Beef Brisket Failure

Discussion in 'Beef' started by jsk53, Jul 11, 2016.

  1. jsk53

    jsk53 Smoke Blower

    I’ve been wanting to try my hand at smoking a beef brisket for some time. After seeing on of Jeff’s emails on doing a brisket, I decided to go for it. After doing a bunch of research here and other places, I picked out a packer brisket, trimmed it down as a number of smoking experts suggest, and went for it.

    After getting my smoker stabilized at 200 degrees, as recommended in Jeff’s process, I injected it with beef broth mixed with some spices, applied rub and onto the smoker (MES 30).  I inserted the probe for my Maverick ET732 to keep track of the IT.

    After applying smoke for about 7 hours, I pulled the brisket out, and as shown in Jeff’s guide, I put it in a foil pan with a beef broth/rub combination, foiled over it and returned it to the smoker.

    Here’s where I’m puzzled. Everything I have read, gives an approximate smoking time of 1.5 hours per pound however IT is what is important. The trimmed brisket was about 6 pounds. So, fast forward 14 hours. The IT is still only up to 165 degrees.  I assumed it may take some time so I set the alarm on the Maverick for 195 degrees and got some sleep. Now it’s 5 hours later and the IT is only at 189 degrees. Now I’m thinking there has to be an issue with the probe/thermometer or something, so I  got out my trusty ThermoPen and sure enough, the IT was 187 degree after nearly 21 hours.

    Finally I took it out of the smoker and unwrapped it.  Put it in foil in a cooler with a blanket cover and let it sit about 2 hours. Well, what I ended up with was more like pulled beef than a nicely smoked beef brisket. It was so loose I couldn’t slice it as it just fell apart.

    Any ideas on what I did wrong or suggestions?  I am ready to try again, after I get a batch of summer sausage done later this week, but I’d like to see if the experts here on the forum can help.

  2. I'm no expert, but I'd suggest running the temperature up to 230-250° next time. With the MES set at 200 your average cook temperature was probably closer to 185 or 190. You'll never get to 195 from there...

    At least that's the way my MES works. It heats up to the set temp and then coasts down quite a bit before the heating element kicks back on.
  3. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    If it was falling apart it sounds like it was over cooked. But the IT temps seem low for being over cooked.
    Have you every checked your probes to see how accurate they are? Though, I will say that thermapens are pretty accurate.
    200 degrees sounds a little low for your smoker temp. But I have never cooked with a Mes.
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Every thing you did was fine.....   Cooking whole muscle meats at 200, is in my opinion perfect..  Jeff thinks so also...  it's below the boiling point of water and help retain moisture and lessen the stall......   Once meat gets above 160...  Collagen starts to break down...  that means you are on your way to pulling the meat if enough time has elapsed....  at 180, the collagen breakdown is faster...   You can pull meat if it's been at 180 for several hours...  

    I think a sliceable hunk on meat would have been obtained if pulled and wrapped at 165 ish, maybe 170 ish...   left to sit for a couple hours for juices to "reenter" the meat structure...

    Below is a guide to what happens at different temps of meats.....


    120°F/50°C -- Meat develops a white opacity as heat sensitive myosin denatures. Coagulation produces large enough clumps to scatter light. Red meat turns pink.

    140°F/60°C -- Red myoglobin begins to denature into tan colored hemochrome. Meat turns from pink to brown-grey color.

    140°F/60°C -- Meat suddenly releases lots of juice, shrinks noticeably, and becomes chewy as a result of collagen denaturing.

    160°F/70°C -- Connective tissue collagen begins to dissolve to gelatin.

    NOTES: At 140°F changes are caused by the denaturing of collagen in the cells. Meat served at this temperature med-rare is changing from juicy to dry. At 160°F/ 70°C connective tissue collagen begins to dissolve to gelatin. This however is a very lengthy process. The fibers are still stiff and dry but meat seems more tender. Source: Harold McGee -- On Food and Cooking
  5. jsk53

    jsk53 Smoke Blower

    Thanks Sport45.  I use the smoker temp probe on my Maverick because as you say, the MES 30 is about 20 degrees off. I'm pretty sure I held a temp range from about 205-215 during the entire process. As you note however that might be a bit low still. I appreciate the reply as it's always good to check everything.
  6. jsk53

    jsk53 Smoke Blower


    I double checked both the food and the smoker temp probes against my thermapen and another backup unit I have. The probes for the Maverick check out with correct readings.  Good thought though and thanks for the reply.
  7. jsk53

    jsk53 Smoke Blower

    Hi Dave

    Your thoughts make sense. I was concerned that after 15 hours on a 5 pound brisket, it was going to be overdone, but I saw in a number of posts that IT is the key and 195-200 is the number. Not having done a brisket before, and what I've heard about them, it made sense to stick to the IT rule. At 24 hours I decided I was in trouble....

    The suggestion to pull it at 165-170 would have put it right about 11-12 hours with based on the 1.5 hours per pound loose rule, would be about right. Your input is really helpful and I'm gonna take another stab at it this weekend and will use your recommendations as a base now that I know what can happen. I also think instead of trimming all the fat cap off I'll keep about 1/4" on, fat cap down.  I may also try using just a flat instead of the whole packer.

    The journey is the fun part, a perfect brisket is the reward!!!! Thanks for your help.
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    At least you can eat your learning experiences ......   [​IMG]
  9. mowin

    mowin Master of the Pit

    Just curious, but are you positive you had a whole packer? 6lbs sounds quite small for a packer.

    Dave's explanation on times and lower temps makes sense. Learned something new today. Thumbs Up
  10. pit 4 brains

    pit 4 brains Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm pretty sure I've trimmed nearly 6 lbs. of fat off a whole packer before cooking. 

    IMHO, I like a higher temp of 230-250 and I use a thermo to monitor progress, but I cook brisket to doneness by checking the tenderness with a skewer. I leave a little cooking to be done while it is resting.

    I use a stick burner with a side firebox so its kinda apples to oranges here. 

    It definitely sounds like you braised the meat though, which is an age old way of making tough meats fall apart.
  11. mowin

    mowin Master of the Pit

    Pit. My question was directed toward the OP. He said tje packer was only 6 lbs. Seems kinda small for a packer..
  12. pit 4 brains

    pit 4 brains Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Oh I agree.  They're normally 12 lbs and up.
  13. jsk53

    jsk53 Smoke Blower


    It started out about 11 pounds, but I trimmed it out and also had to cut it down a bit as I was using my MES30 and it wouldn't fit.


Share This Page