View Full Version : Cannot cook a brisket....

12-12-2010, 05:17 PM
I need some help. Had a 3 lbs brisket, smoked for 5 1/2 hours per recipe in Trager cookbook. (Dr. Berdine's Brisket) tough as nails. couldn't even eat it. I tried it a couple months back and had the same thing. I don't know what I am doing wrong.

I put it directly on the grill and had the temperature control set to smoke.

Any ideas? we are trying to figure out this Trager grill and can't get it to smoke anything. very frustrating....

Big Poppa
12-12-2010, 06:24 PM
Yes you can.

First off the brisket is the unruly redhead.

Secondly you are cooking just the flat...let me guess...Costco.....How am I doing?

My best results are cooking the whole brisket aka the packer. It has the flat and a point.

If you cant use a whole packer with flats I like to cook them in a pan. I know the purists are wincing.

Season is how you would like

Cook on smoke setting for one hour raise the temp to 225-250 and cook until it hits anywhere from 160-170 depending on the color...It should be a nice deep brown maybe slighty reddish.

Cover the pan with foil and cook until internal temp is 195...check it if the probe slips into the point like butter its done...it its still sort of toughto get the probe in then recover and check back at 205...The brisket is done when its done and sometimes the temps are all over the road

With a traeger I would cook for

12-12-2010, 06:36 PM
Welcome mcorson

Like Big Poppa said - you can.....

I just looked at that recipe..... I think part of the problem is you were trying to adapt a recipe for a much larger brisket based on time, it's hard to judge a brisket based on time. Your best bet for cooking any meat is to get a meat thermometer and cook to an internal temp. You will get more consistent results.

Big Poppa has given you great advice on how to cook it.

12-12-2010, 06:49 PM
You've come to the right place. There are a lot of folks here who know how to cook a brisket!

IMHO the first thing to concentrate on is learning how to cook and get it tender. Once you've mastered that then you can work on how to flavor it the way you like (Rubs, to inject or not, trim more fat for more bark, etc.)

My method is a little quicker than a lot of folks like, and very similar to what Big Poppa described, but it gives me consistent results.

The best advice I think anyone ever told me... "Briskets are NOT equal. The brisket will 'give up the ghost' when its ready not when your thermometer is ready!"

So I trust the "feel" more than the temp. Just like BP says, when I can slide a candy thermometer in and it slides in like butter, its done!

This always works for me and now I have to go eat something! :)

12-12-2010, 07:06 PM
been cooking brisket flats for the last 3 weekends. today was the best one. brisket rubbed and put in foil pan (fat cap up) with 1/3 fat tire and 1/3 cup water. the 1st 2 were rubbed and cooked until 185 and foiled then taken off at 203 (sounds like a good number). all three were dry. going to inject the next one for sure. the one that started in the pan was excellent flavor. wife loved it. heh, bear. how do you cook a brisket?

12-12-2010, 07:18 PM
Nobody around here likes BBQ beef, so I don't cook them. It's something that I really need to work on. Maybe if I could come up with a really killer recipe, I could get my family to like it....

12-12-2010, 07:29 PM
mcorson, brisket is one of the most challenging pieces of meat to cook. We can give you tips and direction but you really need to just cook them every weekend until you get it right. Cooking one isn't going to do it unless you're very lucky. Search for threads with "brisket" in the title and read, read, read then take what you have learned to your backyard.
I've cooked briskets from 3lbs to 17lbs and the bigger packer briskets seem to come out better, more consistent, than the smaller (less than 6lbs) ones do.
With briskets I've found the range of doneness to be from 191 through 203ish. The lower end of that range and you have more moisture but its not as tender. The upper end of that range you have the tenderness but will loose some of the moisture.
When it's done, as BP stated, a temp probe will go into the point muscle like butter. Also, the point will jiggle something like jello. When it does that, it's pretty well done. You'll just have to cook a few to determine how you, and your family, like them.

12-12-2010, 07:36 PM
First off the brisket is the unruly redhead.

Hey!!! I resent that!!! :p

I'll leave the advice of the brisket to Andy.;)

Big Poppa
12-12-2010, 07:42 PM
But you arent unruly! I was hoping you would catch that....Andy is the guy that can answer you perfectly

12-12-2010, 08:08 PM
Hey Sparky, I caught that in your siganture:

"Memphis Pro SS (next week) :cool:"

Way to go!

