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ChefSteps Brisket questions and modifications...

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  • binarypaladin
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    ChefSteps Brisket questions and modifications...

    I picked up a Prime brisket at Costco the other day because, why not, right? I was inspired by this recipe at ChefSteps. With that I said, I am making a bunch of modifications (to the point it's basically a different recipe) but, I'm curious about how sound the changes are:

    No liquid smoke because I'll smoke this after a chill anyway.

    I think this makes sense.

    Lower temp and longer time.

    I want a smoke ring without using curing salt (also, not brining, see below). I'm cooking 140ºF for 48 hours instead of 155ºF for 24 hours. A few questions:

    1. Is this too long? I've done short ribs for 48 hours, but brisket isn't short rib.
    2. In theory I should be able to get a decent smoke ring. Cooking meat to 155ºF makes it pretty hard because you're pretty close to the zone where you can't get a smoke ring anymore.
    3. Since I'm cooking and well below well-done, am I going to experience a stall when I smoke it?

    No brine.

    Generally, I sous-vide nekkid. However, with such a large chunk of meat (about 8lbs once all the fat was trimmed) I want the salt to penetrate. I generally dry brine, but since this thing is going to be in sous-vide for a couple days why not let it "brine" in its own juices. Plus, salt is absorbed faster when cooking. So, I glazed and salted before bagging this time.

    Should I inject?

    I didn't inject with brine or anything else before cooking. Should I even bother? The salt should penetrate fine during the cook. Do I really need any extra juice?

    Trip to the smoker.

    They finish theirs in a fairly hot oven (325ºF). I'm going to a more typical 225ºF in the smoker. I'm seriously considering freezing first. I figure the frozen brisket plus another layer of the glaze should hold the rub (I'll go with BBBR, I think the one at ChefSteps uses entirely too much sugar for beef and at the lower cook temperature it won't caramelize very well).

    I'm not sure how long the smoker will take, but it theory I could toss this in before work and grab it 9 or 10 hours later when I get home, especially if it hits a stall (will it?). If I'm going to go to the trouble of smoking it anyway, should I reduce the time in sous-vide?
  • binarypaladin
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    #2
    Potkettleblack You seem to be the man in the sous-vide world around here. I'm curious if you have any specific feedback on the times and temperatures. I don't want to end up overcooking this thing and since it just got up to temperature I have at least a day before I need to make a decision.

    Comment


    • Potkettleblack
      Potkettleblack commented
      Editing a comment
      See below.
  • kmhfive
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    #3
    So, FlaBouy has some nice Brisket experiments. I think if you go 48-hours, the meat is well and truly cooked. The connective tissues have already begun to breakdown into gelatin. So, I think that you will not want to go all the way to normal Brisket Temperatures, even though you're "smoking" it. My best guess would be to big chill after the SV, then smoke to about 140-150F and Sear to get bark/crust. Here is one thread: https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/fo...63477-48-hours

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    • EdF
      EdF commented
      Editing a comment
      That would be my instinct too.
  • binarypaladin
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    #4
    That's what I have done with chuck roasts and it works. I'm thinking up to around 155°F to get a pretty close to traditional finish.

    What I've found with sous-vide barbecue is that you have a lot of play in the finishing time. I cooked a pork shoulder at 165°F for about 12 hours and gave it another 5ish in the smoker a day after chilling it. It could have come out sooner but I basically opted to keep it in the smoker till guests got there.

    Comment


    • kmhfive
      kmhfive commented
      Editing a comment
      Seems like something I ought to try!

    • Dr ROK
      Dr ROK commented
      Editing a comment
      binarypaladin What would you say is the minimum time to smoke your shoulders after sous vide?
  • Potkettleblack
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    #5
    My experience with ChefSteps is that you want to take one run at it exactly as written (and I mean EXACTLY) as their recipes are very fussy. Moreso than Meathead's (which aren't fussy, but come out great if you follow to the letter and adjust) or Kenji (where not doing as written leads to inferior results).

