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A Bit on Brisket - Printable Version

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A Bit on Brisket - Tayster - 02-26-2008 02:30 PM

First of all, thanks to all of you that wondered about the newborn. She and my wife are both doing well.

Anyway, onto the point of this post. My goal this year is to perfect a brisket. Please keep in mind that my smoking is done in the privacy of my backyard using a Brinkmann Gourmet smoker. I have turned out quite a few lovely pork butts on the smoker and I feel it's time to master something else.

I tried a brisket last year and it turned out okay. I used most of it in my BBQ beans because it wasn't as tender as I had hoped to eat by itself. (Very nice addition to my beans, however.)

So here are my questions:

1) Where do a buy a nice brisket? (Preferably smaller since I'm not feeding the masses with it.)
2) How long should I cook the brisket on the smoker? (I think the one that I did last year was on for six or seven hours, which wasn't long enough.)
3) Are there any other tricks that would help a beginner in the brisket quest? (I'm not asking for secret sauces or what not, but just some tips on how I can make this tender and amazing for my family.)

Any help would be awesome.

Thanks in advance.

Re: A Bit on Brisket - Jaybird - 02-26-2008 02:55 PM

Without going into 25 questions back atcha because without all those answers there really isn't any solid answers to your questions. Boy, I think I just confused myself. The best advice I can give you is...a brisket is done when it's done. When that temp probe goes in and out like butter...it's done. There is no time limit..no magic temps. Practice.. practice some more. Take notes. IMHO

- SoEzzy - 02-26-2008 03:16 PM

Are you a member of Sam's Club or Costco?

Even though you are going to be cooking on a small Brinkman, value for money would have you buying your brisket as Full Packers.

Sam's at the moment had them on at $1.48 / lb and Flats, (the money part of a brisket at $2.69 / lb), so if you buy a 14 lb packer you'll be looking at about $21.00.

If you buy an 8 lb flat it would be $21.50 so you can have the 4 lb point and 2 lb of fat to render and still save $0.50, what a bargain.

With a full packer, (whole), you'll be looking at 1:20 - 1:30 / lb cooking time, if you split it you'll be down to 1:10 - 1:15 / lb, as an estimate, as Jaybird says, it's done when it's done, these times are just to give you a figure to work with, YMMV depending on the pit you have, the fuel source, the weather, the fat content and marbling of the meat, which side of the bed you got out of and other great imponderables!

Before you go off and get lost among the hundreds of rubs out there commercially available, try this brisket with Salt, (Kosher or Sea), Fresh cracked Black Pepper and some Garlic powder and nothing else, this will give you a good testbed to base your future rubs on.

I like to test with a fork that has quite wide tines, instead of a probe, but it has to slip in and out cleanly and without force for it to be done to a turn in our house.

- Tayster - 02-26-2008 03:51 PM

Thanks for the tips so far. A few more follow-up questions:

1) Can you overcook a brisket? I mean, I know that it's a tough piece of meat to begin with and that smoking it low & slow causes it to become tender, but is there a point where it starts to become a very thick piece of jerky if it's cooked too long? (I know this may sound like a dumb question to you guys, but I'm new to this whole thing.)

2) What about amount of smoke? I know that pork can handle quite a bit of smoke, but can brisket?

3) Do I baste the brisket like I do pulled pork?

Thanks again for your help. I plan to become a backyard brisket king by summers end.

Either that or I'll just go back to grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. Smile

Re: A Bit on Brisket - Jaybird - 02-26-2008 03:58 PM

Well, it will become roast beef before it becomes jerky. I cook my pork with my brisket...same smoke. Just don't overdo it. Baste..might as well throw some on while your moppin the pork.

Re: A Bit on Brisket - Larry Jacobs - 02-26-2008 04:52 PM

Hi Eric. The best buy you can make is an electronic thermometer. They are as low as $7.00 at IKEA or $50.00 for the dual read jobs. Tuesday Morning sometimes has good deals on them. I cook to 200 degrees internal which is what my family likes. I don't like to foil although some do. To me it seems to kill the smoke flavor and turn it into roast beef. My new cooker will do the job at one hour per pound but others take one and a half per pound. That's why I really like to go by internal temp. Congrats on the new little Qer.

Re: A Bit on Brisket - Phred - 02-26-2008 08:57 PM

Here's a good site that will give you lots of information about the beef brisket

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/brisketselect.html">http://www.virtualweberbullet.com/brisketselect.html</a><!-- m -->

Another tempting treat are burnt ends. I believe the site talks about these great little morsels. If you need some more info. I have some other recipes I can give you.

Re: A Bit on Brisket - no1plumber - 02-26-2008 09:54 PM

Brisket is tricky you have to watch it carfully. Too long and it becomes pulled brisket or shereded brisket. I found that flats tend to dry out to fast for my liking.

