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Briske-tastrophe

This is an unfortunate first post, however I think it will prove cathartic.  I've had my large for six months.  I bought it in early fall last year and have cooked quite a bit of faster items like burgers, steaks, shrimp, ahi steak, macaroni and cheese, bread, and even an apple pie.  I've smoked a few pork shoulders and was impressed with how this egg neophyte was able to get them to turn out.  Unfortunately, as the winter cooled and the snow piled up (at least as much as it happens in Indiana), my egg fell by the wayside and I've not cooked on it in a couple of months.  Sad, really.  However, I spent my hours in the warm house in front of the fireplace researching, learning, and egging vicariously through those in this forum.  I felt prepared to tackle what I really have wanted to try:  smoking a whole packer brisket. Little was I to know what a fall from grace was about to transpire.

I had yesterday off work and inspired by the first sunny, warm day we've had in quite some time, I thought it wise to run by Costco to have a look at their brisket selection.  I found a 13.5 pound, well-marbled, quite floppy brisket and merrily threw it in the cart and sped off toward the checkout, impressed by how empty Costco is at 3:00 pm on a weekday versus mid-day Saturday when I typically visit.  I threw it in the fridge and headed off to pick up a couple more bags of Rockwood, just to make sure the brisket cook wouldn't put me in a position of being low.  I also picked up a shaker of DP's Crossroads while I was at it.  After throwing the coals and rub in the trunk, I bebopped my way home, windows down, wind in my hair, and thinking of the succulent brisket to be had the next day.  Little was I to know what a fall from grace was about to transpire.

I got the brisket out of the packer, let it drain and patted it dry.  After trimming a couple pounds of hard fat from it, I rubbed it up and threw it back in the fridge until I was ready to throw it on around 9:00.  At 7:00 I cleaned out the egg just to be sure the last wisps of ash from the pork shoulder a couple months prior were not to be found.  At 7:45 I had the coals, filled to the top, lit and things seemed to be stable at 240 degrees or so--where my egg likes to settle when I've done low and slow in the past.  I let it cook, sans brisket, until 8:45 or so when I pulled the pièce de résistance out of the refrigerator and threw it on the egg, point to the back, fussing that I had it just so-so as my weeks of reading had indicated.  The temperature probe went in the middle of the flat, and I shut the lid, not to be seen for another 12 hours or so.  Little was I to know what a fall from grace was about to transpire.

I monitored the brisket for the next couple hours, and the temperature was rising steadily--I was almost afraid it was too rapid.  However, reading indicated this can happen so I resisted the urge to fuss over it and let it lie.  When I went to bed, it was at 125 degrees and the dome was at 240--right where it should be.  The wireless thermometer's alarm was set to 185 degrees so I would awaken just in case it rose too fast.  Little was I to know what a fall from grace was about to transpire.

I awoke at 6:30 this morning to find the brisket at 128 degrees and dropping.  The dome temp was not at 240--it was near ambient.  So, the $50 brisket went into the trash, along with any gusto I had remaining in my pre-coffee, disappointed state.  It appears the fire had died overnight.  Strange that it would have happened, however I cannot ultimately know the cause.  We did receive rain overnight and with the DFMT I suppose there is the slightest of chance water would have entered, however I cannot imagine how any small amount of water would have entered the barely-open louvers, made its way around the brisket, through the platesetter, and extinguished what was a well-established fire.  After a few cups of coffee and after this current shower passes, I plan to do a bit more extensive failure analysis to see if I can spot anything that might point to the demise of this adventure.

But as I was brought up:  It is OK to fail, we just need to learn from our mistakes, adjust, and not make them again.  I will try a brisket hopefully next weekend when the weather is warmer once more.  I will be purchasing a CyberQ to primarily give me analytics of how the cook went.  As someone working in IT, I live and die by my data so I think that would help to inform how a cook went and keep a record.  Also having a controller, while it might not be purist, will allow me to sleep as I wish without needing to worry about maintaining the temperature.  I will also make sure the alarms I set to awaken during the night are actually enabled (yes, I think this is what ultimately led to the demise of the perfectly fine piece of meat).  

I hope someone got a kick out of this--but if nothing else helps me air my frustrations and look forward to the next adventure.