12-12-2010, 08:35 PM
"Smoke" on your cooker is 175-185 degrees, In order to get the fat and collagen to really break down and give you a tender finish, you will be cooking at long time at that low temp to get your brisket tender. (notice I didnt say to get it cooked -- it will be "cooked" hours before it is tender) The suggestions above are good... start at the smoke setting, to get some good smoke flavor going, but then bump the heat to finish and get your cook tender.

Several things can effect your tenderness and juiciness The age of your brisket (how old was the cow?), the fat content - ie how much marbling does it have ( that equals moisture during the cooking process), and how much collagen does it have (strands between the fibers that will break down into gelatin, and also increase the moisture in the meat, as well as increase the tenderness.) The collagen is what makes your brisket tough, so you have to cook the brisket long enough to break those protien strands down..

Cooking longer risks drying out the meat however, esp. if it is low in the nice marbled fat that helps keep your meat moist.... so how to combat these things all working against you:

Marinate or inject your meat. -- Add moisture! and flavor! I suggest as a good starting point - Dr. BBQ's Big Cow Beef Injection (2 cups beef broth, 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp cayenne powder)

Think about Grandma's Sunday brisket... it was cooked/braised in the oven or crock pot... Use some of that theory in your smoker. After several hours low and slow, wrap your brisket, so that it will hold it's juices and with what it does release, it will be able to braise in them. I believe BP suggested a foil pan, then covering the pan... however I dont like to use pans, I have seen people steam the flavor out of a brisket, turning it to pot roast foiling in a pan where it can steam. I would suggest tightly wrapping it in two sheets of foil.

Finally, cook time... That brisket will need time to cook in order to let the collagen and fat break down properly. Heat and moisture drive the denaturing of those proteins. I would cook, to color and feel, with an occassional temp check; vs, worrying about hitting a time mark. Cook it at smoke for a couple of hours, then bump the temp to 225. at the point you like the color of the brisket, wrap it. Then cook it wrapped, until you can poke it with our meat thermometer and it slides in with little to no resistance. like sliding a hot skewer into a block of soft butter.

I would bet you will cook it closer to 8 hrs. Good luck, I can't tell you how many pieces of shoe leather I have created over the years :)

Big Poppa
12-12-2010, 08:48 PM
I hated brisket until I got one close...then I got the meadow creek red devil and cooked one for brad on the Big Poppas Team and he stole it!

Andy I agree with the pan but it is a good way to make a breakthrough.... I have cooked ones in a cast iron pan that I nailed and if you let them go they are perfect pot roast!

12-12-2010, 10:01 PM
heh, when is the meat locker coming up online?

Big Poppa
12-12-2010, 10:09 PM
Arrrgh Its comin Spark! New web company...trying to do it right!

12-13-2010, 05:33 PM
First off the brisket is the unruly redhead.

Yep Kim if you haven't noticed already Big Poppa likes picking on us red heads...

I guess I can't blame him though. When cooking with Andy he showed us some great pictures of you and the girls. Once I knew that he lived with a family of reds I apologized for all the grief us reds can dish out. I guess it just gives us something to blame it on.

Brad takes the majority of my abuse, sorry buddy it is just the red coming out...

Eli Lawrence
12-13-2010, 07:41 PM
I also had trouble with brisket when I tried it on a pellet grill and went back to a recipe I got in Cooks Illustrated Cook book-- I smoked it on my Egg for 3 hours at 250 and foiled it very tight in a high sided cookie sheet at 300 degrees for 5 hours ( I place a rub the evening before I smoked it ) --- The Brisket was 14-16 lb and the thing comes out soft as butter -- with lots of sauce The cook book talks about the science of the collegen and what temp it need to cook at so it brakes down and gets jelly like. So I think some of this can tranfer over to the pellet grill

12-13-2010, 08:53 PM
She doesnt need anything to blame it on .... :)

Big Poppa
12-13-2010, 09:35 PM

12-16-2010, 10:10 AM
ah, the brisket blues. put some eric clapton music with it and you got yourself a great song. The Brisket Blues. catchy.....

Big Poppa
12-16-2010, 10:32 AM
Yeah its the blues but when you get the zen of cooking one and start to hit it right it is nirvana

12-16-2010, 12:04 PM
Yeah its the blues but when you get the zen of cooking one and start to hit it right it is nirvana So if you hit one right it "smells like teen spirit?" :cool:

12-16-2010, 03:51 PM
so, let me get this right. smoke until you like the color (2-4 hours or so) then tightly wrap with 2 sheets of foil. this has nothing to do about cooking temp? it's all about feel? i always thought you cooked a brisket till 190-203 degrees? obi wan help a young jedi....

