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A Couple of Brisket Questions

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    A Couple of Brisket Questions

    I am ready to cook my first brisket and there is a lot I don't yet know about the process. To be honest I have never done a brisket because I am a bit intimidated by all I've read. This year I am going to smoke briskets come hell or high water.

    I have two questions for getting started. The first is how long can I keep a brisket in the refrigerator. For example, can I buy one on Monday and keep it in the fridge until Friday to cook or is that too long? I suspect it should be OK but I'm not sure.

    Secondly where do you put your temperature probe? If you put it in the flat then the point will be at a much lower temp than the reading. However if you put it in the point, then you may overcook the flat.

    Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

    Step one, watch videos on how to cook a brisket. Harry Soo, Malcome Reed, Matt Pittman, Aaron Franklin, Mad Scientist BBQ, Chef Tom--allthingsbbq, and Baby Back Maniac.
    Actually, there is a number of really good "How To" videos on youtube.

    Step two, Plan your cook, and cook your plan, cook to temp and tenderness, time is but a guide. Keep a log of your cook.

    1- trim
    2- season, and maybe inject
    3- smoke to about 165*F internal or good Bark
    4- Wrap in foil or paper, but foil is more forgiving
    5- at 190*F internal start checking for tenderness, usually done at 203-210*F internal.
    6- let rest for at least one hour, 2-4 better.

    I season my brisket overnight. and have kept them in the refrigerator for several days, sereval days past the Sell BUY date.

    I probe in the flat close to the point and try to avoid the fat.

    Brisket pairs well with PBR.
    Happy grilling to you.
    Last edited by bbqLuv; April 12, 2021, 07:43 AM.


    • Troutman
      Troutman commented
      Editing a comment
      I heard injecting brisket with PBR is the magic ingredient to a superb and juicy brisket. Unfortunately every time I try to do it I end up drinking the marinade before it goes in the meat

    The answer is - that depends. I have kept briskets in the sealed cyrovac for 30 days, but some here have gone as long as 60 days - maybe longer.

    If not in the sealed cyrovac, 5 days might be stretching it. My parents would shop once a week, so some of the proteins would be kept a week, and all of us survived...


      If you leave the brisket in the vac sealed bag it came in, leaving it in the frig until Friday is not an issue. Even if bought from a butcher who just paper/plastic wrapped it should be OK given the temp you will be cooking to.

      No expert here on the smoking part, but I use 2 probes, one in the flat and one in the point just to know. However, I pull based on probe testing the flat when it hits 190*-195*. The point is much "juicier", but the flat is more finicky for tenderness and juicy-ness (a technical term).


        If the brisket comes in shrink wrap it's good for at least 30 days where it will wet cure. Some guys leave theirs's even longer, so a week is no big deal.

        If it's not wrapped, the only thing I would add to the longevity factor in the fridg is I'd salt brine the whole thing then wrap in cling wrap. Salt brining is adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the surface of the brisket. Feel free to broadcast that liberally, it's a thick piece of meat. Over that period of time the salt will penetrate deep into the meat via electrolysis. That will actually be beneficial.

        As to the cook, follow the advice above but also try to watch a few videos on the subject as mentioned. Lastly, relax it's not a mystery or rocket science. It may take a couple to really get it the way you want it but that's half the fun !!


          The first one is the hard one...


          • Richard Chrz
            Richard Chrz commented
            Editing a comment
            Agreed on great song!

          • willxfmr
            willxfmr commented
            Editing a comment
            What I want to know is how does the song go? Of course once the first one is in the books, we'll have something to talk about.

          • Troutman
            Troutman commented
            Editing a comment
            Let's just finish it;

            "Come hear Uncle John's Band, by the riverside,
            Got some things to talk about here beside the rising tide,
            Come hear Uncle John's Band, playing to the tide,
            Come on along or go alone he's come to take his children home,
            Da Da Da Du Da....Da Da Da Du Daaaa"

          There’s a bunch of great advice coming your way ..... you can certainly keep that brisket in the fridge for 5 days. Most likely, if you are buying a packer, it is coming in cryovac and will be just fine. As far as temp, I do two probes like GolfGeezer said, one in the flat and one in the point. The real key, though, is when it is probe tender.

          Like Troutman says, relax, have fun, and enjoy the experience. I love the whole process from buying the meat to trimming, getting the cooker running at 0 dark early and smelling my backyard all day long. Nothing quite like it.


            Smarter and more experienced BBQ/Smokers have already commented. I will just share that my first brisket was a daunting task as well. I also use 2 probes, one in the flat and one in the Point. I have not yet injected anything into the brisket. I do dry brine, then 30 minutes before I put it on the smoker, apply the rub.

            I rarely wrap though, I have only because I was freaked out by how long it was in the stall.
            I prefer the much 'crustier' bark. Wrapping will soften it a bit, but you can always throw it on the grill to crisp it back up if needed.
            I've done a dozen or so now, and it feels like I wasted a ton of 'worry' energy on it. Each one has come out just fine. I do think that part of the secret is in the 'faux cambro' for at least an hour.