    My SV mentor would advise that you low-slow the brisket at something like 130-135 until it pinches tender before shocking, chilling, and finishing with a 225-275 smoke to build the bark. The tender pinch is gonna be 48-72 hours, most likely.

    At 155, I don't think you're going to attach a smoke ring (which is a chemical change that has nothing to do with flavor beyond perception), and I think you're unlikely to attach much smoke flavor. I also wonder if 155x48 isn't gonna dry it out.

    Ive done the ChefSteps Smokerless Brisket and it came out incredibly. I didn't have a grill that I liked to use then, so I was the intended target for that recipe.

    For the hybrid you're looking to do, Kenji done did it already:
    http://www.seriouseats.com/2016/08/f...q-brisket.html
    he goes 155x24-36h. Pinch testing is the only way to know. He also goes 135x36-72. Different end results.

    Comment

    • binarypaladin
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      #6
      Potkettleblack I know prevailing wisdom is to avoid modifications on the first try. Haha. I modified like crazy which is why I'm using the term "inspired."

      My main worry with long sous-vide cooking is making something "mushy" or getting it too dry after the fact. I did my brisket at 140°F for about 40 hours. It was pretty tender feeling in the bag. I looked at Kenji's and basically took the heat up just a bit. He complained about dryness, but most of these recipes use the final step to build bark and often at a higher temp than you'd normally BBQ.

      I know the ring isn't important for anything but visual appeal, but at this relatively early stage of smoking, it's like a badge for me. If I see a smoke ring I'm happy, as ridiculous as it is.

      If I do normal smoking, even if the meat isn't QUITE tender enough, seems like I can get it there in the smoker. I'm super curious about a stall zone when cooking at temps well under 155°F. Am I going to hit a stall? (And in a sense, that doesn't seem like I bad thing since I can simply hold there until I reach the desired wubba-wubba.) I'll know tomorrow if I went way too far off the beaten path!

      Comment

      • Potkettleblack
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        #7
        Originally posted by binarypaladin View Post
        Potkettleblack I know prevailing wisdom is to avoid modifications on the first try. Haha. I modified like crazy which is why I'm using the term "inspired."

        My main worry with long sous-vide cooking is making something "mushy" or getting it too dry after the fact. I did my brisket at 140°F for about 40 hours. It was pretty tender feeling in the bag. I looked at Kenji's and basically took the heat up just a bit. He complained about dryness, but most of these recipes use the final step to build bark and often at a higher temp than you'd normally BBQ.

        I know the ring isn't important for anything but visual appeal, but at this relatively early stage of smoking, it's like a badge for me. If I see a smoke ring I'm happy, as ridiculous as it is.

        If I do normal smoking, even if the meat isn't QUITE tender enough, seems like I can get it there in the smoker. I'm super curious about a stall zone when cooking at temps well under 155°F. Am I going to hit a stall? (And in a sense, that doesn't seem like I bad thing since I can simply hold there until I reach the desired wubba-wubba.) I'll know tomorrow if I went way too far off the beaten path!
        Pinch testing every few hours keeps things from getting "mushy." I don't think I've ever mushed anything, just by going with regular times found by googling things. There are more things now than when I started with sous vide (like before there was a ChefSteps and before Modernist Cuisine was published... there was DouglasBaldwin and some other sites, like http://www.alcoholian.com (love this guy). Kenji was just starting with sous vide, before he had Anova as a sponsor. But going with a Baldwin recommended time window never yielded "mush."

        Too dry due to moisture loss, I'll let Kenji explain the 155* "Yes, the brisket will expel a lot of moisture as it cooks, but what it loses in water it gains in tenderness and moisture in the form of more connective tissue breaking down and fat rendering. For me, 155°F for between 24 and 36 hours is ideal." Now, I wouldn't go longer than that, but I've done the cooler for longer without mushing. I haven't done 145, but I wonder if Kenji hasn't taken it long enough for full connective tissue breakdown, which will keep it unctuous, despite it losing moisture. But that's why I prefer the low temp long bath approach... moist, unique texture, full unctuousness.

