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Chasing the perfect Brisket, episode 1

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    Chasing the perfect Brisket, episode 1

    Greetings all! So I decided to fire up the smoker that surprisingly remained fully intact and operational after it almost killed me a couple years ago. Not willing to concede defeat against the contraption, I decided to smoke a brisket. I've done them before always flying by the seat of my pants, but they always came out slightly less chewy than shoe leather. This time around, decided I was going to put forth a little more effort since I'm now a member of The Pit, so I took advantage of the resources on here. Did some research, stumbled up ecowper's brisket method post, https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/fo...brisket-method, and decided to give it a go. Many thanks to ecowper for the post! Wasn't able to follow it 100%, but kept it as close as I could. So here's what went down this past Sunday... *SPOILER ALERT* I didn't blow myself up this time...

    Being as it's just me and the wife and this was more an experiment than anything else, I opted not to go with 14 lb brisket; I went with a 3.12 lb one. Didn't have the greatest selection in the world where I am and was pressed for time on Saturday night, so I was at the mercy of what was available. Not sure of the quality of the cut, but it looked decent enough, so I got it. Was in dire need of sleep, so it sat in the fridge right after I got home and sat there overnight.

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    0800, freshly trimmed and 1.5 teaspoons of salt rubbed in to work it's brining magic. Back into the fridge for approximately 6 hours.


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    1345... hard to see, but starting to get wisps of blue smoke. I used Kingsford hickory wood chunks that had about a 5 hour soak. Also broke out the ThermPro TP-20 dual probe digital thermometer. Really glad I did because the gauge on the door is about 50* higher than what it really is. Many thanks to the number of good people here on this board that said do this!


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    1355... still going off ecowper's recipe, rubbed in the black pepper and granulated garlic. Not the world's greatest at math, so I used a heaping teaspoon of each. Figured that should be roughly the amount needed for this 3 pound guy.

    1400... in she goes with a steady temperature of 250* and a quart of water in the water tray. One probe measuring internal temperature of the brisket, one measuring the ambient air temperature inside the smoker. Saw somewhere, I don't remember where, brisket cook time should be about an hour and fifteen minutes per pound, so I anticipate a 4 hour cook time. At this point, I'm thinking should be ready to come out around 1800. Now we wait...

    Over the next couple hours, several things happened. Both Kurt and Kyle Busch went airborne at Talladega, and Brady mounted an impressive comeback to trounce the Chargers. Also discovered that with a propane smoker (or maybe just mine), you have to pay attention to the temperature every few minutes. There was no setting that I could leave it and the temperature maintain itself. It would either slowly climb, or slowly drop. One would think that by moving the dial just a hair that the temperature would stabilize inside of 15 minutes. Nay, not the case. But hey, it is what it is and that's part of the fun. Side note: remember to maintain proper hydration while you're cooking!
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    Even with having to play with the gas gauge to keep the internal temp around 250*, the brisket slowly cooked like it should in slow and steady single digits. I hit the three hour mark, so it's right at 1700, and the internal meat temperature is 159*. I like meat a touch on the medium rare side, so I plan on taking it out of the smoker when it hits 195*. Everything is going along according to plan!

    And then it happens: the stall.