Re: A Bit on Brisket - Guest - 02-27-2008 01:05 PM

Tayster -

I will offer a little different slant on brisket I suppose... I personally think it is a little "easier" to get started into briskets by beginning with the flat only... Yeah, you pay more per pound (although you can buy a "packer", separate the point from the flat and cook them separately, and still save some $$ if you don't want to pay for a flat only) - but the flat is what most folks (i.e., the general public) are looking for when they think of BBQ brisket... Don't get me wrong... I love the point and "burnt ends"... And I think anyone who has been around Que for a while will certainly voice their preference of smoking a whole brisket versus just a flat... But a flat IMHO is less to "handle" at first, and is generally what family and friends will think of when you say "BBQ brisket"... Most cooks I know who cook at competitions only smoke flats...

A 7 lb flat is a good size to work with IMHO... It is good to find a brisket that has pretty consistent thickness when possible, too (a 2 inch thickness throughout is nice)... There will be a "fat cap" on one side, which you want to leave - but it should be trimmed down to about 1/4" thickness... Most store bought flats have been trimmed pretty nicely, but you still want to look it over... You want to pick up the flat and feel around the fat cap... Areas where it is "hard" probably indicate excess fat in that area and you will want to trim that area down for certain...

I like to get my smoker up to 275-285 first, trim the flat, rub her down, get her into the smoker (lots of "debate" as to whether you should do fat side up or down - I will leave that up to you!! :wink: ), and let the temp settle back down to 225-235 for the remainder of the cook...

I began learning to do briskets via a smoker and kitchen oven combination... I would smoke the brisket at 225-235 for 2 1/2 hours on the smoker, rotate it 180 degrees , and then smoke another 2 1/2 hours (for a total of 5 hours)... I would then remove the brisket, wrap it in saran wrap (yes, saran wrap) and then in foil, and place it in an oven set to 200 degrees... I would leave it in the oven another 6 -9 hours until I had an internal temp of 190-195 degrees, and then I would remove it from the oven, remove the foil and saran wrap, re-wrap in foil, and let it "rest" on a counter-top for 30-45 minutes before carving...

Now - doing it this way will not yield you the best of "bark" I will admit - but it can give you a very tender, moist, and flavorful brisket.... Tending a brisket on a smoker for the entire cook requires a lot of attention and some experience to do it well - so IMHO, using a smoker/oven combination at first is a good way to get into doing brisket until you are ready to do the entire cook on your smoker... At least it was for me...

I mentioned an internal temp of 190-195... I am assuming you have a thermometer - and if not, well, you need to get one! :wink: ... I would suggest starting to check temps about once an hour beginning at around hour 10 (total time) until you have reached that 190-195 degree range... But it is also more than just an internal temp thing... There is a "feel" to things as well when things are done and tender... You heard Jay mention the temp probe sliding in and out easily... That is what we are talking about... Just because the internal temp has hit 190-195 doesn't always mean things are tender as yet... A done piece of meat has both a proper/desired internal temp that has been reached, along with a certain "feel"... That, too, comes with a little time/experience...

Best wishes...

- Tayster - 02-27-2008 02:23 PM

Thank you all for the helpful tips. I understand what you all mean by knowing it's done when it's done. I'm to the point in my pulled pork where I don't even have to really think about it. It comes naturally. I go through all the motions of doing what needs to be done, but it's like driving a car to work. You know you'll get there because you've been there hundreds of times, but you don't have to think about how to get there.

I'm sure you guys all have cooked many a brisket and think the same way.

You have no idea how much these tips mean to me. I am so nervous to ruin it because ruining a $20+ piece of meat is not exactly the way I want to throw $20 away. Now if I get to savor the same piece of $20 meat, then that's a different story.

Thanks again for the tips and I'm still willing to hear any other tips that may be offered. After all, there's more than one way to skin a cat...er...cook a brisket.

Re: A Bit on Brisket - PackerBacker - 02-27-2008 03:25 PM

That is a good frame of mind to have, Just start cooking them, then they will come natural to ya, And I know what you mean as far as "Jack'n" up a $20 piece of meat :wink: Now here is the next step to your learning curve........ Are you ready?

A $80.00 Prime Rib Roast :shock:


Re: A Bit on Brisket - Pegleg - 02-27-2008 08:43 PM


The rub recipe below is our favorite, in fact, we've used it on pork butt as well with very tasty results.

Bear's Brisket Rub

2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons pepper
1 tablespoon thyme
1 cup dark brown sugar

Re: A Bit on Brisket - BBQSki - 02-27-2008 09:49 PM

I smoked a prime rib a long time ago -- about a $80 roast -- cooked it to 145 internal before taking it off. By the time it rested, it was fried. Then a few months later, tried another one and cooked it to 117 internal, thinking that it would drift into the medium rare range. Not, it was blood rare. So after about $150 of improperly cooked prime rib, I should have just went out to eat and saved some money. Heck, I could have cooked up seven briskets or fourteen butts or three hundred chicken thighs for that price! :shock:

what do you prime rib gurus cook a full roast (seven bones?) to internally? The last one I did I cooked to 125 and it was close.