Happy egging!
Todd

Comments

  • You will fit in nicely around here. Hate how that went for you but nice first post anyway. We’ve all been there. 

    Little Rock, AR

  • GATravellerGATraveller Posts: 5,414
    edited April 14
    It happens. We learn more from our failures. I probably would have cranked it back up and kept on cooking but I'd never recommend anyone else following suit. Better luck next time. 
    Thanks for posting  

    "Social media gives legions of idiots the right to speak when they once only spoke at a bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community [...] but now they have the same right to speak as a Nobel Prize winner. It's the invasion of the idiots."

                                                                                  -Umberto Eco

    2 Large
    Peachtree Corners, GA
  • FoghornFoghorn Posts: 6,480
    Welcome aboard.  We're here for you.  I doubt anyone will get a kick out of your misfortune - but I suspect a lot will learn from it.

    XL BGE, Klose BYC, ProQ Excel, Weber Kettle, Firepit, Grand Turbo gasser, and a portable Outdoor Gourmet gasser for tailgating

    San Antonio, TX

  • ColtsFanColtsFan Posts: 1,789
    Welcome! Nice to have another Hoosier here. 

    Try and try again. A controller definitely gives me piece of mind for my overnight cooks. I didn't always use one and would be up all night worrying about it. 



    Two large BGE, KJ Jr, 36" Blackstone, FlameBoss 300
    Follow me on Instagram @ hoosier_egger
    Bloomington, IN - Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoosiers!
  • kl8tonkl8ton Posts: 2,296
    Welcome.  Thanks for sharing. I have had a fire go out overnight too.  My protein was still over 140, so I was able to get it in the oven while I re-lit the egg, and got it stable again.  I like your "get back on the horse" attitude.  It will make you respect the brisket and make your first brisket success that much more pleasureable.

    Happy egging!
    LBGE - 36Blackstone
    Grand Rapids MI
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,940
    Hi, triker,

    Erm, I hope you won't feel worse, but the brisket was probably still good, and if you got the fire going again quickly, you might have ended up w. something decent.

    The food safety rules are written w. a large error margin. If the surface of the brisket was 128F, pathogens could not grow on it, or if they did, the growth rate is is so slow as to take longer than 4 hours. The "danger zone" of 140F or below for 4 hours is to ensure double plus safety. At 140F, even if some one sneezes on food, and pathogens will be dead in about a minute. Look at the following. Not that the maximum temp when any pathogen can grow is below 140, the worst being bacillus cereus, which does not infect meat.

    I did some tests myself, and found that an Egg w. dome at 250 took over 90 minutes to reach ambient after all the vents were shut. So even if the meat temp was below the safe line, it probably had not been there longer than 4 hours.

    And given that the inside of an Egg is very inhospitable to pathogens, being filled w. formaldehyde and creosote from the smoke, its more unlikely there was anything growing.

    FWIW, I pitched a bunch of stuff early on, but nothing as pricey as a brisket, so I'm sure you feel really poorly.
  • thetrimthetrim Posts: 5,671
    No perfect people allowed here.  
    =======================================
    XL 6/06, Mini 6/12, L 10/12, Mini #2 12/14 MiniMax 3/16
    Tampa Bay, FL
    EIB 6 Oct 95
  • 20stone20stone Posts: 1,481
    Great post!

    +1 on two points made:
    • I would have probably relit and cooked (since you cook to ~200F), all the bugs that flourished will perish, more or less
    • Contollers are good for sleep.  I bought mine years ago after a second fire out experience on a snowy night
    Other point:
    • You might try stabilizing it hotter (275F is happy w my egg), giving you a little more margin)

    LBGE since 2008 and a MM from 2016
    Karubeque C-60 Dishwasher (when time is no object)
    Owner of multiple large scale refrigeration devices (sometimes too many)
    Vertically integrated BBQ and charcuterie operator, for recreational use only
    Elicitor of secrets from goats through unconventional methods
    Sourdough bread enthusiast

    Houston, TX

  • THEBuckeyeTHEBuckeye Posts: 4,044
    What do the IT folks tell you? 

