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Brisket fail after fail after fail

The first time I ever made a brisket, I used one that I had butchered personally, so I can't really give you the grade of the meat, but I did it on my barrel smoker and I followed step by step the method in Steven Raichlen's book "How To Grill".  The outcome was unbelievable.

Have had my XLBGE for about a year now. Before that I had a gas grill from Vermont Castings and an old barrel smoker.  Since the purchase of my BGE I have made ribs, pulled pork, pizza, ABT, clams, prime rib, scallops, salmon, lobster, strip steaks, cowboy steaks, flank steaks, skirt steaks, you name it, I've made it, and the results have been great.  I grill as a hobby, though I had worked a couple years in my families restaurant as a cook when I was younger, no formal training.  All of that said, I forgot to mention the three times I made brisket on the BGE…

The first one I did Texas style, used a simple rub, no injection.  Again it was meat I butchered myself.  I used my digiQ, set to 235f dome, cooked to 195f, FTC for about an hour, dry as a bone, big piece of leather.

Next I did everything the same but cooked it in a foil pan on a bed of chopped onions and beer.  Not leather, but far from moist.

Yesterday I was determined to break my curse, had done some research, amazingribs.com and this foruma lot of it said you really need a good cut to make a difference, so I tried and could only find a small wet aged choice cut, North Jersey in the winter is not an easy place prime cuts apparently, and at $8/# I don't think I would have gone better just for a test run.  So I dry rubbed, injected with beef broth, and let sit overnight.  Set the digiQ to 250f dome, royal oak with some chunk cherry, threw it on the grate fat cap down.  It stalled at 157f for a couple hours, so I wrapped in foil, and bumped the temp to 285f.  Got it to 197f, FTC for an hour, then unwrapped and let sit a room temp for 20 min, and sliced.  There was a thin layer of fat that ran through the entire brisket about 1/3 way up from the bottom.  Everything below the layer of fat was moist and tender, the 2/3 of brisket above that fat line was tender, but sadly dry.

Is it me?  Or is brisket just different from all of the other things I have cooked? I have read everyones success stories about how fat cap up/down doesn't matter and the egg does it all, and I agree when it comes to everything else I have cooked, the egg does do it all, but it seems the only way I will be able to do a brisket is my original way, which though it is pretty involved, cooks faster and produces good results.

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Comments

  • JohnInCarolinaJohnInCarolina Posts: 1,239
    edited January 20
    A few thoughts: 1) you seem to be cooking to temperature. With brisket, the temp is at best a guide. 2 ) you didn't say anything about drinking beer or some other form of libations. That is vital
    If the world is something you accept rather than interpret, then you're susceptible to the influence of charismatic idiots.

    Durham, NC
  • SkiddymarkerSkiddymarker Posts: 5,587
    For moist, sure fire brisket, Travis Method - because it is actually a braise. Always moist, always tender, the down side is bark on the top only, but the rest is so good, I tend to overlook the lack of bark. 
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
  • WoodsDogWoodsDog Posts: 41
    I completely understand what you are going through.  I've tried multiple briskets and I still don't feel I can get it right either.  I've cooked many really good things on the Egg, but the brisket keeps eluding me!

    My last brisket I did 14 pounder from Sam's (certified Angus Beef) at dome temp at 250.   I decided not to wrap,cause others have said you don't need to.  I didn't open the dome at all till it said 190.  I cooked it till the thickest part of the flat was 190, tested it with the thermostat but it didn't just slide in "like butta" that you keep hearing about.  I've done pork butts that are "butta" soft, but I have a tough time with the briskets.  So I let it go, and I tested it every 30 minutes.  Never really felt it.  At 195 I finally pulled it off, wrapped it, put it in the cooler for a 2 hour nap. This was probably 16 hours in or so.   At 195, the outer parts were ~205 or so.  It just didn't have the tender feel.  After I took i out, it was too dry in my opinion.  It was tender and fell apart, so I think that means it was over cooked.  The rest of the family thought it was  alright, I just didn't like it as much as I wanted to.

