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Old 08-04-2007, 10:52 PM   #1
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First Beef Brisket

Hi Y'all, I FINALLY found a whole beef brisket. I went to a local Korean butcher to see what they had and happened to have one of these bad boys when I asked.

01 Just rinsed it and about to apply rub


If you can see, I have NO clue how to cook this thing, so if any of you are up tonight and feel like chiming in, then please do. So far I cut this thing because it seems like a thick lump on one side and relatively thin on the other side. So I didn't cut in half, but kinda close. I'll take another picture soon to help y'all out. I applied a fairly standard paste of French's Mustard and then applied the rub. Main ingredients are tornado sugar, chili pepper, hot pepper flakes, black pepper, garlic salt and Spanish paprika. Beer in the cook is preventing me from remembering what else when on it.

After cooking for about two hours, I created an injection based on one of our fellow posters (wine, better than boulion, butter, garlic, etc.) I bought a cheapie injector at Bed Bath and Beyond because I don't really cook 8 Million of these things a year. It's made of 18/8 stainless steel, so hopefully, it will hold up a bit until I can justify one of those bug sprayer-looking injector things.
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Old 08-04-2007, 11:06 PM   #2
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Here is one of the first things I ever researched on trimming brisket.

This really helped me:

http://www.azbbqa.net/articles/brisket-trim.htm
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Old 08-04-2007, 11:30 PM   #3
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Thanks Diva. I didn't follow those/know about that so, we'll see what happens when this is done. I'll use that next time

more pictures

002 Cheapie stainless steel injector



003 Briskets at the 3 hour mark (around Midnight)



004 Temps shortly after that last picture (3 hour mark)

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Old 08-04-2007, 11:38 PM   #4
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Looking good so far!!!!!!
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Old 08-05-2007, 03:40 AM   #5
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STOP OPENING THE LID !!!! lol..
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Old 08-05-2007, 05:04 AM   #6
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Mystery Oxygen

Well, I just pulled the little one off and its in a cooler staying warm, resting in an aluminum pan covered with foil. My thermometer (above) said 190 and several Thermapin pokings showed around 194.

The bigger (thicker) one is showing 177 (above) and many pokings show in the mid 170's for the thick part and 190 for the thinner part and some 180's in between. I also noticed pieces up close to the side of the WSM were higher than the opposite sides (touching the little piece). Hmmm. Radiant heat aiding the cook-time??? Imagine that. So I spun it around to even the internal temps out.

Well, last night for at least 5 hours, the dome temp was closer to 275 and I was cooking on the lower rack (in anticipation of a longer cook time and needing my ribs up top). This morning (2-3 hours sleep), noticed the temp with all lower vents at 0 open produced a dome temp of 225. Last night, as soon as I cranked any of these guys open a bit, it'd shoot up to 270 degrees.

Funny thing is I put more unlit charcoal (filled my WSM charcoal ring to the limit) and used 5 fairly large wood chunks by store bought standards and only used 20 lit coals initially.

Something I did wrong??? I'm so used to my temps nose diving after the initial start that I usually have to add hot ones to get the party started or look at much lower dome temps (sub 200), eeehhhh. 'nuff said. temp control in reverse last night.

I never weighed these guys, but based on the price the guy charged (it was in USDA stamped cryovac, but never had a lable indicating weight), i'd say it was close to 11 or 12 pounds, and I didn't trim NO fat off this thing.

So, my question here is.....is the 190's a good temp to take off? I know pork butt y'all have different answers, but it seems like 190-200 is ok for that and 210+ is gonna need some 9-1-1 (based on my last effort). So, is there a bunch of fat inside brisket that will help prevent similar dryness, or is the 190's ok for brisket? Also, I injected with a bunch of yummy wine mixture barely into the cook, so hopefully, that will help?


much obliged
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Old 08-05-2007, 07:01 AM   #7
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Temps calming down this morning

After taking out the one brisket, it seems the WSM's 'attitude' has subsided. Easier to maintain temps (no need to close all my vents now).

Below is my fattie. It consists of a Jimmy Dean Maple flavored sausage (I was in too much of a hurry to look for my maple syrup) and some blueberry syrup that I wanted to finish up. The rub consists of Wolfe Rub Bold. In a couple of hours, it will be added to an egg and muffin to make an EMF (Egg McFattie). Yeah, Baby!!!!!!




