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Smoked Brisket?

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
My husband bought a charcoal burning smoker, and neither of us has experience using it before.

This weekend we want to try making a BBQ brisket and I hope someone can provide a recipe and some pointers on how to go about smoking it. I like bbq that is not really sweet, and not tooo smoky.

Help is appreciated.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #2 of 50
There are some general rules about smoking helpful to newbies, some of which are very specific to the type of smoker. Then there are some which relate to only to brisket.

Not knowing what your husband does and doesn't know, what kind of smoker you bought (offset, cabinet, pipe section, bullet); how willing and how much time he as to make a few simple modifications; and even whether you have a piece of brisket or a whole brisket makes it hard to give specific advice.

I have things already written at an adult beginner level, covering most eventualities. If you you can tell me exactly what kind of barbecue, and whether you're about so smoke a whole, packer-cut brisket or a trimmed flat, the better I can help.

Briskets require extensive cooking. Long exposure to steady heat, followed by a long rest makes them wonderfully tender. Keeping a steady 225 for 12 hours is no easy feat your first time, if you don't know what you're doing. Doing a good job smoking meats is about 90% fire control, which is why the exact nature of the pit is important. Different types of pits require different techniques; and "naturally" hold different temperatures which require different cooking times.

Most people start with something easier than brisket. The easiest things to succeed at are Boston butt for pulled pork and spare ribs.

In the meantime I'm going to post again with a brisket recipe that covers the fundamentals -- and is about as failsafe as a brisket recipe can be for a first timer. You can ignore the instructions about injecting this time, if it seems overwhelming and you don't have a syringe. But injecting does make a big difference.

I'm sure you'll get other recipes too.

Good luck,
post #3 of 50

Shop, Trim, Marinate, Inject, Rub, Cook (including Smoking, Wrapping and the Stall), Rest, Carve, and Serve.

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 trimming the fat. Turn the brisket over, so the lean side is up. Check for large flecks of fat, or pieces of thin, gray-white membrane. Use a small knife to remove them completely.

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 if you choose not to inject. During that time the marinade will mix with the beef juices and partially coagulate into a syrup. This is not only normal it's desirable. Turn the brisket over occasionally during the marinade period. Reserve the marinade while injecting the brisket.

(Optional) Inject: (30 minutes)

1 cup beef stock or broth
1 cup wine
2 tbs Worcestershire
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, but not chopped
4 tbs salted butter, very cold, cut into 4 pieces.

Reduce the stock by half. Add the wine, Worcestershire and garlic. Reduce by half again. Strain through a tea strainer or cheesecloth to remove any solids that might clog your injector’s needle, return to heat, bring back to a simmer and remove from heat.

Add the butter 1 tbs at a time, whisking each piece in just as the previous piece has melted from the residual heat. Mixture may 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. No matter how careful you are when you inject, the injecting fluid will squirt out from the meat in totally unexpected places. Hilarious but messy. Less clean up, if you clear a large area on your counter and work in a large sheet pan.

Rub: (15 minutes)
1/2 cup Diamond 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. Refresh the surface of the brisket with the reserved marinade. Cover the brisket generously with rub. If the fat cap is untrimmed, don't bother using rub on that side. Note: This recipe makes enough for one whole brisket plus any number of burgers and steaks -- always portion your rub by the amount of salt of in it.

Smoke: (12 to 20 hours)

Prepare your smoker to run between 225 and 275. I prefer 275, but your relationship 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. Not for any reason. ABSOLUTELY NO PEEKING. NO. NONE.

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 or a bit less. If you're timing the brisket for dinner, allow at least three hours extra for the rest. Brisket is unpredictable under the best of circumstances. The lower the temperature at which it's cooked, the more unpredictable it is. You definitely do not want an underdone brisket. On the other hand, if it finishes early it can hold for hours and hours (and hours), for its rest phase. An extended rest is a nice thing.

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.

If you've decided to "mop" or "baste" the brisket -- reconsider. Until you know what you're doing with your smoker generally and brisket in particular, opening the cook chamber door does far more to dry the meat out than mopping does to keep it moist. THE FIRST RULE OF BARBECUE IS KEEP THE FRIKKIN' DOOR SHUT. The second rule is, KEEP IT SHUT. I MEAN IT.. You can guess at the third.

