First use of our new MES 40 - did a brisket. Good, but not great

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by grillathrilla, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. Hi everybody.

    I made an intro in the Roll Call board, so you can check that out if you are curious about me and how I came across the MES 40.  Anyway...

    After seasoning the smoker a couple of days ago, today was going to be the big day of smoking my first brisket.  I did lots and lots of forum and Internet trolling and printed out a bunch of rub recipes and smoker how-tos.

    The more I read, the more I realized there are many different preferences - there are those that dry smoke, wet smoke, water in the pan, dry pan, turn the brisket, keep it fat side down fat side up, foil it, don't foil it, marinate vs. dry rub, put it in the smoker cold, put it in the smoker room temperature, etc, etc, etc, phew!

    After several hours of cooking (details below) and letting the brisket rest for an hour in the foil, I sliced off a few pieces.  It was easy to cut which surprised me, I thought it would be significantly more tender, almost like pulled pork.  It wasn't real moist, but tasted pretty good.  Had a good smokey taste and the rub added a little interest to the taste.  I want pulled and moist brisket though!!

    Let me go over my process and maybe y'all can make some comments:

    - Start with a well marbled, store trimmed (which I think was a mistake) 5+ pound brisket

    - Did a rub on the non-fat side

    - Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, place in fridge overnight

    - 6am - take brisket out of fridge, start MES, set temp to 210*

    - 7am - cut brisket in two and place on two upper racks in MES.  Temp probe in lower half

    - 9am - start apple juice brushing, do this every 90 minutes or so

    - 9am - first of four tray loads of mesquite chips

    - 11am - thought I should bump up the temp a little - set to 215*

    - 12noon - bumped it up to 220*

    (I noticed the temperature plateau everybody talks about - the brisket got to 151* and stayed there for a couple of hours)

    - 2pm-ish I noticed we are climbing out of the temp plateau and I think the internal temp is about 170 and I foiled the briskets

    - 3:30pm - meat temp is about 190* - I leave on a little longer

    - 4pm - meat temp is about 195*, take the briskets off, leave in foil

    - 5pm - slice up one of the halves

    - 5:40pm - yum - eat some brisket



    Weber Q, MES 40
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011
  2. jak757

    jak757 Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    I'm sure you will get a bunch of suggestions, sort through hem, try some out, and see what works for you.  Here are a few things to consider.
    • Don't trim the fat -- it provides flavor and moisture
    • Put rub on the entire brisket -- not just the non-fat side
    • Unless it won't fit, leave it uncut.  Maybe that added to the lack of moisture
    • Place a foil pan under the brisket to catch the drippings (brisket on top rack, pan on second rack)
    • When it hits 167-170, put it in the foil pan and cover tightly (leave the temp probe in and seal as best you can around it.  I am always amazed how much moisture I have in the pan!
    • To pull vs. slice  take it to about 205 or so
    • I don't brush or mop at all, I just let it cook.  
    These are some things I do.  Turns out pretty moist and juicy.  As I think about it -- good chance the amount of fat 9or lack of) has a pretty big impact.

    Good luck!
  3. I would go with 225 -235 for the whole cook.
  4. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Your MES 40" has "Hot Spots" in it.

    If you use a thermo, you'll discover the right rear corner is where the MES is the hotest

    The top shelf is hotter than the lower shelves

    Some guys place their brisket or pork butts in Disposable Foil Pans when smoking.

  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    John, morning..... Have you checked the accuracy of the OEM thermometer in the MES 40 ??  They are usually reading low... A 220*F smoker is probably at 250 or higher... Just a guess from reading your post.... That being said, your brisket was cooked at a higher temp than you thought...

    I have learned from "some" folks here to cook meat for pullin' below 212.  Helps keep it from drying out IMO. And cook it to 200 or so.. no foil...

    My MES temp setting is 180 to have a temp of 210 in the smoker.... just an example of how far they can be off....Dave
  6. Thanks for the comments and tips guys!

