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Post Mortem - 1st Brisket - Any Suggestions?

edited 8:56PM in EggHead Forum
I got my large egg 4 months ago and have loved everything it has spit out thus far (and it spits about twice a week)…until this past weekend when I did my first brisket. I’ve never cooked a brisket before on anything, but with all the great info I got off the forum I felt pretty good about my chances of getting it right the first time. I just don’t know what went wrong. It was okay, but not great. It was just tender enough to pull apart with fingers or cut with a fork, but the main problem is it was just barely moist. Here’s a rundown of what I did - if any of you long-time brisketeers have any suggestions I would greatly appreciate it![p]1. Meat – 5.5 lb flat bought at Costco (picked the one w/ the most fat…about 1/4” fat cap).
2. Prep – In general I followed a lot of the tips provided by Stogie in a past posting (and I did like the flavor of the rub/marinade…thanks Stogie). I slathered in steak sauce and prepared horseradish, sprinkled liberally w/ yum-yum steak seasoning, and wrapped in plastic overnight. Since there wasn’t much of a fat cap to begin with, I didn’t trim it at all. I let the meat stand at room temp for about 90 minutes before going on the egg, and hit it one more time with the rub too.
3. Setup – Indirect with place-setter and drip pan.
4. Fire – Followed Elder Ward’s procedure except I just made sure some big lumps were on the bottom and didn’t do any sorting other than that. Sure did work – I used less than 20% of the lump in a 13 hour cook. I didn’t go past the top of the firebox with the lump.
5. Cook - Cooked it fat cap up. I maintained 225 +/- 10 at the meat level throughout the cook. I checked my probes in boiling water before and after the cook to be sure they were accurate (and they were). I plateau-ed at around 150 degrees starting at 3 hours in and lasting about 5 hours. I hit 185 degrees at 13 hours. I then opened up the egg (for the first time since the cook started) and tried to slide the probe in and out. It didn’t slide that easy, so I gave it another 30 minutes. It still didn’t then, but as I was hungry enough to eat a horse (hey, there’s an idea!) I went ahead and yanked it. Poured a little beef broth over it and wrapped in foil and towel and put in an ice chest for about 45 minutes. Then took it out, scraped the fat off, and sliced it across the grain at about 3/8 of an inch.[p]If I had to guess, I’d say it was done way before 185 degrees and I just missed it. Either that or I needed to go further, but I can’t imagine that making it juicier. Help!!!


  • Rob,
    Your experience mirrors my 3 attempts. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong, but it sure ain't "fork tender"....

    The Naked Whiz
  • ravnhausravnhaus Posts: 311
    I think you may have cooked it a little long. 1 1/2 hours per pound is a good general rule, however with a small brisket I like to cut back on the time a little.
    Another problem may be the use of a flat instead of a whole brisket. I know some people swear by flats and or the "1/4 fat rule" but I think the key is all that fat cooking out of a whole one and self basting the meat. Most fat will cook out (use a drip pan!) and you can trim the rest off before serving, however many people prefer a bit of fat left on the slice.
    I have cooked many brisket over the years but have only cooked two on the egg so far, but both turned out great. Try again with a whole and see if you don't have better results.

  • Thanks ravnhaus, I'll see if I can't find a whole one somewhere for the next time. Question though - do you take yours off at a particular time based on hours/lb? Should I have started checking at the 1.5 hour/lb point regardless of the meat temp, and if the probe slid easy go ahead and pull it?
  • Rob,
    With small briskets time is not a good judge because it is misleading. Collagen takes time to break down and the amount of collagen and fat content will dictate the time needed.
    Was the brisket a select, choice or prime, this will make a difference, the only true test to see if a brisket is ready is to test it with a probe or fork.
    The fact that it was juicy is a good sign but more time was need. I normally won't even check a brisket for tenderness till it hits 188º internal. Had it been over cooked it would be dry.

  • Jim,[p]It was a choice cut. And I wouldn't call it juicy, it was just barely juicy...a half step from dry! I would think going even higher on the meat temp might increase the tenderness, but not make it juicier, right?

  • ravnhausravnhaus Posts: 311
    I checked my last one and it read 190°. I usually don't measure temp on brisket as I feel time is the defining factor. When I feel it has been long enough (lots of shrinkage, fat cap pulling away from the main piece, or just pure hunger) I usually pull, rest, and dig in.
    I forgot to mention earlier that I cook more in the 250° range. It speeds things up a bit and I have noticed no loss in quality.
    I think the Egg keeps the moisture in at these temps (250-275°) pretty good .
    Part of it is the cut of meat. Some are better than others. That can come down the luck of the draw. I can't bring myself to pay premium prices for brisket. If I see brisket for .49 per pound I buy it! We haven't had to throw any away yet!
    With a 5 pounder at 250° I would give it a look at 6 hours. It could be ready to go or it might need some more time. I would go with Jim on the at least 188° reading.

  • Rob,
    I miss read the juicy statement, If you where going to use foil I would do it once the flat readed 170 to 175º internal. After you wrap keep an eye on the internal temp, when it reaches 188º use the probe to check for tender. You will be able to feel the difference when it is done.
    I would rather finish a couple of hours early and hold a brisket than to try to rush one to finish.
    If you cook a whole brisket you will have a better chance of success.

  • ravnhaus,
    Meat protein is done at 160º internal but the connective tissues need more heat and time to break down. The balancing game is at what pit temp can you balance the moisture available to the protein to keep it moist and break down the collagen. Can use too low a pit temp and dry the product out, but the same thing happens if the pit temp is too high for different reasons.
    I agree that cooking closer to 250º is a good compromise
    to achieve the ballance you are looking for.

  • Thanks Jim...already thinking about trying #2 now!

  • Roger that. Thanks ravnhaus.
  • BierMuggBierMugg Posts: 40
    I have a Newbie Question. In the drip pan should there be any liquid in it like Beer or Doctor Pepper Soda? or will the ceramic cooker seal in the moisture? In my Big Metal Pit with a indirect firebox, We fill the bottom up with water and beer.[p]
    ej> The Naked Whiz,

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