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I have been enjoying my new Amerique since I got it.

I have had great luck in almost everything that I have cooked in the smoker. HOWEVER, I was not satisfied with my first and only attempt at brisket. I tried a brisket flat instead of a packer (I have since read these can be difficult). I rubbed the flat with mustard and then with my rub and let sit overnight in the fridge, I got up early the next morning and put it into my Amerique with cherry and pecan at 225 and smoked until it reached 180 where I pulled, wrapped in foil with apple juice and returned to the smoker until it reached about 195. I removed the brisket and let it rest for about an hour wrapped in towels. The flavor was excellent but it was dry. I was disappointed so later I sliced the entire brisket and vacumn sealed portions with apple juice and froze.

Here is the kicker, a couple weeks later, I took the packs of brisket with some pulled pork to the office for the staff. After thawing an nuking the sealed packs of brisket in the microwave, the brisket was tender, juicy and tasted GREAT.??!! What gives, what did I do wrong on the front end or right on the back??

I would like to try brisket again, so I would like some advice. I like the rub I have made up and have used it on quite a few smokes. I need help on the temps/times/foil etc......
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Well briskets are all individual.To be silly,it is like the statement "The first time my horse ran it got beat by some,but the next time it ran better than some.What do you think"

The flat could have come from a 2 yr old black and white face steer that was raised on creep feed ,stood around all day and graded out upper choice.Great!

The flat could have come from a twenty year old dairy bull,that should have been ground for very lean burgers.Terrible!

The recook in juice and vacpac could have "potroasted" it and it was less tough?The freezing could have broken down the slices?

195º, at some place in the meat, with a therm that might,or might not be within 10º-15º of accurate could be a place to start to use a test probe for tenderness/doneness.

It could have been a little undercooked,or overcooked-or a poor piece of meat.

If it was a ten lb,well marbled ,evenly thick flat with a nice fat layer,and
if the probe passed thru the flat from top to bottom/like warm butter,it might be a time to rest 2-3 hrs in foil and then sliced across the grain.

Sounds like a good chance to do some more reading in Brisket 101 and the archives.Seek a better piece of meat,try again and take good notes.Adjust one thing at a time and cook some more.

Have fun.
Adding to Tom's great advice...

Search out a Choice Packer (Certified Angus if possible) and give it another try. IMHO Packers are more forgiving while you learn the ropes. I'd suggest a straight smoke (vs foiling) at 225 or 250. Finished brisket temps vary. follow Tom's advice as far as probing resistance from top to bottom.

A brisket injection (ButcherBBQ) will help the meat retain moisture. Your call.

Remember that a Packer point will finish a bit ahead of the flat. it's pretty hard to overcook the point so concentrate of the flat with your probe resistance testing.

Your 1st brisket was more tender and juicy after reheating for a couple of reasons.
1. The meat absorbed the apple juice.
2. Freezing meat causes cellular break down, releasing moisture...reheating allowed the meat to replenish moisture.

One thing I was recently taught about foiling...keep the foil very tight to the meat. Allowing air pockets is conducive to steaming, which will actually force moisture out of the meat.

Good luck and keep us posted.
There are multiple tricks to salvage a poor product,and experienced chefs like Max have to learn at times.A volume vendor will also know many.

The problem is the experienced cook can use 20 different tricks for 20 different problems.The wrong trick could compound your problem.

I always suggest that rather than using our tricks to salvage poor meat,start out with the best appropriate meat you can find,learn how your cooker cooks it,and learn how to cook it well.

Then you can be consistent at reproducing the product that suits you.
Originally posted by Tom:
It could have been a little undercooked,or overcooked-or a poor piece of meat.

Have fun.


I generally buy my meat from SAMS Club. It was a 4 1/2 # choice flat. Probably trimmed too close (I did not do any further trimming). The Temps were monitored with my ET73.

I am not new to cooking, My wife DOES NOT COOK.... LOL. I have been the cook of the house through 32 years of marrigage (I'm 57). I can do a MEAN Prime Rib in the oven and even mastered PB with smoke flavor using Liquid smoke in the oven. I am doing pretty well with Ribs, PB, Fish, Sausage, and Chicken in the Amerique (Still lots of room to improve). Its just the Brisket did not turn out as well as I thought it should. I have READ the 101's, and posts which have been an incredble help! Thanks for the suggestions. I love the Amerique (I just have an FEC100 envy..... lol).
Always interested in a new rub! Care to share?