    I did try to double check the MES indicated temperature with a very good non-contact IR thermometer yesterday morning, but the readings were all over the place depending on where I pointed the gun.  After I clean up the interior, I'm going to fire up the smoker again and place a hunk of steel in it and let it come to temperature and then check the steel temperature.  I can place the temp probe on the steel to check both thermometers.

    Overall, I'm thrilled to finally have the ability to smoke meats and anxious to try the ribs that are now hiding in the freezer (I especially love ribs & pulled pork) - dang, making myself hungry already [​IMG]!



    Weber Q, MES 40, other stuff
  7. hiram

    hiram Fire Starter

    Brisket is probably the hardest thing for me to cook and get right. Always get one with the fat cap on, you can trim off the thick parts but leave the as much on as possible, packer briskets at Sams or Costco work well. I want to taste the beef so I only rub with Salt, pepper and garlic powder overnight then slather with mustard before placing in the smoker (this will give you a good thick bark that not only adds to the flavor but seems to keep the juices in). I smoke for 5 hrs rotate the rack, then rotate every 4 hrs after that, I don't fuss with it a lot except for rotating the racks, a good fat cap will keep it moist.

    I set my MES40 on 240 and when I go to bed I usually back it down to 220, yep with water pan full I leave it unattended for 6 or so hours. Last one I did took 20hrs which may seem like a long time but brisket is tough, the longer and lower temp you cook the better it will be. Don't cut the brisket in half, keep the thick part on the right side interior of the smoker as stated this is the hottest part of the interior. 
  8. Thanks Hiram!  Good tips.

    Placed about a pound mass of steel on the third shelf and set the smoker at 225* for an hour.  Vent 3/4 open.  I have some interesting temperature readings to report [​IMG]...  

    Indicated interior temperature:  224*

    Actual with IR gun:  205*

    Indicated probe temperature:  221*

    Actual with IR gun:  205*

    (Probe was tightly clipped to the steel mass that heated up, so it of course read 205*)

    Sounds like I undercooked the brisket which would explain some of my results.  I'll double check the IR gun before I cast the results in stone.



    Weber Q, MES 40, other stuff
  9. New to the forum. Planning to smoke a brisket soon. Thanks for the info will help with my brisket. Did smoke a Butt the other week and it was good. Not as much smoke flavor as I would like. So I ordered the A-Maze-N smoker today. Think that will help a lot. 
  10. Hi F.R. - good luck with yours!  We have a pork loin to cook - that will be fun.  Not sure what smoker you have but the MES 40 makes good smoke right out of the box, at least for me it did.  The significant/primary advantage I see for the Amazing Smoker thingy is if you want to cook unattended overnight.  I might pick up one of those in the future.

    BTW, I checked the IR gun against two other digital temp readouts, and the gun was within 0.5*, so I'm confident I undercooked the brisket by about 20-25*.. yikes!
  11. hiram

    hiram Fire Starter

    I use a small external hand held thermometer that has a silicon line with a probe on the end, at the startup there is a 10-15 degree difference in the probes the internal probe being more. Funny thing though as the internal temp of the meat gets to 165-170 they start reading closer and at 190 they are identical, go figure.

    My internal box temp is off by 10- 15 degrees on the middle rack, simple enough tho I set the box temp 10 more degrees than I want. The racks will be at different  temps so you should always rotate when using more than 2 racks. My two cents.
  12. I called Masterbuilt Monday and chatted with the rep about my perceived temperature issue and I decided to buy an oven thermometer and recheck the temps instead of relying on my IR gun and a piece of steel before taking any sort of warranty action on the smoker.  I warmed up the MB to 275 and after about 40 minutes I checked the MB indicated temp and compared it to the over thermometer.

    To my surprise (and pleasure) the analog oven thermometer indicated a little above 275, so I can rely on the smoker's instrumentation [​IMG].  For my next brisket, I'll take the internal temperature to about 200 (and I'll also start with a packer instead of a trimmed flat.)
  13. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I like one untrimmed over 10lbs. Look them over and pick a good one . Some just do not feel right so I leave those alone.
  14. You want a brisket that's not stiff. It should be kinda floppy.

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