The real reason for this whole bbq was to smoke some pork ribs for use in my test chili. Hope it helps. The rub consists of tornado sugar, lots of black pepper, salt and lots of paprika

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Old 08-05-2007, 07:15 AM   #8
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Looking good so far. How about the taste? You also have to stop openning the lid so much.
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Old 08-05-2007, 07:57 AM   #9
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Thanks Nick. No idea on taste yet. I'll probably chop up the done brisket soon.

Note: All that heat I had last night came at a cost: it burned up most of my charcoal thus my dome temp crossed 225 and is only now recovering since i added some lit and unlit charcoal.

Update: I chopped up the small brisket. It seemed a little dry if you slice it, but if you chop and mix it up with some of the fat, then its really good.

Any advice on how to cut up the larger piece would be appreciated. Its been cooking for 13 hours and is at 168. I'm assuming I need to cook to at least 190, correct?

After going for 3 hours at or below 225, I got the dome temp up to 250 and has been steady for the last 2 hours.

Here's some of the flat. Yummy. Not much "heat" in it, but a slight & gentle warming of the mouth and not much smokiness.



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Old 08-05-2007, 02:06 PM   #10
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All done. I pulled the other piece of brisket off and let it stand for at least an hour foil wrapped. This one was much juicier, but it also had a lot of fat and the wine injection as well. I have now learned why you trim the fat BEFORE you put it on the bbq, altough some Texas recipe called for the trimming after the fact like what I did. Oh well, it wasn't much fun. Some of my meat came out fine and some is still riddled with fat, so I'll use it for something else. Also, my water pan must have evaporated all the water and replaced with grease, like a gallon of it. Very nasty.

This is going to take practice. The ribs came out ok, although I cut the brisket off one rack incorrectly. Oh well, that's the good thing about a sharp butcher knife? Makes cutting bones easy?

I'll post a pic of the last brisket after I had sliced it up.
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Old 08-05-2007, 04:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diva Q
Here is one of the first things I ever researched on trimming brisket.

This really helped me:

http://www.azbbqa.net/articles/brisket-trim.htm
Thanks! Good information.

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Old 08-05-2007, 05:12 PM   #12
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Here's something I wrote awhile ago. I warn you, it's on the long side. You might want to print it out and save it for your next brisket.

BRISKET STEP BY STEP

Shop, Trim, Marinate, Inject, Rub, Smoke, Rest. Carve. Serve.

Shop:

Purchase a "packer cut" whole brisket, Choice or CAB if possible. At the very least try to get better than Select grade. If you've got a selection available to you try to buy between 9 and 11 lbs, with white fat, as marbled and pliable as possible. (After cooking, anticipate 40% waste of untrimmed weight.)

Trim:
(10 minutes)

If you've got a butcher you trust have him trim the fat cap to 1/8" to 1/4", but tell him not to trim down to red meat. If you're reasonably proficient with a large knife go ahead and trim yourself. Try and leave the thinnest possible, but fully intact fat cap. If that sounds like it might be too difficult, forget the trimming.

Marinate:
(30 minutes - 24 hours)

In a pan just large enough to hold the brisket, make a marinade of 3 tbs each of red wine, worcestershire sauce and extra virgin olive oil. Slosh the brisket around in the marinade, making sure all surfaces are moistened. Allow the brisket to marinate at least 1/2 an hour at room temperature, or as long as overnight in the refrigerator. During that time the marinade will mix with the beef juices and partially coagulate into a syrup. This is desirable. Turn the brisket over occasionally during the marinade period.

Inject:
(45 minutes)

1 cup beef stock or broth
1 cup wine
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
4 tbs salted butter, cold.

Reduce the stock by half. Add the wine and garlic. Reduce by half again. Strain through cheesecloth or a tea strainer so solids will not clog injector needle. Return to heat until simmering. Remove from heat, and add the butter 1 tbs at a time, whisking as butter melts from residual heat. Mixture will thicken as the butter forms an emulsion.

Fill an injecting syringe with the mixture and inject the brisket. Make many small injections, rather than a few small ones, as large injections will puddle rather than disperse.

Rub:
(15 minutes)

1/2 cup Morton Kosher salt
1/4 cup sweet paprika
3 tbs coarsely fresh ground black pepper
2 tbs smoked paprika, or mild chili powder, or 1 tbs ground chipotle chili
1 tbs granulated garlic
1 tbs granulated onion
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Mix all thoroughly. Remove the brisket from the marinade. Pour a little extra virgin olive oil on it and spread it to cover. Cover the brisket generously with the rub. If the fat cap is untrimmed, don't bother using rub on that side.


