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Brisket on PBC: When does a stall become counterproductive?

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    Brisket on PBC: When does a stall become counterproductive?

    OK Brisketmeisters, here are my first two brisket results on PBC. I put both briskets in the PBC at the same time.
    • 2.5 lb (after trimming) Hereford flat at 225-250 degF PBC temp: (2 hours to 150 deg F), 5.75 hours to 175 deg F, 1.75 hours in 225 deg oven to 203 degF. Rested in 170 deg oven for 1 hour. Total time: 8.5 hours
    • 7 lb (after trimming) CAB flat at 225-250 degF PBC temp: (2 hours to 150 degF) 10.75 hours to 170 degF, 1.75 hours in 225 deg oven to 203 degF. Rested in 170 degF oven for 2.75 hours. Total time: 15.25 hours

    Both briskets got to 150 deg F in the same amount of time even though the size difference was great.

    Both briskets seemed to be caught in the Mother of All Stalls for their size. It got to the point that I thought that I was just drying the meat out at the expense of a good bark.

    I used Dr. Blonder's method which he posted over on the Texas Brisket topic:

    Dr. Blonder: “There is a compromise between the Texas Crutch and powering through to 203F over 16 hours. I usually place my brisket, after it reaches 175F or 180F, on a rack in a foil tray, then tent with foil. This keeps the bottom of the meat out of the jus, so it does not braise. And, the blanket of air surrounding the meat slows the temp rise, and moderates the steam effect from washing off the bark. But still raises the ambient humidity. Get a long wired penetration probe so you can monitor temp during this foil tray period. The one down side with this method is you cannot wiggle the foil crutch to see if the meat is ready.”—Dr. Greg Blonder on AR’s Brisket forum

    I also injected both briskets with Butcher's Brisket BBQ Marinade.

    The results were tasty with beautiful bark. There was NO juice in the pan that I wrapped either brisket in. I had wrapped them without additional liquid, but should there have been some meat juice in the pan after their trip from 170/175 to 203?

    I can't say the final results were juicy juicy, but they certainly were not dry and that bark was TDF.

    I finally pulled the bigger brisket at 170 and wrapped it because it didn't seem that 175 was ever going to happen. Besides the fact that I've seen vultures circling that looked less famished than my DH and friends as we waited for that magic 2-0-3 to appear on the Maverick that afternoon.

    Should I have cooked at a higher temp to shorten the cook time?

    Should I have added moisture to the wrap?

    But mostly, assuming one has all the time in the world, when does waiting for the meat to get to a certain (higher than 150 deg) temp before wrapping become counterproductive from a juiciness standpoint?

    Last edited by fzxdoc; August 28, 2014, 08:53 AM.

    I honestly can't remember the last time I had a temp. probe in a brisket before wrapping.

    When the Pit is full, I can pretty much count on 180 (or more) before most of the briskets are barked up enough for me.

    The last brisket I cooked I hung "upside down" with the point facing down along with 2 pork butts. It was on the opposite end from the air vent. That dude was barked up by 158 internal, and that was both sides needing darkening.

    It was a 12 lb packer (not much point) trimmed down to about 10 pounds. Click image for larger version

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      If you wrap at 150F (and many competition winning pit masters foil at this point), the meat still contains around half the juice - see the graphs at the bottom of http://www.genuineideas.com/ArticlesIndex/fatcap.html Which is why the meat is swimming in jus in the texas crutch. So you braise the meat into tenderness. But wash off much of the smoke flavor and soften the bark. Turns out bark and smoke flavor doesn't win contests these days- some interesting comments here:

      I like clean smoke flavor and bite-through bark, so I place my brisket in a foil tray at 170F. But (depending on the meat and the alignment of the stars) you can tray the meat at 160F, throw a little water in the bottom of the tray to add humidity, and find a compromise that works for you.

      And while I smoke through the winter, the days are short and so I will finish the meat (in the tray) in the oven when the wind is blowing and the sun below the horizon.


        Thanks a lot, Dr. Blonder, and JerodB for weighing in. I know I'm not the only one who has gone through the frustration of a very long stall. I might try adding a bit of moisture to the tray next time and see how that works.

        It's a sad commentary that bark and smoke flavor don't win contests any more. Isn't that what using a smoker is all about? Otherwise I could just use my gasser.