    That's a good question.  When the brisket is done, will it feel the same as a pulled pork when you slide in a fork or thermometer?  Maybe my expectations are wrong.  

    I follow all the recipes, recommendations, it's just hard to nail it right.
  • @John I had plenty to drink, hoping even if it was bad, I would think it was good, lol
    @Skid second time I tried travis method, wasn't uneatable but far from great
    @Wood Thats just it, I know how to make a good brisket, but every forum thread and video I watch, people are just tossing them on their BGE and coming back @195f, are the laws of physics different in Jersey than elsewhere? 
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 10,886
    Don't go by temp on brisket or butts.I pulled my last one at 207 and it was tender and good. I screwed up my first several.
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • I rely on this forum for a lot, ANY/ALL advice is taken and much appreciated.  
  • @hen So just keep it going? What about the juiciness?  Should I foil with AJ or Beer, or baste?
  • cazzycazzy Posts: 5,503
    edited January 21
    I personally am in the fat cap up camp.  I check for tenderness in the thickest part of the flat at 190.  One thing to note, on all previous cooks I have paid too much damn attention to the point and have overreacted to the points IT.  Yesterdays brisket, I just focused on the flat and wasn't even monitoring the point.  My flat was better than any i've had, just need to work on slicing it thinner.

    The thin layer of fat that ran through, are you talking about the fat that is between the point and the flat?  If so, you're likely describing the meat from the point and the meat from the flat.  Do you ever separate the two?  

    While the point was tiny on the brisket I did yesterday, you can see the point on the top and the flat on the bottom.  You also see the layer of fat in between...although, most of it did render.

    image

  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,159
    henapple said:
    Don't go by temp on brisket or butts.I pulled my last one at 207 and it was tender and good. I screwed up my first several.
    I agree 100%. I think brisket needs some time in foil or paper after cooking too.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • How much fat are you trimming off? If you trim off too much, you'll get a dry result. I go by Aaron Franklin's youtube videos and try to trim about as much as he does.

    Over the last year and a half, I've tried higher temperatures (275-300), lower temps (225), foiling, injecting, and just about every other combination of variables you can think of. I finally nailed a brisket Christmas Eve. It was pretty close to the quality of the Franklin's brisket I had eaten a couple months earlier, and just in time to impress the family.

    Here's what I did:
    • Select untrimmed packer, 15 pounds. Grocery store didn't have choice or prime.
    • Trimmed the hard stuff off and cut off the grey stuff on the sides. If the end/side of the flat is too thin, I cut it off. Basically, trim according to Franklin videos.
    • Inject with low sodium beef broth. I inject with the grain to avoid streaking.
    • Rub with 3 tbsp kosher salt mixed with 3 tbsp pepper. (I don't worry about getting the right grain size on the pepper. I just use the standard HEB pepper.)
    • Smoke on mesquite lump (oak lump would probably be fine too, I'm just too cheap to buy it and mesquite works well without giving a mesquite taste) with oak wood chunks at 250 over plate setter. Drip pan filled with water under the brisket. (I know water isn't supposed to be necessary, but it's easy to add and I figure it can't hurt. So why not add it?) Drip pan slightly raised off the plate setter on foil balls. Brisket fat side down.
    • After roughly 6-8 hours when the bark on the brisket looks nice, wrap in non-waxed butcher paper.
    • Start testing for doneness at about 195. This is the standard "butter" test. Typically, I pull closer to 205 than 195, but it's important not to pull until it feels like butter. It's also not uncommon for me to get a second stall around 195 or 196 for a couple of hours, and sometimes the temperature even drops back down to the upper 180s. Usually when it comes out of that second stall, it's pretty much done.
    • Total cook time is 15-20 hours.
    • FTC for at least an hour.
    • Carve the flat against its grain. Carve the point and the flat underneath it together against the point's grain.
    Anyway, that method is working great for me. It took me about 8-10 briskets that I'd grade anywhere between a C and an A- before I locked into this method. Now I'm in the A+ range.
  • cazzycazzy Posts: 5,503
    @hen So just keep it going? What about the juiciness?  Should I foil with AJ or Beer, or baste?
    That's all preference on what texture you're looking for.  Don't foil with any type of liquid, you're foiling to help redistribute and so the fibers can relax a little.  Just wrap, and throw it on the counter for a hour minimum.  

