Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

How to NOT smoke a Brisket! Battling the Beast.

20130126_181826Before I go on to explain the “beast”, I will hang my head low and admit that the one I was wrestling with was only 3 pounds. It was my humble first smoke of that cut of meat and I walk away with more knowledge on smoking a brisket. I don’t know what go into me. My father-in-law was heading over for dinner and I wanted to impress him, as all son-in-laws do. You see, I know I can cook a good rack of ribs with sweet and tangy sauce dripping from your chin and elbows while working your way to the bone. I’m confident that my smoked chicken will flake apart at the press of a fork and my burgers come out oozing with a savory smoky flavor. I know that on Saturday I was not confident in smoking a brisket and I probably pulled out all the rookie moves. So, I’m writing this to share with you what not to do if like me, you are a rookie at the brisket.

My first mistake… When I was at the local hardware store a few months ago I needed to stock up on my coal supply. It was around the same time I installed the offset firebox on my smoker. Being it was around the Christmas season I was holding tight on my wallet privileges and so I decided to go with Lump Coal instead of my usual brand Kingsford. I have nothing against Lump coal, but I know that I can get my Kingsford coals to heat up and hit a steady temperature for a good 3 hours in the winter. As I filled my firebox with lump coal, it quickly heated up my smoker. It hit the trusty worthy temperature of 250 degrees and kept going. So I adjust my vents accordingly to bring down the temp. Again it hit 250 and kept going down. So, I repeated the process until I was able to zero on where I needed it. One thing I also noticed with the lump coal was that the slightest breeze, I’m talking a sneeze from one of my annoying hibernating pocket gophers would cause the smoker to raise a good 20 degree and then back down 20 and then teeter off in the middle somewhere. I almost didn’t need the wireless thermometer. I was outside enough to look at the gauge itself.

My second mistake…Never take two different theories on how to smoke a successful brisket and put them together (unless you really know what you are doing). I started off with throwing the brisket on the grate and leaving it there. My brisket was going just fine and then I had to open up my BBQ bible by Steven Raichlen. I read an excerpt from Steven’s book that tells me to wrap the brisket in tin foil a good 3/4 th of the way through, and so i did. As much as I respect Steven Raichlen’s knowledge of the grill and his years of cooking over a flame, I also have learned that some of his techniques are not always the only way. He has tv shows and books, but there are other ways of doing it. Wrapping your brisket in tinfoil wasn’t the rookie move. No, the rookie move was the I changed up my method right in the middle of a smoke. If something is going fine, leave it.

One my goals for the process was seeing bark on the brisket. However, I was informed later that my absence of bark was because I had wrapped the brisket in tinfoil. By wrapping it in foil, I allowed too much moisture to collect and therefore, no bark. I know, a rookie mistake I have made. I shouldn’t change methods in mid-cook and I humbly lay my head low because of it.


Pulled Chicken, Hickory Smoked Brisket and Salad

In the end, my result was a fully cooked brisket. I achieved the tenderness I wanted. In fact, it was so tender you could cut it with a fork which I believe is the goal from what I hear. The smoky flavor had a great impact with every bite taken. I was complimented greatly from my father-in-law, little did he know of the rookie mistakes I made.

I think I’ll wait until I enter the ring with another brisket. I will then throw it on and leave it. No foil, just intense smoke and a solid 250 degrees.

I don’t like looking back. I’m always constantly looking forward. I’m not the one to sort of sit and cry over spilt milk. I’m too busy looking for the next cow. ~ Gordon Ramsay

22 responses

  1. The pulled chicken looks amazing! Made me salivate… 😉

    January 31, 2013 at 11:22 am

    • My wife commented more on the chicken too. I guess that goes on the successful list. Thanks for reading!

      January 31, 2013 at 11:38 am

  2. HAHA! I love that you posted about what you think are mistakes! We can all learn from them 😉 Brisket is a hard cut of meat to master, for sure! It doesn’t sound like you made too big of a mistake though if it turned out as tender as it did and it had the smoky flavor you wanted. PLUS your FIL was none wiser about your mistakes! GOOD job!

    January 31, 2013 at 11:25 am

    • I did learn and I’m ready to tackle it again sometime. But I’ll grill a few things before then. Things I have mastered so I can regain the courage to enter battle. Thanks for reading!

      January 31, 2013 at 11:38 am

      • LOL….. you sound like me when I need to regain confidence 🙂

        January 31, 2013 at 11:53 am

      • Every once and a while you just gotta cook something you know you can do well. It helps the soul, and the tummy!

        January 31, 2013 at 12:11 pm

  3. I would eat that shit! I think you’re being a little tough on yourself there…

    January 31, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    • Haha… Thank you. You know how it is, you get an idea in your head of how you want it turned out. If it doesn’t turn out that way, you become a little disappointed. I will admit, it was still very good! Thanks for reading.

      January 31, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      • oh I know… and it’s a bloody good read so I can’t actually help myself!!

        January 31, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      • Thank you for the compliment.

        January 31, 2013 at 11:29 pm

  4. You are brave. I’m a chicken. I’ve always left the cooking of brisket to Texans. I only eat brisket in Texas. They don’t have to wear a cowboy hat as they cook, but it seems to help!

    February 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm

  5. Sadly, these mistakes are how we learn. Sometimes the results are awesome and sometimes, not! That’s what families are for…. lab testing.

    February 1, 2013 at 5:16 pm

  6. The Quincho Project

    Fear not. Brisket is a difficult cut – but a measly 3 pounder? Lordy, it couldn’t have had much of a fat cap. Don’t give up, get back on that beast and go put a crust on it. Today. Consider a mustard slather followed by a good hit of dizzy pig. And hey – it’s food. It can’t kill you.

    February 1, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    • I was actually impressed with the fat cap. It was just right. Yes, I will tackle it again. I can’t get down from the hardest cut of meat. At least it was edible!

      February 1, 2013 at 6:52 pm

  7. Reblogged this on Andrews' Family Cookery & Household Management.

    February 4, 2013 at 2:53 am

  8. Hi there – just wondering do you have an experience of building an underground pit to cook in? I have a place I’m doing up that has an old mechnics pit in it – thought I might convert this to a place to slow roast, barbecue?

    February 10, 2013 at 10:37 am

    • Good Morning. To be honest, I don’t have any experience building underground pits. I did though take a look at youtube and found a few videos. That would be my first suggestion. If you end up doing something, please share with us what you have done. We would love to feature it on our page.

      February 11, 2013 at 7:43 am

    • No, but I’ve looked at many a video on under ground pits, and if I were ever to build one, this is how I would do it. Hope you find it useful.

      February 11, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      • Hi there – thanks for this! I will have a look when I get back home tonight!
        Best wishes Tim

        February 15, 2013 at 6:32 am

  9. daveldman

    Brisket is the one thing I don’t have down yet. I’ve under cooked and over cooked. I always achieve the right flavors, just not the right consistency.

    February 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm

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