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Bungled Brisket

We Had a brisket go bad and I am looking for ideas on what we did wrong. Here are the basics. It was about a 5 lb brisket well trimmed. We smoked it for about 6 hours. It was at 250 for the first 2 hours ( we also had two racks of babay back ribs in there) the last four hours it smoked alone at about 300.[p]We smoked to an internal temperature of 165. It came out tough as hell. It was like trying to eat fiber reinforced shoe leather. [p]Here are some things I know we did wrong, the question is, was it enough to ruin the meat or did we start with a bad hunk of brisket?
We put the rub on a half our before smoking rather than the night before. The rub was aweful, it was an old store bought mix that lost its punch and needed some sweetening. We smoked over apple for the ribs (which came out good) but the apple was not so good for the beef. We have had beter luck with Pecan. We had to open the Egg several times to add wood / lump to the fire. I put the brisket in a V-rack with foil underneath fat side up though the brisket was very well trimmed. My best guess is that the Gods of the BGE just got P*ssed that we hurried the whole process and punished us accordingly.[p]Well I think that covers it. The meat ended up as a special treat for the coyotes. A gift I hope never to repeat.
Any thoughts would be appreciated[p]Bart Hays


  • Nature BoyNature Boy Posts: 8,523
    Bart Hays,
    Sounds like it was woefully undercooked! Those oft-used muscles need a long cook to break down the connective tissue. [p]Try at least 10 hours until you reach an internal temp of 185-200. When you can twist a fork in it, remove and wrap tight in foil to rest for 30 minutes or more. Then slice against the grain.[p]Cheers!
    Twitter: @dizzypigbbq
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  • sdbeltsdbelt Posts: 267
    Bart Hays,[p]Like Nature Boy says, you just undercooked it. Also, why did you cook it at 300 for the last 4 hours? The 250 temp was a good choice for the whole cook. Maybe as high as 275, but 300 is kinda hot for a low and slow.[p]Otherwise, I think the rub situation isn't a big deal. I believe the length of the rub describes how deep the flavor penetrates, but not really how the meat turns out. And I also don't think the wood has any affect on the tenderness of the meat. Again, just flavor.[p]So try it next time, cooking to an internal temp of near 200, and hopefully you get a great brisket.[p]--sdb
  • MarvMarv Posts: 177
    Bart Hays,
    I have cooked hundreds of briskets and to be quite honest, some are just plain bad cuts when we get them. With that said, with that much meat in the BGE you did not cook long enough. My briskets cook for 1-1/4 hrs. per lb. to an internal temp. of 180. You can UNDER COOK one but you can not OVER COOK one. The longer you cook the more tender it is. In your case, I would have rotated the ribs and brisket maybe a couple of times and cooked for 8-10 hrs. you wouldn't have had to feed it to the coyotes, your own 'wolves' would have devoured it.[p]Marv

  • DavidRDavidR Posts: 178

    "You can UNDER COOK one but you can not OVER COOK one. The longer you cook the more tender it is."[p]Well, Marv, I wish to hell I knew what the heck it is that I'm doing wrong then. If you wouldn't mind reading my "Nature Boy: Brisket again" thread, and give your 2 cents worth, I'd appreciate it greatly. My first two briskets turned out dry and tough in the flat, and I can't figure out what's wrong with my setup.[p]

  • StogieStogie Posts: 279
    Bart,[p]I am willing to bet that your AVERAGE temps were much lower than what you may think. You mentioned opening the lid several times, that will drain the heat and can take a while to bounce back. Many claim adding another 10-15 minutes per lid opening to the cooking time.[p]Also, not sure why the foil, but that will act as a heat shield...MUCH cooler directly above the foil(It is similar to the water pan in my WSM....20º difference between that and the top grate). Heat goes around the foil and misses the meat directly above it. That goes double for anything on the lower rack. Now you have all the heat going up the sides of the cooker directly into the exhaust hole.

    Another thing, where are you taking your temp readings? If at the dome, that is another 10-20º difference from the top grate(30-40º from the foil barrier).[p]I don't own an egg, but it can't be that different than my vertical smoker.[p]Next time, measure your temps directly at your meat level. I place a Polder right on top of my meat. Don'yt worry about laying that lid on the cord...been doing it for 5 years and haven't lost one yet.[p]The time may also have been too short. When cooking just the flats, you must judge on thickness, NOT weight. I have had the same weight flats cook anywhere from 1 hr/lb. to 2 hr./lb. all depends on thickness.[p]I hope I am not too far off-base on this stuff...I do not own an egg and am not sure how many racks, where you measure temps, etc.[p]One thing on cooking brisket and MUST keep your temps low. Here is why......[p]The goal when cooking low and slow is to maintain the "plateau" for as long as possible. That plateau(which happens around 160º) is the start of the connective tissue breaking down and the longer that is held, the better the results. If you blast thru that level because of high heat, the tissue does not break down properly. I have had plateaus last as long as 4 hours and those have provided me with the best results.[p]I have learned from several old time pros, keep your temps at 225º. I know many will say up to 250º and that is fine for ribs and chicken, but for pork butt and brisket, I find I get much better results at 225º. My cook-offs have verified this many times. When I pay close attention to the temps and maintain a steady 225º, I win ribbons. When I get drastic spikes, I lose..always![p]Best of luck to you in the future![p]Stogie[p][p]

  • CatCat Posts: 556
    Stogie,[p]My dear departed Q mentor (not an Egger) was of the hold-that-plateau school. I've done tender, juicy butts that never went over 170 internal. He also taught me that heat transfer happens by inches, not by pounds...and that it's good to know the temperature at meat level. [p]The laws of physics don't care what equipment you're cooking on. ;-}[p]Thanks for the great post -[p]Cathy
  • StogieStogie Posts: 279
    Cathy,[p]Thanks! Just sharing my years of experience and giving back to those that have helped me.[p]bbqflames.gif

  • MarvMarv Posts: 177
    sorry for not getting back sooner, my cable connection has been off and on since Sunday.
    But I hope you read the follow up by Stogie, he hit the nail on the head about cooking butts & briskets.[p]Marv
    Need more info? e-mail me

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