Always glad to share. This is a modified version of something I found on the Charcoal Store website. I changed/added some things to suit my taste.

Basic Pork, Rib, Brisket Rub Recipe
3 cups Paprika
¼ cup Cayenne Pepper
½ cup Black pepper, medium coarse
½ cup White Pepper Finely Ground
½ cup Onion Powder
½ Cup Garlic Powder
¾ Cup Ground Yellow Mustard
3 Cups Brown Sugar
1 Cup turbinado Sugar
½ Cup Chili Powder
½ Cup Powdered Ginger
½ Cup Herbs de Provence (or more to taste)

Herbs de Provence seasoning recipe
1 part dried thyme
1 part dried basil
1 part dried rosemary, crushed
1 part dried tarragon
1 part dried savory
1 part dried marjoram
1 part dried oregano
1 part dried lavender
1/4 part bay leaf, coarsely ground
1/2 part fennel seed coarsely ground
1 part dried sage

I use a coffee mill used ONLY for spices to grind the spices and my food processor to mix the Rub. I buy the Spices from SAMS Club and/or from a local Organic grocery (similar to Whole Foods) that sells fresh bulk spices for a decent price. I mixed up a large double batch of this and have it stored in sealed plastic containers. I have used it on PB, Loin back Ribs, and the one brisket I cooked. It has a nice flavor that is spicy without being too hot.
It seems to me Mike that if you are using the foil to tenderize and add moisture, maybe try to wrap at a little lower temp than 180*, but hey what do I know, I never have used foil cooking a brisket.

I'm with the others on trying to find a decent packer cut brisket to learn on. The more briskets you smoke the better the product should become with experience, but some briskets are just part devil if you ask me.
Sounds like you did ok. My first brisket was on a different cooker and was barely edible. Also sounds like you are on track to do a very good one. Have done two on my CS that I wasnt happy about. One I did not cook long enough. The other was way over cooked. Since I learned to pick good choice packers and how to probe for doneness, I have been very happy with the results. Learned a lot on this forum. Still learning...
Originally posted by Mike4258:
... I was disappointed so later I sliced the entire brisket and vacumn sealed portions with apple juice and froze.

... What gives, what did I do wrong on the front end or right on the back??

I would like to try brisket again, so I would like some advice. I like the rub I have made up and have used it on quite a few smokes. I need help on the temps/times/foil etc......

You answered your own question. You added liquid when you froze them.

Flats are tough to do, unless they're a big flat (over 6 lbs) then they tend to dry out because the butcher thinks it's helpful to trim all the fat off.

Something I didn't see in either report.

How big was the flat?
Was it choice or select?
Did it have any fat cap?

Go with a packer and don't trim any fat.

I'm NOT a fan of foiling, I think you can learn to do one without them. I also know that newbies need the crutch to help the learning curve.

One note from your original report:
Smoked 9 hrs at 225 degrees to an internal of 190 degrees, I removed and wrapped in foil with a cup bourbon/apple juice at 160 degrees, placed back in smoker until 190 degrees.
You said 190 the second time but I think you meant 195. 5 degree for adding liquid won't help at all. Waste of liquid

If you're going to foil, foil earlier, like around 160. The idea is to keep some of the juices in, as well as braise the meat for tenderness by adding liquid.

The one fall back to the foil method is you can't tell when it's done. Temp is ONLY a guide. I never pull on temp, I pull on tenderness. A flat might in fact be done sooner then the 195 you pulled it at. I would learn the poke and prod testing method for determining doneness. It's a better gauge.
Mike,many comp cooks buy their meat at Sam's and do well.Brisket can be the exception.If Sam's will work with you and allow you to go through every case of packers they receive,every week,you can find enough over several months to keep you in business and have at least a shot at turning out comp level brisket.

Their distribution center ships them what they receive.

Many are just fair enough to vend/cater and eat around the neighborhood.

The many practices allow you to learn enough to fix decent eating and that isn't all bad.

A flat that small and trimmed is basically meant for the folks making a New England boiled dinner with carrots,potatoes,onions,etc.

It feeds about four with a leftover snack for the cook.

Yes,there are probably a half dozen regular folks on here that can cook it like the 101 says and be OK.

It will be a challenge,often.

The starting raw product may be the greatest factor in the whole project.

