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My appoligies to the cow.

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    My appoligies to the cow.

    If anyone has seen my brisket mojo, please return it. I really miss it. I'm not sure what my problem is, but my last few briskets have ranged from disappointing like today's, to down right uneatable. When you're smoking on a pellet pooper, and finishing with a sous vide, there is really no excuse for dry and tough brisket. But excusable or not, that's what I have been getting. My technique hasn't really changed, and it has produced great brisket in the past, so I'm kinda left scratching my head. That's where you good folks come in. I'll tell you what I'm doing, and you tell me what or why I'm doing wrong.

    Here is my usual brisket routine:
    Costco prime packer
    1) Trim leaving about 1/4" of fat cap, and craving off any hard sections of fat. I also trim out a fair bit of the fat between the flat and point.
    2) 12-24 hour dry brine/seasoning with commercial beef rub. OR regular dry brine and then a custom pepper, garlic, cumin mix. I have had the same problem with both, so I can't point to one or the other as a culprit.
    3) Pellet pooper set to 275°, smoke tube loaded with hickory chips. This is standard for all my beef cooks and has never really changed. Maybe it needs to?
    4) Brisket goes on fat cap down. I have flip flopped between fat up and fat down over the years, and honestly I have never really noticed a difference.
    5) Smoke for 2.5 hours, then bagged, sealed, and into a 150° water bath for 24 hours. The temp of my water bath has come down over the years. I used to go 160° for 24 hours, but got better results at the lower temp.
    6) Out of the bath, drain, filter and reduce the juice from the bag, then slice and serve the brisket.
    7) Grumble and complain about screwing up another brisket. This last step is optional, but I have been using it a lot lately.

    Here is a pic of my most recent attempt. The flat is just plain dry and tough. The point is not as tender as I like, but it is at least, decent eating. So the big question is, what am I doing wrong? I have a hard time believing it is just a case of poor meat quality. The results are getting too predictable for that I think?
    Anyone have any pointers for me?

    Click image for larger version  Name:	PXL_20210104_235127117.jpg Views:	0 Size:	3.97 MB ID:	968718
    Last edited by willxfmr; January 4, 2021, 07:20 PM.

    I don't sous vide so don't know how that affects tenderness. I take my briskets to an internal temperature of about 195 to 203. I'm surprised you have previously gotten tender briskets if only taking them to 150 IT.


    • willxfmr
      willxfmr commented
      Editing a comment
      That's the beauty of sous vide. You can go with lower temps for longer time and end up with a juicy and tender piece of meat. For example, one of my favorite things is the three day chuck roast. 72 hours at 135* and you end up with melt in your mouth medium rare chuck roast.

    Following. Looking forward to learning with you.


    • carlscan26
      carlscan26 commented
      Editing a comment
      Following for the same reason

    • IowaGirl
      IowaGirl commented
      Editing a comment
      Hey, folks -- No need to make a post just to follow a thread. Just click the big green +FOLLOW button at the top and you're gold.

    • Sweaty Paul
      Sweaty Paul commented
      Editing a comment
      IowaGirl I know in theory how that is supposed to work, however, I am most assuredly not the most technologically savvy individual.

      That said, I was also showing solidarity because brisket can be a challenge too.

    Have you ever used the squeeze test on your sous vide meats? It's homologous to the "probe tender test."

    I'd be more prone to sous vide then smoke at 275-300.


      Troutman does his brisket at 130 for 52 hours.


      Kenji suggests up to 72 hours at 135.


      Polarbear777 is also at 72 hours at 135.


      I am not saying that would be a definite solution but that is what stood out to me reading your post.

      I also just did a brisket cook 2 weeks ago where my Joule died after 30 hours at 135. The brisket was not even close to done, so I had to finish it in the oven.

      In other words, try lower for longer.


      • Richard Chrz
        Richard Chrz commented
        Editing a comment
        The skill of those 3 should be enough, to at minimum take it out to 52 hours. That is a list of some bad ass brisket makers.

      When I sous vide brisket, I reverse the process and have never had an issue. 155 degrees for 36 to 48 hours, and then on the pellet smoker. I tried a small flat for only 24 hours once, and it was not enough time to get any tenderness. Serious Eats has several articles and experiments you might want to take a look at. I remember Steve Troutman had a good post on this awhile back if my memory serves.
      Last edited by Donw; January 4, 2021, 08:00 PM. Reason: Misspelling from fat fingers.


        That looks good. Reversed sous vided. You did the cow honors. No apologies needed.


          The lower the temp the longer the time in the bath. I wanna say I’ve done 36 hrs at 155 when I did SVQ brisket. If you dropped the temp but kept the same time, I’d consider adding 10-12 more hours next time.


          • willxfmr
            willxfmr commented
            Editing a comment
            That's the direction I'm leaning. Thank you.

          The Kenji article is what got me to drop down off of 160* for 12 hours, but I may have gone too low without adding more time. It makes sense that the toughness and dryness is not coming so much from over cooking but the opposite and not getting the connective tissue broken down enough. That's an easy experiment to try.

          I have never tried doing the water bath first on anything that was going on the smoker. My reasoning behind this the thought that it will have a negative effect on the smoke profile. I have nothing to back this up with, so I'd like to hear your thoughts. Brisket and chuckies are both meats I like to get a pronounced smoke profile on.


