Tough Brisket ................ Help!!

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by jim weeks, Apr 3, 2016.

  1. jim weeks

    jim weeks Newbie

    I'm new to this site.   Name is Jim Weeks from Houston Texas and I've most weekends for about 2 years.    I use a New Bransfels thick walled smoker with a fairly large fire bow at one end.

    Normally when I smoke brisket I will leave if in the smoker for I hour per pound at between 200 to 225.    The last 1 1/2 hours I wrap it in foil with about a 1/2 cup of beef broth and some extra rub mixed in ...................... and it comes out tender and tasty.

    Last weekend I decided to use a Miron Mixon article that described how to cook the brisket a lot faster at a higher temp, 300 degrees, inside a foil baking pan for about 2 1/2 hours then covering the pan tightly with foil for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until point reached a temp of 205.   Then letting it rest 2 hours.

    It was the toughest piece of brisket I have ever tried to eat.   I wrapped in in cellophane and stuck it in the frig.

    Can anyone tell me it there is anything I can do at this point to salvage the meat.    I hate to throw out a 10 lb brisket even though the 4 of us could not chew it on the first try.  
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sounds another example of why not to smoke brisket hot & fast.

    I can't tell you what to do with the current brisket situation, other than maybe trim the fat and chunk it up for stew meat. If you simmer it all day in a slow cooker it might get tender.

    BTW, I don't recall ever smoking any large cut of meat in a pan...can't see any possible advantage in doing so.

    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
  3. jim weeks

    jim weeks Newbie

    I think you are right Eric ............ just another reason never to try it again.     Low and slow is what I'm comfortable with anyway.​

    Thanks for your quick reply.

  4. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You're welcome. I missed it where you mentioned cooking until the point reaches 205*...that is likely excessive finished temps, as the flat would be well above that temp, being a thinner cross-section. Also, being cooked for so long in a closed, high humidity environment, this can actually draw excessive moisture and fats from the meat.

    This goes against what a lot of people may think about cooking chamber humidity, but it may help to partly explain why your brisket is tough:

    Lots of guys cook whole brisket with the fat cap intact, maybe partially trimmed, but never removed...this helps them cook slower and retain more moisture. Remove the fat-cap or add moisture/humidity to the cooking environment and everything changes.

    Think about it this way: have you had a properly cooked chicken breast, either grilled or smoked, but cooked on open grates, to an internal temp of, say, 170*? It should be very moist and tender. Now take that same chicken breast and throw it in a pot of soup and let it cook for several hours, then chunk it up and return it to the pot. That same chicken breast will have a dried-out and tough interior. Poach-cooking or stewing fresh meats does not keep them moist, neither does steaming...only cooking to temp, then stopping the cooking will help keep them moist in a high moisture environment.

    Hope that helps explain things a bit better.

  5. idahopz

    idahopz Smoking Fanatic

    One way I have salvaged tough brisket is to slice it as thin as I can and pile it high on sandwiches.  Sliced thin as paper, even shoe leather is tender.

    On a different note, what was the grade of the meat?  The reason I ask is that I have never been able to make a select cut work all that well. Choice is my "go to" grade because prime is usually too expensive when I can even get it at all.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
  6. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I got a Myron Mixon book as a gift, and the recipes didn't seem right.  I did some investigating and read that they aren't "his" recipes, you have to pay for his school to see how he cooks.  He doesn't share his secrets.  Kinda turned me off to Myron.  Sorry about your brisket.

  7. [​IMG]   Good evening and welcome to the forum, from a windy but nice day here in East Texas, and the best site on the web. Lots of great people with tons of information on just about  everything.

    Low and Slaw

  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Tender is a function of Time not just Temp and IT may not always be a good indicator. Throw a Rack of Ribs in a 600°F Oven. The IT will be 195°F in an hour or so but they will be too tough to eat. Same Ribs at 225 given 6 hours to get to an IT of 195°F and they will be probe tender. The Collagen Connective Tissue in tough cuts of meat just starts to breakdown at an IT of 130 then goes faster from 160° on but still takes time. The thicker the meat the more time needed. High Moisture in a cook, Braising, Stewing and Steaming can accelerate the Collagen breakdown. A Pastrami just smoked can take 10+ hours but Steam the same cut and it is tender in 3 hours or so.

