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First Packer Brisket

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    First Packer Brisket

    Tonight I will be starting to smoke my first whole brisket. 13.5 lbs. I've done a flat before, once. This is for a party of 22 that I will be hosting at my home tomorrow. (Heaven help me.) Oh, also it's on a pellet grill using competition blend pellets.

    I'm starting to second-guess everything I've planned. From spice rubs to temperature, to foil or butcher paper. Now, it's what to serve it on. Snowflake rolls were my first plan. Now it's Hawaiian rolls. Ciabatta? I think ciabatta would be cost-prohibitive after the $$ I spent on the meat. I've made 4 different BBQ sauces, but now I'm thinking just mayo & horseradish.

    I gotta stop thinking.

    So, 30 hours or so ago I salted the beef and put it into the fridge uncovered. Today I'll add Meathead's Big Bad Beef Dry Rub and let that sit for a few hours. At 6:30 p.m. I'll put it on at 225° and let it go until 165°. Pull it off and wrap it in butcher paper. Plop it back on the grill until 205° then wrap it in a towel and put it into a cooler for a couple/3 hours for service at 1:00 p.m.

    My current thoughts are to change it from paper to foil. And from a spice rub to just pepper and granulated garlic. Why did my husband rope me into doing this for his family? Thankfully there's a Caribbean trip coming our way in March. Ought to make up for this stress.


    Everything sounds good to me although I personally cook brisket at 250 degrees. Instead of waiting until it hits 205 degrees start checking for tenderness at about 195 degrees. When it is probe tender and jiggles like jello it is done.


    • bbqLuv
      bbqLuv commented
      Editing a comment
      On 2nd thought make that Ditto

    • Bad Hat BBQ
      Bad Hat BBQ commented
      Editing a comment
      Her is my caper
      I wrap in paper
      Just an average grill master
      Avoid cookin disasters.....

      Ummm ....Wrap not rap

    • Mr. Bones
      Mr. Bones commented
      Editing a comment
      Bad Hat BBQ Yup, I use coffee grounds from my percolator in rubs, plenty often.

      Ain't never used no fresh coffee, though...least not so far. Might give it a try, one day.

      Always experimentin, think along th lines of [color=blue]"Mad BBQ Scientist...[color]

    First - relax. Maybe have a drink.

    Salt and pepper is the traditional Texas rub, but many in the Pit do their own thing, so ya can't go wrong. I do the S&P, but have been known to add garlic and/or onion powders depending on my mood.

    Your brisket may or may not be done at 205°. What you want is probe tender. That's when a probe goes in with no resistance - like a knife in warm butter.

    Once wrapped, you can finish in the oven or grill - if the oven is available. The meat can't tell the difference. That will fill the house with the wonderful aroma of smoked beef though.

    I just use slider buns for the almost neutral taste, but I must admit that I'm not a fan of sweet with beef.

    If done early, you can hold longer, but if you have a leave in thermometer, use it to make sure the temp stays above 140°. If it gets close with too much time left before serving, either put it back on the grill or in your oven set as low as it will go.

    Have fun!


    • 58limited
      58limited commented
      Editing a comment
      Tortillas are also good to serve on.

    • Troutman
      Troutman commented
      Editing a comment
      "Maybe have a drink"? I would suggest ‘one bourbon, one scotch and one beer’. That brisket gonna get cooked just fine 👍

    • bbqLuv
      bbqLuv commented
      Editing a comment
      RonB "First - relax. Maybe have a drink." at 5:00 AM, like the way you think.

    You are going to do great. My only suggestion is to not just depend on reaching a set temperature but look for probe tender to determine when its done. When the probe slides in like through warm butter, it is done. Good luck


      Welcome to the First Brisket Club, we’ve all been there, try not to worry too much. My first thoughts were…Your 13.5 lb. brisket will shrink to about 9 or10 lbs. after cooking. Also, was this the weight before trimming the fat? If so, your brisket will be even smaller than that. That might not be enough to feed 22 people. Are you planning on any other meat to go with the brisket? The rest of your plans seem ok, but I’d start checking for probe tenderness in the flat before letting it hit 205*.
      Last edited by Panhead John; December 17, 2021, 07:37 AM.