Smoke:
(12 to 20 hours)

Prepare your smoker to run between 225 and 275. I prefer 275, but your realtionship with your smoker is what it is, and it will do what it will do. Don't make yourself nuts by trying to make it do something that's too much trouble for you. If you're using a small offset use water, a water-wine mix, or beer in the water pan. If you're using a WSM, use sand or some other dry material. If you have one, use a digital probe type thermometer, placed as close to where the meat will go to monitor cooking process.

When the smoker is prepped, place brisket in the cooking chamber, fat side down. If you have one, insert the probe from a digital thermometer to keep track of internal temperatures.

Smoke over red oak if possible, but nearly any of the usual smoke woods will turn out well.

Do not open cook chamber door for three hours. After three hours, flip the brisket over fat side up. If your cooker runs uneven temps from side to side, rotate the meat as well. Replenish the water pan. Continue replenishing water pan every three hours. If necessary rotate the brisket at those times.

Figure total cook time according to average chamber temperature and weight of brisket. 225 deg - ~2hrs/lb. 275 deg - ~1-1/4 hrs/lb. Stop adding smoke wood chunks or chips at one half of estimated time or when meat reaches internal temperature of 145, whichever comes first. If you're buring sticks or logs for heat, don't worry about it. You're cool.

Some people wrap when the meat hits 160. If not sure whether or not you should, you probably should. If so, wrap in aluminum foil. Before sealing packet add a little bit of the injection mix to the pack plus a rough chopped onion. (I don't wrap, but that's me). Return the brisket to your 'cue.

When the brisket hits an internal temperature of 185, remove the wrap and return the brisket to the smoker, continue cooking until brisket reaches an internal temperature of 195.

It's likely that during the cooking process, somewhere above 150, continuing until up to 185, the internal temperature increase will slow or stop. This is called "the stall." It's common with whole butts or picnics and almost universal with brisket. It's normal. Don't worry about, be patient. Temperatures will rise.

Wrap:
(5 minutes)

When brisket reaches 195 (or 190 if it's still stalling) remove it from the cooker, wrap it in saran wrap (not aluminum foil) and set it in an insulated cooler just large enough to hold it. Pack the cooler with wadded newspaper to fill the remaining air space. Cover the cooler and make sure the cover is closed.

Rest:
(2 - 6 hours)

Rest for at least 2 hours, and up to 6. The extended rest is part of the cooking process. Don't shortcut it.

Carve:
(20 minutes)

Separate the point from the flat. If you have a substantial fat cap, trim it. If the flat is splis into two pieces with a layer of fat between them, separate the pieces and trim the fat. Cut one of the flats in half, cutting against the grain. Carve an interior piece, about 1/4" thick and taste it. If it wants to fall apart or is very, very tender you'll be carving thick slices. If it's tough, you'll be carving thinner slices.

Carve the flat into slices between 1/8" and 1/2" thick, depending on tenderness. Always cut across the grain. If you're good with a knife, try a 20 degree bias to get some width.

Carve the point into slices as well. (The point may be so tender it falls into chunks. If so, mix the chunks with hot barbecue sauce and serve on buns as "sloppy joes." REAL SLOPPY JOES by the way. The point is substantially fatter than the flat.) Some people prefer the point, some the flat, some a mix.

Any leftovers ... don't count on it.

Serve:
(chomp, mmmm, tchick, mmmm, nn)

Serve with your preferred tomato based barbecue sauce. Texas, Memphis, Cajun and Kansas City styles are good. Beef and Carolina style sauces are not good partners.

Accompaniments can range from standard barbecue to rather high end. Generally, beef prefers savory companions rather than the sweeter ones which go so well with pork.

If you drink: A full and fruity red like a Zin, Syrah or Shiraz is nice. Beer is never misunderstood.

Hope this helps,
Rich
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Old 08-06-2007, 09:14 AM   #13
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Rich,
Thanks for the "Brisket Guide". I know I really should have done my homework ahead of time because my results would have been much different. It's just that I got this thing unexpectedly and wanted to smoke some ribs (and figured it wouldn't hurt to do both).

