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Smoking a brisket flat on my vertical gas smoker

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    Smoking a brisket flat on my vertical gas smoker

    Up until a few weeks ago, the smoker I used was a Brinkman Trail Master indirect heat charcoal smoker. For everything I smoked, including brisket, I would regulate the temperature to 250 degrees and smoke two chip boxes of chips, which takes about an hour-and-a-half. Then I would put the meat in an aluminum baking pan and cover it tightly with foil to form a steam seal, and put it in the oven at 250 degrees. It would cook there until done, which for brisket I liked 200 degrees. Every brisket I prepared was great. The ones that were choice grade were not as juicy as the American Wagyu, but all were good.

    Then I got the vertical gas water smoker shown in the picture, and it works great. The ribs and chicken I've prepared on it were superb. I encountered the stall with the first brisket and didn't understand why the brisket wouldn't finish cooking, which led me to the amazing ribs web site. So last Saturday, I purchased a 6.6 pound choice brisket flat at the supermarket with a nice fat cap and good marbling for a choice brisket. Smoked it on the water smoker at 250 degrees for 2 hours. Then put it in an aluminum pan, added 6 ounces of hot, salted to taste beef broth for added moisture, covered the pan tightly with foil, and cooked it in the oven until it reached 202 degrees, which was about 2.5 hours. I Left it in the covered foil pan, wrapped it in a beach towel and put it in a plastic cooler to rest for 3 hours, which is something I have never done with any meat before. It was tender and flavorful, but very dry. You couldn't swallow it without something to drink to wash it down. There was probably a half gallon of juice in the pan with the brisket.

    The only thing I can think of that happened was that the beef broth was saltier than the brisket and drew juice out of the brisket. This method of cooking brisket at 250 degrees on the smoker and in the oven has worked well for me for years on my indirect heat smoker, so I don't think it's that.

    I didn't think to take a picture of this brisket, but here is one of another choice brisket I cooked the same way on my indirect heat smoker, but without adding the beef broth or letting it rest.

    Any ideas about what happened, or suggestions?


    Welcome to The Pit RAmorris! Before I go too far, please remember to check out our homework post for new members. This is full of some how-tos and please-dos for Pit members. (The red lines are clickable links).

    Regarding the brisket.... I have had briskets behave WAY different from one cook to the next. I had one that reached temp in 4 hours. I had one that took 18hrs. All cooked on the same cooker at roughly the same temp. You may have just gotten a bad (dry) hunk of heifer. That is entirely possible. If you cook two, three, four and they consistently turn out this way, then we could better pinpoint technique or temp as a culprit. Until then check out Meathead's Texas Brisket recipe page. You'll see we don't always recommend braising, which is what you're doing when placing it in a pan and sealing the top. We recommend tightly wrapping w/a double layer of foil and powering through the stall, then wrapping in towels once it reaches the desired IT and holding for an hour or three. Fro more on why a tight foil wrap is best, check out Dr. Blonder's research on the matter. it's very eye-opening. (I used to do the pan thing too with my ribs, you're not alone!)

    That said, what are you using to guage your pit temp and your meat temp? Are you using a digital thermometer, if so has it been calibrated in boiling water to make sure it's accurate at those 200+ temps?



      I'm using a digital thermometer on the meat that has not been tested in boiling water, but that we've used for several years for meat in the oven and on our smokers, and the meat has been satisfactory except for this one brisket. I'm using a non-digital oven thermometer for pit temperature that we have used for years in the oven and on our smokers.


        I had consistency issue with temp on my GOSM and I think those fluctuations have greatly affected my brisket cooks. I think when I've given in and let the smoker run at its "inherent" temp - more like 275 than 225 - they've been better. Of course, I've now moved on to using my Weber almost exclusively, with either the Smokenator or Vortex. Just want to be more hands on for the fun of it.

        FYI - Last year I put a bead of hi temp RTV around the door of the GOSM to work on its efficiency. It was better but not as good as I wanted. I'm going to replace that soon with gasket material that I got from bbqgaskets.com, since it's worked so well on my kettle.



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