Some people wrap when the meat hits 150. If not sure whether or not you should, you probably should. If so, wrap in aluminum foil. It's the modern equivalent to "mopping," and will net you a moister brisket -- especially if you're not aces at fire management yet. Before sealing your meat into its little foil packet add a little moisture (injection mix, beer, barbecue sauce, broth, whatever) 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.

The Dreaded Stall (Variable Duration)
It's likely that during the cooking process, somewhere above 150, continuing until up to 185 or even 190, the rate of 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 it, be patient. Temperatures will rise. Remember how anxious you were when the brisket seemed to be cooking so much ahead of schedule?

Wrap: (5 minutes)
When brisket reaches 195 (or 190 if it's still stalling) remove it from the cooker, wrap it in cling wrap (works better than 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 if you can help it.

Carve: (20 minutes)
Separate the point from the flat. If you have a substantial fat cap, trim it. If the flat splits into two pieces with a layer of fat between them, separate the pieces and completely remove 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. 3/8” is usually just right. 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 across the grain as well. Plan on carving the slices roughly twice as thick as the slices you took from the flat. (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.

Serve: (chomp, mmmm, tchick, mmmm, nn)
Serve with your preferred tomato based barbecue sauce. Texas, Memphis, Cajun and Kansas City styles are good. Sauce Bordelaise is beaucoup hot. 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.

Don’t count on it.
post #4 of 50
Thread Starter 
Oh my, now i'm more scared than before! I will print out the page and study it with my hsuband. Thank you for your help, we certainly do need it! I will look at the butcher's this weekend to find the right cut.

Are bottled bbq sauces good or can I make my own? I've always been partial to north carolina style bbq, but maybe not for this.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #5 of 50
Some bottled sauces are quite good. Most of them run on the sweet side, though.

Most people don't associate Carolina vinegar sauces with beef. It's pretty much of a pork thing. That doesn't mean you can't do it. I've got recipes. Oh yes. I've got recipes.

Making barbecue sauce is very easy. Nearly all of them are based around some simple additions to ketchup. You can be as plain, as normal, as tweaked, or as fancy as you like. Tell me what you want to do and I'll give you an easy way to get close. After awhile you'll probably want do more from scratch. But for now, keep it simple.

Just learning to run the smoker is an achievement in itself. As is true with so many technologies -- whether simple or complex -- entry level equipment is much harder to use, and requires more expertise, than expensive. I've been using one or another small offsets for more than 25 years now, have used a number of very expensive cookers too when I was catering or competing, and sister there's a world of difference. Barbecue is like everything else. Money makes it easier.

Don't let the amount of detail in the instructions scare you off. There's a lot to it, but the brisket part (if not the smoker part) is covered there. If you read that recipe you're reasonably prepared to undertake the journey.

What you haven't read is how to run the cooker. I hope you'll let me, us, or someone help you two with that, as well. But you've got to let us know what type. Then you can learn to keep a steady temperature with less fuel, less effort and less fooling around generally.

This stuff is fun and very rewarding. In terms of cooking really great food, it's up there for maximum pay off with minimum effort. And 93% of it is hanging around drinking diet soda or whatnot. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!

We men have a genetic predisposition to mess with stuff. The hardest thing for your husband to learn wil be to KEEP THE DOOR SHUT. Once he gets the hang of that, the rest is down hill.

post #6 of 50
BDL is correct on much of what he suggests. I won't go into minutia and argue his points as 'que is so often a personal thing wrt taste and technique. What he says will work. But it will be helpful to know what you're cooking with as technioques will vary considerably depending on the smoker you have.

BDL is also correct about the sauce. Most commercial sauces are too sweet for brisket, and the classic North Carolina sauces (east or west) are better suited for pork. Texas sauces work great on brisket, and the Gates-Arthur Bryant type sauces are the ones I'd choose from the KC style. Like BDL, I've lots of sauce recipes - just say the word.