Some misconceptions that I found out while cooking this thing and your guide would help point out:

1. the flat is less fattier than the point. True and if I known or researched ahead of time, I'd inject it more than I did.
2. You recommend marindade and injection before the rub. I injected while it was on the smoker (after the rub was put on). I did this to save time. I had other things going on and had to make the injection recipe, so figured it could smoke a little. Downside of this is that I couldn't get a decent amount of injections in there.
3. Many small injections are better than a fewer large ones to prevent puddling. You may be on to something here. I'll agree with you.
4. You recommend separating the flat and point AFTER the smoke. I guess this is up to the individual. I'd think that if you could separate them and trim the fat before cooking, then there'd be less of a mess when carving. I had lots of fat at carving because I didn't cut this very well. My main fear was that the flat was thinner than the point and it would overcook/dry out before the larger point got cooked (but I didn't cut along the fat like I should have and it was weird).
5. plastic wrap (instead of foil) and fill cooler with newspaper. why? what does this do? I did the way I wasn't supposed to...I pulled at around 190 (many different instant readings between 190 and 200) and foiled and put in the cooler for at least an hour. Not sure if it was 2 hours. It was still hot when I pulled it out to carve.
6. Yes, there was a pause around 160 for several hours. It was odd that the smaller chunk (about half the flat), cooked fairly fast (8 hours?) and was clearly done. When I lifted the lid for a while and then had issues needing more charcoal (could not sustain 270 dome temp and barely maintained 200 dome temp), it seemed my point dropped 10 degrees and substantially slowed its temp climbing. That is, there was a time when the flat and point were several degrees apart and then were only 10 degrees apart, with the flat having a much shorter pause (if any) than the point. I'm aware of pork butt having the pause and figured brisket has it too. I was prepared for a 20 hour smoke if necessary, but the higher initial temp (270's instead of 225) shortened it a bit.
7. You mention for WSMs to cook dry (sand in the water pan). Is this because you don't want THAT much humidity in there, compared to an offset? I know that my water pan became filled with grease and is now on the verge of being tossed out (No Bill, I didn't foil wrap the pan..didn't think about it). I guess offsets can benefit by having a little humidity and a WSM would have too much? Does this lend to better rendering of the fat or is this to help prevent what happened to me...instant deep fat fryer?? hhehehehehehe

I appreciate anyone's thoughts on those points. Like I said, this was my first time and I didn't research, other than look at one recipe that was 'texas style' and they didn't separate the flat from the point before cooking and didn't seem to trim any of the fat. I did notice that the rub I made had some heat to it, but it was only evident on smaller meat like my fatties and ribs and not on the brisket. I guess the brisket is forgiving in this regard? It can take a lot of abuse???
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Old 08-06-2007, 11:35 AM   #14
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Quote:
1. the flat is less fattier than the point. True and if I known or researched ahead of time, I'd inject it more than I did.
Yes

Quote:
2. You recommend marindade and injection before the rub. I injected while it was on the smoker (after the rub was put on). I did this to save time. I had other things going on and had to make the injection recipe, so figured it could smoke a little. Downside of this is that I couldn't get a decent amount of injections in there.
The marinating I recommended is not designed as much to get much flavor into the meat as to form a "slather" for the rub. The Worcestershire/wine combination turns into a syrup after 15 minutes or so in contact with meat and makes an excellent glue to hold the rub to the meat.

Quote:
3. Many small injections are better than a fewer large ones to prevent puddling. You may be on to something here. I'll agree with you.
It's good to get the injection well distributed. A note on injecting: It's incredibly messy. When you inject properly a portion of every injection will find an exit through the muscle tissue and squire all over the place. I love it.

Quote:
4. You recommend separating the flat and point AFTER the smoke. I guess this is up to the individual. I'd think that if you could separate them and trim the fat before cooking, then there'd be less of a mess when carving. I had lots of fat at carving because I didn't cut this very well. My main fear was that the flat was thinner than the point and it would overcook/dry out before the larger point got cooked (but I didn't cut along the fat like I should have and it was weird).
You've brought up a lot of issues.
A. Briskets cook better (though slower) as a single piece rather than cut into several smaller ones. Because briskets are so difficult it's usually a good idea to maximize your chances of success, by (as always in cooking), "first, do no harm."
B. Once you've got the fat off, carving isn't that messy. That's one reason why I recommend that people with good butchering skills take off so much fat before cooking. The other reasons are that a thin fat layer can be seasoned, and that if the layer is thin enough and it can be presented to the diner. While it's easy to remove cooked fat completely, it's not easy to trim with precision.
C. It's possible (but tedious) to scrape the cooked fat off with the edge of a soup spoon. You can remove it most efficiently with (the largest) "slicing" knife you can handle, by working the knife almost horizontally. If you look at my avatar the long thin knife next to the two heavier triangular shapes is a "slicer." But let's talk about ...
D. General brisket carving technique: (1)Put the whole brisket in a sheet pan, set near your carving board. Separate the point from the flat. Trim the fat from the flat by working a slicing knife horizontally across the surface. Try not to take any meat. A little fat is a good thing. (2) Remove the flat to the board, and note the grain direction. (3) Cut the flat in half across the grain. (4a) If your knife is long enough take a thin slice, about 1/8" thick, from one of the cut faces. Test for tenderness. (5a) If the meat is very tender, take the rest of the flat in thicker slices, about 1/4" thick. (5b) If tough, slice as thin as possible, perhaps using a meat slicer if one is available. (4b) If the brisket is too wide for your knife, cut each half down until a cut face is just narrow enough to slice. Cut the wider remaining piece, along the grain, into two pieces, each of which may be carved with the grain. (6) Plate the slices from the flat onto a serving platter. Leave space for the point.

