Old Smokey (Electric) Brisket

Discussion in 'Beef' started by wulfrunian, Aug 1, 2015.

  1. So this is my first time doing a beef brisket, roughly 9lbs, in my 5 years old electric Old Smokey.

    Last night I seasons it with a favoured rub; Smoked Paprika, Raw Sugar, Salt and mixes of garlic, hot pepper and onion powders. 

    With the aid of a digit thermometer and guess work, I set the smoker to the 200 to 210 range. I used three hand fulls of hickory chips and one hand full of apple. Thus the meat was smoked.

    The meat came to heat, 166/176 really quickly, in 3 hours. I was expecting round 5 to 6 hours. Why?

    After  5.5 hours I wrapped the brisket in foil and cooked it for another four hours, until it reached breached 195.

    Though tender the meat has little smoke flavour. This is the first, as all my chicken, pork butts and turkeys have been A-OK fine.

    Any recommendations on how I should be treating my beef brisket differently, in order to get a better smoke flavour?

    I will submit photographs a little later. 
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hmm...9lb brisket hits 166*F+ I/T in 3 hours? Gotta be a messed up thermometer...I know you're probably at much lower elevation than I am (5K ft here), but @ 210* I'd be looking at over 2hrs/lb to reach 195* I/T in any of my cookers. Water boils at lower temp and foods cook slower at higher elevation due to lower barometric pressure. I know you mentioned chickens and such coming out fine, but if anything happened to your smoke chamber temp thermometer since your previous smoke, there may very well be the problem...causing your chamber temp to actually be much hotter than you think, and as a direct result, providing less exposure time in the smoke, hence, less smoke flavor. If nothing else changed with the smoker, it I can't think of anything else that could cause this fast cooking you experienced...OK, other than baffling from having a large item covering the grate on a vertical smoker, such as the brisket, especially if your chamber temp reading is taken from above the brisket instead of directly beneath it. Anyway, I'd start by verifying your thermometer reading, then explore other possibilities if the thermometer checks out to be reasonably accurate.

    This link will provide you with pertinent info (if you need it) on how to verify your thermometer temp readings:

    Boiling Point / Atmospheric Pressure / Altitude

    If the thermometer checks out, come on back if you need help figuring out where to look next for possible causes...you may need to do just a simple process of elimination.

  3. Hi Eric,

    Many thanks for the response. As far as I know nothing has happened to the smoker nor the thermometer, but I am very curious. The beef is just fine and tasty, if I had not smoked it I would not be unset. My last pork-butt, about 40 days ago was tender with a superb bark and smoke flavour (bark crisped over smoking).

    Tomorrow I will give my smoker's chamber a really good clean and check electric connections. I shall test the thermometer too,probably against the oven in the kitchen.

    My thought is the large slab of meat in a small smoker, which is probably a limitation of this Old Smokey, plus all the steam. I forgot to say I injected the brisket with a broth and rub mixture, and put half-cup in the catchment bowl. This may mean I need to work on getting a bigger and/or better smoker.   [​IMG]  

    Thanks again.

     - Dan.
  4. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You're welcome for the help. I will caution you about using an oven to verify the temp reading, as the oven temp settings can be off quite a bit...even digital electric smokers can be off by 20* or more. That is why we recommend using the water-boil technique, as you can reach a known base-line temperature, according to your elevation, for a rapid boil of water, to check the thermometer against...it will never fail you.

    As for the small smoker cooking grates and larger cuts of meat, yes, that can cause some issues now and then. Vertical smokers are nice for multiple levels of cooking (when 3 or 4+ grates are installed), but large items cause baffling of heat to anything directly above them, including thermometers. It can foul cooking times quite a bit...the big stuff on bottom cooks faster, and the stuff above it slows way down. I have to remind myself of this fact every time I go to load up my Smoke Vault 24" propane rig...it holds a lot of food, but the more you load it up the more you have to think about the baffling effect. Although I can use it to my advantage in many situations, with a little forethought.

    Injecting won't change cooking time to any appreciable/noticeable amount (it does add water, which will translate to a bit longer cooking time as water evaporation is part of the cooking process), but it does warrant getting the meat from 40-140* in 4 hours or less for safety, due to it now being a compromised muscle. I haven't injected for a long time now, and just prefer the more natural prep methods...makes for less stress when doing low & slow cooking, instead of crossing your fingers and hoping you started the smoke at a high enough temp to pass through the danger zone in good shape...been there.

  5. floridasteve

    floridasteve Smoking Fanatic

    I have an old smokey electric and I've done tons of pork butts of 11-13 pounds. I never use water in the pan. I do, with a big chunk of meet, pull it out and add more chips. Also, I never foiled in the Smokie as its such a tightly closed system that you don't need to. I will say that the smokey cookies food faster at the same cooker temp then my 40" MES. I attribute it to the closed system with no air circulation, that causes evaporative cooling on the foods surface.
  6. Hi FloridaSteve,

      Do you mean pull the water pan or pull out the meat being cooked?

      I would have thought without the water pan there would be more, much more pain.

      Any insights on smoking beef in the Old Smokey?

     - Dan.
  7. floridasteve

    floridasteve Smoking Fanatic

    I leave the water pan in, I just don't add water. On my smokey, to add more chips you have to remove all the racks and the water pan to add more chips, then put it allback in.
  8. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    G!ad I don't have an Old Smokey any more , been a long time , but I remember that PITA .

    That being said , I wish you good in your smoking.

    Have fun and . . .

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