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Originally posted by Shantyhag:
We use a Cookshack 350 and do a few hundred pounds of brisket each week. We rub it, put it fat side up, set it for 12 hours at 225 and walk away. It's always 'choice or better' certified Angus beef, always with the same rub.

We've done this every week for more than a year and it's always turned out perfect. The last few weeks, however, we've noticed the same problem. The bottom seems to develop an inedible hard crust (not bark) about a 1/4 inch thick. It's baffling because we've never had this problem before and we haven't changed a thing that we can think of... same wood, same settings, same meat, same rub. We were hoping that someone could take a guess at what's going on or what might be happening in the process that we're not catching.
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Have you verified the internal temps of the 350?
If your smoking method/proceedures haven't changed, my 1st guess would be a heat issue, which could be the result of a faulty thermocoupler. I'd also check the coupler probe itself to be sure it hasn't built up a coating of crusty gunk.

Are all the briskets finishing crusty?

If your internal temps match your board settings...hmmmm, weird.

The only other suggestion would be to try cooking fat side down and see what happens.

Good luck.
Thanks for moving this, Okie. Max, the bottom of the briskets are all finishing crusty, yes. The possiblity that it has built up a coating of gunk actually makes quite a bit of sense given the use and my complete inattention to that detail. I'll check this weekend and see if we don't correct it that way.

The 350 is one of the older ones, before they included internal thermometers. I'm going to need to purchase a remote thermometer before I can verify internal temp, but you're right, of course. Temperature is the only thing I can think of as well.
We have cooked competition for four years now and have had about 2-3 briskets come out with that hard crust to them. We cook on an fec 100. My only "guess" is that when cooked them when it was raining and the air had high humidity. Thinking the rub absorbed the moisture, thickened, and when it cooked it for the crusty shell. I believe both times was on a prime brisket as well. Been two years since this has happened, hope this helps.
Didn't have time earlier, but I'm thinking along the lines.

If EVERYTHING is the same, and it's now different, my guess would be the internal temp.

Now, that means everything.

Same rub, same source, same brisket, same size, etc, etc.

So, you never mention the brisket itself. Is the internal exactly like it was before and ONLY the crust is different, or is it maybe a little more done?

Good idea to get a remote probe, run it down and temp the unit itself.

There's a fine line between bark and crust. Many places in Texas would say a crust is just right. If it gets a crust I cut with the crust down, because even my best sharpest knife won't cut a crust. But it does cut bark.
Hi, All,

BigDan, with a charcoal smoker or other semi-direct heat method, I might do fat-side down too (or a combination), but with the Cookshack 350, which is a mammoth and wonderful electric smoker, the heat is fairly radiant and even. We keep fat-side up so that it constantly marinates the meat as we cook, and we collect the fat and juices which we use for a fantastic au jus. If I were doing comp I would probably start fat up, flip and wrap (Texas Crutch). Others are free to argue with either (or any) approach, we have gotten amazing results for over a year with our way and when you're working commercially you have to make adjustments to practicality.

Now, of course, we're not (getting great results). Okie, we've found that the point is crisping a lot in a way that a knife won't get through. This is new. The flat is still great, torta-ready. We use the point for tacos and we chop it up; at this point we put the whole thing in the buffalo chopper which does the job but emulsifies the meat in a way that we don't love (this is something we've never had to do before).

I'm having a dual-probe remote thermometer delivered on monday or tuesday and will post more after the next smoke when we have data.

Appreciate everyone's input thus far. You guys, as always, are great!

Last edited by shantyhag
BBQBrian... hmmm. We live in the high desert (well, the mountains above the desert) in SoCal, so typically humidity is very low and the cookshack 350 seals VERY well, but I think you may be onto something. Remember when I said we collect the juices? I'm wondering whether our cooks leaving the pans between smokes isn't creating a more moisture rich environment. This is a great clue, and thank you. I'm going to investigate! I'll let you know.
Hi, All,

Sorry to be so late getting back to this. AndyJ, the newer models have onboard probes for the meat itself... or so I understand. Ours does not have that.

BBQBrian, et al, policing the moisture issue seems to have solved this problem. I have a feeling that what was happening is that our staff, believing that 'if it's not full, why empty it" were leaving the pans in to collect more juices. This may have created-- or at least it's my working theory-- a more humid environment inside the smoker which caused that nasty crust. The problem has not been as prevalent since we've addressed it this way. Not 100% perfect, though, which means we may still have a temperature issue that needs to be dealt with.

I will report back as I know more, and thank you all for assisting with this!


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