You appear knowlegable and with a good start you should do well and have fun.
I guess I got lucky when I started doing brisket. I didn't know there was such a thing as a packer, flat or point. My wife goes to our local butcher shop and asks for a brisket. They are usually about 4-6 pounds each. So I believe these are the flat. The butcher leaves a thin layer of fat on one side that is about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. They have always come out moist and tender when smoked at 225* for about 5 hours to a temp of 180*.

Maybe some day I'll try a packer but for now I'm pleased with the cut of meat I'm using.

I'm with Tom. If I had to guess, I'd say I never had a brisket below about 190 that was "tender". Tender really is hard to define, its' really what you think is tender that matters. So if 180 works for you, that's perfect. I just won't recommend that temp.

That's also why you can't go with temp, you need to poke it to really know.

Maybe you temp probe is off? maybe not.
Wow! Thanks for all the advice! Tom, I am not or do I want to be a comp cooker, hats off to you, Smokin', and others that do. I have seen the WORK that goes into comps.

OK, If I read correctly, Whole Choice Packer, leave intact (i.e. do not separate) with NO fat trimmed. Try to get a good piece of meat. Apply rub and refrigerate over night. Cook fat side up at 225. Begin to "poke" for tenderness at 185.

Do you guys mop or spritz during cooking toward end, if the brisket is not foiled.

I assume that once done, you do foil with a liquid of choice, to let the piece of meat rest before you slice.
Last edited by mike4258
That gives you a good start and then take good notes,for the next time.They do a lot to build "good experience".Even cooking them every week,we forget the little things.

The fat can go between the heat source and the meat,but other than that don't worry too much about the placement of the fat.

Your cooker cooks moist,so skip the spraying,etc.

Shouldn't need much liquid in foil and wrap foil as tight as possible.
Last edited by tom
I LOVE a great bark on brisket. I like lots of pepper and I want that flavor, smoke and crunch when I get a slice.

Foiling after cooking will soften that. Sure, you can if you want.

I need to write up my theories on foil. Yes, there is a place for it (there, I said it) the KEY is to know what it does and doesn't do for you and how to use it for your methods.

But I'm getting ready for a Turkey 101 class tomorrow, so remind me to post that later Smiler

You'll get there. Key to a good brisket is to start with a good brisket.

And I don't mop either.

For home guys (most of you) I wouldn't trim. Just too much work and I don't think it does anything except complicate prep. Until competitions came along, nobody trimmed their briskets.

I don't trim mine at home. I do trim the fat off after cooking, before slicing.
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Unless your cooking a prime brisket or a Wagyu, I wouldn't worry about poking it before 190* and only then will the opening of the door to release humidity do any good for you,IMHO.

Most times when I open at 193*, I'll find a spot that is upper 180's*(it will be the tuff spot) and this is where I tend to relocate my probe and patiently wait to retry at 195*. If I've learned anything about briskets, it's that NO two will ever be alike, so experience will be needed if a fella wants to learn how to cook them properly, along with good notes.
Originally posted by Mike4258:

OK, If I read correctly, Whole Choice Packer, leave intact (i.e. do not separate) with NO fat trimmed.

A Packer has a wedge of fat on one side between the point and the flat...some refer to it as a kernel. Using a boning knife, try to cut that out, or at least what you can. The top fat, I'd say leave untrimmed the 1st time or 2. Once you get comfortable cooking briskets, you can determine how much top fat you want to leave on. I like to leave about 3/8th" on mine.

If not comping, it really doesn't matter if you cook fat up or fat down. If you decide to inject, Dave Bouska from ButcherBBQ (and Cookshack Brisket Ph.B) recommends cooking fat side down as he prefers to inject the meat side of the brisket. He explains that keeping the needle injection points away from the heat source helps keep the injection broth from cooking out of the meat.

Spritzing/ need, especially if you've injected. I won't hurt anything but you'll extend the cooking time unless using a fast recovery (heat) smoker such as the FEC.
My last comment on this topic.

Yes,we all want to achieve the perfect brisket on the first attempt and never have to worry about another one.

Think of those fine brisket cooks that may do a half dozen cases-or 50 packers a week.

He is too busy COOKING brisket to even think about the 100 tips and has learned to COOK them correctly.

He uses salt,plenty of pepper,maybe some granulated garlic.

They never heard of a therm,or foil,and judge by the feel of their fingers and whether a two tined meat fork would not be able to lift the packer-because it was tender and slid off the fork and ready to throw in the hot box.

They then might use the back of their knife to easily scrape of the excess fat,slide their hand between the point and flat to separate them.They then turned them so the grain matched direction,sliced what they could and chopped the scraps.