        The reason nearly all online sous vide recipes use higher heat to finish than you would use traditionally is because the item is already fully cooked and they don't want to overcook it. I've never seen them shock and chill something at Chefsteps and while Kenji says he's gotten better results, he never recommends it. When I do Sous-B-Cue, I pretty much always shock and chill, because I buy something on the weekend, start it bathing on Sunday or Monday, and don't have the time to finish it on the grill before Saturday.

        As long as you admit your desire for a smoke ring is ridiculous, I'm not sure why you are opposed to prague powder. See photo... this was the Chefsteps to the letter, more or less. I tweaked the rub a bit. But finished in the oven.
        Click image for larger version

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        Bright, smoke ring that fooled everyone who ate it. My briskets that I've done with a lower SV temp come out better than this, but this was great in it's own right. BBBR is an improvement over ChefSteps, and smoking to finish from fridge temp removes the need for the adding smoke flavor with smoked salt, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, molasses, and whatever else I put in that brew. That smoked salt quantity is expensive as all get out.

        There is no stall in Sous Vide cooking.
        http://amazingribs.com/tips_and_tech...the_stall.html
        Originally posted by Meathead Goldwyn
        This "stall" is caused by moisture evaporating from the surface and cooling the meat just like sweat cools you on a hot day. It has nothing to do with fat or collagen. If you wrap the meat in foil, the humidity in the foil is close to 100% but there is no evaporative cooling, so this method, called the Texas Crutch allows you to power through the stall.
        Consider, your item is closely wrapped. There is no evaporation in Sous Vide. No Evap = no Evap cooling. No stall. The time comes from breaking down collagen at a low temperature.


        Good luck.

        Comment


        • binarypaladin
          binarypaladin commented
          Editing a comment
          Nothing about the smoke ring as rational for me. I want it and I want it to be from smoking. I make no claim that this desire is anything but completely arbitrary nonsense. More below. (That brisket looks delicious.)
      • fzxdoc
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        #8
        This is a great discussion. I'm planning on Sous-B-Cueing (great word, Potkettleblack !) my next brisket just for the heckuvit. I want to see what it tastes like.

        Just to clarify, do you all smoke at the end by time as Kenji does (3 hours or so until bark is set) or to 165 degF for food safety?

        Comment


        • Potkettleblack
          Potkettleblack commented
          Editing a comment
          There shouldn't be a food safety concern given the time-temp curves of either the 130-135 version or the 155 version. Near every bacteria should be dead in that thing, and the anaerobics should be fine assuming you shock and fridge. I smoke until I get the bark. If I do 130, I don't want to take it much over, so I might smoke at a higher temp.
      • fzxdoc
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          Camp Chef Somerset IV 4-burner outdoor gas range


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          Fireboard Extreme BBQ Thermometer Package
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        #9
        Potkettleblack , thank you. That's good to know, and makes a lot of sense.

        I think I need to read that reheating section of Doug's book again, since I would probably, for convenience sake, be sous viding, chilling, refrigerating for a few days, and then "reheating" on my smoker for bark and smoky flavor.

        BTW, that Chef Steps brisket you made knocked my sox off.

        Kathryn

        Comment

      • dtassinari
        Former Member
        • Jan 2017
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        #10
        A bit late to the party but I do have a couple of general points to contribute to the discussion, binarypaladin.

        You most definitely do get a stall when smoking after SV. Potkettleblack of course is right when he says that there is no stall inside the bag. You will have some purge in the bag after however many hours at however many degrees, but nowhere near the moisture loss that you'd get from a traditional smoke, especially at the lower end of the range of temperatures (140 F and below). When you cook SV, chill, then smoke low and slow, your meat is pretty close to raw meat in moisture content, and so it still has enough to experience a stall. The advantage is, of course, that with collagen already softened into gelatin you don't need to worry about it and you can pull the meat while it is IN the stall, as soon as you're happy with your bark. In fact, you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you took your brisket much above the original SV temperature while smoking, because then you'd be losing all the advantage of having cooked it SV in the first place.