  • Forgot to mention that I flip the brisket fat side up before carving.
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 10,886

    @hen So just keep it going? What about the juiciness?  Should I foil with AJ or Beer, or baste?

    My 2 most successful have been monitored by centex. I like Head Country, 225 with the digiq, start checking around 190 but in no way pull off till its tender as hell. I don't even mind my point falling apart. I just can't stand dry meat...reminds me of my jokes. (See)..The buzz word I keep reading is 195. Doesn't matter. Tender is the key. Each piece of meat is different. 195 is only a reference point. I've had butts go to 205 before I was happy.
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 10,886
    Oh, as cazzy said...Ftc for a while and let it rest. Put it on the cutting board to rest a while also. No hurry plus it means more beer time.
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • TerrebanditTerrebandit Posts: 770
    I always foil mine now. I usually do it around 165 IT. It's usually done at about 205 IT. Choice and prime cuts are best. I always cook them fat cap down.
    Dave - Austin, TX
  • @Caz As for the foil, I was referring to the "Texas Crutch" wrapping when it hits the stall in the 150f range.  Some people say to put fluid in, like the 3-2-1 method for ribs. 
    The fat layer would be the one between the flat and point, this was not a whole brisket, just a 3.25# piece of one.

    @clint i leave at least 1/4 inch of fat

    Any low and slow I do I FTC, and I let rest after I unwrap as well, too many times have I watched the fluids run out during carving just to end up serving dry nasty food.
  • cazzycazzy Posts: 5,503

    @Caz As for the foil, I was referring to the "Texas Crutch" wrapping when it hits the stall in the 150f range.  Some people say to put fluid in, like the 3-2-1 method for ribs. 

    The fat layer would be the one between the flat and point, this was not a whole brisket, just a 3.25# piece of one.

    @clint i leave at least 1/4 inch of fat

    Any low and slow I do I FTC, and I let rest after I unwrap as well, too many times have I watched the fluids run out during carving just to end up serving dry nasty food.
    Ah okay...I've never used the Texas Crutch. I have used paper though...which is different cause it doesn't steam your brisket like foil does.

  • ShiffShiff Posts: 1,087
    I used to inject but I'm not convinced that it makes a difference other than making a mess of the kitchen.  I find that most of mine are tender when the IT is closer to 205 than 195.  I don't pull until it passes the 'butta' test.

    Two great sources of brisket cooking information are:

    http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/1996/03/brisket.html

    and

    http://bubbatim.com/Bubba_s_Brisket.php
    Barry Lancaster, PA
  • I've tried the crutch, and ended up losing most of my bark and rub. I got a bland, but somewhat moist, brisket. Butcher paper works differently. It doesn't speed up your cook or destroy your bark. But it helps you from getting too much smoke and bark on the brisket, and may help with moistness.

    I've never cooked a brisket as small as 3.25#. Typically I'm in the 12-15 pound range. I'm wondering if the smaller size could have made a difference with the dryness? Just a hypothesis. Could be completely wrong. (Select down here in Texas is < $3/pound. So a bigger brisket is still pretty cheap. If my grocery store carried choice or prime, I'd probably buy it. But, I'm really happy with the results I'm getting with select compared with what I've gotten at places like Franklin's. Franklin has me beat, no question about that, but I'm getting close.)
  • Where in the world do you get these briskets that are 12-15 pounds.  We see them like 5-6 pounds around here.  Perhaps I need to move to Austin.
    Gregg
    Large BGE Owner since December of 2013!
  • Seems like half the forum is from Austin. Don't move here though... the traffic is terrible! :-)

    Pretty much the only untrimmed packers my local grocery store (HEB) ever puts out are in the 12-15 pound range. There's never any grade listed on the package, but whenever I've asked the butchers, they've always said select.
  • cazzycazzy Posts: 5,503

    Seems like half the forum is from Austin. Don't move here though... the traffic is terrible! :-)


    Pretty much the only untrimmed packers my local grocery store (HEB) ever puts out are in the 12-15 pound range. There's never any grade listed on the package, but whenever I've asked the butchers, they've always said select.
    It's definitely mostly dog food...I mean select. From time to time, they will get very fairly priced CAB.