(7) Remove the point to the board. (Before the point and flat are separated their grains are 90 degrees out of phase. That's why they can't be correctly carved as a single piece.) ( Remove as much fat as possible from the surfaces of the point. I find a "utility," "fillet" or medium "slicer" works best. Note the grain direction. (9) Carve the point into slices roughly twice as thick as the slices from the flat. You want your slices at least thick enough to hold together, but otherwise as thin as possible. (10) Plate the point slices or reserve for another purpose.

Quote:
5. plastic wrap (instead of foil) and fill cooler with newspaper. why? what does this do? I did the way I wasn't supposed to...I pulled at around 190 (many different instant readings between 190 and 200) and foiled and put in the cooler for at least an hour. Not sure if it was 2 hours. It was still hot when I pulled it out to carve.
The plastic wrap trick comes from Ray Lampe's hero Paul Kirk. I don't know what to tell you other than it works better than foil -- at least for a brisket that was never foiled during the cook. It softens the bark just a bit, and seems to result in a juicier, more tender brisket. The newspaper is to displace air in the cooler that would otherwise draw heat and moisture from your brisket. Using a close fitting cooler is a better idea sitll than packing the cooler with paper or towels. It's a whatever works thing. Me? Usually, I use the kitchen oven.

Quote:
6. Yes, there was a pause around 160 for several hours. It was odd that the smaller chunk (about half the flat), cooked fairly fast (8 hours?) and was clearly done. When I lifted the lid for a while and then had issues needing more charcoal (could not sustain 270 dome temp and barely maintained 200 dome temp), it seemed my point dropped 10 degrees and substantially slowed its temp climbing. That is, there was a time when the flat and point were several degrees apart and then were only 10 degrees apart, with the flat having a much shorter pause (if any) than the point. I'm aware of pork butt having the pause and figured brisket has it too. I was prepared for a 20 hour smoke if necessary, but the higher initial temp (270's instead of 225) shortened it a bit.
Again, beaucoup subject matter. Let's skip most of the science of the stall, but you should know it's NOT because the heat "goes" to the "connective tissues," it's all about densities and liquids distribution. The stall is a mostly unpredictable beast, no question about it. When you skip to cooking whole briskets it will be still more so, but it can be partially tamed with steady higher temps (265 and up), and to a lesser extent by foiling during the cook.

Quote:
7. You mention for WSMs to cook dry (sand in the water pan). Is this because you don't want THAT much humidity in there, compared to an offset? I know that my water pan became filled with grease and is now on the verge of being tossed out (No Bill, I didn't foil wrap the pan..didn't think about it). I guess offsets can benefit by having a little humidity and a WSM would have too much? Does this lend to better rendering of the fat or is this to help prevent what happened to me...instant deep fat fryer?? hhehehehehehe
There are so many people around here who know the ins and outs of WSM's better than I, that I'll say while you've got my thinking right that WSM's tend to cook humid enough, you should pay close attention to those with more experience on them. Sand was very popular awhile ago, but I understand people are moving away from it pretty quickly and back to liquids or different solids. In any case, I think it's a good idea to not only foil the water pan but to use at least some sort of ballast.

Quote:
I appreciate anyone's thoughts on those points. Like I said, this was my first time and I didn't research, other than look at one recipe that was 'texas style' and they didn't separate the flat from the point before cooking and didn't seem to trim any of the fat. I did notice that the rub I made had some heat to it, but it was only evident on smaller meat like my fatties and ribs and not on the brisket. I guess the brisket is forgiving in this regard? It can take a lot of abuse???
I think doing brisket consistently well is the hardest challenge in barbecue (not including large, whole pigs). While it's true that brisket has some serious beef taste to it, there are a lot of other reasons your rub might not have tasted hot -- sugar, for instance. I'd have to know what went into the rub and how much stayed on to give you any real guidance on that.

Rich
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