Cooking only a few briskets per year requires care and copious notes if one desires continuous improvement, as I do. The “Even Better Brisket 5/27/2011″ recipe was an attempt to carefully document best the method and parameters I’ve found at that time. I used the same method on this 9/2 brisket, except as suggested in the hindsight gained from the 5/27 one.
This post describes our critique of the 9/2 brisket (wifey helped), some pics, and slight tweaks I will make next time. This post requires the 5/27 post as its baseline. The entire method stands, but some parameters are updated.
I consider the 9/2 brisket as having achieved all goals, including repeatability. It was slightly drier than I would have wanted, only in the thinner areas. The thick areas are fine. It could have also used a little more smoke. The fire was perfect, but the brisket needed to stay in the smoker longer.
Parameters I will use next time (these supersede the 5/27 recipe): Instead of cooking in the oven 6:00 hours, I will shorten that by 1 hour and nominally add an hour to the time it’s on the fire.
1. The new oven time is 5:00 hours (still at 350). The briket will then be moved directly to the smoker, which will already be at temperature, and the foil will removed. So far, the method is not changed; only the time is changed.
2. On the next brisket, the target temperature in the smoker will be 305-315, a little cooler and tighter than the 300-325 range given in the 5/27 recipe. My goal will be to monitor it closely and keep it very close to 315. I consider 305 a little low. Of course, dropping the temperature will slightly lengthen the typical cook time to achieve the desired color and tenderness, for any size of brisket.
3. In the 5/27 recipe, I suggested checking the color and tenderness every 30 minutes starting 3:00 hours after putting the brisket in the smoker. Here is the updated method: Starting 4:00 hours after transferring the brisket from the oven to the smoker, monitor the color and tenderness every 30 minutes, and add wood to the fire if it fails to maintain the 305-315 temperature range. It is important to keep the temperature up to avoid losing control of the cooking process and serving time.
These are the only changes I will make when cooking the next brisket. If you read the 5/27 method, and use the updated parameters in this post, I think you will see that the process is described in clear enough detail to repeat it. If you have any questions, or have found any omissions, please let me know (@daytrend on twitter, or daytrend at gmail).
Pic 1: Out of the oven, still in the foil, ready for the foil to be removed and to be put in the smoker. Notice the thick coat of rub and black pepper (nothing else). The large, thick end was placed nearest the fire. Note: The thermometer I use is built into the smoker. All temperatures are based on the smoker’s thermometer, *not* from an inserted meat thermometer. The brisket was centered in the smoker area, just below the thermometer. The blog contains numerous pics of the grill and its thermometer.
Pic 2: Right off the grill about 4 hours later. Notice the color. The fork literally fell into the meat at the thick end; super tender and moist. Nothing at all is burned.