What makes a brisket taste "pot-roasty"?

Discussion in 'Beef' started by jcbigler, Aug 13, 2016.

  1. jcbigler

    jcbigler Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Had the good fortune of eating at two of the best barbecue places in Texas (in the Dallas area) this week. 

    On Monday, it was brisket, shoulder clod and sausage at Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas. 

    On Friday it was brisket and sausage at Pecan Lodge in Dallas.

    The brisket and clod at Lockhart both tasted a bit pot-roasty. This was a surprise to me as they don't wrap their brisket at all (I think) during their cooking, and when I ate at the Lochkart Smokehouse location in Plano last year it did not taste that way. 

    The brisket at Pecan Lodge was great, amazing even. So moist and succulent. It was a religious experience. And not post-roasty at all. 

    So what's the deal? What makes a brisket taste like a pot roast when it has been cooked unwrapped in a smoker for the entire time? 

    Lockhart Smokehouse, Dallas, TX

    Pecan Lodge, Dallas, TX

  2. uncle eddie

    uncle eddie Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Since you say they were cooked unwrapped, I have to ask how they were handled after the brisket was done. I have seen some restaurants wrap their yet to be served brisket in Saran and place it in warming trays or ovens...resulting in steaming the smoked brisket while it was waiting to be served. IMHO-Steaming is the biggest culprit for brisket devoting the pot roast flavor.
  3. jcbigler

    jcbigler Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I don't believe Lockhart wraps in anything, even to keep at holding temp. When I was there, they had 4 or 5 briskets laying on the cutting board right next to the one they were cutting that mine came from. None of them were wrapped, and looked like they had not been wrapped at all. 

    For those that don't know the Lockhart Smokehouse restuarants in Dallas and Plano are related, by cousins, to the Kreuz family in Lokchart, Texas who run Smitty's Market and Kreuz Market. Both of these places are well know as traditional Central Texas barbecue restaurants and smoke in large offset brisk pits and do not use modern CVAP cabinets etc...And the Lockhart Smokehouse locations use a pair of big Bewley 1100 smokers. 

    I mean heck though, even when I used to wrap in foil, it never had that oven-cooked pot roast flavor, anywhere in the brisket at all. 
  4. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I've never been to either smokehouse, so I don't know their cooking method (cooker type, in specific). Could this be the difference between a hardwood-fired open pit vs a closed pit? A closed pit would surround the meat in more smoke, thus exposing more of the meat to more smoke for a longer time throughout cooking, compared to an open pit which would not concentrate as much smoke, nor surround the meat in smoke. Add to that, with an open pit there may be meat drippings falling onto the coals, and speaking from experience, charred/burned meat drippings will make otherwise smoked meat taste like it never saw the inside of a closed smoker. Open pit is not a true indirect heat, either. All things considered, at least some (if not all) of those differences would have to account for something in the finished product.

    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
  5. jcbigler

    jcbigler Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Lockhart Smokehouse uses an AN Bewley 1100 in both of their locations. It is a double walled, fully insulated, thermostatically controlled all wood fired offset pit. One of the best high capacity commercial smokers out there.

    Looks like this 

    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
  6. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Do either of them inject their briskest? Most of the pot roasty briskest I have had have been injected prior to cooking.
  7. uncle eddie

    uncle eddie Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Excellent point - totally agree with this.
  8. jcbigler

    jcbigler Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    That I don't know. I would assume not since injecting isn't part of the traditional Texas barbecue process. Not sure how I would even find that out. If they do inject they would likely keep it a secret since it would be a rather humiliating admission for them.
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Considering a percentage of the country and every family with a Bubbee or Zaydeh uses Brisket for Pot Roast...The Seasonings may play a part in the flavor. S&P with Smoke or maybe some additions like garlic and/or onion. It would not take much...JJ
  10. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Lack of enough smoke would be my guess. I tried making a couple of briskets with only hardwood lump charcoal a couple of times and it was very pot roast tasting.
  11. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm thinking it's the fat...  what the animal was fattened up on.. or not...
  12. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If it was injected in enough spots and you ate enough slices you'd see the cavity that injecting produces...it ain't purty, and the texture near the cavity is noticeably different than meat not proximal to injection. It gets a mushy bite and chew due to the destruction of muscle fibers being torn from the pressure exerted inside the muscle when the liquid is introduced, not to mention if it's an acidic solution it will marinate the meat much more aggressively at the injection site.

    That's just one reason I never...OK...let me rephrase that...rarely ever inject...I never brisket, butts, picnics or any larger cuts intended for Bbq cooking. Many years ago I thought marinade injected chickens was the only way to go...less than impressive results...in fact very disappointing results...it's that texture thing. The other reason is injected meat should be treated as non-intact whole muscle per food safety guidelines...why complicate things, right?

    Hope that makes sense.

  13. jcbigler

    jcbigler Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    This brisket and the clod certainly did not have a muchy texture. It was nice and tender and moist but not mushy or overcooked. 

    I'm thinking that Dave's comment the about the fat is on the right track. Not sure how I would go about testing or verifying it though.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
  14. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    This has vexed me for a long time. I always thought it was too much steam, but there are some other good talking points. I'll be watching this one.[​IMG]
  15. ynot2k

    ynot2k Smoke Blower

    I find when a brisket taste like pot roast it's because of how the brisket is held after the smoke.

    Some joints place the finished smoked brisket in a roasting pan with beef broth to keep it moist and to use the broth as a "dip" when slicing for service.  All I can taste is the beef broth.  The smoke seems to all but disappear.  Might as well throw some onions and potatoes in there and call it pot roast.

    Brisket is at it's best for me when the bark is firm and sticky and the meat inside is smoky, moist and tender.

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