    Dry Meat cooked in high moisture. Moisture in meat is a function of cooking, to an extent. As the meat heats the muscle proteins denature. Picture raw protein as groups of loosely wound coils containing moisture. As the IT rises the protein coils unravel and relax with some of the internal moisture be pushed out but much of it retained around the protein strands. Now continue to cook the meat, whether with dry heat or moist heat and the relaxed protein strands start to Shrink. As the strands get tighter and tighter all of the internal moisture is squeezed out and away from the muscle protein. These tiny nuggets of shrunken protein can't hold moisture any longer and even if sitting in liquid will not absorb any.  This is the case with cooking Chicken Breast in general and specifically in a Broth. With a piece of Chicken Breast  being Poached or Simmering in Broth, as the IT hits 165 the protein is relaxed and the meat is tender and juicy from retained moisture. Pull the Breast out, cut it up and toss it back in the broth for an hour, or even cooling on the counter, the chicken continues to cook, the proteins continue to coagulate, shrinking and squeezing out moisture until even though the Chicken is in the Broth, the meat is Dry and Tough. This effect can be seen in all meat especially low fat, low connective tissue cuts like Pork Loin. With fatty/tough cuts like Pork Butts, Chuck, Short Ribs and such, even though the individual protein strands may have lost their moisture, there is still sufficient Fat and Gelatin, brokendown Collagen, surrounding the muscle strands to give a forkfull of meat the " Mouthfeel " that it is still very moist. Taste a single strand or two of Pulled Pork and you will find it as dry as Chicken Breast cooked for hours in broth. Beef Brisket can be such a challenge to get right because it is too tough to eat Rare, but too low in Fat and connective tissue to take too far. You need to find the sweet spot when just enough collgen has brokendown to be tender but you have not rendered out all the fat and moisture. This is tough enough smoking Low and Slow add in Myron's Hot and Fast tricks and the window of perfection is so small that it is very easily missed...JJ 
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2016
    mike5051 likes this.
  9. gearjammer

    gearjammer Master of the Pit

    Hello and welcome Jim, I would take the advice you get 

    here as far as cooking your next one is concerned.

    But I agree with Idaho on saving this one.

    Slice on a slicer if you've got one, thin as you can get it.

    But if not a good sharp knife will do it, against or corner

    wise to the grain. 

    It will still make great sammies.

    Beats the heck out of using it for dog treats.

  10. jim weeks

    jim weeks Newbie

    Thanks to everyone .................. Eric, Ed, Jimmy J, Idaho, Mike and Gary for all the tips and advice.   Sorry Myron but I'm pretty sure my wife has already tossed your article in our fire pit.

    I now have a folder full of info from the forum and can't wait for next weekend to try them out.

    Thanks again guys,

    Jim W      
  11. Chef JJ - Thank you for this straight forward explanation. My understanding jumped way out beyond where I was. Now, the challenge is applying that understanding. I will always remember your analogy of hitting that evasive "window of perfection"-- with the right balance of time, temperature and moisture.
  12. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Your gonna get it Jim!  This is the best site for producing some amazing Q.  Glad your with us!

  13. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Excellent explanation!  "Points!"  

  14. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Thanks for the Point, Mike...JJ
  15. Great Information Chef. I'm sure you helped a lot of folks.

    The only Hot and Fast I know of is down in Lockhart, TX   But it Ain't Brisket   Here is a pretty good article I found

    Shoulder Clod: Texas Forgotten BBQ Star

    By: Robert Moss

    In the world of Texas barbecue, brisket is the undisputed star, and the hefty beef rib has become the featured player—the one who gets the big applause upon entering stage, the Kramer to brisket’s Seinfeld, if you will.

    Then there’s beef shoulder clod, which is, at best, a bit character actor, getting upstaged by smoked sausage and even turkey. On a recent swing through central Texas, though, I finally got to sample the clod at places like Kreuz Market  and Smitty’s Market, both in Lockhart, and I came away quite impressed.

    A shoulder clod is the size of a volleyball, checking in somewhere between 15 and 20 pounds. A thick cut, it tends to be cooked fairly quickly—just four and a half hours on the hot pit at Kreuz. It’s a good bit leaner than brisket, and it has a much more intense beefy flavor, too. Since it’s a thicker cut, it tends to not be smoky throughout, but the versions I tried had great crusty, smoky edges from the heat of the pit.

    What you might not realize is that, sort of like Mickey Rooney, shoulder clod used to be a big star before getting relegated to supporting roles. No one was smoking brisket in Texas until wholesalers started shipping vacuum-packed individual cuts in the 1960s. Before then, Texas meat markets would order entire forequarters of beef, carve off what they could sell as roasts, and smoke the leftover cuts—the chuck, the shoulder—on their barbecue pits.

    It’s too bad you don’t see clod at more places in Texas these days, for it’s a real treat to have both brisket and shoulder side by side to get a little contrast in texture and flavor. I suspect much of the cut’s challenges might come down to its name, for—let’s be honest—“beef shoulder clod” isn’t exactly a name that sells.

    Perhaps all it needs is a little “brand image” makeover. At Kreutz’s Market the big menu board simply lists “shoulder clod.” At Smitty’s, though, they give it a little more of a spin, for their board offers “Fat (Brisket)” next to “Lean (Shoulder)”. Now, you might think this would help move the shoulder in this age of fat-phobia and nutritional nannyism, but I suspect those who are lining up next to the open-fire pit at Smitty’s aren’t there for health food.

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