        Jerod, I probably won't smoke as many briskets between now and when I go to that great BBQ Festival in the Sky as you have over the past year. Anyone who smokes 5 briskets at a time in a PBC should be in the PBC hall of fame. However, I read over on the general PBC forum that not one brisket of yours has taken longer than 10 hours start to finish. Heck, that 7.5 pounder I did would have been in a stall for that long had I taken it to 180 like I wanted to before wrapping. I still can't figure out what I did wrong.



        • bep35
          bep35 commented
          Editing a comment
          You didn't do anything wrong. Every cook is different and there are so many variables that impact outcomes, humidity, temperature, etc. Smokin Okie says it best, "It's done when it's done!".

        That is odd. That one I cooked Sunday with the pork butts was looking at about 8.5 hours before I cut it short and just let it coast.

        When I have 4 or 5 hanging I will let the cooker run 225-250. Dr. Blonder can correct me, but I think even though I have all those briskets stalling, I think the humidity level they offer to the cooking chamber helps the cooking process carry along nicely as though I was cooking in an electric smoker....somewhat at least.


          As a relatively new PBC owner and rookie, my first two cooks (chicken, ribs) went as described and prescribed by the PBC folks and were perfect. My first shot at an 8.x lb PB was a bit more challenging as I hit a stall starting about 125 that was brutal. Took about 3 hours to get to 135. Pit temp modulated between 200-240 for the duration, sometimes creeping below 200 for a short while. Finally after 8 hrs had to wrap it and throw it in the oven to finish as the day was over for me. PBC folks suggested via email to crack the lid just to try and heat things up just a bit to get through the wall. Will try again eventually and start much earlier in the day. A side note, even with all the struggle it was delicious.


            I would definitely try to keep the PBC around 250-275.....within reason.

            I like the finished product I get when it is loaded down and runs 225-250. With briskets.

            With butts I don't mind getting her up there.


              That's where I ran my briskets, at 225-250 and could have had a 10+ hour stall with the 7 lb trimmed brisket if I hadn't gotten antsy and wrapped at 170.

              Over on the general PBC topic, Jerod, you mentioned that you also liked 275 for briskets. That's why I was thinking to bump the temp up next time to 275. Of course my smoker is not loaded down like yours, so maybe 225 to 250 is great with all that humidity but a little too gentle for a single or even two brisket cook in the PBC.

              I'm definitely going to up the temp to 275 for the next brisket and see how it goes.

              Last edited by fzxdoc; August 28, 2014, 08:53 AM.


                Yes, I agree on your temp assessment. How thick was that brisket? Sometimes I forget how much thickness matters.

                Another thing, it is more work, and less sleep, to keep it above 250 when it is loaded down.

                I once had two small briskets in a box with some other briskets that were mirror images of each other. Both the exact same weight and dimensions. One right hand, the other left hand. Both trimmed and cooked identical. When one was at 198 the other was in the lower 180's. Go figure. I never did think to check to see if the right was the one taking longer.


                  I used a Cookshack Smokette electric for 10 years before moving up to the PBC for increased flavor. I was going to sell the Smokette but held on to it and am glad I did. I start on the PBC and use the Cookshack for the crutch. It saves having to bring the meat into the house and oven. I also use it to smoke beans and such. It reinforces the principle that an outdoor pit dude can't have too many toys!
                  Last edited by bep35; August 28, 2014, 06:15 PM.


                    Good move there. When I was using my offset for all night cooks, my oven was a BLESSING.


                      Thanks for that idea, bep35. I wonder if I can use my gasser for the crutch, since it will keep the BBQ smokey smells out on the deck. Me, I love the smell of smoke in the morning (the next day) but DH isn't a fan when it hangs around the house for so long. Did I mention fan? Sometimes the ceiling fans still don't get rid of all the smell within a few hours.



                        Originally posted by fzxdoc View Post
                        Thanks for that idea, bep35. I wonder if I can use my gasser for the crutch, since it will keep the BBQ smokey smells out on the deck. Me, I love the smell of smoke in the morning (the next day) but DH isn't a fan when it hangs around the house for so long. Did I mention fan? Sometimes the ceiling fans still don't get rid of all the smell within a few hours.


                        Yes by all means use the gasser. Once it's crutched you're not smoking it anymore.

                        DH doesn't like smoke?



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