I don't see KC sauces as ketchup based as much as tomato sauce based. Texas sauces seem more ketchup based. But yopu can find everything everywhere. With KC being located where it is, it's something of a melting pot for bbq styles.

post #7 of 50
BDL hit it quite well, but rules 3-10 are leave the dang door or lid closed! :lol: I don't mop brisket or pork butt. In my opinion you have enough fat and connective tissue in them to keep the meat moist. Ribs I do mop but that's to add a layer of flavor more than anything. It also changes the composition of the bark to some extent. Another option to a marinade or along with it is to paint the brisket with mustard before applying the rub, it helps the rub stick and adds flavor (not a mustard flavor which surprises many).
post #8 of 50
What I am about to suggest is NOT real barbeque, it is a blatant slap in the face to true pitmasters everywhere. But it is really tasty.

Given your inexperience with the new smoker and required techniques of fire control and such, you might consider cheating on your first brisket or two. I won't tell. The plan is to braise the brisket overnight in a low temp oven, then put it over the coals to finish.

Get a brisket, following BDL's advice, trim it if so inclined. Plop that puppy, fat side up, into a big roasting pan. Peel a couple of yellow onions, slice thickly, spread the slices around the brisket. Remove any loose paper skins from two heads (not cloves) of garlic, stick those in somewhere. The veggie choice is up to you. I like to quarter about half a pound or so of mushrooms, throw them on. Carrots and celery work too. A can of chipotles in adobo sauce is a nice addition. Remember that the heat inducing capsaicin in chiles is an oil, and a lot of it will be absorbed by the rendered fat from the brisket and not end up on the meat itself. Fresh jalapenos, poblanos and such can also be quartered and tossed into the roaster. Tomatillos are nice as well. Put the cover on the roaster, place in a 175 - 200 degree F oven ( as low as yours will go ) and go to bed.

In the morning remove the meat from the pan, wrap in a couple layers of heavy duty foil. Let it cool for a while, then stick it in the fridge. The stuff left in the pan is really good. You'll most likely want to remove as much of the fat as you can, save the rest for later.

Later that same day, take the brisket out of the fridge. Fire up the smoker. When the fire is ready, unwrap the brisket and put it in the cooker. Depending on the size, the heat of your fire, the type of smoker and such, it will probably take 2 - 3 hours to reheat the brisket, render out a bit more fat and put sort of a smoky flavored bark on it. Basically what you are doing is making a chargrilled potroast at this point. You wont get a lot of smoke flavor, you won't get a good smoke ring, you won't be getting a real barbecue brisket.

It should still be tasty, though, and the process will give you experience with your smoker. Once you've got some confidence in your ability and a handle on the quirks of your cooker, do a brisket from scratch, none of that overnight in the oven stuff. When they turn out well, they are SO good!

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #9 of 50
Thread Starter 
Your replies so far are so very helpful. I'm seriously thinking about doing a pork butt instead of brisket due to the level of difficulty, but I so have my heart set on brisket! It seems like if we want to eat in the evening we'll have to get up really early on Monday morning to do this, right?

The smoker we have looks like R2D2 (from Star wars) and is called a Brinkmann Gourmet Charcoal Smoker and Grill. Hubby showed up with it one day so I don't know anything about it.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #10 of 50
Thread Starter 
Anyone? Help?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #11 of 50
They're inexpensive.

They're rudely referred to as ECB (El Cheapo Brinkmann). I don't think that's totally fair as you can cook some decent food in them but they're not well suited for prolonged pit times such as for brisket. Doable with pork shoulder if it's not too big.

They're difficult to feed charcoal. over long cooking times. The one I had was difficult to get hot enough for long enough. It didn't breathe enough at the charcoal level.

However, it smokes chicken pretty well, and I've done spare ribs in it with success, salmon (a hot smoked kippered style), and some hybrid things like cha shu pork, hot wings, chinese wings and so on that aren't normally smoked. Meatloaf too now that I think about it. I had a specialty mesh loaf pan for the smoke to get through.

If you're committed to this unit, order the electric heater element kit. http://www.brinkmann.net/Shop/Detail...-0224-C&id=355. Works better and easier. Add wood chunks as needed for the smoke.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #12 of 50
Your post just showed up, so ...