Re: A Bit on Brisket - Guest - 02-27-2008 11:42 PM

BBQSki;p="8095 Wrote:...what do you prime rib gurus cook a full roast (seven bones?) to internally? The last one I did I cooked to 125 and it was close.
135-137 baby! Carry-over cooking will only add 5-7* (maaaaaybe 10*). It's technically medium-rare at 145*, but in the end it really depends on what's medium-rare to you and yours.


P.S. If you ever run into the blood-rare situation again (which you won't, of course Smile ), just whack it into steaks, season lightly, and mark them really quickly on each side on a super-hot grill. It will be the best steak you/they/all y'all have ever eaten.

Re: A Bit on Brisket - Swine Steward - 02-28-2008 12:54 AM

An important step after the brisket hits your target temperature is the foil wrap, as mentioned by Hoochie. When my brisket comes off the smoker I can tap it with a knife and hear a softy crunchy sound. From here its double wrapped in foil and put in a medium sized cooler. It can be held in the cooler for as many as 5-6 hours and still be hot. Even though it still looks like a big piece of burned meat, the bark has softened completely through this process and it slices easily.

Re: A Bit on Brisket - norm - 02-28-2008 11:00 AM

It may be of some help to google "El Cheapo Brinkman modification" to help with the amount of work and fuel it takes to keep your temperature for such a long cook on your ECB. Smile

Re: A Bit on Brisket - PackerBacker - 02-29-2008 03:33 PM

So far in this thread I don't see where Tayster said he had any problems with his cooker! And cooker of choice I might add.. He did say he has produced some great pork, but wanted help with his brisket, and got some help I think...... Well from the the majority of us anyway.

Keep cook'n Tayster, its all good :wink:


- Tayster - 02-29-2008 03:55 PM

Oh it's all good. I know that people have their favorites for smoking and what not. Some like "pooping pellets" (as you guys say) and some even use gas. (An abomination in my eyes.) The Brinkmann Gourmet is a great smoker for what I use it for: backyard smoking for my family.

I actually do use one modification for my Brinkmann in the charcoal pan and it has helped the amount of charcoal that I use for a cook and keeps the temp at a steady range. (I also added a thermometer since I never knew what "Ideal" actually was.)

You guys kick some major butt in helping. Thanks again.

By the way, Dave, is your boy Favre going to retire? I mean, there are not very many records he can still break, are there?

He keeps playing and he may pass Vinnie Testeverde as the longest-lived QB. (I think Vinnie has been playing for 60 years or something.)

Re: A Bit on Brisket - PackerBacker - 02-29-2008 04:35 PM

Well I am not much on other teams or QB's stats, but Brett, I think will be back, but most of all I would like to see him as a coach an continue to be a major factor in the teams future.

But back to the topic of this post, everyone has there opinion of the best cooker to own, yea, we give the pellet guys crap, only for one reason, its easier to mantain temps, and some get there sleep, but also the pellet cookers have won many,many contest, deep down thats why we say what we say about them, hell I have one!! But I just wont compete with it for other reasons. But the fact remains its not the cooker that wins comps. its the cook!!!!!!!!


Re: A Bit on Brisket - T - 02-29-2008 05:03 PM

Yo Dave, that is the exact reason why at the association meeting I gave the recognition to Marc who kicked butt for first place in Brisket last year at Hyrum. The guy cooked on a Lowe's off set. Like we talked before It's the cook. I have never seen a cooker made yet that can gaurantee a win. I have been around cookers for alot of years and seen more cooks than you can imagine, but I won't drop any names who cares anyway? You will find that the turm know your cooker is more valuble than one knows. WSM's consistantly in the winners circle ect.

keep it low-n-slow " T "

Camp Chef Sponsored


KCBS Certified Judge
<!-- w --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.q4u.com">www.q4u.com</a><!-- w -->

Re: A Bit on Brisket - hossrocks - 06-12-2008 09:25 AM

Don't feel bad I'm also struggling with brisket. I did one last week and it was terrible. My dog snubbed his nose at it. From what I'm told flipping once per hour after the first 3 hours is key. That is my game plan for this weekend. Anybody else doing this?

As for the prime, there is no better way to enjoy that peice of meat. I cook two full prime every week to serve in my bar and grill. I have the best results when I crank up the smoker good and hot, drop the meat on the grill and let the meat sear while the grill cools down to 200-225. We cook them to 125 - 130. The carry over will leave you with med rare.

For a real treat, slice the leftover prime real thin combine with sauteed sweet onions on a grilled hogie with garlic butter and enjoy! The best prime dip you will ever have!


Re: A Bit on Brisket - sampson - 06-12-2008 11:00 AM

Dear Hoss, That sandwich doesn't even sound good, I may be wrong though. So in the interest of fairness I would be willing to taste test one for you. Please PM me for the address to send it to. And no need to thank me for this service, I'm willing to do it for most anyone out there that needs a product taste tested. :wink: