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Dave the Cook

Smoking Brisket: The Topic

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fifi, this is the first really totally beautiful day we've had. My windows haven't been washed in a decade (I asked my neighbors).

But, the beer. I started with coffee (one cup, spiked with brandy). Followed with a bloody mary, which just seemed more appropriate for breakfast. I figured it provided more nutrition!

But, I have been drinking beer. Trust me.

Yes, I can hold that temp. Part of it is that my weber is old. We've been married almost a quarter of a century, and we've had it almost that long. I leave every vent closed. That top vent doesn't fit as well as it should, so that seems to provide all that's needed to keep it going, but barely, and keep a steady stream of smoke wafting over the meat.

The other part is not putting much charcoal in the chimney, and not much on the grill, and add gradually, a couple of chunks a time. I use kingsford. I think that that hardwood stuff burns too hot and fast.

The flat came off a few minutes ago. The other part has a bit to go. It was about 6" thick before starting the process. I wonder just how big this cow was! When I purchased it, it was frozen, and all I could think of was that old episode of the Alfred Hitchcock show where the wife offs the hubby with a frozen piece of meat, and then thaws and cooks the thing before feeding it to the police, thereby removing the evidence. My family was especially nice to me that evening!

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. . . . .

When I purchased it, it was frozen, and all I could think of was that old episode of the Alfred Hitchcock show where the wife offs the hubby with a frozen piece of meat, and then thaws and cooks the thing before feeding it to the police, thereby removing the evidence.  My family was especially nice to me that evening!

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

My GulleyLaugh for the day! I remember that episode!

I use the Kingsford as well. While cruising the big Rodeo BBQ cook-off, about all you see is Kingsford. I tried the chunk charcoal once in the bullet. It was just too unpredictable. I fiddled with vents for hours trying to keep a stable temp. And it kept popping and sparking, throwing ash up into the smoking chamber.

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So, I was bad. I was not as diligent with the camera as I should have been. But, I did snap a photo of the big end as I was taking it off (the flat came off earlier).

gallery_6263_35_393398.jpg

Most of the folks who were over for dinner had never had smoked brisket before ( :blink: ). They raved. They ate tons. The favorite BBQ sauce was =Mark's South Carolina Mustard Vinegar stuff. I also had some supermarket sauce that went begging.

It was wonderful. Best yet, it was our first meal of the season on the deck. It was 70 degrees (f) yesterday, and with the change in time, we couldn't have asked for more.

However, Peter and Diana did say that they like smoked pork better.

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This summer I've started to play around with smoking meat. I have a pretty standard Weber gas grill that I can regulate at about 225 without a problem. I smoke with both corn husks and hickory wood chips. When I smoked some baby back ribs and some boneless "country style" ribs last week, I had great results. The meat was tender, smokey, and flavored well from my dry rub and vinegar/brown sugar based glaze.

When I tried to smoke a couple beef briskets last night, however, the meat was not as tender. The flavor was right on but it did not have the falling apart quality of good barbeque. I smoked for about 7 hours and each piece of meat was only about 1.75 lbs. How do I obtain a more tender piece of meat? Perhaps brining first overnight would help to tenderize. Do I need a a fattier, higher quality brisket. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

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Fat in any meat you slow cook helps tenderize it. So does brining and marinating. But as a general ruloe, you don't want to keep the heat so high and you also don't want to take the brisket out until it's "fork-tender". It takes planning ahead. I know it's not easy, but we used to smoke our briskets for 11 to 12 hours, plus a good 40 minutes of resting time afterwards. You just keep cooking at a lower temperature for longer time.

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I say no to brining it.

I think your brisket was probably too lean. Was yours trimmed? Most briskets I can find are trimmed, which is not a good thing if you are going to smoke them.

However, at my local meat market, I can get whole untrimmed briskets. Upthread I posted this picture of the monster I smoked recently. I normally wouldn't have cut it in half, but it was just too damned big to fit on my weber kettle.

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smokers. some help please. I have two huge whole briskets (10 lbs each) and a party at 3:00 on sunday. what would you say is the most reasonable and efficent way to smoke these (on my new wsm) should I cut them down? stay up late? you think they will fit? any suggestions would be greatly be appreciated. Also, could I start them in the oven, cool them in the fridge and then smoke them? would that even work? just plain silly?

thank you thank you.

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smokers. some help please. I have two huge whole briskets (10 lbs each) and a party at 3:00 on sunday. what would you say is the most reasonable and efficent way to smoke these (on my new wsm) should I cut them down? stay up late? you think they will fit? any suggestions would be greatly be appreciated. Also, could I start them in the oven, cool them in the fridge and then smoke them? would that even work? just plain silly?

thank you thank you.

If they'll fit on the wsm whole, leave them whole.

As we've discussed over on the Behold My Butt topic, since the meat quits absorbing the smoke at about 140, it's important to put them on as cold as possible. When get ready to light my kettle, I actually put my meat in the freezer. Starting them in the oven could potentially not allow them to smoke, but just cook on the wsm.

Timing. I have no experience with the wsm, but if you are worried about time, smoke them the day before, wrap tightly in foil and gently reheat in a low oven on Sunday.

Try and see if they'll both fit whole on the wsm. If not, cut them in half. If they do, and if there is extra space, tuck in some chicken thighs or a small butt. It takes the same amount of wood and no longer to smoke a full grill or wsm than one that is just partially full. And, I figure, I'm hard pressed to have too much smoked meat. That stuff is, in fifi's words "pantry gold."

Edited to add: the last brisket I did was 18 some pounds. Yes, a single brisket.

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You would not want to start it in the oven. However, you could choose to finish it there.

For reasons that my high school science training did not fully prepare my feeble mind to comprehend, meat only absorbs smoke flavor while raw, so putting it in the oven first would leave you with a lot less flavor than you might want.

Nonetheless, since once the meat gets over 140 degrees or so it doesn’t absorb smoke flavor, you can certainly choose to finish it in the oven and it will come out just about as well as if you had smoked it all the way through.

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Figure at least 12 hours of smoking time for whole briskets. And yes, I think that the more full your smoker is, the more time they will need. That means you'll be probably be getting up very early :biggrin:

Avoid brine with beef unless you want it corned. Cut the briskets if you have to, otherwise don't bother. And if you have to use the oven, as others have said, use it at the end, not the start. If that's the case, wrap the briskets in foil and cook them at around 200 degrees F. I've only done briskets a few times (and not on a WSM) but I think you're looking for an internal temperature of around 190 degrees F.

Stand by as others who have more experience may correct or fine-tune this information.

=R=

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okay sounds good. now what if I smoke for say, five hours on saturday, fridge them, and then another five or six in the smoker on sunday. I know we're going for melting of collagen, so will stopping the briskets cooling them and then starting them again ruin all my progress? also won't I get more smokey flavor if I have two "cold meat periods"? :blink: 12 hrs no matter how you cut it is alot of time on the terrace in the middle of the night. Also, and I know I've asked alot...does anybody have pictures of removing the point from the flat? just in case

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I'm not sure about the "2 stages method," as I have no experience with that. If you try it, I'd love to hear about the results.

As for cutting the briskets, the point is the best (fattiest) part, so be sure to include it even if you detach it. As for advice on how to remove it, I've done it but it was more or less a "gut feeling as you go" job for me. Considering my paternal grandfather was as kosher butcher, that's really shameful, I know. :biggrin:

Edited to add: I think if you need to cut the briskets, you're far better off removing part of the flat and leaving the point on top of the remaining section of flat. That fat (in the point) will melt and help keep the flat more moist while smoking.

=R=

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Brisket is a little more challenging than, say, a pork butt because it can dry out if you overcook it. I would definitely take a butt to 190 and beyond as with lower temperatures you don’t get as nice a pull. But brisket I would tend to pull out a little sooner, wrap it tightly, and let carryover take it from there. On the WSM, if you don’t keep it hot enough to pull through the stall, you can dry out the brisket. As it turns out, if you are using the minion method, by the time the meat hits the stall, the charcoal level is sometimes too low and I’ve had trouble maintaining the right temperature at this very crucial stage.

Just be sure that about hour-10, when you notice that the meat seems to just stick at around 170 something degrees and doesn’t seem to budge for what can seem like hours on end, that you keep the heat from dropping. At the stall, I make sure to have the smoker at 222-230, and not much lower, because I find that otherwise it takes too long for the meat to work through the stall and, by the time the temperatures start climbing again, the brisket has lost a lot of moisture.

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I've never tried pulling and fridging and then doing it again the next day.

We really need an experienced Smokey Mountain person to chime in. I'm a Kettle woman, myself.

