100% Mesquite Pellet Smoked Brisket with Qview!!!!

Discussion in 'Beef' started by tallbm, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit

    Hi everyone. Today I enjoyed my first ever solo brisket smoke and I used Lumberjack 100% Mesquite pellets!!!!  As I've said before, I'm not sure why anyone would smoke beef with anything but Mesquite... at least when it comes to pellets :)

    First the Qview and then the write up.  Also, I barely managed to get these pics snapped before the brisket was assaulted hahaha so maybe next time I will have more sliced pics :)

    About 8 pounds of brisket

    The point slices that I could snap before they were gone hahaha

    Flat slices below

    The quick facts:
    • Pre Trimmed Brisket Weight: 12.5 pound Choice left hand side brisket
    • Post Trim Weight: approximately 8 pounds;  3 pounds of fat removed and about 1.5 pounds of meat trimmed to square up brisket
    • Smoker Temp:  275F
    • Total Cook Time: 10hrs 54 min to an IT of 205-206F in the thickest part of the brisket (point/flat area)
    • Smoke Applied for:  8hrs 36 min, via AMNPS (filled 2 rows to, this burned slowly)
    • Wood Used for Smoke: Lumberjack 100% Mesquite Pellets
    • Seasoning: kosher Salt, coarse Black Pepper, dehydrated Onion, and granulated Garlic
    The Goal:

    To do my first solo smoked brisket as well as using 100% Mesquite pellets and seeing how long smoke could be applied while also following Franklin's BBQ's recommended trim/prep of the brisket.

    I've been a part of many brisket smokes but I've never done one all by myself from beginning to end.  I've also never seen or done the Franklin's BBQ recommended trim prep for a brisket so I was going to try and to learn how that is done.  Finally, it is damn near impossible to find accurate information on smoking a brisket with Mesquite much less 100% Mesquite pellets.  I wanted to discover how long I can smoke with the 100% Mesquite pellets and just generally learn as much as I could because information is scarce when it comes to the use of the pellets.

    The Prep:
    • I followed Franklin's BBQ brisket trimming process from the Franklin's book
    • I seasoned well with SPOG which is my go to seasoning for just about any meat
    • I created my double/triple foil wrap and foil pan setup so that I could easily transfer and wrap the brisket when I was done with applying smoke
    • I put a rack (which was too small) on the pan and the brisket on the rack.  I had to finagle the brisket onto the rack so it would would sit acceptably on the rack
    The Cook/Smoke:

    The cook was pretty straight forward.  I inserted 3 probes into the brisket.  