12-17-2010, 09:31 AM
so, let me get this right. smoke until you like the color (2-4 hours or so) then tightly wrap with 2 sheets of foil. this has nothing to do about cooking temp? it's all about feel? i always thought you cooked a brisket till 190-203 degrees? obi wan help a young jedi....

Depending on the temp you cook at, will likely also change the color you get ( amount of smoke put out/fuel used , amount of rub caramelization, etc) At 225, I would say 4-6 hrs is a safe window - and yes, at that point, tightly wrap - and if you feel the need, reseason, or add another layer of new flavor, (rub, juice, whatever - optional) Then cook until it is done. Done could be 185 or it could be 215... but yes, your temp window is correct. I dont pull based on it hitting a specific temp or time limit... I pull based on how it feels when that probe goes in -- is there resistance? does it feel tight? Once it is pulled I crack the foil to keep it from continuing to cook as much - and let it rest in a cooler/cambro for at least 30 min...(up to two hours).

You will learn overtime what temp the feel equates to. When we were practicing out in Scottsdale, we were playing the temp game. I would guess the temp based on feel, and then we probed it with a thermapen. I think I was within a degree or two most times. You just learn the feel over time. And BTW, using a pellet cooker, will mean that you will get some consistency on those times, if you are cooking similar briskets -- I know after 6 hrs in my FEC, that puppy will be 155-160 internal temp, and after wrapping, and 2-3 hrs more inthe cooker, It will be close to done, and in that temp window you mentioned.

Big Poppa
12-17-2010, 09:44 AM
andy thanks again

12-17-2010, 01:56 PM
Sparky - so if you want a base line to start from, run the lil Tex at 225, and wrap at 5 hours, ( put in cooker and dont open it for 5 hrs). See if the temp of your brisket is around 155-60. Let it go 2.5 more hrs, and check the feel/temp... when it is right, rest for an hour, then see what you think.save the jus from the foil, and use it as a bath once you slice -- pour it over the top of the slices or put the slices in it, for serving.

12-17-2010, 03:55 PM
Ok. Here's my 2 cents. Smoking a 15 pound packer in this case. Trim excess fat down to 1/4 inch or less. Douse the brisket in Allegro or any Worchestershire sauce, then rub liberally all over with Texas BBQ Rub. I prefer the Wild or the Grand Champion. Then put it on the pre-warmed pit that is steady at 210*-225*. Forget about this fat cap up or down crap, as it does not produce a juicier meat. The juice just runs off when the cap is up. If you leave the fat on, place it down to help protect the meat from direct heat. Smoke that cow for at least 4-6 hours or until the internal temp is right around 165*-170*. That will give you a nice smoke ring and a nice flavor. Then remove and double wrap in heavy foil and add a quarter can of Big Red or Dr Pepper. Wrap it tight and put back on the smoker for another 4-6 hours. Check the tempature and when it's 210*-212* take it off smoker, wrap in a old bath towel and place in a small cooler. The brisket will continue to cook for a while, then cool down and absorb a lot of the juice back into the meat. I promise you can't and won't go wrong. This is one of the easiest meats to cook. Now if you really want a flavorful and tender brisket I would suggest an injection of Butcher's BBQ Brisket Marinade with added phosphates. Now you've got a Championship winning brisket!

Big Poppa
12-17-2010, 11:54 PM
TX Im with you but I dont like the flavor that Phosphates gives you...I think it enhances tenderness at the cost of flavor

So Cal Smoker
12-18-2010, 08:32 AM
Andy your the bomb. Thanks

Big Poppa
12-18-2010, 08:51 AM
Andy is just a fabulous person...Cant wait to meet the red headed side.

12-18-2010, 11:47 AM
No worries! Hope some of my rambling helps!

Sterling, she married me... so obviously she is highly intelligent. Or deeply deranged and loves a "work in progress".. ;) Either way, I married up!

12-18-2010, 12:36 PM
This is one of the easiest meats to cook.

If brisket is one of the easiest meats to cook, what cut(s) do you consider to be more challenging to cook?

Big Poppa
12-18-2010, 12:48 PM
I did too Andy!

And Scooter Mike thinks Racoon is much harder...Right Mike?

12-18-2010, 02:19 PM
You can't make a raccoon tender or tasty no matter how hard you try.

I still think a comp chicken is one the hardest to master. You've got to brine that yardbird to get any flavor out if it. And find just the right spice to get the flavor into it.

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