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Needs help w/brisket

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  • Oak Smoke
    Club Member
    • Aug 2018
    • 426
    • Central Texas

    Needs help w/brisket

    Hello, I’m Lynn, I’m a Texan, and I’m struggling with brisket. The family talks about it in hushed tones when they think I can’t here them. It’s that old “Oh thank God he’s cooking chicken this weekend” thing. I’m not sure what they do with Texans who can’t cook great brisket, but I don’t want to know.
    Let me describe the events that have me here searching for help. I bought a very nice kamado smoker a while back. I did everything that I had learned here and other places. I fired it up, seasoned it and learned to control the temps. I even did a few learner cooks on it. I reversed seared some steaks, they were awesome. Thanks again to A/R. Then came the big day! I bought a well marbled choice brisket, trimmed it, (it didn’t resemble the one Aaron Franklin did on u tube), dry brined it, and put it in the fridge. The next day I was up early with the kind of enthusiasm one sees on Christmas morning. I rubbed it and started the fire. When all settled in at 225 on went brisket. In my mind I was in the middle of a right of passage and I was nailing it. I had my new Maverick 732 set up and really, what could go wrong? Temperature was holding like a dream. Then internal hit 160, no stall, 170 no stall, 180 no stall, cool. Now this whole time I practiced the, if you’re looking you aint cooking thing. At 195 I looked. I got a surprise! It was very similar to the feeling I had when I arrived for the first date I had arranged in an online dating sight several years ago. It was that, wow this looks nothing like the pictures on the computer, feeling. The brisket was wet, grey, with a little brown, and ugly. I had no idea what to do. I ended up putting it in a bag that went into a bucket of ice water. The next day I put it on at 350 to try to get some bark and flavor. It was eatable, but little else. I’ve done 3 briskets since then. The next one was much like the first except it turned out tougher than a pigs nose. I thought it had to be air flow, I needed more air to carry away the moisture so bark would form. On to brisket 3. I cooked it at 250 and had a better, but not great outcome. The last was cooked at 280, it did stall, I didn’t wrap, it came out beautiful. After the rest in the faux cambro the point was great, but the thinner end of the flat was very dry.
    I’m proud of my ribs and chicken, but my brisket cooks are legendary for all the wrong reasons.
  • Huskee
    • May 2014
    • 15442
    • central MI, USA
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    I know the stall definitely helps create the bark. And if you trim too much fat cap off you probably won't get much of a stall. So make sure you leave a generous fat cap on. Otherwise, it sounds like you're going through what a lot of us go through. It may be a little to do with the air flow in your cooker, it may just be how your kamado cooks briskets. They're definitely are low air flow, so they're different animal from other cookers. I've read of this before, I just happen to have no hands on experience to know if that's just a kamado brisket. You may just have gotten your few tough briskets all out of the way early in your brisket cooking career! Even the best brisket cooks still have a cook here and there that goes haywire.


    • EdF
      Club Member
      • Jul 2016
      • 3229
      • Atlantic Highlands, NJ
      • Uuni Pro (new kid in town)
        Karubeque C-60
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        Various other stuff

      What kind of a cooker are you using (I know you said Kamado, but ...)? Where are you putting the probe for the ambient temp? Kind of sounds like you have a pit temp issue.


      • EdF
        EdF commented
        Editing a comment
        I assume you skipped any kind of water container and used a diffuser/plate setter? And how were your vents set?

      • Oak Smoke
        Oak Smoke commented
        Editing a comment
        no water container, and yes the diffuser plates were installed. I had no reason to think I would create such a poor brisket.

      • EdF
        EdF commented
        Editing a comment
        Given what you've said so far, it's a mystery to me too!
    • JGo37
      Club Member
      • Apr 2018
      • 1579
      • the LOU
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        & the PIT!

      The only thing I can do is let you know what I've done differently, so you have variables to play with.

      Trim: I get all the suet off, and reduce it to tallow for stuff like Texas Mop. I cut away the grey muscle. If I'm going to take red muscle I don't, I leave it heavily marbled.

      Dry Brine: generous amount of Morton's Kosher coarse salt, including under the flap between the point and flat. Never less than 24 hours in the fridge, often double that.

      Inject: I've always injected beef broth beneath the fat cap after the rub is on, every couple inches about a 1/4 of the injector. In my mind, this offsets the drying out that occurs in the fridge during electrolysis. The brisket puffs up as I inject.

      Temp: I always get a long stall @ an average ambient of ~ 235F. I think it may be the injection, and started a topic on that today.

      I keep two fists of hickory in the coals until I hit a 170F IT. That means I'm jostling the coals around, dropping the ash out, and adding more hickory about every 90 minutes. I think the ash management during the cook promotes good air flow.

      I haven't wrapped during a cook yet, but understand why I would. I haven't squirted a tallow-butter mix over the meat during a cook yet, but I would if competing. Same for the former.

      Getting into faux cambro for me is REALLY fast. Maybe as fast as just one minute. I use a hot towel and a styro box from a vendor that shipped me a lot of meat in dry ice. I have no problem leaving it there for 6 hours - so far my longest (this weekend). I don't think I've pulled it out in less than 4 hours.

      I slice fast and put it in sealed containers too (while the dog and I sample it). When I serve, it's with HOT Texas Mop on the slices, and chunks of burnt ends dipped in almost simmering BBQ sauce. This weekend I used a St L fave - Maull's, and I made the American Chile dust from scratch.

      OK - I bragged a little. But it came out good. Maybe the prep and cook will give you ideas about adjustments. Maybe I've been lucky so far?

      Kamado's tempt you to leave things be. I check and adjust stuff through the whole cook. My remote is only two channel - so I see ambient and IT. I've never not had a stall - that would scare me witless.


      • Polarbear777
        Club Member
        • Sep 2016
        • 1843

        I’ve never not had a stall. And I usually wrap after I get bark. Here’s a plot of the last one I did that came out pretty good. I wrapped at about 12 hours in.
        I ran hot at the end to clean after removing to the cambro . Did the cambro for 4 hours for a total of 16 hours.
        if you aren’t getting a stall or bark and it’s still pale gray after 8-10 hours it seems like you must be cooking lower temp than your instruments say. Maybe put both probes above the grate on opposite sides of the brisket to see if there’s a big difference. (You don’t need a probe in the meat at the beginning anyway.)

        Click image for larger version

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        • tbob4
          Charter Member
          • Nov 2014
          • 2511
          • Chico, CA
          • BBQ's
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            Sierra Nevada IPA


          Do not despair. It is going to be learning your cook and your cooker. Be consistent with the grades of meat you buy and keep at it. Read all of the threads here and see which ones seem to describe issues you are having. Write down your results until you get the right (time, temp, moisture, wrap etc) and then start expanding the recipes from there.


          • gcdmd
            gcdmd commented
            Editing a comment
            "Write down your results until you get the right (time, temp, moisture, wrap etc) and then start expanding the recipes from there."

            Great advice! I keep a journal for all of my culinary adventures.

          • JGo37
            JGo37 commented
            Editing a comment
            Absolutely - keep track of everything you can, even outdoor temp and humidity.
        • Nuke em
          Club Member
          • Jun 2016
          • 756
          • Nj

          Try to get a higher grade of meat besides choice also. If ya can afford it.


          • jecucolo
            Club Member
            • Nov 2015
            • 1268
            • Schertz Texas
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            I think Polarbear777 may be on to your delima. Your temp may be too low. Check your probes to make sure they are accurate.




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