Okay, I'm familiar with the type of grill you have -- it's a "bullet" type. In the barbecue world it's known as an "ECB," or "El Cheapo Brinkmann." It's the smoker a lot of people started on. Some moved on as quickly as possible, and some made them work.

Bad news/good news. Bad news first. As bullets go an ECB is not one of the good ones. There's one that stands head and shoulders above the rest (and is also more expensive than the ECB). If it isn't already too late and the extra money isn't a big deal, trade in your Brinkmann for a Weber Smokey Mountain. It's definitely worth it.

I've got to go to a meeting, but when I come back we can talk more about how to make your Brinkmann work as well as it can. But for now:

First -- it will be fine, really. "Not as good" doesn't mean "unworkable."

Second -- here's the good news: At the end of the day a little bullet like yours is more manageable for a beginner than starting out with a small, inexpensive offset.

Third -- There's a very small range of consistent temperatures a stock Brinkmann will hold, and the range is on the low end for a quick brisket cook. But any large cut is going to take a long time, and going to mean getting up very early -- and staying up. Your going to be doing a lot of checking on your first long cook -- especially considering you don't have the right kind of thermometer to keep track while you nap; and that an ECB requires lots of tending and management under the best of circumstances.

Cheaper is a lot more difficult, inconvenient and techinque intensive. My advice is, if you can afford it at all, it's much better to jump in with both feet. You'll have all this stuff for years and years, so if it's a close call err on the side of splurge.

That said, things are what they are. I don't want to get into costing out a bunch of stuff, if it's only going to make you feel bad. This is supposed to be fun, and the stuff isn't essential. You can do a pretty good job of smoking with a trash can and an old grill and hot plate. So, you ask me either: "What's it going to take to make this as good as possible?" or "How can I make what we have work as well as possible?" Whichever, I'll do my best and no more lectures.

Fourth -- Whatever you choose to cook, let's keep the cut size down as small as is consistent with your group. Larger pieces cook better as wholes than they do broken down so if it's a large group the food will be better if cooked whole -- which means a long cook; but it's a party -- not a cross to bear. So, we'll make it work and the food will be plenty good. We'll save "world's greatest pitmistress" for the next 'q.

Fifth -- Pork is easier than brisket, because it's a lot more forgiving in the technique lapses that are almost an inevitable part of starting out. That doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't do brisket. Just factor in the extra burden and ask youself whether you want to shoulder it.

Sixth -- I've been doing 'q for a lot of years at a number of different levels including catering and comp; as have several other people who hang out here. We all want to make this as good for you as we can.

Late for my meeting,
post #13 of 50
<LOL> I've seen some setups like that and they worked pretty durn well. And lots of guys make smokers from old 55-gallon drums. So, Mapvia, technique and knowledge often trumps gear.

post #14 of 50
I taught a friend to cook on an ECB, he couldn't afford a Weber. BDL probably has the modifications handier than I do so I will let him suggest those :smiles: pork is definitely more forgiving than a brisket. If you want to stick to beef a 2-3 inch thick chuck roast that's around 5 pounds is an easy piece of meat to cook. Chuck doesn't quite have the flavor of brisket but once cooked it shreds just like a pork butt and makes some great sandwiches!
post #15 of 50
The four major mods are:

1. Improving access to the fire pan (four bolts, eight washer, eight nuts, power drill -- drill four holes);

2. Improving air flow to the fire pan (power drill -- drill five holes);

3. Either improving access to the water pan, or making minor modifications and obtaining another material (sand usually) to use instead of water (automobile funnel with a flexible stem, or heavy duty aluminum foil and sand); and

4. Better thermometer(s) (two, one for oven and one for meat internal, are much better!) and appropriate mounting (inexpensive digital thermometer(s) and two wine bottle corks per thermometer -- drill 1 hole per thermometer).

Total cost for all mods, including 1 thermometer, around $30; with 2 thermometers around $45. Total time, about an hour.

If not taking the Weber Smokey Mountain road (which would be far better, but $250, at Home Depot), these will make a big improvement.


