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Help!! Brisket Disaster....

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Post Mon Sep 29, 2003 1:54 pm
robmart raw
raw

Posts: 3
Location: Chicago

911! I spent the entire day smoking a pork shoulder and a brisket on my New Braunfels Smoker and they were both terrible. I'm terribly confused and I need help.

I have owned the smoker for 2 years, and I've made some amazingly good ribs and pork shoulders. Yesterday was my first bad pork shoulder. I don't know what happened. I've never smoked a brisket before and my first attempt turned out like shoe leather.

Here's what I did:

Both the Shoulder and the Brisket were rubbed with Stubbs BBQ Rub the night before. I started the smoking at 9 am, with hardwood charcoal and soaked hickory chips. Occasionally I would throw a few dry Mesquite Chunks in, but mostly used the soaked hickory chips. I put the Shoulder in the middle of the food chamber and the brisket on the far right side, near the chimney. I mopped every hour with a cider vinegar based mop. I kept the smoke going until about 5 pm, when I then wrapped both in foil and placed on the webber kettle (indirect heat). I left them on the webber for 2 1/2 hours and then checked with a meat thermometer. Both meats were "done" (190 degrees). I brought them in and opened them up, but both were tough. The shoulder's I've done before just fell apart,..but I couldn't "pull" the meat off the bone on this one. The Brisket was like shoe leather. I re-wrapped the meat in foil and returned it to the webber. I checked the Shoulder again after another hour, and it was still tough. I left the brisket for an additional hour (4 hours total on the webber), and it was still too tough to serve.

I'm lost. That's nearly 12 hours off cooking time and my BBQ was a disaster. Please Help.

Thanks,

Rob

Post Tue Sep 30, 2003 2:28 pm
dallasBBQ raw
raw

Posts: 2
Location: Dallas, TX
Can't really help you with the pork shoulder, but as far as the brisket goes there's a couple of things that could have went wrong. 1) Did you cook the brisket with the fat side up?? This lets the fat melt and drain the through the meat, keeping it moist and flavourful. 2) What was the tempature you were smoking at?? With a brisket, I like to keep the needle around 225-250 degrees, and smoke the brisket about 45min-1hr per pound. Any more than that, seems to dry it out, hence the leather texture. I would avoid the last step of wrapping it in foil and throwing on the webber. That's not necessary for the brisket.

1 other suggestion that I have found that keeps my brisket's perfect, instead of Mesquite wood chuncks, check your Lowes or Home Depot and see if they have the 12-16" Mesquite logs. I know in Dallas, you can find these everywhere. All you have to do is get a hot bed of coals going, and then put a couple of logs on top of them, and you have constant heat and smoke for 3-4 hours before needing to add another log.

Hope this helps!

Post Tue Sep 30, 2003 10:24 pm
Luke medium-rare
medium-rare

Posts: 89
Location: Texas

Not everything that calls it self a brisket is a good brisket for bbqing. The first time I made brisket I made the mistake of buying a nicely trimmed, nicely rectangular piece of meat from my local mega-lo-mart. I was sorely dissapointed. I have since learned that the only brisket fit to bbq is a packer cut piece (large hunk of meat that looks like it just fell off the cow) with about a 1/4 inch layer of fat on the top. Anything else is hopeless.
Live Different

Post Wed Oct 01, 2003 12:02 am
robmart raw
raw

Posts: 3
Location: Chicago

thanks for the input guys.

Well,..I did place the brisket fat side up,..but now I'm wondering if the brisket was "fatty" enough. Perhaps not. I used the foil wrap thing because Steven suggested that in his book. Perhaps I'll try without that next time. Honestly,..I suppose I need to pay more attention to the temperature. In my New Braunfels Smoker, I find it hard to really regulate the temp very well. But I believe I was in the 200-250 range. I guess I'll just have to try it again.

Thanks again,

Rob

Post Wed Oct 01, 2003 7:58 am
dkirn well done
well done

Posts: 388
Location: St. Louis, MO
As far as the brisket I have experienced the same thing when I made my first brisket - I trimmed off too much of the fat and then it was extremely dry and tough. When I do brisket from now on I get my meat from a butcher shop (where the owner even orders special cuts of meat for me if I need something special) and make sure that they do not trim any of the fat and I leave it all on and then trim it off after I have smoked the brisket. Another tip is to let your butcher know what your intent is with the meat that you are buying and they will be able to make sure that you get a great cut of meat for smoking - most of these guys are smokers as well and love to share some pointers!

Post Wed Oct 01, 2003 8:01 am
dkirn well done
well done

Posts: 388
Location: St. Louis, MO
As far as the pork it sounds to me like you overcooked it. You need to get a better thermometer for your smoker so that you know for sure what the temperature is that you are cooking at - the cheap ones that come with most smokers are worthless. Also remember that if your thermometer is in the top of your smoker you need to determine the difference in temperature from where the thermometer is and where you are cooking the meat at.

Post Thu Oct 09, 2003 12:19 pm
Pierre

For the Brisket: 12 hours might seem long enough, but not in this case. Regardless of how many hours it took, it wasn't long enough to break down the collogens that hold the meat together. 18 or more hours is not uncommon, depending on the cut, size and temperature. Keep cooking it. Take the meat to 200° or more, and hold at that temperature until it becomes tender. It will happen.
The amount of fat on the fat cap helps moisten, but not as much as you might think. Meat isn't terribly porous, and much of the surface fat will roll off the top during cooking The main culprit here, is that the collogen which holds the meat together hans't loosened its grip on its meaty neighbors. Hang in there.

The pork: ditto


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