              Relax, you got this. It will be fine until Friday. After all, you will be dry brining it a day earlier and the salt will be doing its magic keeping any beasties at bay, and then, if there are any left on the surface the cooker will take care of them. If I have only one thermometer it goes in the thick part of the flat as that is the area that needs the most tenderizing. When it gets up into the 190’s that is when I solely rely on probe tender and jiggle to decide it is done.


                Enough said on how long to leave in the fridge - 5 days is just fine unless you bought it a month or two ago, haha.

                I will comment though on temperature probe placement. The best place is in the thickest part of the flat, avoiding the deckle, - the thick layer of fat between the point and the flat. Why, you ask? Because the point, with its higher fat content, actually cooks FASTER than the flat in most cases, but can take reaching a higher temp due to the greater fat content and marbling. I cook my briskets until the thickest part of the flat reaches around 205F. The point may in fact reach 210F or higher, and it doesn't matter. It stays moist. Let me find a couple of photos to show you probe placement on briskets I've done - all full packers from Costco, weighing anywhere from 12 to 18 pounds.

                As you can see, with some of the briskets below, the flat was thicker and more uniform on others. It's easiest to look at it from the edge and determine where that fat layer is and see the thickness of the flat from once side usually. Don't sweat it too hard. Sometimes I hit it from the edge, sliding my probe in as far as I can, sometimes I just push it in from the top and estimate when the tip has reached the middle.

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                Last edited by jfmorris; April 12, 2021, 10:29 AM.


                I think the biggest mistake I made early on with brisket is that I was worried about over cooking it and what I really did was under cook it and it turned out tough in the flat. Over the years I have become much more chill about waiting in the cook until all of the flat is probe tender. I stick a probe in the side of the flat and start checking to see if the brisket is probe tender at 195 F.

                I think each brisket is different and some have to be taken above 203 F and some are ready below 200 F. And I've learned to relax about the point. It's got a lot of fat and is well protected while the flat is rendering to probe tender.

                I also have cooked 17 lb briskets on different cooks and one of those took three hours longer than the other. That was a variation of about 40% in cook time from one brisket to the other. Both turned out tender, but it's because I was patient on the longer cook to make sure it was probe tender all throughout the flat.

                Good luck and remember to take pics!


                • ecowper
                  ecowper commented
                  Editing a comment
                  This is really solid advice, especially being patient and letting the meat cook.

                Trim off the hard fat. Dry brine at least 24 hours. Apply your salt free rub, stick your hooks in it and hang in the PBC!


                • ecowper
                  ecowper commented
                  Editing a comment
                  then kick back, relax, smell the smoke, drink a PBR ... or three

                Truth Revealed: !!! Shocking!!! Insider's Revelations!!!
                I've cooked dozens of scores of briskies an poke butts.
                Ain't Never Once have used a leave in thermo. Ain't again it, jus never seened no need, thus far,aight?
                Mebbe, someday, I'll Grow Up., lol Or. Not.


                • Mr. Bones
                  Mr. Bones commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Yeah, I should probly fade away, into Obscurity, I'd haveta reckon, Eric...Ain't no place fer holdovers like me, there, up to th Table, when all is said, an done

                • ecowper
                  ecowper commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Well, considering that Aaron Franklin turns out what most consider the finest restaurant brisket around without a thermometer or two ..... maybe you can stay after all Bones

                • Mr. Bones
                  Mr. Bones commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Thankin ya fer th 'Commutation of Sentence', Mighty Kind of ya, Brother!!!!!:

                  (Reckon I'll jus stick purty close to th Outer fringes of th Pit, so's I don't cause any kinda Harmful Influence on alla th Tech-Enabled Members...
                  Last edited by Mr. Bones; April 12, 2021, 07:22 PM.

                Put the probe in the flat, underneath the point. Ignore the point, it will just confuse you. The point will take care of itself. When the flat is done, the point will still be fine.

                Don’t be intimidated. It’s just a big hunk of meat. Cook it slowly until it is done. Easy!


                  Thanks for all the advice guys. Wow you guys are great! I plan to do this Friday/Saturday but wanted to shop today. I picked up a nice 14 lb prime brisket at Costco this morning so as the pig says, I'm committed. Looking forward to the experience.

                  I'm embarrassed to admit how long i have put this off. I've cooked plenty of ribs to the point were I'm totally confident. I have done a few pork butts also but to tell the truth I can't really tell the difference between my WSM and my crock pot with those. It has finally gotten to the point where I decided I was going to take a shot even if it turns out badly. You learn to do things by doing them not reading about them.



                  • Mosca
                    Mosca commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Dude I did the same thing, put it off for a few years. Thing is, it’s a lot of time invested. It’s not a lot of work, but there’s a lot to pay attention to. And the fear is investing all that time into something that will be “eh”.

                    Trust me, it will have to be really bad for people to not like it. People will eat dry brisket like it’s chocolate bunnies at Easter. My first five or six were okay, not great. The last couple have been outstanding. But they’ve all been demolished by my guests.

                  • jfmorris
                    jfmorris commented
                    Editing a comment
                    If you can't tell the difference between a smoked butt and a crock pot butt, you are doing something entirely wrong with your smoker! Bark and smoke MAKE the pulled pork in my opinion. Are you wrapping them in foil? Most folks on here don't seem to wrap butts - I haven't in 15 years myself. I do wrap brisket, but only AFTER the stall (around 170-180).


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