PS If all this seems overwhelming and impossible before your party -- JUST HAVE THE PARTY. We'll make perfect 'q later.
post #16 of 50
The Weber is $199 on Amazon Amazon.com: Weber 2820 Smokey Mountain Cooker/Smoker: Home & Garden I have 80 pounds of butts going on the Klose tomorrow. Friends want BBQ for the freezer for this winter.
post #17 of 50
The reason I gave the HD price rather than an e-tailer's discount was because the OP, Mapiva, is having her party on Monday. That is a great price, though. Add a Maverick ET-71 and you're ready to go.


PS (ON EDIT) I envy you your Klose. I'm happy it's in the hands of someone who deserves it!
post #18 of 50
One thing you might want to consider is doing chuck instead of brisket. A nicely marbled 3, 4 pound beef chuck roast can be smoked to 140 - 145 F ( a medium rare ) in maybe half the time or less than a full brisket, and at that temp, after an hour or so rest, will be tasty. Taking it higher and letting the collagens break down more completely will make it more flavorful and tender.

If you keep a probe thermometer in whatever meat you are smoking, and watch it during the cook you will see the temp start to rise for a while, and then somewhere in the 160 - 180 range or so depending on various factors involved with that particular piece of meat, it will seem to stop cooking, the temp will stop going up. It may even drop a degree or two, go back up, drop a bit, and so on. This plateau is a critical stage. What is happening is that internally the tough, fibrous connective tissue is breaking down into smaller chain proteins, gelatin and such. The meat is going from tough to tasty. Patience will be rewarded.

When this process is done, after an hour or two or three the internal temp will start to rise again. For a tough, long muscle grain cut like brisket, this process is essential. For a more forgiving hunk of meat like a chuck roast which is more tender from the beginning, it isn't a necessity.

Treat the chuck like a brisket, coat with a good rub, mustard slather optional. I usually don't bother with injecting or marinades, sometimes just using salt, pepper and granulated garlic as the seasoning.

Boy, I may have just talked myself into smoking some chuck saturday. Sunny, unseasonably hot weather predicted for saturday, with a cold front and storm coming in for sunday and monday. A pan of smoked beef enchiladas hot out of the oven on a stormy night could be just the thing!


ps: Boy, a whole day or so without theses forums, I was starting to have withdrawal issues!
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #19 of 50
Thread Starter 
Ok so here's where I'm at. Buying a brisket was no easy feat. I had to check at 3 different butchers. Next time I will special order it so that I can get a very prime cut. This time forgive me but I got a not so fancy brisket, 6lbs. So hubby is excited, he's been reading all your posts and wants to give this a shot. I'm sure he'll be excited to try to bring the ECB up to par like suggested.

I plan on marinading over night like BDL suggested, and had the butcher trim it for me.

Here are some specific questions I have about proceeding.

1. Does the ECB have to be "warmed up" or prepared before I stick the meat in? Should I wrap the meat in foil?

2. Will adding hickory chips be overkill on smokiness?

3. How many hours will it take for a 6lb brisket to cook? Should I cut it in half or something?

4. The above post confused me a little bit. Should I be trying to make it mediume rare??? Or should I try to smoke it to a certain internal temperature? What temp should I shoot for? How do I know it's done?

5. Why does it have to rest for sooo long?

6. I was overwhelmed with the bbq sauces on the store shelf. I don't know anything about them so what should I get if I want something not too sweet, a little tangy, with a little heat?

7. I don't want to jump the gun here, but once we're ready to eat do I slice across the grain?

8. What's a bark... and a smoke ring?

9. Can I stick my baked potatoes in there too or will they get smoky?

Thank you again for taking the time to help me!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #20 of 50
While the ECB is preheating you can take the brisket out and let it come up to room temp.

I would use hickory chunks if you can find them, don't soak them either.

I am guessing you got a flat cut, 1- 1 1/2 hours per pound at 225 to 250. Depending on your temps it may take longer or shorter. Brisket needs to go to 195 or so to get tender. I would take BDL's suggestion and foil, this will help you keep from drying out the meat.

Bark is the crusty outer part that may look like charcoal but it tastes really good. A smoke ring is the reddish color you see when you slice, it will penetrate the meat 1/2 inch or so.

