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Chewy and tough brisket

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    Chewy and tough brisket

    I have a question as to what happened to my brisket yesterday. It ended up chewy and tough. I cooked it at 225 degrees and I kept the temperature amazing constant for me. I smoked it for 8 hours total. I crutched it at 160 degrees internal temp and took it to 201 and let rest for about an hour. It was a 17 pound Prime grade brisket from Costco which have been great in the past. It was well marbled and I trimmed off the heavy fat and cut in half and smoked the point probably about 9 pounds. The night before I dry brined it and injected with beef broth. Prior to cooking the next day I applied Big bad beef rub. It looked great but was really tough and chewy. I have done briskets exactly as I did this one and they were great. I am stumped.


    MOST of the smokers here will tell you that on a rare occasion that if you smoke enough briskets this will happen to the best of us. Not to ME of course but the other guys. I always smoke the entire brisket and I think this is likely to be worse for points only. I don't "pull them at 201" but always check how they feel. I cook some higher, some lower. I think if they come out tougher a few hours wrapped in foil like you pull it off in the faux cambro will soften them up. Then again chewy briskets are WHY people slice brisket really thin. And there is always chopped sandwiches or chili.



      I do assume that after you crutched it there stayed plenty of juices in the foil? Some people have accidentally gone through the bottom of the foil and drained those juices out, partially defeating the crutching purpose...


        Might want to check temp probe for accuracy. To me, 8 hours at 225 seems an awfully short time to get a decent size point to 201. Even if the temps are accurate, the amount of time at temperatures where the connective tissue (collagen) is breaking down was too little. More time above 150-160, taking final temp a little higher, or a few more hours wrapped up in a faux cambro would all help accomplish a longer time in the right temp range. In any instance, as fracmeister noted you are better off cooking to "probe tender" or a good "floppy feel" than to a specific temp and then hold temp for a few hours in a faux cambro. Better luck next time and welcome to the pit!!!


        • EdF
          EdF commented
          Editing a comment
          That was my thinking too.

        I used some apple juice in the foil and there was a lot of liquid left in the foil. The brisket was really moist and well marbled. Just chewy.


          Nice to meet you! My guess is that it needed more time above 150F. I sometimes use a warm oven (170F) to hold a brisket even after its "probe tender". Wrapped tight in foil, it doesn’t lose any more moisture.

          I think 4-hours of Cambro time is ideal!


            There are two reasons a brisket is tough/chewy.

            One is that it was not cooked until "done". Regardless of internal temp, brisket is done when it is probe tender. I once had a prime packer take 19 hours to get probe tender. Internal temp was 208. We had takeout teriyaki chicken that night while I cursed the brisket. Thankfully it was just for my family, not for a big summer party crowd.

            The other reason is that you just have an ornery piece of meat.

            Based on what you have described about this cook, I think that number one applies.


              great feedback from fracmeister above. At 225 degrees grill temp, I would expect a 17 pound brisket (pre-trim) to take over 12 hours, even if crutched midway. If a brisket is tough, it's not yet reached that epicenter of barbecue beef happiness, proper doneness. Never to worry, just keep on cooking!

              You did very well buying a choice or better brisket - well done!

              What thermometer are you using?

              Did you use a leave in thermometer or a probe?

              When you probe, take a few attempts to get that thickest part of the flat identified and your best read

              When you use the probe thermometer, you will definately feel the brisket getting softer as it gets closer to done, and then that "probe tender" will become more clear to you.

              The problem I find most often is the briskets aren't yet probing "like butter" but the temp is getting to 205 on the thickest part of the flat.


              • PaulstheRibList
                PaulstheRibList commented
                Editing a comment
                I didn't notice that ecowper. I've just move the temps up on nearly all my cooking to 250 or so, and 250-275 on beef. Even then, I'd expect a thick flat to take 10+ hours.

              • ecowper
                ecowper commented
                Editing a comment
                PaulstheRibList I much prefer cooking at 250-275 also. Tends to eliminate stalls. And I agree .... at 250-275 a thick flat is 10-12 hours.

              • HorseDoctor
                HorseDoctor commented
                Editing a comment
                Totally agree on the 250-275 temps especially for longer cooks of big hunks of meat like butts, chucks, briskets etc.!!!

              Welcome cliffdavis


                As others have said, it ain't done till it's done. Temp is just a guide. Other points have been covered, but did you use a leave in probe? If so, how did you place it in the meat? It should be in the thickest part of the meat, and not in a big band of fat. Once your meat has risen 10 + degrees, move the probe around a bit to find the lowest temp. That's where you want to measure the temp.


                  I actually cooked one today myself on my GMG. It aged 21 days. I started at midnight. Smoked 5 hours at 250. Wrapped with kosmos 6 oz brisket mop with about 10 oz apple juice at wrap stage. Stayed on 250 for another 5 hours before cranking it to 300 for last hour just to give it a final kiss. Let it rest for 2 hours. Mine had great tenderness. I tried a brisket binder and was impressed. I use 1/3 cup mustard 2 tbsp each honey, agave, Worcester sauce, soy sauce. Put a little dab over brisket seasonings after they sat for a few hours. Costco Primes CAN dry out so make sure there is PLENTY OF JUICE IN WRAP STAGE. minimum 16oz. Good luck next go around. 201 was a good number. That's where my probe tenderness read. Never had good probe tenderness anything less then 200.
                  Last edited by BarBQ22; October 29, 2017, 09:35 PM.


                    i'll just repeat what everyone else says. you have to probe around when you think it's done. the temp at one spot isn't the whole story. you have to move the probe around to get a good idea if the meat is truly done instead of just that one spot you probed. as far as the time - i agree with most people here. 8 hours seems like it is WAY too short. it's possible you had a probe stuck in a big fat deposit. when brisket is under cooked it's tough. when it's over-cooked it's fall apart but dry.



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