We keep throwing out all these tips about the comp cook that is trying to get 0.001 point out of 180 possible.To start with,if you had a half doz judges at different tables ,on the same weekend,they wouldn't get it anyway.

The taste we try to achieve at the judges' table might be to grab the judge taking a bite,or two.

Yes,we all wish to write down the best 50 secret tips on a yellow pad and use every last one of them.

I've been fortunate to cook around several of the nation's top cooks, when they are cooking meats to eat and serve their friends.

Rare that they serve anything like their comp offerings.

I'm thinking that I'd prefer to dine with the experienced cook that knew how to cook correctly,than with the cook cooking for comps that knew all the tricks and didn't know how to just cook correctly.

Just a couple things worth thinking about. Wink
Nice write up Tom.

Two years ago when I bought my FEC100 for the restaurant I thought, "Wow! Now I can do competitions...I have a legal smoke rig." Almost every weekend I was busy perfecting chicken, ribs, pulled pork and brisket...almost to the point my wife was ready to scream from having to eat BBQ every Saturday or Sunday. I have all the latest books, gadgets, rubs and injections. Took a Comp class and mentored with two Comp teams.

Not too long ago I realized:
1. I'm too busy running a restaurant to compete
2. I don't have the $50,000+ in start-up equipment fees to compete.
3. There's 2 contests within 100 miles of me to compete in and the closest one turned me down this year as a participant.

End run...the experience has taught me a lotta new tricks and I'm rarin' to go if the chance strikes. Meanwhile when cookin' in the backyard, I like to keep it simple & tasty. My at home judges are very kind to me Smiler From what I've read, Johnny Trigg would side with me.

Didn't mean to hijack the topic but thought I'd add my .02
I feel for you MaxQue, but I've been able to judge 9 comps since getting certified in July. You outta see the funny looks Sonja and I get when we throw our comp food away. The newbie judges really act funny when I tell them we make better Que then this at home, at least I don't have to eat crackers to get all the cayenne pepper taste out of my mouth,ya know, they have all heard that judges like it sweet and hot! Oh well!
Originally posted by cal:
You outta see the funny looks Sonja and I get when we throw our comp food away.

The last (and only) Comp I judged was last July on a very hot day...sitting in a sided tent that was 100 o. The guy next to me at the judge table was loading up a Hefty bag with left overs that sat in the heat for 3+ hrs. I was very pleased not to be living downwind from his house the next morning Smiler
Ok, Turkey day is over and after the turkey, turkey leftovers, turkey salad........ LOL. I had GREAT RIBS.... AGAIN (Triggs recipe thanks to MaxQue!!!). I am ready for a Brisket this weekend.

I picked up a marked "CHOICE" cryovac packer from one of the LAST local true butcher shops around here. SAMS has choice flats but only select packers so no joy on that. I have prepped it by doing some minimal trimming of fat on the cap and the kernel, I left the flat and point attached. I have injected Butcher's Brisket injection mixed with his Prime Dust and applied my own rub. It is resting in the fridge tightly wrapped with plastic wrap and foil.

Any suggetions on cook temps, pointers and amounts of wood?? I was thinking 225 and 4 oz of pecan/cherry.

I realize "It's Ready when It's Ready", but any ideas on "ROUGH" cook times, i.e. I want to put it in tommorrow night and take it out Saturday mid day to afternoon. I just want to make sure I put in late enough so I don't have to worry about it over cooking, I would like a decent nights sleep with being obessed..... lol.
Mike, you really need to be thanking Johnny Trigg. All I did was shig his method via various BBQ forums Smiler

How big is your packer brisket?

Your wood and temp sound right. The ultimate test of doneness is using a metal needle like object (ThermaPen or Dig probe)and inserting it into the flat, right around the middle...easy in and out and she's done.

Meanwhile, give Smokin's Brisket 101 another read and check out the blog HERE that Tom referred us to yesterday.

Good luck!
The Brisket is about 12#'s. I have a ThermaPen and will use it to cross reference my Maverick ET73. I really don't use the Probe on the Amerique.

To foil or not to foil, that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to.... I digress..... I read that Smokin' does not foil, yet a lot of the articles indicate foiling with a liquid TIGHTLY to rest. My plan is to pull, add apple juice, foil, and rest FTC.

Again thanks to all, for suggestions and help.
You haven't been around long enough, but normally foil is a four letter word.