      • jfmorris
        jfmorris commented
        Editing a comment
        Oh - just my thoughts as well, which I mentioned below way too late to help. I think the rule of thumb is about 1 pound raw brisket per person, which gives you plenty of room for trim/waste and shrinkage, and still have at least 1/2 pound per person.

      Jus relax...breathe in, breathe out, Sister...

      I guaronshee this is gonna be th Best whole brisket that ya've ever made!

      Even store brand white bread'll work jus fine; in fact, many Top BBQ joints serve their BBQ with zackly that. Want fancier bread, or rolls? Make it so! This is Yer Cook!!!

      Don't let Analysis Paralysis ruin what should be a fun an challengin cook fer ya...

      Don't think ya could go wrong with Meathead 's BBBR...

      What sides are to accompany this Maiden Voyage into Whole Packerland?

      As a Long Sufferin Professional / Commercial / Institutional cook, I tend to envision th whole meal, an try to adjust each component to compliment each other...does that kinda make sense?

      We'uns is all right here fer ya, every step of th way!

      An likely, if folks care how their food will come out have ever fed a crowd (especially Family ), we can ALL relate to yer (unneccessary) apprehensions...

      Jus Ground, Center, an Focus on what ya decide to do, an calmly, peacefully, placidly, stoically cause it to happen.

      Hit us up, any step of th way.

      I don't wrap, mostly on accounta I'm lazy, an don't wanna deal with th mess...this most emphatically DOES NOT mean that mine is th One True Way, no Ma'am!

      It is simply personal preference.

      They is no One True Way, no Perfect Path...never git roped into believin that they is...

      You* Do You... if'n ya need any assist, well, they's some purty dang danged talented folks, roun these here parts, what can set ya right as rain. (I ain't one of em )

      Jus do yer best Babe Ruth imitation, point at a spot in th Grandstands, an knock that suckah outta th park.!!!

      I ain't no kinda bettin man, Amiga, but if'n I was, my hard-earned dineros'd be on you*

      *Ouch!!! Hadda use me a Yanqui spailin, not jus once, but thricet...:

      Gots me some finger cramps, now

      Reachin fer Self Medication.
      Last edited by Mr. Bones; December 17, 2021, 08:56 AM.


        "Maybe have a drink."

        Don't mind if I do. Actually, it's 9:00 a.m., I'mma gonna hold off for a bit. I'm trying to relax, you folks' replies have helped a lot with that.

        I will not rely on the temperature but texture. Got it. 👍

        Thanks for the tip about weight after trimming. I'll weigh it before I put it on the grill to help get an ETD. (Estimated Time Done)

        No other meat is being served, but I do have two pans of smoked mac & cheese, along with another pan of baked beans. Also, a charcuterie plate loaded to the edges with lots of tasty treats.

        Mr. Bones, you crack me up. You make it sound so simple but I'm a Massachusetts-born Yankee living in Connecticut. Lobstah I'm good with, Brisket, not so much. Like you, I think the meal has to be cohesive, which is why I decline when people say, "What can I bring." I tell them wine. Can't go wrong with that. 🍷

        "Yanqui spailin, not jus once, but twice...:"

        Much appreciated... uh... pardner. 😆


        • JCBBQ
          JCBBQ commented
          Editing a comment
          9am? Hold off? What, you never heard of Irish coffee? 😜

        • Mr. Bones
          Mr. Bones commented
          Editing a comment
          It's always 0900, somewhere...

          IMCE, not a Determinin Factour, Self-Medication-wise...

          When in doubt, Break it out.

          "Now Hear This:Th Smokin Lamp Is Lighted, Throughout All Designated Compartments... That Is All".
          Last edited by Mr. Bones; December 17, 2021, 09:10 AM.

