Brisket for Sunday Family Dinner

Discussion in 'Beef' started by mikewoods, Mar 9, 2015.

  1. mikewoods

    mikewoods Fire Starter

    I smoked my first brisket yesterday, but I definitely did something wrong.  The flavor was good and the meat was tender, but there was almost no bark and the texture just wasn't right. Here's my story, hopefully you guys can help me out.

    We're lucky enough to live close to my extended family and we have a large family dinner every Sunday. Normally my parents host and the guest list includes;  my wife and I and our two young boys, my Mom and Step-Dad,  my Grandfather and his wife, and a good friend of my Mom's. I'd been itching to get the smoker out again, so this week I volunteered to host.  The menu was brisket, baked beans, cheesy potatoes, and cornbread.

    I grabbed a 6 lb point from the local butcher on Thursday. They only had a small selection of brisket, but It was a 'choice' cut and had good veining, so I didn't hesitate. 

    Here is the cut just before I trimmed it.

    I let it rest in the refrigerator until about 10pm on Friday evening, when I rubbed it with salt and pepper, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and put it back in the fridge.  Sunday morning I got up at 6 and fired up the smoker.  I have a MES30 analog cooker and a Taylor digital thermometer. I used 100% mesquite chips in the bowl and soaked them over night before the smoke.

    Here is the thermometer just before I opened the door to put the meat in. This was my first time using a digital thermometer to monitor the chamber temperature. I was not surprised to learn that the dial thermometer that came with the smoker was anywhere from 25-50 degrees low. 

    My intention was to cook it at 225 for the duration, but I was having a heck of a time getting the temperature to settle at 225. Being an analog cooker, the heating element is either on, or off.  That said, the temperature was swinging from 220-245 most of the day. 

    I cooked the meat, placed directly on the top rack, uncovered until the internal temperature was about 150 (the thermometer actually read 149 but I figured that was close enough) which was about 3 hours.  I wasn't in a huge rush for the meat to be done, but I'd read that using the "Texas Crutch" method was crucial to a tender brisket. So at that point I removed the meat from the smoker and tightly wrapped it in a double layer of foil with about 1/2 cup of beef stock inside and placed it back in the smoker.  At that time I also refilled the water pan and put the baked beans in.

    I closed it up and let it go another 2 hours.

    When I checked the internal temp again it was at 200. I unwrapped the brisket, drained the juice from the foil for use in the mop sauce, uncovered the baked beans and put it all back in. (sorry, forgot to take a photo of this part). 

    An hour later the internal temp was 206- I pulled it out, wrapped it in foil, wrapped it in a towel and put it in the cooler to rest until dinner was to be served. Total cook time for the brisket was a little short of 7 hours and it rested for about 2 hours in the cooler.

    Final Product

    I apologize for no sliced photo, I swear I took one yesterday, but I guess not.  As you can see, there is almost no bark.  I trimmed the fat vein out before I sliced it, but it was falling apart and did not slice very well. The meat was tender and flavorful. but the texture was all wrong.

    Sorry for the novel, but I am hoping someone can give me an opinion of what went wrong. Did I rub it too soon? Did I cook it too hot? Was the Texas Crutch my mistake?

    In any case, I guess I'll just have to get another brisket to try again this weekend.
  2. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    That's pretty fast for a 6 pound Brisket. I am seeing 6 hours right? Have you checked your thermometer for accuracy? 
  3. mikewoods

    mikewoods Fire Starter

    Thanks for  the reply,

    It was just under 7 hours total cook time plus 2 hours rest in the cooler.  I thought next weekend I'd try to hold the temp at 215 and see if that helps.

    as far as the thermometer, I put the temp probe in a pot of boiling water Sunday morning to sterilize it and it read a steady 211 degrees F. 
  4. timberjet

    timberjet Master of the Pit

    I am just going to say it was a weird chunk of meat then. I would wait to foil until 165 to 170 next time if you like more bark. Or not foil at all. Just don't expect the next one to cook so darn fast. Usually a big thick point like that will take 10 to 12 hours before the rest. Every now and again a chunk of beef will throw you a curveball. What was the texture that you didn't like?
  5. The outside of that brisket looks soggy. Am I seeing that right? That's probably from the wrapping of the brisket, but that still looks visually odd from here.

    As far as not slicing well, you should begin probing the brisket around 190. Probe it every 45 minutes or so as when the probe goes in and out like butter than it's ready to pull. Going to 206 is gonna give you something closer to pulled beef which is what it sounds like happened. 

    Next time, go without the foil for a better bark (it shouldn't dry out if you left a bit of fat on there)....but I'm still at a loss at the visual appearance of your brisket. Sorry.

    Don't give up though!
  6. mikewoods

    mikewoods Fire Starter

    It was quite stringy- almost like pulled beef as described below. 
    I think what you're seeing is the untrimmed fat, but yes it was a bit soggy.

    I'll try again this weekend, hopefully it'll turn out better this time.
  7. Glad to hear you're gonna give it another shot. I just did my first this past weekend. It was a full packer that was cut down to fit my MES, so it was sort of 2 piece about the size of yours I guess. Took 10.5 hours to get to 196 and I went the whole time without foil. Applied a heavy rub of spices to all sides and just let it ride. Taste was good....rub was a bit salty but it had a really nice crust. Here's a photo of what it looks like going unfoiled. I think it's more what's your hoping to get, so give it a shot. Tons of great threads on here about brisket, so do some reading for great research.

  8. Sorry to hear it just wasn't what you had hoped for, give me a little more detail on the texture, taste flavor etc

  9. mikewoods

    mikewoods Fire Starter

    Some of the meat was quite stringy, and the coarse ground salt and pepper added a nice flavor. After reading a few things, I wonder if maybe I didn't slice it correctly.
  10. If it was stringy I'd say you sliced with the grain instead of across the grain

  11. jbills5

    jbills5 Meat Mopper

    This, and it may have been a bit overcooked.  Usually for sliced brisket, going to 190-195 will do the trick.
  12. mikewoods

    mikewoods Fire Starter

    Thanks a ton guys.  I'm going to the meat market today to scope out the selection for this weekend. will report!
  13. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Yep, stringy is with the grain...quick tip, before you put your next brisket on, use a simple technique to mark how you want to slice it once it's cooked.  Find the grain of the brisket, this will usually run at an angle from up on the point to one of the corners on the flat section.  Simply trim about 1" off the pointed end where the grain stopped, this will be the mark from where you will start slicing once it's cooked.  This way you don't lose the grain once the exterior is all nice and black.

    I come across this myth about brisket all the time, you take it to 195 for slicing, and for pulling you take it to 205....all false.  Maybe it has something to do with sea level or humidity or the difference of opinions from the North to the South of what good brisket is supposed to be like.  Brisket should be fall apart tender, melt in your mouth, smokey goodness.  If you go to take a bite of a sliced sandwich and half of the meat pulls out because your teeth can't cut it, it's underdone.  I cook hundreds of briskets each year and rarely will I pull one under 208 or so, with most of them finishing at 210 or above.  When I say finish, I mean toothpick or probe tender, not a certain temp.  I use the IT of the meat as a guideline only for when to check for doneness, which I start doing around 203 or so.  This one, a 28 day aged IBP Prime brisket was pulled at 211 degrees IT, rested for 3 1/2 hours, sliced and boxed and finished in first place out of 51 teams....fall apart tender (but would slice and hold together), melt in your mouth goodness.

  14. Be watching for your next smoke


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