What To Expect From My First Brisket?

ChristopherC

TVWBB Super Fan
Will be doing my first brisket on a WSM 18 this week. It is a 17.5lb hunk of meat. Which I am sure will be a couple lbs lighter after I trim.

Trying to plan ahead a bit...what should I expect in terms of cooking and resting time?

Any other things I should keep in mind with this cook?
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
Brisket Selection & Preparation

Read these:

Brisket – Midnight Cook
Brisket – Wet Rub
Brisket – High Heat
Whole Brisket – Central Texas Style Butcher Paper

Big brisket = shoehorning between top grate handles to make it fit, it will shrink during cooking. I sometimes use a foil-wrapped wood chunk to support the meat.

Set your expectations low, hopefully you'll exceed them. :D Seriously, the hardest cut you'll ever cook. It's kind of a dumb piece of meat. Cooking plate short ribs is a no-brainer compared to brisket and so impressive and so satisfying. Honestly, I still don't feel I've mastered brisket after 23 years. But I ate every one of them and some of my guests said they were delicious.

Good luck!

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JKalchik

TVWBB All-Star
Set your expectations low, hopefully you'll exceed them. :D

Chris, I *THOROUGHLY* appreciate this comment, and it applies to so many things beyond smoking brisket.

@ChristopherC , regardless of what method you choose, I am firmly convinced that a long slow rest after taking it off the heat is absolutely mandatory. Hold it in a picnic cooler for at least 2 hours, 4 is better, and I've held for 6+ hours with a wonderful brisket.
 

KEhrl

TVWBB Member
Go get yourself some butcher paper, such a cool way to finish brisket after bark sets. You may want to utilize an oven after wrapping if you think your smokers running out of fuel. Second on the rest as well.

Good luck and post pics!
 

ChristopherC

TVWBB Super Fan
Well I won’t be able to get butcher paper before the cook. So this one will be foiled and I will use the oven. I have had good results with both ribs and pork butt foiling in the oven to finish.

Just curious more to as how long this will take approx both in the smoker and then in the oven so I can decide on a start time. I was guessing 16-18 hours total cook time and then a 2-4 hour rest.

Also I hear some people wrap and put the brisket in the oven when it stalls, others after, others just decide on when based on bark formation setting.

Been reading (Thanks Chris) and watching lots of videos. Trying to determine exactly what my method will be. So far I have this:

  1. Rub brisket with kosher salt, coarse black pepper and granulated garlic mix after a worchstshire binder.
  2. 5 wood chunks - 3 Apple and 2 Hickory - place 1 apple in middle and 3 others (2 apple 1 hickory outside of ring at vents with hickory at most open vent. Place other hickory between center and outside wood.
  3. Add coals fill as high as possible.
  4. Remove center coals down to center piece of wood and place in chimney.
  5. Light chimney.
  6. Dump lit chimney coals in center where they came from.
  7. Wrap water pan in 2 layers clean heavy duty foil with at least 1 inch air gap and insert.
  8. Set up first probe on top grate at side leaving room for brisket.
  9. Close up WSM and wait til temp is at 250 for 20-30 minutes.
  10. Add brisket cold. Use foiled wood chunks to fit brisket on the WSM 18 between top grate handles.
  11. Set up 2nd probe in side of brisket flat.
  12. Mist with apple cider vinegar water mix after 2-3 hours every 30-45 minutes at least 4 times.
  13. Remove brisket when point is about 170.
  14. Wrap in foil and finish in oven at 275 until probes in various spots about 205 in point and probe indicates tenderness.
  15. Rest in cooler with towel underneath for 2-4 hours.
 

DrewS

New member
I did my first brisket several weeks ago, I went with a overnight cook which was pretty simple. Woke up at 6 am and wrapped it. Started at 10/11 pm and did 225. I filled the charcoal up on my WSM 18 all the way and made the stack even high above the charcoal ring. I got about 17/18 hours off it so I didn't need to re-add charcoal or oven it. I also have a automatic temp controller so I basically set it and forget.

I would save your fat from the trimming. I made some tallow and use it when i cook on the stove. Just make sure if you do make tallow, do it outside otherwise your house will smell. I put it on a cast iron and ran it on low heat on my propane grill.
 

J Grotz

TVWBB All-Star
That is quite the plan! I am a big believer in water in the pan for brisket. Three of the four cooks Chris linked to use water in the pan. Aaron Franklin puts a water pan in his offset for brisket. A moist cooking environment leads to better bark and smoke ring. What's the only reason not to use water (in a non-high-heat cook)? The cleanup. Cleaning a dirty water pan is simple as long as the pan does not run dry. My secret is after it has cooled down, I empty the water pan into the green trash bin (for yard waste), then take the pan in the house to clean it.
 

Jim C in Denver

TVWBB Super Fan
Aaron Franklin puts a water pan in his offset for brisket. A moist cooking environment leads to better bark and smoke ring.

Whether you need the water pan is highly debatable/debated. I see your Aaron Franklin. And I raise you a Harry Soo.

Harry cooks in a WSM with charcoal. Aaron does uses an offset stick burner. Since we're cooking here with a WSM and charcoal, I think it is good to consider what Harry says too.

Harry uses an empty WSM water pan for brisket. Aaron uses a water pan in his offset. Harry uses a slather for brisket (which adds mositure). Aaron doesn't slather.

Both Harry and Aaron spritz (which adds moisture too). Harry also injects brisket (which adds moisture).