        Personally I am a big fan of higher smoking temperatures when finishing on a cooker after SV. My reasoning is that all I want is a smoke ring and nice bark, and if I can get it in 2 hours at 140 C then I don't see why I should wait for 3-4 hours at 110. Of course this is different if, say, you're also cooking ribs and therefore you already have your smoker on low and slow for 4-5 hours, in which case it makes sense to just dump the brisket in at the beginning and not worry about it.

        Also, you also most definitely get a smoke ring even after cooking SV, and even at higher temperatures. I do not have photographic evidence because I'm dumb, so I don't expect you to take me at my word here, but I've cooked plenty of butts at 70 C / 158 F, chilled them, then rubbed and finished them on my kettle, and after a couple of hours at 130-140 C there is a smoke ring. It might not be competition-worthy, and it might be punier than with a standard cook, but it's there.

        I'm not sure I understand where the idea that you can't get a smoke ring above 155 comes from. Yes, myoglobin starts turning grey at that temperature, but it's not a hard threshold, it's a progressive phenomenon, and anecdotally I haven't found this to be a hurdle. Also I think there might be some confusion with the widely reported factoid that smoke flavour plateaus at about 60 C / 140 F, but that's because of evaporative cooling, not meat protein denaturation, as far as I understand it.

        Comment


        • Potkettleblack
          Potkettleblack commented
          Editing a comment
          I trust your experience here, though generally with a long cook of brisket, particularly at high temp, you've probably minimized stall, due to the amount of purge expelled. It's not remotely the same as raw, even if cooked at the low end of SV temps. But I agree that any stall you might have on the smoke portion would be to your advantage, as you don't want to overcook your SV much.

        • Potkettleblack
          Potkettleblack commented
          Editing a comment
          That said, I'd be surprised if something cooked for 24H at 155 developed a smoke ring. It is likely to be brown throughout.

        • dtassinari
          dtassinari commented
          Editing a comment
          I agree that the smoke ring sounds counterintuitive: I'll try and back it up with pictures on my next cook. And it's hard to judge the amount of purge in a bag, so maybe I'm underestimating it. Finally, you're right that any stall is going to be reduced.
      • binarypaladin
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        #11
        So, from my own experience:

        Smoke rings can happen after sous-vide depending on the temperature. I can say that on a pork but I did in sous-vide at 165ºF for about 12 hours had zero smoke ring, but various beef roasts and even burgers that were cooked at a lower temp pick up a ring when smoking—generally cooked in the 131-140ºF range. I know the numbers are different for beef and pork in terms of where the max is but anyway, that's my experience on the matter.

        While I understand that the stall comes from evaporative cooling, something cooked at like 131ºF in sous-vide is going to give up less moisture than something cooked at 155ºF. (Obviously, time will also have some effect.) I might have an overly simplistic understanding of this process, but I understand that moisture loss is a matter of evaporation and the contraction of muscle fibers. There is still significant contraction above like 140ºF so there's moisture that simply won't be given up in sous-vide (right?). If that's the case, it seems like you'll hit some kind of stall. That's my reasoning. I don't have any practical experience yet though because my long cooks thus far were done at pretty high sous-vide temps (160ºF+) because in all cases I needed to rush.

        With sous-vide-cue I've always shocked/chilled first (in fact, in many cases I would salt then) then to the smoker and done it 225ºF. I think for this brisket I'm gonna run slow because it could probably use some extra time in the cooker. I don't think 40 hours at 140ºF was quite enough. Although sous-vide allows temperatures you can't get from normal barbecue, I haven't always found the lower temps to give a better texture. It's different, but sometimes I definitely want traditional. The goal may very well be to take it above the temperature I cooked it in sous-vide. I look to cook lower so when I finish in the smoker it's really just an abbreviated version of a traditional cook.

        I think for future reference I'm gonna keep the temps closer to 135ºF and work off of that rather than try anything in the middle until I've got more general experience in knowing what to expect. I need to probably read a little less and cook a little more. Haha.