    1 into the thickest part which was the Point/Flat area

    2 into the fattest part of the flat just on the edge of the Point/flat area

    3 into the middle of the flat from the middle of the flat end with the tip of the probe pointing towards the point side of the brisket
    • The plan was to cook the brisket to an IT of 203F and then probe it for tenderness.  Well my phone app probe alarms didn't to off until it hit 205F and 206F so I went a little over my desired mark but it probed tender so no big deal.
    • I applied smoke until it had clearly exited the stall which was not a super stubborn stall but more like a snail paced creep through the stall.  Smoke was applied for 8hrs 36min.  The stall was clearly over at 171-173F so that was when I foiled.  Yes this was 8hrs 36min of 100% Mesquite smoke!!!
    • The 100% Mesquite pellets pout out the thinnest TBS I have seen to date.  Boy is it clean and flavorful!  None of this "too strong" stuff that people often bring up when stick burning Mesquite wood for their smoke.  The pellets and the AMNPS make this Mesquite smoke heaven!!!!!  
    • I then wrapped with the foil which contained all drippings.  This was a triple foil wrap.  
    • After pulling the fully foiled and panned brisket from the smoker I wrapped in 3 bath towels and rested on the counter for a little over 2 hours
    • I sliced and we ate :)
    The Results:
    • The Brisket had extremely good aspects and some areas I can improve upon
    • This brisket had Bark, Burnt Ends, Braised pieces, some dry'ish flat, perfectly juicy flat, and the most amazing flavorful and juicy point of any brisket I've ever eaten!
      • Bark - I'm not some super bark loving maniac or anything but I like some bark and this brisket had good bark (to me) especially for an electric smoker cook
      • Burnt Ends - well the skinniest portion of the flat at the very end of the brisket for about 1.5 inches was burnt end crispy.  This was not on purpose but seemed inevitable for the way way I cooked going so long before wrapping.  I knew the flat end on that side was a bit thin and in the future I may just trim that bit off and throw it in the pan under the brisket to braise in the juices.  I'm not much of a burnt end guy but I'm glad it turned out well for the people here who go crazy for burnt ends.
      • Braised Pieces - when trimming the Franklin's way it seems that in squaring up the brisket you will cut away perfectly good brisket meat.  Well I took this meat and any good meat from fat removal sections, balled it up, and laid it in the pan under the brisket so it could braise in the juices.  This was a great call and that meat turned out as braised goodness!
      • Dry'ish Flat Pieces - for about 1.5 nch after the burnt end section of the flat was a dry'ish/lean'ish bit of the flat.  This was desired by a person who is all about not having the fat and they loved it but it's not something I would intentionally want on my future briskets but may not be able to avoid if I want that thin end of the flat to go burnt end.
      • Pefect Juicy Flat - after the dry'ish flat section it became juicy flat heaven.  I would love to be able to have this throughout the entire flat but what can you do if you have a skinny end that is going to dry up on yo u a bit
      • Amazing Point - WOW!  The point was so good that when I had a piece wrapped in bread with a touch of homemade BBQ sauce on it my brain was fooled into thinking there was some kind of cheese or butter or some savory rich spread in there!  I was blown away and this is the reason the brisket is the King of smoked meats... at least in TX :)
    • The color and look was exactly what I was hoping for and I am glad because I wasn't sure how the electric smoker would do in this area and was part of the reason I went as long as I did before wrapping in foil
    • The flavor was amazing!  The Mesquite smoke was not overpowering at all (see lessons learned section as to why) and gave such wonderful spicy and robust  flavor.  The seasoning flavor was out of this world and had great yet simple character that SPOG always seems impart and always seems to amaze myself and others.  People couldn't believe it was just SPOG.
    • In all it was a great outcome and there are some areas I think I can improve upon to go from an A- to an A+ brisket in my mind
    Lessons Learned:
    • I will look for briskets that have a thicker flat so the very end of the flat doesn't automatically turn into burnt ends
    • I will likely wrap earlier to try and prevent burnt ends and reduce any dryness in the flat
    • I learned that the thickest part of the brisket is where I will want to stick my probe(s) and make my temp based decisions off of.  This isn't really covered well in posts or information about IT on a brisket and I see lots of posts where people are probing all over the place
    • Probing/poking/checking the brisket for tenderness is THE way to determine doneness and I used the IT to guide when I would check
    • I will set my Android Probe alarms app to go off about 3-4 degrees below the IT I want since it seems to have a delay in checking temp and doesn't go off immediately when the alarm temp is exceeded
    • I will likely foil somewhere below the 173F mark that I foiled at this time around.  I just wanted to ensure the stall was really done AND I was busy sleeping and being lazy hahaha
    • *****Lumberjack 100% Mesquite pellets produce the most amazing and thin TBS I have seen from any pellet.  You seriously could hardly see it coming out of the smoke vent.  I set the AMNPS on the ground and after rising about 2 feet the smoke became invisible!!!!
    • *****Lumberjack 100% Mesquite pellets in the AMNPS seem to not really suffer from the overpowering issue/situation most people run across when stick/chunk burning Mesquite.  I applied smoke for over 8 hours and it was heaven!!!! No sign of over smoking what so ever!!!  From my experience assisting stick burners using mesquite they always seemed to produce thick smoke and not much TBS with mesquite.  I also did some reading/research I found a trend where people almost always produce or discuss the "heavy/thick/white" smoke that comes from Mesquite.  I think they are simply having problems producing TBS with the hot burning wood and that leads to the overpowering smoke flavor
    • *****Lumberjack 100% Mesquite pellets in the AMNPS burned for quite a while and just worked flawlessly so do NOT be afraid of 100% Mesquite pellets!!!!!!   There is very little info out there regarding people's experience with 100% Mesquite pellets or reports on how they behaved.  I hope this post helps people out with my experience on the brisket and I also had a similar great experience in the past using the pellets with a Chuck Roast I smoked
    • My roasting rack plus pan situation must be improved for Brisket smoking hahaha. My rack is not long enough and the same goes for my costco foil pans.  The brisket wanted to take up all the space of the rack while leaving NO space between the meat and the pan to allow smoke to get under the brisket.  I had to arch the ends of the brisket up and hold them in place with some wooden skewers to avoid this situation hahaha.  So yeah I need a better setup :) 
    • Throwing the trimmed meat chunks in the pan to braise in the juices was a fantastic idea!  I don't like the idea of throwing out good meat or having to figure out what to do with like 1-1.5 pounds of brisket chunks.
    • Three (3) pounds of fat was trimmed!!!!! Man I did not expect that but that is how it turned out.  My family members either do ZERO trimming or they do the smoke first and "trim" later approach.  I like the trim first approach so I can vac seal beef fat later for making things like my Venison Pastrami Loaf :D
    • The Franklin's approach to trimming seems solid and having a use for the removed fat is a bonus as well as throwing the trimmed meat sections to braise makes for a nice bonus.  You could also do burnt ends with those pieces if you just set them aside and add them to the smoker later towards the end of the smoke :)
    • Cooking/Smoking at 275F is no issue and produces great brisket just as many many many people here and around the world report
    • If you can manage 100% Mesquite wood or preferrebly pellets in an AMNPS for smoking beef I would never go any other wood for these big hearty beef cuts.  In my mind Mesquite + big beef = best beef smoke flavor achievable! 
    • My heavily moded MES40 just tackled Brisket so I am 100% positive it can tackle any smoked meat job out there!!!!  I feel unstoppable!!
    Phew, that was a lot of lessons learned but I hope it helps people out, especially when it comes to many things involving 100% Mesquite smoke with pellets and the AMNPS!

