First Brisket - Heart Pounding

Discussion in 'Beef' started by jehoric, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. jehoric

    jehoric Fire Starter

    Hey everyone!

    So, I've now had 3 successful chicken smokes (2 sort of unsuccessful, though 1 was pretty good, the other were breasts that I forgot to flip) and 1 really successful pork shoulder smoke... so the next logical step was brisket. Well, maybe not, but I have tomorrow off in preparation for 2 parties and wanted something to do with what is supposed to be a nice day.

    The problem... I don't really know what I'm doing. I had very detailed instructions on the pork, and the chicken was pretty intuitive once I got the fire going. But, uh, the Brisket looks more difficult, from what I've read.

    So, I figured I'd run everything by you all before I screwed up a cut of meat. And I'll post Qview if I can get ahold of a camera other than my iPhone's rather crappy one. What I have:

    5lb brisket
    Salt/Black Pepper/Hungarian Paprika/White Pepper/Cayenne Pepper rub... I wish I had more stuff, but it'll be a pretty light rub... so this Brisket better be good enough I won't miss the rub!
    Hickory and Cherry Wood (I'm thinking Hickory)
    Lump Charcoal
    Big Green Egg

    I also have a roasting pan with a V-shaped rack, but I'm not sure if I should use it? Does it still get smoke flavor? The BGE doesn't have a water-pan and I haven't had time to buy a plate-setter, so everything I've done has just been on the grate. It DOES retain moisture pretty well, though.

    Plan right now is to put it on, maybe with pan maybe without pan, fat side up to start, at 4:00am PST. Cook at roughly 220ish degrees with plenty of hickory, flip it after about 4 hours, spray with (I think Cranberry) juice every once in a while until foiling time at 170 degrees with more liquid (any recommendations for this liquid?) til it reaches 195-200.

    Does foiling kill the bark, though? I love myself a good bark.

    Anything there sound astronomically dumb? I wouldn't put it past myself to commit a huge blunder or forget something important (I was dumb enough to forget to flip chicken breasts, after all) along the way.

    Thanks everyone! I love this site as a resource, hope to eventually start answering questions instead of asking them though!
  2. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Well firstly I wish you the nest of luck with the brisket Jehoric.
    Seeing as how it is almost 6 in the morning and I am just now ready to hit the hay I will just shoot you a link of my last brisket I did, which by chance also happened to be my first and it came out extremely wonderful.

    Hickory would be a good choice, cherry might be a bit of a waste considering brisket is something you need a nice heavy smoke flavor with so personally I would go with all hickory.
    Rubs sounds pretty good just careful on the cayenne, you don't want the bark to end up with that little bit of lingering heat that cayenne like to leave.

    Cranberry is fine to spritz with, apple is also common and a mixture of the two is a very nice spritzing agent, I always spritz every hour on the hour after the first hour for long smokes.
    Your finishing temp you said you are shooting for 195-200 so I assume you are slicing and not pulling?
    205 is perfect for pulling but it can also be done sometimes in the 200 or just under range but that can also be a good range if slicing, it depends on the particular brisket, how it cooks, this and that-damn stubborn meat.
    So I would say if you want to slice shoot for 190-195, if pulling try to get to 205.
    I always foil but if you feel the bark may get lost you can either simply do without as some folks do or you can foil and when the meat has about 10 more degrees to go you can take it back out of the foil and put back in the smoker and this will firm up any softened bark, though I have found the bark to hold up really well even with foiling.
    Hope I helped to answer at least some of your questions.
    Don't forget to let that baby rest a bit in foil/towels/cooler before you slice it up, and of course the Qview is much appreciated.

    Used a brisket finishing sauce from Rivet when I did my brisket and it was damn good...
    John’s Kansas City Style Brisket Finishing Sauce
    1 small onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 TBSP olive oil
    1 cup thick tomato sauce
    1/3 cup molasses
    ¼ cup vinegar-preferably apple cider
    2 TBSP chili powder
    2 TSP mustard powder
    1 TSP celery salt
    1 TSP paprika
    1 TSP cayenne
    ½ TSP CBP
    ¼ cup water, or more if you think you need later

    Sautee onion and garlic in oil until onions are soft. Be careful do not let the garlic get brown-it gets bitter. Add remaining ingredients and simmer ½ hour or until thickened.

    Just a little extra in case you feel like trying it out.
    Good luck and Happy Smokes.
  3. jehoric

    jehoric Fire Starter

    Hey Fire, thanks for the info.

    Already read your thread :), and was quite jealous truthfully. I figure this thread is going to serve as my Q-view thread too, I just figured better to ask questions before I destroy priceless meat.

    I just put the rub on (lot of Cayenne, but little heat... I love heat though, my biggest complaint with the light sauce I finished the pork in was that it didn't have even a touch of fire), looks like a beaut so far!

    You seemed to get pretty darn good bark with foiling, so I'm leaning that way. I didn't even realize you could pull beef (Shoulda paid more attention to your thread)! I'll probably go slicing for variety and the crowd - in Washington, BBQ isn't that big, and a lot of people don't even know what to do with pulled meat! Plus, I'm making cornbread, and slices of brisket with cornbread just sounds luxurious. Pulling has some appeal, though, I must say. Well, I got plenty of time to worry about that.

    About to start the fire, I let the meat sit out for a little longer than I wanted (about 45 minutes) so I have to start a little early. I'll keep everyone posted, especially if I can find a darn camera!
  4. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Between what you already read, and F.I.U's advice, you're going to do great.