    Operator error

    Shake it off and Egg on! 
    New Albany, Ohio 

  • trikertriker Posts: 5
    Thanks all for the comments and reassurance.  To the folks mentioning the meat was probably safe:  I was on the fence about it.  I'd rather throw $50 (and more importantly the time I spent) in the trash than chance anything.  No big deal--there are more cows and Costco is happy to sell me as much beef as I'd like to purchase.

    In any event it was a good learning experience and I have picked up tips for next time.  It's great to have a community that's been there, done that, and can set me straight!
  • LvnthedrmLvnthedrm Posts: 130

    Sorry for the mishap but like the get back on the horse attitude. Good luck next weekend. As for cause of why the fire went out, I’ve had the fire go out on me once cooking an overnight pork butt. After deductive reasoning and thought I came to the conclusion that it was because I filled the egg with the remainder of a bag of lump and all the fines at the bottom of the bag killed air flow. Just a thought.

  • drumdudeguydrumdudeguy Posts: 95
    edited April 14
    I have the solution. Buy a $90 Beef Tenderloin and cut into thirds. That’s $30 a meal. Cook on high rack over direct heat at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Perfect every time! It’s more tender and less expensive.
    Charlotte NC - Large Big Green Egg (2009) w/Nest and Handler
    Accessories: PSWOO, Adjustable Rig, Smokeware Cap and Temperature Gauge
  • You’re not a real Egger until you have made bad brisket. 

    Welcome!

    "Brought to you by bourbon, bacon, and a series of questionable life decisions."

    South of Nashville, TN

  • R2Egg2QR2Egg2Q Posts: 1,982
    Welcome aboard! Sorry about your brisket.  Blame it on Fri the 13th. ;) 

    As mentioned, one of the many controller choices is nice for a getting some sleep.   A remote pit & meat thermo (like a Thermoworks Smoke) with a low temp alarm is a good option.  Another option is get up early and cook at a higher temp for a shorter cook during the day while you’re awake and able to monitor it.  

    We’ll want to see pics of your next one as it’ll be good!
    XL, Large, Small, Mini Eggs, Humphrey's Weekender, Superior Smokers SS-Two, MAK 1-Star General, Hasty Bake Gourmet, Santa Maria Grill, Thai Charcoal cooker, Webers: 18.5" WSM, 22.5" OTG, 22.5" Kettle Premium, WGA Charcoal, Summit S-620 NG

    Bay Area, CA
  • FockerFocker Posts: 8,281
    I have the solution. Buy a $90 Beef Tenderloin and cut into thirds. That’s $30 a meal. Cook on high rack over direct heat at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Perfect every time! It’s more tender and less expensive.
    LOL
    Brandon
    Quad Cities
    "If yer gonna denigrate, familiarity with the subject is helpful."

  • Philly35Philly35 Posts: 734
    Well your first problem is not using your egg in the winter. It ain’t a pellet grill, fire that thing up! A real egger don’t care what it’s doing outside, the egg doesn’t care either!
    NW IOWA
  • SSQUAL612SSQUAL612 Posts: 897
    Welcome Aboard!   Brisket Bummer...we’ve all been there.   Love my FB for overnighters, it sends low pit temp alarms to my phone.  Keep the post coming & Brisket can be challenging yet rewarding. 
    SoCal  XL BGE 2016, MES, 18.5 WSM,  36"&17" Black Stone, Adj Rig, Woo, Grill Grates, SS Smokeware Cap, KAB,  FB 300, Thermapen 
  • 20stone said:
    Great post!

    +1 on two points made:
    • I would have probably relit and cooked (since you cook to ~200F), all the bugs that flourished will perish, more or less
    • Contollers are good for sleep.  I bought mine years ago after a second fire out experience on a snowy night
    Other point:
    • You might try stabilizing it hotter (275F is happy w my egg), giving you a little more margin)