My $0.02 is that the filled water pan in a WSM is primarily about temp control, and not really much about the moist cooking environment.

Smoke adheres best to the surface of cold, moist meat. And the smoke flavor is really just on the meat surface -- it doesn't penetrate hardly at all. The brisket (with or without a water pan) is cold going going in. The brisket also sweats out half of its starting weight over the course of the cook. After all, the sweating and evaporative cooling is the whole reason why the brisket stalls for many hours (unless wrapped). So if you also add moisture in the form of slather and spritzing and injection, hard to imagine that you need even more moisture coming from the water pan.

I think you should use a full water pan at first to get a brisket baseline. That's what I did.

But over time, I've migrated to Harry's method -- dry pan (actually a FireDial), slather and spritzes (but no injection so far). Seems like plenty of moisture for fine bark. Since I'm OK controlling temps without water, I'll take the better fuel consumption, less fussing (no pan refills; fewer charcoal refills), and easy clean up.

YMMV.
 
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J Grotz

TVWBB All-Star
Jim, Christopher is new to the WSM. This is approximately his 6th cook.

I think you should use a full water pan at first to get a baseline. That's what I did.
YMMV, but I see you agree with the advice I gave to Christopher to use water in the pan.

I've taken Harry's class. I've eaten Harry's brisket. I love Harry and learned much from him. As you noted, Harry injects brisket. Injecting brisket is a crime against nature and KCBS should ban the practice, IMO. I've also eaten Franklin BBQ brisket. I'll stick with Aaron.
 

ChristopherC

TVWBB Super Fan
Wow - lots of contrasting opinions!!!

So I have been debating all day whether to:

1) Use water in the pan or not. It is currently foiled. Usually I use water and don't foil and just dump in my forest (have 10 acres with 5 acres of bush/forest) and then rinse with hose.... The wife likes to then wash it out with soap and water...she likes clean.

2) Inject or not. Was thinking about injecting with beef stock and worchestshire and a bit of salt. I have read that CHOICE/CANADA AAA are not marbled enough and need the extra moisture.

Everything else is ready to go at 11pm EST tonight. So time is ticking to make the last 2 decisions above!.....
 

Jim C in Denver

TVWBB Super Fan
For your first time, get a baseline. Then do something different next time and compare.

So Grotz's thoughts are great for the baseline shake down cruise. The AF/Central Texas recipe that Chris has on here is pretty simple/standard. Water in the pan, no injection, no slather, simple dalmation rub, oak chunks, wrap in butcher paper.

But whatever you do first, you'll change some stuff up for #2 and #3 and #4.

And then you'll be back here telling us that whatever you eventually settle on is, of course, the only way to fly. : )

Have fun.

P.S. Even when I omit the water pan, I always collect the brisket drippings in a foil pan. Those drippings are an excellent addition to your BBQ sauce (including the AF bbq sauce in Chris' TX recipe).
 

ChristopherC

TVWBB Super Fan
- definitely collecting drippings in a aluminum pan
- using hickory and apple wood...no oak around here at all anywhere
- pan is foiled nicely now...still can add water if I want
- rub is ready...1 cup kosher salt, 1 cup coarse black pepper 1/3 cup granulated garlic
- was still planning to coat with some Worchestshire even if I don’t inject
- spritzing with half water half apple cider vinegar
- leaning to using water in the pan
- leaning to injecting because I have beef stock to use up...or I can save it to make gravy mixing with the drippings....hmmmm

Should be fun!!

For your first time, get a baseline. Then do something different next time and compare.

So Grotz's thoughts are great for the baseline shake down cruise. The AF/Central Texas recipe that Chris has on here is pretty simple/standard. Water in the pan, no injection, no slather, simple dalmation rub, oak chunks, wrap in butcher paper.

But whatever you do first, you'll change some stuff up for #2 and #3 and #4.

And then you'll be back here telling us that whatever you eventually settle on is, of course, the only way to fly. : )

Have fun.

P.S. Even when I omit the water pan, I always collect the brisket drippings in a foil pan. Those drippings are an excellent addition to your BBQ sauce (including the AF bbq sauce in Chris' TX recipe).
 

ChristopherC

TVWBB Super Fan
Well it finally went on at 1am. Started working on it at 11:30pm and it took 1.5 hours to trim, inject and apply rub.

I imagine my first rookie mistake was to overtrim. A 17.5 lb brisket became a 10.5 lb brisket. Weird thing is I took off really nothing but fat. At least 95-98% of my removal was white and hard.

I did a number on the big deckle which was incredibly large and wrapped around the beast pretty good. Where I probably went wrong was taking too much of the fat cap off. It was really thick. Again I only took the “hard” white stuff off. I left all the jiggly soft white fat.

Was this just a poor cut? Or is it typical to remove 7lbs of hard white fat from a 17.5lb brisket?

Anyways off and running. I did inject, but not a lot - maybe 16 injections. And I used hot water in the foiled water pan with a drip pan on lower rack as well.

Crossing my fingers that all goes well!

Having fun but sweating literally.

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ChristopherC

TVWBB Super Fan
An hour in...settling in nicely at 250-255d. Have top vent open and 1 bottom vent (opposite top vent) open 3/4 of the way. Surprised I had to shut the vents that much to get it to 250ish...with water pan full and just a handful of lit charcoal.

Using KBB and some Kingsford and Weber wood chunks.
 

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