarify, here's how I cooked it:

First, I cooked the brisket by itself. No other items on top to passively baste. Also did not apply mop during time in smoker. Might rethink that next time. Thoughts?

I intentionally left plenty of fat on the raw brisket, perhaps 1/4 to 1/2 inch of fat.

Spent six hours in the smoker overall, four hours worth of mesquite smoke and two hours no smoke. Smoker temp about 210. After six hours in smoker brisket internal temp was 165. One thing I did not do in this stage of cooking was turn brisket over midway. I placed the brisket on the second rack from bottom with fat layer on top, but did not flip it at any point. When I went to cut brisket I could tell that the "bottom" of the brisket that faced the heating element was noticeably more cooked than the top where the fat was. Thoughts so far?

Then removed brisket from smoker into throw-away type aluminum turkey pan, poured a few ounces of apple juice over the top, covered with aluminum foil, and into kitchen oven at 225. Removed when internal temp reached 195 which took about 3 1/2 hours in the kitchen oven.

Removed from aluminum pan, wrapped in aluminum foil and an old towel, placed into cooler to rest until served. Spent about five hours in cooler.

Now, let me say that the thicker fattier end of the brisket was fairly moist and juicy. The lean tip of the brisket, however, was dry. Very little juice.

So, I'm wondering what I should do differently next time? As it is, most of this leftover brisket will be made into chop BBQ sandwiches.

Your input would be greatly appreciated. I realize there is always a learning curve involved, so I'm not discouraged - but a little disappointed.


Offline ArnieM

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Re: 1st brisket verdict... not terrible, not great, just okay... why?
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2010, 12:16:15 pm »
First, I'd put it on an upper rack.  I did my first one on a lower rack; too much direct heat.  The bottom came out pretty dry and tough.

Second, it could be the meat itself.  Just like a steak, some are tougher than others.

I've found it takes roughly 1.5 hours per pound at about 220.  You didn't mention how much yours weighed.
-- Arnie

Where there's smoke, there's food.

Offline Ernie_in_NC

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Re: 1st brisket verdict... not terrible, not great, just okay... why?
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2010, 01:16:56 pm »
Aggie, you're right I didn't mention the weight. It was just shy of 7 pounds. And, as you suggest, will definitely use top rack next time - and there will be a next time! Will certainly give it another go by Father's Day.

Hadn't considered the meat itself. So much to learn!

I appreciate the feedback.

Offline Tenpoint5

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Re: 1st brisket verdict... not terrible, not great, just okay... why?
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2010, 08:16:39 pm »
I would suggest after hitting it with the four hours of smoke. Pull it then and into the juice and pan and into the oven. If your going to do it that way.
Bacon is the Crack Cocaine of the Food World.

Be careful about calling yourself and EXPERT! An ex is a has-been, and a spurt is a drip under pressure!


Offline ArnieM

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Re: 1st brisket verdict... not terrible, not great, just okay... why?
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2010, 09:27:29 pm »
"Aggie, you're right ..."

I'm Arnie, not Aggie but I knew what you meant.

Even going into the oven as 10.5 said, I'd keep it on an upper rack away from the bottom heating element.  It's low and slow, not a roast.

There's a lot of variation within a single USDA beef grade.  I go with USDA choice or Angus if I can get it.  Prime isn't worth it to me if you can even find it. 

I'm sure the next one and the next one will come out better Ernie.  Keep at it.
-- Arnie

Where there's smoke, there's food.

Offline Caneyscud

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Re: 1st brisket verdict... not terrible, not great, just okay... why?
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2010, 05:49:28 am »
First it doesn't sound like you did anything wrong.  First I find those "brisket flats" a little trickier to do than a full packer.  They shouldn't be, they are more uniform in thickness - but the ones I've had have been trimmed too much.  Destined for a roasting pan in the oven.  Anyways, when you smoke the brisket until the thicker end gets to temp, quite often the thinner, leaner end does get more done and somewhat more dry.  Kinda why, I prefer a big direct heat smoker or a horizontal type off-set when doing brisket  ---  I can put the thick end over or in the hot spot, while the thinner end is in a cooler area. 

1.  The location (near bottom rack) can be problematic!  As most have said move it up a rack or two. 
2.  Dry usually means 1 of 3 things - extremely lean meat (possibly), overcoooked (195 should not have been but I suspect that it got to 195 before you realized sealed in the foil - especially the bottom half that had been cooked nearer the element), or cooking too fast and driving out the moistness (the half near the element could have been influenced in this way). 

Well, there is a 4th but it is more of a definition.  How moist is moist.  A brisket flat is never going to be as juicy as a well marbled T-bone.  I've had some at contests, but when tasting all I could taste was the juices they doctored it up with. 

BTW,  there is nothing wrong in cutting the brisket into thick end and thin end.  And taking each part out when it gets to temp. 

“A man that won't sleep with his meat don't care about his barbecue” Caneyscud



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Offline Ernie_in_NC

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Re: 1st brisket verdict... not terrible, not great, just okay... why?
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2010, 07:22:20 am »
Really helpful feedback from all of you. Based on what you all have said, I'm thinking three things for next time:

1. Definitely place the meat as far from the heating element as possible. That was an obvious mistake I made, but will not again.

2. The different portions of the meat definitely cook at different rates due to their different thickness and fat content. I'm thinking I may cut the brisket into two portions next time and cook them accordingly. I was measuring IT from the thicker portion of the brisket so I'm guessing the lean portion exceeded suggested cooking temp.

3. I was thinking that another way to "shield" the brisket from the uneven heat for the hours the brisket is in the smoker would be to smoke a rack of ribs at the same time, one rack lower than the brisket. I'm thinking that would make the air temp above the rack of ribs more consistent than without. I realize that ribs will likely reach the their IT before the brisket is ready to come out, but that would provide some barrier for most of the brisket's time in the smoker. And more food will mean longer heat recovery times when I open the door. Good idea? Bad idea?

Thanks to you all.

Offline Caneyscud

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Re: 1st brisket verdict... not terrible, not great, just okay... why?
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2010, 10:14:48 am »
Ribs under is not a bad idea.  Be sure to use baby backs as they tolerate a higher temp than spares. 

You could also use a little aluminum foil on the rack below the brisket.  Don't cover the whole thing, just the back half and don't seal it all the way to the back.  Maybe Pachanga will post some pics of how he does it.

Or many recommend putting an aluminum pan under what is cooking to collect the drippings.  a 2fer - saved drippings and heat deflector!
“A man that won't sleep with his meat don't care about his barbecue” Caneyscud



“If we're not supposed to eat animals, how come they're made out of meat?”

Offline JGW

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Re: 1st brisket verdict... not terrible, not great, just okay... why?
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2010, 06:14:57 pm »
For what it's worth...I always plan on 1.5 hour per pound of brisket.  If it was 7 pounds, you should have tried to go for 10.5 hours.  (IT will always be the final authority on when to pull it.)

The key to brisket is low and slow.  205-225 is about right.  Upper rack as suggested, rub of your choice (salt and pepper work great too).

Smoke time seemed right.  BUT...don't pull it until its 185 - 200. Seems high, but trust me.  This IS the target range.  Lower end gives you good tender slices, higher range gives you falling apart meat.   I will normally pull it at 180-185 and then FTC it (temp will keep rising for a bit) and keep it that way for a couple of hours.

One thing I always do is bend the brisket before you buy it.  It should be fairly flexible....after doing a few of them, you will be able to tell the difference.  The more flexible it is, the more tender it will be.  (Old wives tale perhaps, but it seems to work and I believe it).

« Last Edit: May 11, 2010, 06:20:35 pm by JGW »