Updated: Aug 28, 2021
5lb Brisket Flat
Friday, July 30, 2021
The notes below in italics are the adjustments I would make if it were to do this again.
Second attempt was on Sunday, August 22, 2021. Several adjustments were successfully implemented.
¾ minion (Used a full minion)
Starting target smoker temp 255°.
9:00am: Outside temperature 81° (feels like 90°).
It was quite breezy but the smoker is in a corner and mostly protected from the wind. Need to get the smoker more exposed to some breeze so I can better control the air-flow, and therefore the heat.
Actual Smoker temp at 200° when I started. Vents wide open.
It climbed slowly up to 235° but it was a struggle to get it over that. It basically settled back to 230° for the majority of the cook and then tapered off at the end.
As this brisket was just the flat and not the point as well, I was planning on an hour and a half per lb. This would be 7½ hours but I sought to give it it eight to nine hours (bad call - should have stuck with 7½ hours. 2nd attempt, I have now worked out that if you're just doing a flat, it only needs 1 hour per lb and you need to keep an eye on the internal meat temp). I wanted to eat at about 8pm and leave a fair chunk of margin for error…
Giving it two hours to rest I aimed to take it off the smoker at 6pm and rest it in a foil tent before slicing.
8:15am: Mustard slathered and rubbed the brisket with a sea salt, ground black pepper and garlic powder rub. Left to sit in that rub for half an hour to bring up to room temp and to allow that salt to start to pull some moisture to the surface.
While the meat was coming up to room temp I prepared the fire in the smoker. ¾ minion with a couple of blocks of apple and hickory. By the time the chimney was lit, water bowl filled and the fire basket neatly arranged with a volcano crater of briquettes, a good half hour had passed.
(Next time - full minion is the way to go)
I waited for the escaping smoke to blow blue/clear but because I forgot to put the wood in (so I shoved it in late) my smoke was still a little white/gray but I wanted to get the meat on.
9:10am: Bunged the brisket on the bottom rack of the smoker and left it for three hours (ish). I tried to keep the smoker at 250°-260° throughout this period.
10:20am: I couldn’t get the smoker over 230° during this period, but it was ok as the meat was still absorbing good smoke. I added some unlit coals and a couple of blocks of hickory to try and increase it the heat. Good news is it went up to 255°.
Noon: Tried to pump the smoker up to 260°-265°. Spritzed the edges of the brisket. Left
for another two hours.
I added some chimney lit coals and some cold coals to try and increase increase the temp. But it settled back at 230°.
12:45pm: Added some more lit coals and some more unlit. Trying to get the heat up. It’s still sitting at 230°.
2pm: Internal brisket temp target: 165°. Yay. It was.
Spritzed and again tried to pump up the heat to 280°-285° (I added another ⅓ full lit chimney. It climbed to 250° but didn’t get above that. Then it dropped back to 230° again).
To check how the brisket is, see if some of the stiffness has abated. The edges should be a little floppier and the bark should start to split a little as the fat begins to render.
3pm: I poured some beer in a foil pouch and wrapped the brisket in foil. Returned to the smoker. The intention was to try and keep the temp up around the 285° mark. Yeah right! My smoker temp had dropped to about 180°. Grrrrrrrr. I lit yet another half chimney of briquettes. Added some unlit coals and bunged the lit ones on top.
5pm: Internal meat temp target: 190° to 200°. (I forgot to check). Opened up the foil (reserved the liquid for the dip/jus). Placed the brisket back in the smoker for the final hour. Allowed the heat in the smoker to taper off (as it had done all day). Should not have done this - should have taken it off the heat at this point and left it wrapped in the foil.
5:45pm: Internal meat temp target: 180°. (Yay, it was). Took the brisket off the smoker to rest. Put it in a baking pan and covered it with a foil tent trying not to have the foil touch the upper bark. While the brisket will continue to cook during the carryover, the internal temp should drop to 140°-150°.
I burned my first batch of dip!!! Doh. Tip - don't burn the dip!
7:45pm: Sliced and served with the little bit of jus that I had.
Verdict: Flavour was great. Really good smoke balance, good brisket taste and texture was fine whenever we had a piece of rendered fat on the slice. There was too much salt and pepper in the rub. But the biggest crime is that it was just overdone. Noooooooo! Not massively. Not ruined. Just frustrating as it was pushed too far.
Tips for the future:
Needs a little more fat on the cap. The first flat was heavily trimmed even before I got it and it needs more fat left on it. Second attempt had a thicker layer of fat. I still trimmed it down but left much more than the first effort. This was key. Trim off the hard fat but leave the softer underlayer.
Stick with an hour per lb.
Pay attention to the internal temp. Once it hits 165°, wrap the brisket and try and pump the smoker temperature up if you can. We're trying to get the meat to push through the stall and increase its temp up to 195° to 200°.
Once wrapped, leave it wrapped.
Once it get's up to 195° to 200°, take it off. Leave it wrapped and we're hoping it starts to cool down to about 140° / 150° ish.
This rest/carryover should be no more than one hour.
Don’t burn the jus/dip. It needs the jus/dip.