        Brisket is going in the cooker tomorrow so we'll see how things end up. Now that I've got a Flame Boss I can run the pit portion without my family being like, "Are we seriously stuck at home again because you're cooking again?"

        Thanks Potkettleblack and dtassinari for the extra input.

        PS: I don't enjoy trimming a packer brisket.

        Comment


        • dtassinari
          dtassinari commented
          Editing a comment
          Originally posted by binarypaladin View Post
          I need to probably read a little less and cook a little more. Haha.
          Same over here

        • binarypaladin
          binarypaladin commented
          Editing a comment
          Haha. Yeah. The Flame Boss should really help. Seriously. I get eye-rolls about staying in to cook on the weekends.
      • binarypaladin
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        #12
        Originally posted by dtassinari View Post
        In fact, you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you took your brisket much above the original SV temperature while smoking, because then you'd be losing all the advantage of having cooked it SV in the first place.
        I do want to emphasize something because I don't necessarily agree with this. There is a different texture and mouthfeel at different temperatures. With BBQ, I often prefer the the "traditional" version. The cool thing about a low sous-vide followed traditional smoking is simply time savings. Bark forms early as does smoke application. If you go above the sous-vide temp, no biggie unless you really wanted your brisket with the texture of 135ºF.

        Even the pork butts I've done around 160ºF hit a mini stall up in the 180ºF zone. This was nice because I wanted the guests to see it come out of said smoker so I just let it stall for like an hour and it didn't matter.

        Unless you're explicitly going for the results of the lower temp instead of using it purely as a convenience/time-saving measure then going over the sous-vide temp ain't no thang.

        Comment


        • dtassinari
          dtassinari commented
          Editing a comment
          Good point.
      • adamjs83
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        #13


        I've been reading all the discussion on this thread and it is quite interesting.

        When you cook, for example, a steak medium rare in sous vide then as dtassinari says you wouldn't want to bring the final product past the bath temp. All that work for medium rare and when you sear it ends up wirh a gradient or overlooked. Hence the big chill.

        binarypaladin ​as you you say though that doesn't really apply with low and slow because the doneness doesn't necessarily correlate only with temperature. The doneness or as you say mouth feel is a function of time and temperature. That being the case it would seem that the texture of your meat brought to a specific temperature in the smoking phase would vary based on how long and at what temp the meat had previously been in the bath. Theoretically, and as shown in the photos posted by Potkettleblack you can get the desired finish doneness in the sous vide alone without using the smoker to continue the breakdown process. Since that is the case the logic of using the sous vide to break through the stall so you can then put it in the smoker to bring the meat to traditional brisket temps doesn't really make any sense to me. You aren't saving time, you're actually adding time, complexity and variables.

        Also, in my experience you can absolutely get a smoke ring at lower temps after sous vide. And even if you can't why risk unexpected results for something that you described as irrational? It would seem to me that the best move is to use the sous vide for what it's best at; getting meat to a specific and repeatable mouth feel in a very controlled environment and using minimal time in the smoker to develop a bark and likely a smoke ring.
        Last edited by adamjs83; September 14th, 2017, 06:34 AM. Reason: Clarifications

        Comment


        • Potkettleblack
          Potkettleblack commented
          Editing a comment
          It's funny that I'm the one who cares about smoke ring (I don't), worried about stall (I'm not), adding time, complexity and variables (I'm adding the laziest time while at work, and I don't really see the complexity). And ultimately agree. I do the low temp because I like the novel texture. And I do the shock & chill because of timing and because smoke adheres better to cold things & damp things.

        • adamjs83
          adamjs83 commented
          Editing a comment
          Potkettleblack just to clarify I'm suggesting that the complexity is added when you do an extend sous vide followed by an extended cook in the smoker.