But, as I recall, one of the things about the WSM is that it doesn't require constant attendance. In fact, I seem to recall that fifi loads hers up and leaves it overnight. Fifi, where are you...

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Well I just realised that whatever doesn't fit on the wsm can go onto the kettle to smoke...say, a little experiment. Perhaps points on the wsm, flats on the kettle. It's not really what I want to do, but I will if it doesn't fit.

so no two stages?

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I don’t see why it would harm the process to refrigerate the meat mid-way and then finish it later. However, I think it will take longer that way because you will have to slowly bring the meat up from under 40 degrees, out of the fridge, to near 200.

But the bottom line is barbecue takes a long ass time. If hanging out on the terrace in the middle of the night babysitting some meat product is not your idea of a good time, maybe you should give up on BBQ.

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I would smoke on Saturday for as long as you can and than finish in the oven the next day, if you can't do an overnighter. If the whole piece does not fit on the grill of the WSM you can curl the ends under, after a while the meat will shrink. I'm thinking that you would have to cook the meat to a certian temp (don't ask me what) before you store in the refrig.

If you want some great help should ask the question here: http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/

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If hanging out on the terrace in the middle of the night babysitting some meat product is not your idea of a good time, maybe you should give up on BBQ.

not so fast. just contemplating my options. :cool:

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Sorry, I have been away and just got wind of this discussion.

One of the really great things about the WSM is that it holds temperature so well using the Minion Method of firing. If it hasn't been mentioned upthread, go here.

For brisket, you are looking at maybe 16 - 18 hours at the desired 225F at the grate (250 at the top vent).

I cut the whole brisket in half and put my remote thermometer probe in the flat and watch that. After it has gone through the stall at 170 and heads for 200, I know it is time to pull the flats. Then I move the temp probe to the points because I know they are going to take longer and watch them likewise. I cut them in half for two reasons, 1) so they fit better 2) so I can pull the flats sooner since they will cook faster. For that reason, I put the flats on the top grate.

Eighteen hours isn't as daunting as you might think. Using the Minion Method in a WSM, there is very little tending of the thing to do. You might have to add water to the pan a couple of times and add some fuel a bit at a time toward the end but you can get some sleep in there.

I really don't advocate interrupting the process. For one thing, to get back up to "conversion temperature" will add many hours to the whole process and God knows what you will end up with. And part of the fun is the planning, tending, napping, drinking and then rejoicing in the final product. Good BBQ is as much about the process as it is about the final product.

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I also use the Minion method for the kettle when I'm smoking.

On the kettle, I prefer wood chunks, not chips, and I note that on the site fifi linked to, they talk about chunks and burying them when you use the Minion method. Visit that site.

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Thanks for picking up on the chunks, Susan. You are absolutely right. I bury chunks in the charcoal (Kingsford plain) with more toward the center to maximize smoke before the meat temp gets too high. When I am adding fuel I sometimes add more chunks along with the charcoal just because it seems like a good idea at the time and they seem to burn pretty steady. I am not sure that I see the point of the chips at all.

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I suggested to my husband we needed a smoker and he just looked at me. Hmmm, perhaps subliminal sleep messages will work. :biggrin:

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Chips suck for barbecue.

But they're not too bad in some applications. These applications just don't happen to involve anything that requires more than a few minutes of cooking time. They are good if you want to add a litte smoke flavor to vegetables, shrimp, or even a kebab or two. Basically, they are good for light-duty grilling, not barbecue.

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I suggested to my husband we needed a smoker and he just looked at me.  Hmmm, perhaps subliminal sleep messages will work.  :biggrin:

Smoking is for women. I think Linda would agree! When I'm ready to fire up the smoker, my husband rolls his eyes. But, he loves the results, and that slightly smokey smell he falls to sleep next to.

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Chips suck for barbecue.

But they're not too bad in some applications. These applications just don't happen to involve anything that requires more than a few minutes of cooking time. They are good if you want to add a litte smoke flavor to vegetables, shrimp, or even a kebab or two. Basically, they are good for light-duty grilling, not barbecue.

I agree that chips are useful; especially for certain types of smokers which are gas fueled and use a cast iron smoker box to hold the chips just above the gas flame. But they are not suitable for the WSM or other, similar R2D2-type units. Basically, if the wood is the fuel, chips are a bad bet.

=R=

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