Smoking my second brisket this weekend and want to learn from my first smoke. Questions inside.

Discussion in 'Beef' started by arminho, Oct 7, 2016.

  1. arminho

    arminho Newbie

    Hi gang,

    New to the community here, but figured I'd ask you fine folks for some advice. I cooked my first brisket a few weekends ago and loved it, but had a few questions. I'll run you guys through what I did. Basically, I tried following Aaron Franklin's Brisket recipe found online, except I couldn't find any oak so I used big pecan chunks...

    Bought an 11lb USDA choice brisket at the local HEB on that. 

    Woke up Saturday morning at 5:30, got the large egg rocking. 3 chunks of pecan with new lump charcoal on top of the old lump. I made sure all my ash was cleaned up and flow would be good throughout the egg. For what it's worth, I've been trying out the BGE lump charcoal. 

    While the egg got up to temperature(250F), I trimmed about a fat off the brisket and seasoned with salt and pepper according to Franklin's recipe. Brisket rested for about an hour before I finally put it on at 07:30am. I did have a pan of hot water below the brisket as well. I think I remembered placing it fat side up. I placed my iGrill probe into the thickest part of the brisket (I guess it's called the point?) and tried to get the tip about halfway down the thickness so it was in the middle. Is this where I am supposed to put my probe? I did not open the lid ONCE while smoking. Enjoyed the day and made sure the temp was regulated, never below 240 and never above 260. Most of the time it was at 250. 

    Started hitting my plateau like everyone said I would at about 1030 am or 11am where the brisket stayed at around 160 or so. Brisket stayed in the 160s until 12:30pm. 
    Now here is where I think things started to fall apart maybe. My plan was to wrap in butcher paper at about 175 and then throw it back on the egg until temp got up to 201F. 

    I wound up wrapping it in butcher paper at 185F at around 2:15pm. Closed the lid and watched the temp slowly creep up. Now here is where I got all flustered... Brisket temperature kept increasing, got up to 196F by 4:08pm, and then all of a sudden, my brisket temperature started dropping. I figured I'd wait it out and see if it was just a weird pocket of fat that was contributing to the weird readings, but sure enough the temp kept going down and soon I realized I'd never get up to 201F.

    I wound up taking the brisket out at 5:40pm and it felt nice and tender with plenty of bark. I let it rest an hour on the counter top while it was still wrapped in butcher paper. Man did it smell good. After an hour of resting, I began to slice and cut. (I'm not very good at cutting the meat yet so take it easy on me)... the first cut I made, all this juice came out and I was so surprised and happy. But then I realized soon thereafter that other parts of the brisket were definitely drier and appeared overcooked. I think I got a good smoke ring too. It tasted fantastic, and the juicier more moist parts of the brisket were fantastic. Unfortunately, I kept thinking only about the drier cuts. 

    Does anyone have any pointers for a newbie like me? Sorry for the long post. I have an iGrill 2 with two probes that syncs to my phone, so I have all the smoke data in a text document. Did I leave it on too long? Why did it not come up to 201F? Is there an easy way I can remember on how to cut the brisket afterwards? 

    Any help would be appreciated. I'll try posting pictures down here 
    If this doesn't work, let me know and I'll figure out a way to size the pics down. 

    Thanks for your help,

  2. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ten hours on an 11 lb brisket at 250F chamber temp is in the ball park for time, but a little on the short end.  The juicier parts of your brisket were the most likely the point.  The drier parts were most likely the much leaner flat.  Now, here is where it gets counterintuitive.  You wrapped at 175F and took it off just over three hours while it was in the second stall, that's why the temp was dropping.  Melted collagen (the tough connective tissue) makes a brisket tender and juicy.  If the collagen doesn't melt, you'll have a tough, dry tasting hunk of meat, which usually shows up more in the leaner flat than the more fat marbled point.  Bottom line, it was undercooked, not overcooked.   

    The one thing you didn't mention was probing the meat.  If a probe (dual pronged fork, long temp gauge, etc) doesn't slide into the meat like warm butter, keep smoking.  And just because you reach a target temp doesn't mean it is done.  It can finish early, it can finish late.  The internal temp is a solid indicator you are getting close or there.  The probe test will confirm when it is ready.      
  3. skooter

    skooter Fire Starter

    As far as the slicing part of your question goes. Jeff suggests looking closely at the grain before putting the rub on and sticking a wooden skewer through perpendicular to the grain and leaving it in until your ready to slice. Then your first cut should be parallel to the skewer. Hope that makes sense.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2016
  4. uzikaduzi

    uzikaduzi Meat Mopper

    Noboundries is completely right here.... honestly, you completely smoked through the first stall around 155-160. i would have not wrapped at all besides resting. i do tend to wrap through the first stall, but that is a time saver and not necessary. it seems strange, but most of the time any dry and tough bbq is undercooked ribs, butts,.. the only time that's not true is with super lean cuts that aren't as common to bbq or sausage,

    another thing to think about... brisket dries out super quick once it's cut. you can have this beautiful delicious most and tender slice of brisket that is dry after sitting cut for a couple minutes. acouple things you can do for that is cut to order (which i hate doing) or cut thicker slices... you can also cook it to like 205+ and pull it like pork and it will stay moist but that should almost be considered a different product. (still good though)
  5. arminho

    arminho Newbie

    I never would have guessed I undercooked... man do I have a lot to learn ha. I wrapped the brisket in butcher paper at 185F actually, not 175. As soon as I wrapped the brisket, I threw it back on the smoker. What do you mean by the second stall, and that's why the temp was dropping? 

    Also, I used one of the iGrill's probes to probe the meat, but where should I be probing? I remember when I probed it went in like butter...But maybe my definition of butter isn't the same as everyone else's!

    What part of the brisket should I be inserting my continuous thermometer probe into?
    This is a brilliant idea, and I can't wait to try Skooter. Thanks!
    Are you saying I went through my first stall too fast? Anything I should have done differently? How will I know in the future if I should even wrap or not? Thanks for the good advice!
  6. uzikaduzi

    uzikaduzi Meat Mopper

    sorry i wasn't clear... to me wrapping is done to speed up the stall. it's not necessary ( i do think it is necessary to have it wrapped while resting, but that's likely subjective) you didn't do anything wrong that i can see, just that by the time you got to 175 or 185, you were past the stall and it wasn't necessary, but not bad. 

    sometimes it can be hard to have both the flat and the point done the same when it's connected, but i would double check to make sure your thermometer is accurate. it sounds like it should have been nearly perfect.
  7. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    My thoughts are you needed to leave it cook a little longer. My iGrill2 when it is showing 200 my thermo pen shows 195. I know every iGrill2 is different.
    Did you need to add more lump to your egg? To achieve the temp you wanted.
    Replies above is spot on.
  8. arminho

    arminho Newbie

    I did not have to add more lump last time. I never opened the lid once until i wrapped it at 185, at which point i immediately put it back on the smoker and closed the lid. Temp stayed at a constant 250F dome over the last 3 hrs or so. 

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