Foil the potatoes until almost done then unwrap and let them get some smoke, this also crisps up the skin(my favorite part).

A long rest lets the meat juices go back into the meat so when yu cut it the slices don't dry out as fast and yes you slice across the grain.

One of the biggest rules in BBQ is it is done when it is ready and not by any set time. Humidity, wind, etc can all play a big factor in how fast you cook. Right now you should concentrate on trying to keep the ECB between 225 and 275. Don't worry if it spikes higher or lower for a bit, its just part of the cook.
post #21 of 50
Yes, the fire needs to be started and stabilized before the meat goes in. You should not wrap the meat in foil until it hits "the stall," about 155F. Then, YOU should wrap. (Most, more advanced barbecuers don't. But you should. It makes things go faster and easier.) By the time the meat is wrapped, it won't absorb any more smoke anyway.

Adding smoke wood to the charcoal would be a good thing. Chunks mixed with the charcoal are better than foil packs of chips -- but either works. If possible use hardwood lump charcoal rather than briquettes. The taste differences are substantial. It's a regional thing, but hickory is usually not the first choice for brisket. In the west we prefer oak or mesquite. Pecan, apple and cherry are also popular throughout the country. Hickory is more of a southern, and thus a pork thing.

6 pounds is getting pretty small to cut in half, but if necessary you can. Two three pounders won't taste as good as one 6 pounder, plus there will be more waste. Your 6 pounds of brisket will feed 8 without leftovers if there's a lot of other food.

Without knowing what tempurature your ECB is going to find as its natural, it's hard to tell you how long cooking will take. Figure about 2 hours per pound.

Teamfat was talking about an entirely different cut of meat. You will not be happy with a medium rare brisket. It's a barbecue axiom that, "Brisket needs to be cooked 'past well done and into tender.'" The correct internal temperature is 195F, plus or minus 5F. If you don't have a thermometer, the correct tests are the fork test and the bend test.

Fork test: Stick a fork in the meat -- if the meat is not only tender, but tender enough to turn the fork somewhat, it's done.

Bend test: Use your tongs to try and pick up the meat about an inch from one side. If the meat bends too much to pick up without breaking, it's done.

The first half hour or so, completes the cooking process. The remaining time gives you slack with your party planning. Under no circumstances try to time a brisket within an hour -- or even two -- of your event. They will bite you in the behind every time. Also, the remaining time actually does improve the meat. Proteins finish denaturing, and temperatures fully equilibrate -- to give you the technical reasons.

It's easy enough to make your own.

You most certainly do. When the brisket is done, cut it in half, and take the first slice from middle. Check for tenderness, and that will tell you how thin to make your remaining slices. The tougher, the thinner. The more "falling apart" the thicker.

The "bark" is the crust which forms on the surface of the meat from the smoke, the long cooking period, the "Maillard reaction," and the rub.

A smoke ring is a purplish ring just under the surface of the meat that extends about 1/4" into the interior -- it's formed by the interaction of smoke, myoglobins and (healthy) bacteria.

They will get smoky, but you can wrap them in foil.

Here's a very fundamental barbecue sauce recipe. You'll notice that it's a slightly tweaked, sweet and sour ketchup. Is that really all barbecue sauce is? Usually, yes. Can this be tweaked beyond all recognition? Yes.

First time Barbecue Sauce

2 cups ketchup
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup honey
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup whole grain mustard (or regular yellow)
2 tbs soy sauce
(Optional) 2 or three dashes liquid smoke
Salt, black pepper and hot sauce to taste

Mix everything but the salt and peppers together and taste. Adjust the sweet and sour balance by adding more vinegar or honey. You said you liked more tang and less sweet -- here's your chance. Add salt if you feel it needs it -- you probably won't want much. Add enough black pepper so you can see a few flecks after you've stir it in.

Note 1: I know you like hot. Me too. But go easy on the hot sauce -- try and be sensitive to your most sensitive guest. You can always pass it on the side. People seem to like Texas Pete in your part of the country, but I suggest Tabasco Chipotle if you can find it.

