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What’s Wrong with my Brisket?

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    What’s Wrong with my Brisket?

    I love the Texas Brisket recipe but I seem to get the most inconsistent results of any of the recipes.

    Most of the time, it turns out great. I’ve never had anything come out tough or leathery like people warn about. What has happened (three times now) is that sometimes I end up with brisket that doesn’t slice at all. It ends up falling apart like this:

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    This happened most recently two weeks ago. While it still made really tasty “pulled beef” sandwiches, I didn’t get the nice slices I was hoping for.

    I keep much better cooking notes nowadays, so I can say that this one followed the recipe very closely. I didn’t use Big Bad Beef Rub this time but rather a similar store-bought rub that I was trying to use up. Other than that, I did everything else as prescribed. Dry brine, beef broth injection, foil through the stall, resting for about two hours.

    I do wonder if maybe it stayed at 203 F for too long. I knew I’d be out for part of the afternoon so I used my CyberQ’s “Ramp” mode. Both the WSM and the meat were holding at 203 when I got back but I’m not sure for how long.

    Fortunately I was just serving to my family who are used to my occasional barbecue mishaps and didn’t mind pulled beef sandwiches at all, but this did also happen once when I was serving a crowd.

    So what does it mean when the meat falls apart like that? Was it the particular brisket meat? Was it overdone? I wish I knew.


    Held for TOO long at that high of temp. Practically still cooking. Couldn't pay me money to hold a brisket at 200+ degrees.

    If you dry brined, injected with broth, and used a store bought rub, odds are you introduced a trifecta of salt into your brisket. Salt will break down muscle fibers. Video below.

    Aaron Franklin will take briskets off the pit, let sit at room temp until they hit 140, then they go in the warming oven. Total hold time, about 4 hours.



      Dry Brine, Big Bad Beef Rub, Put in the smoker until it is WELL barked ALL over, flip or whatever you need to do to get bark all over depending on the air flow of the smoker. Once barked, wrap with a little water so the meat does not stick to the foil. Go fat cap down, cook until probe tender or 203-205. Whichever comes first. Put in cambro (faux or real) for 2 hours.

      If you see it is overly tender, don't slice directly across the grain. I prefer to slice fat cap down.
      Last edited by Jerod Broussard; September 20, 2015, 12:15 PM.


        Most important question: Is your meat USDA CHoice or above? If not, you face a struggle.


          Thanks for the feedback.

          I should clarify that even though this has happened three times, it has not happened three times in a row. Several briskets have turned out much better and I'm following more or less the same process. So I'm struggling to identify what's different.

          Jerod Broussard Was it overdone? I thought so too but a couple of folks are chiming in on this thread and saying that it's okay to hold meat at 200. I did rest it for just over 2 hours in a faux cambro afterwards.

          I sliced against the grain at first but realizing that everything was just falling apart, I switched direction and started slicing with the grain.

          As for the salt, I was conscious of adding too much salt. I tasted the store-bought rub and it didn't seem to contain too much salt but it had some so I used a lot less salt for brining in an attempt to compensate. It's still possible that it was too much.

          Meathead The meat was labeled Choice. Bought it at a grocery store because unfortunately my usual shop in the area had nothing in stock that day.

          A few other factors might have influenced the results. I was vacationing at a cabin so I didn't have a well-equipped kitchen at my disposal. One crucial thing that was missing was a good sharp carving knife. That might have allowed me to slice better but I'm pretty sure the slices themselves would have fallen apart.


            I'd be very leery of holding a Choice brisket, that has been low and slowed, at 200 degrees.

            I'm leery of putting it straight into a 170 degree oven right off the pit.

            Of course with briskets, it is hard to apply a hard fast "number" to doneness and what not. Even with pork butts I go more with feel than temp.


              You can cheat a slightly overcooked brisket by cutting the slices thicker, also sharpen your knife and you won't rip it up as much. Have you tried doing one without wrapping it ?



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