Christmas Dinner Advice Needed – Making Brisket in December


 

BenM

TVWBB Fan
Good morning all.

My wife and I always host Christmas dinner at our house. Usually it is a small gathering of 4-6 folks in total. This year, that has increased to 12 people. Instead of the usual ham, I decided to go big and make brisket. I picked up a beautiful, 20-poond USDA Prime brisket from Wild Fork (my go-to meat supplier). Now, I've cooked them before, but always in the warmer months, never in December. I live in NY, so the weather will probably be in the 30 degree range (or even lower). We could even get slammed with snow, who knows?

Normally, I start around 8 am, and let it go for about 5 hours. I do my IT checks, cook an additional few hours or so, wrap, and cook a few more hours. I then warp it in a blanket and place it in my cooler or in my oven set on warm. I usually hold it for several hours before serving. Given the elements and the size, should I change my normal approach to cooking this bad boy? I am planning on eating around 7 pm.

Any advice, suggestions, insights, etc. would be greatly appreciate.

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Peace,

Ben
 

JKalchik

TVWBB Guru
Probably the biggest thing will be to keep the wind off the smoker. Gee, there's an idea..... bank the snowbanks up around the smoker? :D
 

BenM

TVWBB Fan
LOL

Maybe the group and I can come up with some sort of wind blocker to be used for smokers? Then we all go on Shark Tank and ask for $250,000 for 10% of our company. Hey. we can dream, can't we?
 

JKalchik

TVWBB Guru
<snicker> I have to admit, I'm THOROUGHLY spoiled by my fully insulated gravity fed cabinet smoker, it's nearly completely unaffected by ambient weather. We ain't gonna talk about how much I spent on steel alone. Wind drove me crazy with the horizontal offset I used to have.

In all honesty, anything that you can do to keep the wind off will help. Sheets of plywood, even stretched tarps over a frame. There's a few people around here who've set up wind breaks. Welding blankets can also be useful.
 

BFletcher

TVWBB Emerald Member
I'm not an expert but you noted that you usually hold them several hours before serving. In my feeble mind it sounds like your historic approach would offer an adequate cushion of time for your December cook. I could see, however, that you would need to start with a greater number of lit coals (or whatever) in December than what you do in warmer months in order to achieve a similar pit temp.

Being mindful of wind as noted above is also an important element.

Good luck!
 

MikeCantell

TVWBB Pro
I have never cooked 1 quicker than 14 hours up to 22 hours, I don't run hot and fast so not much help, good advice smoke for 3-4 hours finish in the oven but it needs to be put on a cooling rack to keep it out of the grease so it doesn't deep fry. Make sure it's a deep pan as the grease can be a lot.
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
Maybe the group and I can come up with some sort of wind blocker to be used for smokers?
There's nothing WSM related you can think of that I've not already written about on The Virtual Weber Bullet over the past 25 years, including various wind breaks and enclosures. :)

 

Jerry N.

TVWBB Emerald Member
Your rest time of several hours is a great cushion and I would just go about your cook as you normally do. The comments about wind are appropriate but you don't have to go crazy. Just move your smoker to the side of the house that will block the wind. If it's really windy, you may need to have a better plan. Cold is not an issue but if you look at the weather a few days before and a storm is brewing, you'll have to adjust. Either a windbreak or default to the oven.
 

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
There's nothing WSM related you can think of that I've not already written about on The Virtual Weber Bullet over the past 25 years, including various wind breaks and enclosures. :)

Yessir, you’ve most likely seen it all! But your aplomb related to timing is without parallel!🤠
 

Aaron Lucas

TVWBB Member
Good morning all.

My wife and I always host Christmas dinner at our house. Usually it is a small gathering of 4-6 folks in total. This year, that has increased to 12 people. Instead of the usual ham, I decided to go big and make brisket. I picked up a beautiful, 20-poond USDA Prime brisket from Wild Fork (my go-to meat supplier). Now, I've cooked them before, but always in the warmer months, never in December. I live in NY, so the weather will probably be in the 30 degree range (or even lower). We could even get slammed with snow, who knows?

Normally, I start around 8 am, and let it go for about 5 hours. I do my IT checks, cook an additional few hours or so, wrap, and cook a few more hours. I then warp it in a blanket and place it in my cooler or in my oven set on warm. I usually hold it for several hours before serving. Given the elements and the size, should I change my normal approach to cooking this bad boy? I am planning on eating around 7 pm.

Any advice, suggestions, insights, etc. would be greatly appreciate.

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Peace,

Ben
What are you cooking on?

I’d think starting before bed would be the safest bet for a large brisket like that.
 

BenM

TVWBB Fan
What are you cooking on?

I’d think starting before bed would be the safest bet for a large brisket like that.
I have an 18" WSM, which is my go-to for most of my cooks. But in this case, because the brisket is so big, it is simply too damn long for the grates. No matter what I did, it does not fit, and I cannot close the lid. I tried every which way, can't be done. So more than likely I'll use my Traeger. Now, my game plan is to do all my prep work (trim, rubs, etc.), the night before and have everything ready to go at the crack of dawn. I plan to get up around 5 am, fire up the smoker, get it up to temp and start cooking. This will give me plenty of time to be able to serve dinner at 7 pm. I've done a 16-pound brisket in the summer and it worked out fine.
 

BFletcher

TVWBB Emerald Member
I have an 18" WSM, which is my go-to for most of my cooks. But in this case, because the brisket is so big, it is simply too damn long for the grates.
Maybe a 20 pound brisket simply won't fit and I realize you stated that you tried every which way, but have you experimented with draping it over something? A few examples:

Several folks spoke to draping it over some wood chunks in this thread:
https://tvwbb.com/threads/full-size-brisket-on-an-18-wsm.76729/

Draping it over a rib rack. In post #13 Gaaron shared a link with his pics:
https://tvwbb.com/threads/the-brisket-wont-fit.73527/

Another illustrated example:
https://tvwbb.com/threads/what-to-expect-from-my-first-brisket.83092/#post-919569

Good luck!
 

BenM

TVWBB Fan
Maybe a 20 pound brisket simply won't fit and I realize you stated that you tried every which way, but have you experimented with draping it over something? A few examples:

Several folks spoke to draping it over some wood chunks in this thread:
https://tvwbb.com/threads/full-size-brisket-on-an-18-wsm.76729/

Draping it over a rib rack. In post #13 Gaaron shared a link with his pics:
https://tvwbb.com/threads/the-brisket-wont-fit.73527/

Another illustrated example:
https://tvwbb.com/threads/what-to-expect-from-my-first-brisket.83092/#post-919569

Good luck!
I'll definitely check these out. Thank you
 

 

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