        • Potkettleblack
          Potkettleblack commented
          Editing a comment
          I don't really consider 3 hours than big an extension and 72 hours of sous vide is a lot easier than whatever time on the grill. Set and forget, got to work, check the water level every now and again.
      • binarypaladin
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        #14
        Originally posted by adamjs83 View Post
        When you cook, for example, a steak medium rare in sous vide then as dtassinari says you wouldn't want to bring the final product past the bath temp. All that work for medium rare and when you sear it ends up wirh a gradient or overlooked. Hence the big chill.
        That's fine for a steak where my goal is very specific, which is oft-times my goal with sous-vide. Sometimes the goal is temperatures I can't get otherwise in a safe way, like medium-rare hamburgers.

        For sous-vide-que though, it's often purely about convenience. Not always. Sometimes I want the texture that comes with a lower temp.

        Originally posted by adamjs83 View Post
        binarypaladin ​as you you say though that doesn't really apply with low and slow because the doneness doesn't necessarily correlate only with temperature. The doneness or as you say mouth feel is a function of time and temperature.
        Kinda. Temperate alone does have some impact. Pork, for instance, doesn't "pull" if cooked at too low a temp. Same with basically any meat. You need to get your meat into the well-done zone and once you're in that zone, temperature becomes rather non-specific compared to medium-rare that has about a 10ºF window. Well-done is in the 160ºF zone, and I don't know specifically where that ends, but I'm guessing somewhere in the maliard reaction zone.

        Originally posted by adamjs83 View Post
        Since that is the case the logic of using the sous vide to break through the stall so you can then put it in the smoker to bring the meat to traditional brisket temps doesn't really make any sense to me. You aren't saving time, you're actually adding time, complexity and variables.
        Time in sous-vide is irrelevant to me. Sous-vide always adds time since you're cooking at a lower temp. But there is no easier time in any cook. Oh yeah, and if you salt first you can combine brine/cook times well.

        Originally posted by adamjs83 View Post
        Also, in my experience you can absolutely get a smoke ring at lower temps after sous vide. And even if you can't why risk unexpected results for something that you described as irrational? It would seem to me that the best move is to use the sous vide for what it's best at; getting meat to a specific and repeatable mouth feel in a very controlled environment and using minimal time in the smoker to develop a bark and likely a smoke ring.
        Irrational is specifically not logical. So, there's that. :P

        I know you can get it at lower temps, but in this regard what I want is a smoke ring from smoke AND I want a traditional mouthfeel. This means the first stage of breakdown happens in sous-vide and then I do an abbreviated traditional cook. And I've found that longer cooks give a better smoke flavor and bark than shorter ones. My sample size isn't huge, but that's kinda the point of these exercises.

        Comment

        • binarypaladin
          Club Member
          • May 2017
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          #15
          I cooked the brisket yesterday. At the end of the day it was done at around 225ºF for 4 hours after it has been in sous-vide at 140ºF for 40ish.

          End result?

          No smoke ring basically at all. So that made me sad. Otherwise, great flavor and great texture. The cook took it all the way up to 178ºF. If you're curious about the actual numbers, here's a graph of the cook. As with my experience on the pork butt I did in sous-vide at 165ºF, I hit a sort of mini stall in the 170ºF zone. There was still a gradual rise but much, much slower that the first part of the cook. I'm currently doing a pork butt at 135ºF, but I'm guessing the graph will look the same.

          I wonder what the internal hits on the ChefStep's procedure given that they're cooking at higher temperatures?

          This is only my second brisket. The first was a fail. This one went like this:

          Wife: "That smells good. Can I have a little piece quick?"

          Me: "Sure, lemme cut it."

          Wife: "Wow, this is really good. Maybe just one more piece for right now?"

          Needless to say, there were a lot of just one mores... haha.
          Attached Files

          Comment


          • binarypaladin
            binarypaladin commented
            Editing a comment
            Also, lesson learned: when you have a packer brisket, eat from the point first. It is indeed tastier!

          • fzxdoc
            fzxdoc commented
            Editing a comment
            Wow that looks delicious, binarypaladin .

          • Potkettleblack
            Potkettleblack commented
            Editing a comment
            ...
            Last edited by Potkettleblack; September 19th, 2017, 10:19 AM.

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