    In all I am very pleased and very excited to see how well I can work to perfect my Brisket smoking.  In my mind I just eliminate unintentional burnt ends and some dryness in the end of thin flats and I'm in business.  I think I will improve thinigs if I just choose better Brisket cuts, foil earlier, and if need be bite the bullet and trim the thin end of the flat so a greater thickness exists and the end.

    As for smoke and seasoning flavor I have that down.  For trimming I think I am 90% of the way there and can get better with practice.  The shortcomings have been easily identified and I believe the solutions have as well.

    If you have made it this far I appreciate your patience and again I hope this info helps you or anyone else out there.  Thanks for riding along! :)
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
    smokinal likes this.
  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Your brisket looks fantastic!

    Great write up!


  3. braz

    braz Fire Starter SMF Premier Member

    Great writeup for this newbie. I have not tried a brisket yet so your detailed narrative is most helpful.

    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  4. ososmokeshack

    ososmokeshack Smoke Blower

    Great write up! Bark looks delicious!
  5. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit

    Thanks Al.
    Thanks, I'm glad you found it helpful :)
    Thanks, and yeah it was good and barky even with the wrap at the end.  I look forward to doing another someday soon and fixing my minor issues :)
  6. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit

    Oh something that just struck me today while thinking about my next brisket cook.

    I cooked fat side up but next time I think I will do fat side down since my heating element is on the bottom of the smoker.  The idea is that the fat will help protect the meat from the direction where the heat is generated and is the greatest.  I've read this approach is a desired one and I can imagine why.

    Man I have the bug to do another one like this weekend or maybe the following weekend :)
  7. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit

    So did my 3rd solo brisket today and it came out very very good but I think I pulled it just a little bit early as the thickest middle part of the flat was a little more firm than I like but pulled apart and was still a great eat.  Pics now and a write up after.

    The cook recording, the deep orange valleys are where I opened to probe for thickness.  I was being proactive in checking for tenderness.  Ignore the temp numbers, the cook was over, the door was open and probes all pulled out of the meat when I took this screenshot. 

    Whole brisket and then flat cuts, nice and juicy. 

    Point money shot!!!  Point slices, mmm juicy!  Notice the flat portion under the point (left hand pic) is perfect where the flat slice on the plate pick below is more firm looking.