Note 2: The liquid smoke is it's own issue. "Real" barbecuers won't even discuss it. It's like a religious thing. If you keep barbecuing you won't want it either. But for now ... everyone will be a lot happier if you put just a little in -- makes it taste like, well, barbecue sauce.

post #22 of 50
Thread Starter 
I'm nervous but I feel a lot more prepared. We're gonna give this a shot and whatever happens happens. I'm prepared for a 12 hour event minus the overnight marinading.

I will not mop or baste.

I will make my own bbq sauce and have it on the side. And yes I do have chipotle tobasco.

I will allow it to reach 195 and fork it and bend it before we pull it out.

As difficult as it may be I will let it rest in the foil for at least an hour before we start digging in.

I will scold anyone who says they're hungry before the brisket is ready.

Thank you for your help and suggestions. My expertise lies in greek cooking so if anyone ever needs help with that I'll be more than happy to lend my help!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #23 of 50
You go girl!

If the thermometer says 195, don't bother with the other stuff. And remember, no peeking. If your husband wants to talk to me about the mods, PM me and we can arrange a phone "consultation."

It's been a long time since I had the opportunity to fool around with an ECB, even by long-distance proxy. Don't worry about any imposition, I consider it (a) fun; and (b) grist for the book.

Two enthusiastic briskets up,
post #24 of 50
Thread Starter 
Ok sorry, more questions.

Just looked at the smoker. It seems that the thermometer only has 3 settings, and doesn't specify degrees. It says only Low, Ideal, or High. Am I shooting for ideal?

Dumb question - where does the brisket go?? There are 2 racks, one right on top of the water pan, and one above that under the lid.

Do we add charcoal through the little door or lift the bullet completely?

When you say "don't open the door no matter what" which door do you mean? The lid? The little door on the front? don't lift the bullet?

I'm going to use one of the digital thermometers that is placed in the meat from the beginning and the cord extends out of the oven.

We will not undertake modifications THIS TIME but if this works out at all we will be upgrading.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #25 of 50
This time you're shooting for a temperature you can hold consistently as long as it's not all the way low or all the way hot. You can't really control that smoker very well -- especially without mods.

Next time you're shooting for a new thermometer, mounted in a different place.

What's dumb about it? Use the top one this time. It will be easier to get to the meat when you absolutely have to.

This time you add charcoal through the little door -- and good luck to you. For now IIRC, the lip of the fire pan sits on a ledge at the top of each leg. When you lift the bullet, you lift the pan as well. However, once you've done the mods, the fire pan will have it's own little stand and you'll be lifting the bullet off it to reload the pan. It makes a HUGE difference. Because you need to reload the pan frequently -- which is a difficult thing to do through that little door. So is refilling the water pan. (Hint: Line the pan with foil, and fill it with clean sand and you want to have reload the water pan.) Another fire pan modification allows the fire to breath better and you to clean out the ashes to keep them from choking the fire.

In the case of the bullet -- the lid, and the little door. You're going to have to open and/or to manage the fire, refill the water, and do what little tending the meat requires. Every time you let cool air in the pit, you dry out the meat and upset the rate at which the fire burns. That's why experienced pitmasters keep it to a minimum, and why the equipment is designed and built to minimize the disturbance.

That is an incredibly good idea.

If by upgrading you mean making the mods -- good idea. You can make an ECB work okay with those -- a lot less frustrating. You can actually make an ECB work reasonably well by gas-firing it with an Afterburner V or a tweaked turkey fryer burner.

If, by upgrading, you mean purchasing a WSM or some other better-than-an-ECB pit, that's cooler still. Once the pressure's off, you can figure out if that's really the best unit. And, if you're needs don't include a lot big entertaining, laid out slabs of ribs, or laid out large fish -- well, the only real limitations on the WSM are it's a little on the small side (about 18"), and mildly obnoxious to clean. Otherwise, $200 buys you close to $1,000 worth of performance.

If you do have that rib and/or fish thing, or you want another kind for whatever reason -- lots of good choices, and whatever you do decide on won't be a huge problem. You won't have to reinvent the wheel to make it work; all the ground has been plowed before.