          • glitchy
            glitchy commented
            Editing a comment
            Wouldn’t the purge in the bag actually wash some of the smoke away? I thought smoke often sat more on the surface. I haven’t gotten into the SVQ yet, I mostly use SV for steaks and chicken breasts and just season and sear after, but what I read a year or two ago was SV, chill, then smoke back to the SV temp. Is that still recommended anymore? When I was thinking about it most people did Sous Vide and then when done put it in fridge overnight and smoked the next day...but that was a while back.

          • Dadof3Illinois
            Dadof3Illinois commented
            Editing a comment
            glitchy I've never had the purge wash away any of the smoke flavor on the chuck roasts i've done. I start with a cold chuck roast that's been dry brined for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 4 days. Add a good amount of rub and smoke to an internal temp of 135 F. Then right into the water bath at 135F for 72 hours. Cold shock it and put in the fridge until ready to serve then back on the grill until internal reaches 135. These turn out with some awesome smoke flavor IMO!!

          • willxfmr
            willxfmr commented
            Editing a comment
            glitchy I haven't noticed a problem with the smoke "washing off". This method like so many others has hundreds of different tweaks and twists that can get you to the end result. I liken it to "how many ways can you make a hamburger?" And much like making a good burger, the devil is in the details.

          Meathead has shown that smoke is attracted to cold meat so that makes sense.



          • willxfmr
            willxfmr commented
            Editing a comment
            Yep. That's the article that made me decide to QV instead of SVQ

          Right offa th bat, I'd say, zoomin on yer pic, afore th Central Scrutinizer reduces it to a thumbnail... in yer pic, I see plenty moisture in yer sliced flat...looks like they's pockets of fat all over that didn't render, though...rendered fat adds a whole lot to flavour, an mouth feel / perception...

          I don't SV, so I hope many th experienced here will help ya find a way to tweak yer times n temps to achieve th results ya desire.

          Also, from what I've learned here, readin up... kinda surprised there's no shock, between cooks? As mentioned, previous, never even held an SV device, or even seen one in person, but lots of what I read indicates a shock, between steps, SVQ, or QV

          To me SVQ seems like it'd work, if yer worried bout finishin with good smokiness...

          SV time X temp.
          Chill/Shock it, tuck it away overnight.
          Smoker time, bein ~35°-40° seems like it'd still absorb plenty smoke...
          Wishin ya much luck, in yer current pursuit, lookin forward to methods / results...
          Last edited by Mr. Bones; January 5, 2021, 10:44 AM.


            It also may be your pallet and skill level are more refined.

            I can’t contribute much to the SV game but perhaps your original cooks are not as good as you thought.

            You are now a far better cook and are relying on a memory of food. Your current cooks are not holding up to a memory because you expect more from yourself and experience.

            I have been chasing my grandmas rice and beans for decades and still cant make them to save my life. I gave up.

            I was chasing a memory.

            That brisket looks under but pics can be deceiving.

            I leave this to the SV gamers in the lot.

            you’ll get this.


            • willxfmr
              willxfmr commented
              Editing a comment
              Solid points. Thanks.

            There are number of key reasons have been touched upon. Here's my comments (got a Zoom meeting in 15 minutes)

            1) It's temperature and it's time. There's an equilibrium between the two. Raise one and you lower the other etc, You aren't cooking it long enough, its not rendering. I can tell by your "it's tough" statement. You need more time.
            2) On the pre-smoke, if you are going for a high temp finish then pre-smoking is not that advantageous. I do it for low temp cooking because I want good bark I can't otherwise get. So, just SV then smoke to establish bark, just like you would reverse sear a steak.
            3) What are you trying to achieve by shooting for 165*? Why not just take it to the fully rendered 200* plateau?

            Otherwise your prep and approach are just fine. Work you time a lot longer, that's your biggest problem that I can see.


            • EdF
              EdF commented
              Editing a comment
              Isn't that avatar from the cover of an old Blodwyn Pig album?

            • Troutman
              Troutman commented
              Editing a comment
              Congrats Ed, you win a kewpie doll !!

            • EdF
              EdF commented
              Editing a comment
              Great album!

            Now, what I read is, you should immediately go buy five more briskets, you know, for science. Failure is just another reason to fill your freezer. 😜
            Last edited by Richard Chrz; January 5, 2021, 01:41 PM.


            • willxfmr
              willxfmr commented
              Editing a comment
              I like the way you're thinking!

            "3) What are you trying to achieve by shooting for 165*? Why not just take it to the fully rendered 200* plateau? "

            That was my first thought. It's well done at that point so I don't see any reason to move to SV. Just finish it in the smoker. The only reason to involve SV at all in cooking brisket is because you want it done at medium or medium rare or, I suppose, if you can't babysit the brisket on the smoker for 12+ hours (but then perhaps running hotter?). If you're doing it medium well or above, going the traditional all smoke route will be faster and get there.
            Last edited by rickgregory; January 5, 2021, 02:27 PM.


            • shify
              shify commented
              Editing a comment
              Cooking SV is more than cooking things to medium rare that otherwise need to be cooked thru. You'll get a juicier brisket at 155 vs. 200 even though both are well done. The difference is texture.
              SVQ for a brisket is easier to manage, even if it technically takes more (idle) time but you can plan better. Being there is at times such a large window on when things are done on a smoker, esp for a brisket, not having to worry it wont be done for dinner or waking up at 2am to fire up the smoker

            • willxfmr
              willxfmr commented
              Editing a comment
              I love medium rare on chuck roast, but not so much on brisket. I think it's really a mental thing more than anything else. It also helps a lot with meal timing if I can keep the brisket down to 24 hours in the bath.


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