    Plate with point slice, flat slice, and some perfect not to crusty (for once) burnt ends.  Flat slice below is from the middle of the flat, and needs to be more of the consistency as the portion of the flat under the point above   :)

    So as I mentioned the thickest middle portion of the flat was more firm than I desired, 

    I did probe it with a wooden skewer and it felt a little more firm than I like but only as the probe went deeper.  I fooled myself into thinking the probe was hitting the bottom end of the bark so I then picked up the brisket and saw it bend and thought it was ok. I think it needed about 20-30 more minutes.  I know better but I was trying really hard on this brisket to not have any overly crusty bits so I fooled myself thinking the bottom was getting crusty hahaha.  The  IT across 3 probes was 198F, 203F, and 212F.  The 212F was in the flat and was throwing me off some making me think the bottom was getting too crusty.  I know it was clearly not centered and was reading high so that also contributed to my pulling a little early.

    The point was PERFECT!

    Cook Facts:
    • Brisket was a whole packer 14.35 pounds, and 11.35 pounds after being trimmed of fat
      • I picked a great brisket this time around
      • I also did the best trim job to date on it, not taking to much, not leaving too much, just right!
    • Smoker Temp - 275F
    • Total Cook Time - 8 hours
    • Applied Smoke Time - 7 hours, Lumberjack 100% Mesquite Pellets
    • Did not wrap this time - It didn't really stall and I didn't want to shorten the cook and smoke time even more
    Additionally, I tried a new "mod".  I cut a Birch Wood Shelf/Board to use as a space reducer for the MES40.  The idea is that I was only using the bottom 2 racks so I placed this in the next available rack position to hold heat under the board for better heat consistency and to avoid wasting heat by keeping it from easily escaping to the unused portion of the smoker interior.

    I think the mod did it's job but also might have been the reason I did not have a real stall.

    Lesson Learned:
    • I did some things to prevent the brisket from getting too crispy or dry in any area and it worked!!!
      • I picked a larger and more uniformly thick brisket then the previous ones and I think that is the main reason I did not dry anywhere or burn/crust up too much in any spot
      • I trimmed the brisket very well.  This includes removing a large section of the thin flat which I was unsure about doing but was the right decision to avoid dry or extra crusty meat!
    • I think my wooden shelf mod for trapping heat under the shelf and reducing wasted heat loss really sped the cook along.  This took 8 hours and normally should have taken about 10-12 hours and I didn't even wrap the brisket!  
      • I think it all but eliminated the briskets ability to stall but who knows.  I will know more on the next brisket cook.
    • Wrap vs No Wrap - I have always wrapped in order to speed things along after I got the desired bark and color. This time there was no need because it cooked so quickly.
    • I am liking at least 7-8 hours of 100% Mesquite pellet smoke on these briskets. Wow the smoke flavor!!!  5 hours is just not enough for such a big powerful hunk of beef, IMO
    • I need to trust the probe/stab test on the brisket for readiness.  I second guessed myself and fooled myself into thinking the brisket tenderness was achieved.  I know better.  I was just too concerned with trying to avoid burning up any portion of the brisket that I pulled a little early before it was the desired butter consistency.  
      • The meat was almost perfect but in a few spots deep in the flat it was a little firmer than I desired.  The less tender meat was still juicy all over and would pull apart easily so it only needed about 20-30 more minutes.  
      • I won't make this mistake again now that I know my trim job and my brisket selection job seem to be helping to avoid any overly cooked or dry pieces
    • I am still fixing my pan and rack situation for doing brisket but I may have it sorted out
    • Fat side up seems to be the way for me to go, I did fat side down last time and didn't care for the lack of juiciness
    • Putting the good meat I have trimmed off the brisket into the pan to braise with the fat and drippings is still a win!  Especially if a large section of thin flat is removed.  I removed about a 1.5 pound section of thin flat to get a more consistent thickness throughout the brisket to avoid burning up any portions of it.  This portion braised up nicely in the pan.
    • I'm realizing that all of the brisket cooks I have helped with in the past were all done very differently than the approach I have been taking.  They have produced great brisket but I feel I am producing better brisket with a few quirks that I am learning on my own.
    • My brisket is coming out very very very good and I think after about 3-4 more attempts I may consistently have a superb brisket that will knock the socks off people!!! :)
    I hope this info helps some.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017

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