    A big green egg? Man, I'm jealous!
  5. jehoric

    jehoric Fire Starter

    Big Green Egg is niiiiice. For the pork, I just set the temperature and left it alone. Aside from scaring me half to death when the firebox got clogged (dropping temps to about 150, fixed with a stick of bamboo moving things around) it worked very well. My mom wanted the egg to be the last BBQ she ever owned, and she wanted to be able to grill, and we don't have an oven and it can do that too. Accessories are very expensive so I might have to see how crafty I can be, but it is one hell of a machine.

    Gave me a scare already, though. Went to check the temp before bed and it had been going at 300 degrees! I think I brought it down, but kind of bummed at how it jumped up! Luckily no sugar in the rub. I moved it to the perimeter, too.
  6. jehoric

    jehoric Fire Starter

    Actually, it won't go down. Grrrrrrr.

    Never had a problem with temps being too hot. Not even sure how to handle it - it's cool out right now, airflow is pretty restricted into the egg... it should be 200, not 300. I was aiming for 250 but it's had 90 minutes at 300, which is just WEIRD.

    Gah! At my wit's end, because everything I'm doing should be lowering the temperature.
  7. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Interesting. Everything about the egg is built around temperature control. I've never owned one but.......

    Is there an opening somewhere, like a door or something that's leaking? Sounds like your coals are still getting air even as you close vents down.

    Do you have a second thermometer to confirm the temps?

    Oh, are you opening the lid a lot to peek? That will give the coals a large O2 gulp and get them excited.
  8. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sounds like you have all the right advice and help ^^^

    Congratulations on your first brisket experience and good smokes to you! [​IMG]
  9. jehoric

    jehoric Fire Starter

    Opened it twice so far, which is more than I like (ideally, I wouldn't open til 2 hours in) but I had to open it once to confirm the temp (no second thermometer, but I calibrated this one a couple weeks ago... used the "hand scale" to determine temp and it was hotter than it should've been) and a second time to move the meat once I had the right tools with me.

    Fixed it, I think. Closed the bottom vent completely, and the top most of the way. I hate choking the fire, hate hate hate it, but I had to do it. Now it's barely cracked, and I'm going to bed. My mother can take over for a few hours! I think the disaster is averted. This thing is supposed to keep temp steady, so now that it's run for 30 min at 220 I'm hoping we hit gold...
  10. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    300* is not nessarily a "disaster." Lots of meats are okay at that temp. Of course for low and slow, 225ish is much better.
  11. willkat98

    willkat98 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member


    I'm still learning temp control on my BGE.

    I am learning this exact lesson you posted above: once that ceramic heats up, it takes FORVER to come back down!!

    Once that plates setter and firebox extender heat up, that thing will run 300* for 6 hours on a handfull of lump.

    I'm still burning a ton of stuff, not used to it!

    Looking forward to this thread playing out today.

    Good luck!
  12. fourthwind

    fourthwind Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    My first Brisket made me nervous as well. Listen to these guys and everything will go fine. I foiled mine at 175 with a final douse of my mop, and ran it to 190 before I removed it and rested wrapped in towels heavily for over an hour. It came out great. Hope yours did as well. I used apple juice mixed with butter. It was a bit of a pain since you had to have the mop warm when it came time. I made it in small batches and it gave a great flavor to the bark.
  13. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Well, Jehoric is asleep while the briskets smoke. Lets have some fun. Let's sneak up and hide the egg around the side of the garage! That should blow his mind when he wakes up.

  14. I think it would surprise him more if we moved it to my house[​IMG]
  15. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Or maybe we could take the beef and leave a chicken on the Egg.
  16. jehoric

    jehoric Fire Starter

    Haha! Do you know how f'ing heavy that thing is?!? I'm pretty small, but the only way I could move it more than a couple of feet is by taking it apart first. Even then, it wasn't exactly light!

    Anyways, a lot has happened... I got way more sleep than I thought. According to my mom, the fire died and had to be re-started (unusual on the egg but it happened with my pulled pork), which shouldn't surprise me since I left the vents mostly closed. Things are going well at 220ish degrees right now, meat temp is at 150, which is fine. Still not sure if I'm going to pull or slice, though! I might cut a tiny bit out at 190 to decent if I like it or if I want to take it further.
  17. jehoric

    jehoric Fire Starter

    We've reached foiling!

    Took me about an hour to shop and roll the fatty. Left it at 164 and figured it was going to take a couple of hours to plateau... then came back an hour later and found it just barely reached 175.

    Getting close!
  18. jehoric

    jehoric Fire Starter

    We got Brisket!

    Haven't eaten it, I have my ex's birthday party to go to (should be interesting, at least) and then my own party to throw. I figured I'd let it settle first. Going to make some cornbread, and I have a fatty on the BBQ now.

    Thanks for the support, everyone. Hopefully I'll be able to post pics, though probably do that tomorrow.
  19. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Hope it tastes great.

    Uhhhh, sorry we hid your egg.........
  20. jehoric

    jehoric Fire Starter

    I think I dig the Pulled pork more. It wasn't bad by any means. Good smoky flavor, but it seemed fairly dry compared to how moist everything else I've BBQed has been. Everyone else who had it raved about it, but next time I think I'd pull it rather than slice.

    Thanks, though, to everyone for the advice and support. I was getting a wee bit frantic at times, haha.

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