        First, relax. Everything is going to be alright. Try some deep breaths. In through the mouth and out slowly through the nose.

        Second, Meathead's rub will work fine. Salt and pepper will work fine. Salt, pepper, and garlic will work fine.You have lots of options. What taste do you like best?

        Third, don't freak out when it hits the stall. It is going to happen. the meat temp just won't go up for a long time. Grab a book you've been meaning to read. It could be a while.

        Fourth, like everyone else said, start checking for probe tender around 195F. Every brisket is different and gets done when it is done.

        Fifth, if the deep breathing doesn't work, remember what Troutman said, "‘one bourbon, one scotch and one beer’"

        Good luck. Enjoy the cook and have fun at the party.


          I'll second/third cooking it at 250* on your pellet pooper. You do not say which one you have, but regardless, 250* will yield excellent bark and smoke. I do not wrap, cuz like Mr. Bones, I'm lazy - it will take longer, but that what drinkin' is for! You definitely want to rest it in a faux cambro or cooler, or even your oven at its lowest setting, wrapped appropriately. 2-3 hours.

          Bon appetite!


            Sounds like you've got a good plan with Meathead's (salt included) rub for dry brining. Just follow Meathead's Texas Brisket recipe over on the free side or in his cookbook and you will wow your guests.

            Have fun with that cook and enjoy the party!



              You'll be fine. It sounds like you have the particulars figured out. I stopped worrying about what bread to serve it on. Most of my guests just grab the meat anyway


                Kathryn, I didn't add salt to the rub because I showered it with salt 2 nights ago. Thought it would be too salty with more.

                So yeah, I'm calming down a bit. I've made trickier recipes before, not sure why this has me in a dither. Probably because there's so many differing opinions, maybe.


                • Panhead John
                  Panhead John commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Ratherfly For some reason, briskets make a lot of people nervous to cook, myself included, sometimes. But, you’re gonna do fine. Check for probe tenderness starting at around 195*. "Usually" they’ll be good to pull at 201*-203*. That’s it, you got this! But, be sure to wrap it and let it rest in a cooler for a couple of hours at least. Let us know how it turns out.

                • bmillin
                  bmillin commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Never done it before X expensive hunk of meat X bunch of guests = reasonable anxiety but you are going to be fine, all of the advice offered so far is solid.

                • fzxdoc
                  fzxdoc commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I hadn't noticed that you had pre-brined with salt only. You're right. A salted rub on top of a pre-brined piece of meat is not a good idea. A lot of the time I just dry brine with a salted rub, killing two birds with one stone.

                  Last edited by fzxdoc; December 18, 2021, 12:09 PM.

                I've done both wrapped in foil and unwrapped, both have they're merits.
                If you do wrap in foil keep the au jus, its heaven on earth.
                Agree with upping the temp, I do my briskets at 300ish.
                Time is time, the meat will tell you when its done so allow for variables in your cook times.
                Excellent choice....gotta be beanz with brisket....
                Good luck.


                • Mr. Bones
                  Mr. Bones commented
                  Editing a comment
                  +1 on beanz!

                • Panhead John
                  Panhead John commented
                  Editing a comment

                Make sure you plan extra time as you can rest in a cooler for several hours if done early. I would also push the temp up to 250 or even up to 275. (Edit: 225 creates a risk of not getting it done when you want). I use foil a good bit to capture the juice and put it in a fat separator. For the overnight cooks, I typically try to get the internal temp to 165-170, then wrap and put in the oven at 200 while I sleep (edit, then I can up temp if needed when I wake). I could leave in the pellet smoker, but once wrapped in foil, I feel the smoke part is done.
                Last edited by saneric38; December 17, 2021, 09:59 AM.


                  All of the above sounds good, I'm a S/P advocate, that's just me though.
                  Enjoy the cook, and the party!!!



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