  • TexansurfTexansurf Posts: 164

    It sounds like your cooking temps are OK, have you calibrated your thermometers?  As far as your completion temp, I pull my between 180F and 185F, and FTC for an hour.  If you are going to leave it on beyond this temp I would the egg temp below 200F

     Also some times in areas with low humidity I find that a pan of water will help keep things from drying out.  The best briskets I have ever made was actually in the rain.  Other than the difficulty of heating a very large piece of steel, (this was a custom trailer Q), which caused me to use twice the wood I normally would have, they came out great.   Regardless of my cooking device I try to cook between 220 and 250 planning on 1.5 hours per pound,  Depending on the humidity outside I put water in my drip pan and sprits periodically, trying not to let too much heat out.

     

    JB Custom Pit

    This belonged to an old Fraternity Bother.

    Corpus Christi, Texas.  LBGE, Weber Smoky Joe, and Aussie Walk-About
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 10,886

    Where in the world do you get these briskets that are 12-15 pounds.  We see them like 5-6 pounds around here.  Perhaps I need to move to Austin.

    I get mine at Sam's
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • Last one I did I tried pulling the naked packer off the egg at 165 then finished it up in a 250 oven using a turkey oven bag. Rather than using a toothpick method for doneness I poked on it with my finger outside the bag to judge how tender it was. Fat side down the whole time. Very tender and the bark was fine by me. Only downside was I went too heavy on the Worcestershire sauce during the rubdown.
    image

  • TexansurfTexansurf Posts: 164
    henapple said:
    Where in the world do you get these briskets that are 12-15 pounds.  We see them like 5-6 pounds around here.  Perhaps I need to move to Austin.
    I get mine at Sam's
    The main grocery chain in South and Central Texas is HEB, It can actually be hard to find a 12,;
    Corpus Christi, Texas.  LBGE, Weber Smoky Joe, and Aussie Walk-About
  • I clip my digiQ right to the dome probe and they keep pretty close temp readings, I set my dome to 250f knowing that grid should be 15-25 less. Side not, it took me about 11 hours and it was only a 3.25#, so something is not right.
  • DMWDMW Posts: 3,652
    I clip my digiQ right to the dome probe and they keep pretty close temp readings, I set my dome to 250f knowing that grid should be 15-25 less. Side not, it took me about 11 hours and it was only a 3.25#, so something is not right.

    I think the 3.25lb is the key here. Too small to get it tender by the time its done cooking without drying it out.
  • yzziyzzi Posts: 1,359
    I just tried the Butcher paper this weekend and it turned out a lot better than my last one. I think it would have been great if I had a couple more hours. I was at 195 and thought it was about done so I unwrapped the paper to dry out the bark some. Mistake. I was in a second stall, temp dropped after that. Never went past 195 but people were hungry so I pulled it and let it rest half of what I should have. Turned out tasting good but still too dry. Hopefully will do another for superbowl. Probably will do it overnight to buy some extra time.
    IMAG2592.jpg
    3264 x 1840 - 1M
    Dunedin, FL
  • cazzycazzy Posts: 5,503
    edited January 21
    I clip my digiQ right to the dome probe and they keep pretty close temp readings, I set my dome to 250f knowing that grid should be 15-25 less. Side not, it took me about 11 hours and it was only a 3.25#, so something is not right.

    I think the 3.25lb is the key here. Too small to get it tender by the time its done cooking without drying it out.
    I agree. As Cen-Tex would say, your fail came at the market when you bought a 3.25lb chunk of brisket.

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