    I would have eaten it for sure. My egg also likes 260-275 so I let it go there. Never goes out when it's in that sweet spot. 
    1- LGBE
    1- KBQ C-60 (The Dishwasher)
    I- Blackstone 36" Griddle
    1- Sweet-A$$ Roccbox Pizza Oven
    1-Very Understanding and Forgiving Wife
  • StillH2OEggerStillH2OEgger Posts: 1,909
    Sorry this one didn't work out, but thanks for sharing your pain. We've all had our learning experiences.
    Stillwater, MN
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 16,773
    edited April 14
    Great intro post.  Eggcellent writing right there.  Your call on the brisket and as Leroy "satchel" Paige said, "Don't look back, somethin' might be gainin' on ya."  
    That said, You may want to see if you can stabilize at higher temp the next time, but since you are moving on to a controller that is not gonna be an issue, til the controller goes sideways ;).
    And great attitude.  
    Edit:  As part of your post incident critique, you may have experienced a straight down burn where the fire did not not expand outward, rather burned straight down. 
    Louisville;  L & S BGEs, PBC, Lang 36; Burnin' wood in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer.  
  • cssmd27cssmd27 Posts: 272
    Sorry about the outcome.  We've all had disasters of some sort.

    This doesn't make you feel any better, but I agree with everyone that is saying it was probably fine.  As a matter of fact, I would pretty much guarantee you it was fine.  Bacteria are only an issue on the surface of solid pieces of meat.  If you create and maintain an essentially sterile surface (which I think you did with the original heat), the meat will be fine indefinitely in regards to pathogens.
    Dallas (University Park), Texas
  • HendersonTRKingHendersonTRKing Posts: 1,181
    Great post!  You did everything with the right attitude and still got bent over!  We've all been there . . . and now you know for next that you coulda re-lit and got the beast back to cooking.  The only mistakes are experiences you don't learn from!  Egg on!  
    It's a 302 thing . . .
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 11,122
    No worries. Plenty more briskets to take a crack at. 

    So so what do you think happened? Not enough lump? Fire choked out? Something else?

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • CornfedMACornfedMA Posts: 100
    What do the IT folks tell you? 

    Operator error

    Shake it off and Egg on! 
    Operator error and “have you tried restarting the machine.”

    I’m sure this experience hurt a little, but better luck, and grub is in your future. 
  • bluebird66bluebird66 Posts: 2,034
    Welcome!!
    Large Egg with adjustable rig, Kick Ash Basket and various Weber's
    Floyd Va

  • trikertriker Posts: 5
    edited April 16
    caliking said:
    So so what do you think happened? Not enough lump? Fire choked out? Something else?
    I definitely had enough lump.  After doing a post-mortem this afternoon (prior to successfully smoking a couple turkey breasts, I might add) it looks like I had two issues:

    1. Too much lump.  I should have left more air space between the bottom of the platesetter and the top of the lump.  Rookie mistake--easy to fix from now on.  The fire burnt, as lousubcap mentioned might have been the case, the fire burnt nearly vertically with little horizontal involvement.  I'm supposing that was due to the little breathing room from the top of the lump to the platesetter as well as an improper job in lighting it (could have used a couple more spots, possibly).
    2. The thermometer was mis-calibrated.  I'm sure the time the thermometer sat for the several months of swings of relative extreme cold and warmth under the black cover did not help maintain what was a good calibration from last fall.  It was reading nearly 35 degrees too warm.  This means what I thought was 240 was really more like 205.  From what I have read (and now demonstrated) temperatures below 250 are tough to maintain, and it just gets logarithmically worse the lower the temperature.

    In any case, thanks, all, for the warm welcome and the encouragement.  I look forward to the next brisket attempt!

    edit: formatting
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 16,773
    Thanks for the feed-back.  You have the right approach.  BTW- you definitely had a solid initial approach to get your fire to hold that true temp for that duration.  
    And since I'm here, a couple of things to mention-believe your indications-but the only way to do that is to keep them in calibration.  I check my dome thermo ( no controller here) prior to every L&S cook unless I just did it within the past 4-6 weeks.  The tel-tru thermos are extremely stable.  I have only adjusted one around 5*F in the past several years.  But I continue the process.  
    Always remember , "The friggin cow drives the cook." 
    Louisville;  L & S BGEs, PBC, Lang 36; Burnin' wood in the neighbourhood. # 38 for the win.  Life is too short for light/lite beer.  
  • onedbguruonedbguru Posts: 1,552
    I hope you got out this thread that throwing the meat away may have been the wrong thing to do.  I have had the fire go out before, just re-lit it and kept going - turned out GREAT! and no food-borne illness. 
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