Compared to almost any other culinary discipline smoking is extremely high reward, extremely high fun, for moderate effort. What's more, most of the effort is front loaded in terms of purchasing the right things (not that many) and making the right tweaks. If you like smoked food, and if you like outdoor cooking, you'll like smoking -- gay-ron-teed. You've set yourself a high first hurdle which you'll clear!. But even if this brisket is the worst ever (it won't be), don't give up on this part of the art. The food so good, the outdoors so pleasant, and my God, the aroma.

post #26 of 50
I had a crew in trimming trees today by the power lines. They were downwind from 80 pounds of pork with the fat dripping on the tuning plates and burning off. They spent more time looking at the pit than working :lol:. I use the same type thermometer as you are planning to use. I had 8 butts on and just track the temp of two so I have a rough idea of whats going on. Been running the pit a tad hot today at 275 to get these done a little quicker. Three are off and three have a hour or so to go. That's a good example of how BBQ timing works, even the same size and shape hunk of meat can cook at a different pace than the others. The Big Drum Smoker is another option than the WSM and offers a larger cooking grate. Big Drum Smokers | BBQ Smokers more money but more cooking space. I started out using a Weber kettle, upgraded to a Brinkmann offset, then I bought the Klose. If I had stayed in catering I would be considering a bigger pit again :lol:.
post #27 of 50

Sauce suggestion

My son in Reno bought the rinkydink Brinkmann a couple weeks ago, and we tried a brisket first thing- big mistake. Turned out very badly. I have used that model with the elctric element for quite a few years, with reasonably good results; never a brisket, though.

I've forwarded him a link to this thread.

A few years ago, driving from Houston to Chicago, we went about 300 miles out of our way to have lunch at Arthur Bryant's in KC. It was worth the trip.

The day after Bryant died, the KC Star editorial cartoon showed Bryant, a briefcase in his hand, trudging up a cloudy path toward the Pearly Gates. Saint Peter was running toward him, arms outstretched and beard flying in the wind. The caption was 'DID YOU BRING THE RECIPE?"

May I suggest my "famous" BBQ sauce. It is not sweet, and can be made as hot as you like:

1tspchili powder
1tspcelery seed(this is the secret ingredient)
1tsplemon zest
1Tbspbrown sugar(or 2 Tbsp molasses or sorghum)
1/4cupcider vinegar
1/4cupWorcestershire sauce
1cuptomato catsup(could use chili sauce)
2cupswater(or use 1 cup beer or red wine, 1 cup water)
3clovesgarlic, pressed (put the pulp in after pressing)
4quartersfresh ginger (also pressed to extract juice- add this pulp also)
1TbspTobasco sauce
1/2tspred pepper flakes
or both, live dangerously

Mix all ingredients, simmer very slowly to reduce by one-third.
If you're smart you'll make a double recipe every time. Keeps very well frozen.
Believe it or not this started with a recipe in the Fanny Farmer Boston Cooking
School Cookbook, in an edition printed about 45 years ago!. The celery seeds
are the "secret" ingredient. Arthur Bryant's sauce uses them, too.

I added the garlic and ginger. If you add onions the sauce will get considerably sweeter

travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
post #28 of 50
Thread Starter 
May I ask, what went so terribly wrong with the brisket? Was it the temperature control? What would you have done differently with this smoker if you were to do it again?

Thanks for the bbq sauce recipe!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

post #29 of 50
I think we botched the temperature- we were running around town and allowed the fire to die in the smoker. We were using hardwood charcoal and the flavor was sort of OK, but it was tough as a drill sargeant's boot. That's OK for a Missouri country ham, but not good in a brisket. :crazy:

I would certainly go with BDL's physical modifications, and work your way up to brisket gradually.

I really hope you will give the sauce recipe a try. For about 25 years now, my kids won't accept anything else.
travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
post #30 of 50
Thread Starter 
At 7:00 am we placed the marinaded and rubbed brisket in the chamber. We inserted a digital thermometer that measures both the internal temperature of the meat and the oven temp. For the past 45 minutes it has stayed a steady 281 in the oven so I will take that as a good sign that it's not all over the place... I'm hoping it will drop a little.

My husband is pacing about fretting and I need to keep an eye on him for fear of messing about with the charcoal.

It is what it is for now. More updates later.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."


"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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