    It's to be expected, and I completely forgot about it when calculating cook times. Did I mention I'm bad at math? Another quick calculation in my head, and I figure it oughta be ready to come out about 1800, 1830, so I leave it alone. Somewhere during the stall, the internal temperature stabilized at at 238*, so I figured I'd roll with it and see what happens. For the next 2 hours, nothing happened. I take that back, the brisket actually cooled down. Steady cooking temperature of 238*, and the internal temp of the brisket dropped from 159* to 150*... I'm dumbfounded. How did this happen? Why did this happen? All these questions and no answers. Thankfully the wife was busy doing something in the house and knows enough about smoking that it takes a long time and not to ask why isn't it done already. God bless her for learning that and not gnawing on me about being hungry when my irritation at the situation flares up. Not knowing what else to do, I think I potentially broke a cardinal rule about smoking brisket: I turned up the gas and raised the temperature. Internal temp gets up to 300* over the next 15 minutes before the brisket temp starts to rise from 150* to 151* and stayed there. What. The. Hell. It's been at 300* for half an hour, and it raised 1 degree. This makes no sense. Somewhere in a parallel universe where my smoker has a soul, it's mocking me. This is payback for accidentally turning it into a Roman candle last time I used it. Irritation turns to frustration, and I do it again: turn up the heat. At 370*, the brisket FINALLY decides it wants to heat up. Roughly another 45 minutes to an hour, and it hits 198*. It's now 2030, it's been cooking for six and a half hours. It's 3 lbs. I don't understand why it took so long and the cooking temp had to be increased over a hundred degrees.

    Anyway, I take this thing out, wrap it in foil and get ready to toss it in the oven at 170*, only to find out my wife has been baking and the oven is currently in use. Avoiding an argument as to why I'd be wrapping a cooked brisket in a towel and putting it in a cooler, I opt to just let her put it in the microwave and it hangs out there. Just prior to the wrap, it looked like this:
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    It dawned on me after the wrap that this is the meat side, not the fat cap side. Either way, still has a certain appeal to it. Super juicy, good flavor with just the salt, pepper, and garlic. Think I may have used too much smoke, but uncertain yet. Anyway, it's hanging out in the microwave wrapped in foil. Note to self: next time, use more foil or do a better wrap job as all the juices leaked out after she put it in the microwave. Don't know which reason was the cause of if it or if it was a combination of the two. So unwrapped and on the cutting board, we have the final product... Click image for larger version

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    View from the top looking down on the fat cap. There's a smoke ring and the start of a good bark on it. It's not super juicy, but it's moist enough to cut with not too much effort. Good flavor, but did decide I need to throttle back on the amount of wood chunks next time, as the hickory smoke is the dominant taste. Still moist after being refrigerated and warmed up for lunch the next day, and still edible.

    As I stated at the beginning of this long-winded diatribe, this was more of an experiment than anything else. I feel that this is semi-successful in comparison to previous briskets that I've done, but still have a long way to go before I tackle one of substantial size. I welcome any and all advice, critique, criticism, help, pointers, etc. on how to make this better. Also, please feel free to let me know what was up with the stall and temperature issues I was having.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Looking forward to hearing from you gurus!

    -Rob

    #2
    First off, thanks for the great compliment and taking the time to explore my method for brisket.

    Second .... I'm glad this worked better than any of your previous brisket cooks. And I will tell you that I didn't magically spring to life as a great cooker of brisket. In fact, I think I'm just okay. But I've done a lot of really terrible brisket cooks and that definitely has taught me how to get from terrible to okay :-)

    Third .... my only input would be that the idea of 1.25 hours per pound for brisket is, as you discovered, not right. The Stall is real! I find that The Stall lasts as much as 3 hours. I generally figure on a hunk o' flat to take AT LEAST 8 hours to get to the good place. And a full packer is 12-14 hours.

    Fascinating how cookers work, isn't it? Glad you didn't end up a roman candle again.

    Comment


      #3
      PBR, now that's smoking at it's finest. My favorite.


      Comment


      • ecowper
        ecowper commented
        Editing a comment
        PBR tall boys and a good cigar are the perfect golf companion

      • smokin fool
        smokin fool commented
        Editing a comment
        Sometimes it about the journey, the brisket at the end is icing on the cake
        Nice cook
        ecowper excellent suggestion will invest in some PBR tall boys tomorrow, smoking a turkey for our thanksgiving on Sunday. 50/50 on the cigar thing....

      • ecowper
        ecowper commented
        Editing a comment
        smokin fool Happy Thanksgiving my friend!

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