ME? I grew up on brisket and I like a dark, crunchy, tasty bark. Foiling runs that.

Foil works, for lots of people, but keep it mine it's Braising and will have an effect. It will soften the outside and it will give you options for flavor.

I also think the hardest thing for people to learn to do is cook a brisket without foil. So I consider that Brisket 202 level stuff.

Good luck, ask any questions, let us know how it goes.
I'm guessing that Smokin' uses only quality briskets so with the internal marbling you get a natural good beef flavor that is moist, without the need to add broth by foil.

Cooked properly,which "EXPERIENCE" will teach, you can get tender brisket without foil or at least that's what I'm trying to learn, because it tastes like brisket and not pot roast.
Hey, nothing wrong with pot roast! My pot roast is my wife's FAVORITE thing in the world, with the carrots, onions, potatoes, mushrooms.....

BUT, I am trying to get the Brisket down or at least decent. My first one was good, flavorful, and tender, but DRY until freezing with apple juice.

It JUST went into the smoker, just over 4 oz wood, half cherry and half pecan at 225.

THANKS guys!!!!!

Saturday is gonna be a busy one. In addition to finishing the brisket, I am putting up 20 lbs of homemade sausage. 10 lbs of sweet italian links and 10 lbs of (as MaxQue says, a SHIG) of a South Louisiana Cajun sausage "Tiger Sausage" Links, coarse ground PB with Cheddar, Jalapeno, spices and Garlic...... MMMMMMMM
Originally posted by Mike4258:

To foil or not to foil, that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to.... I digress..... I read that Smokin' does not foil, yet a lot of the articles indicate foiling with a liquid TIGHTLY to rest. My plan is to pull, add apple juice, foil, and rest FTC.

Essentially, I agree with SmokinOkie. A non-foiled brisket, cooked to perfection, will produce great bark and tender, moist slices of Nirvana.

Foiling gives you a bit more wiggle room in terms of moisture, but you sacrifice the crispy outer edge/bark.

Every brisket I cook includes notes as to the end result. At this stage of the game I'm pretty clear as to the start to finish process. What I can't control is the meat itself. Briskets vary considerably. Learning that difference and applying subtle changes in technique, IMHO, determine the difference between a good vs great brisket
I'm no expert,but like MAX says,variables,variables,variables!

Maybe,real high humidity,and drastic changes to smokering?

Comp cooks may be using the "crutch" to speed timing,etc.Nothing worse than turning in mushy""pot roast",unless maybe not getting it done in time to turn in,or being unable to rip the slices apart. Eeker

How about losing power to the FEC,or the FL electrical storms throwing the invertors out of whack.Not being able to move the stack around and having the 30-40 mph OK wind blowing into the exhaust and feeding flames.

Maybe it is high prime and ready at 185*,or a 20 yr old longhorn steer ready at 210*-215*.

The cooker running hot and the "crutch" causing the internal temp to get away from you and needing to instantly cool it to slice it,or it will just crumble under the blade?

Maybe the "crutch" and the rest letting the internal rise and overcooking a fine cut of meat,so you need to slice at a different angle than perpendicular?

Maybe,that is when the 14" Granton allows you to push straight down thru the meat?

Maybe it was fast cooked and can only stand a 20 min. rest bare out on the table,or finished all the way at 210* and may need 4-5 hrs in the hotbox in foil?

Luckily, all cookers cook the same,and all cows are identical?

Maybe,that is why Smokin' suggests learning how the cooker cooks,and how to cook the product without tricks?

Just a couple of thoughts. Smiler
Originally posted by Tom:Maybe,that is why Smokin' suggests learning how the cooker cooks,and how to cook the product without tricks?

Just a couple of thoughts. Smiler
Maybe one cooks technique is another cooks tricks?

We have 3 fine "smoke house" restaurants in town. The new place "Red Hot and Blue" prides itself on it's 175* thinnly sliced, overseasoned brisket sandwiches. The other is ran by a 3rd place overall finisher in MIM. His brisket runs from pretty good to too dry. The last place I seldome go to cause a brisket sandwich is $9 and the line is long. I don't know what their tricks might be. I would rather have the brisket from my CS anyday. Truth is I don't know any tricks. I know what has worked best and what didn't. The CS electric smoker is that good. Just buy good meat and learn how to season it and judge when it's done. If I can do it it ain't no mystery.
Red,Hot,and Blue was a franchise operation some politicians put together that had Corky's of Memphis set up the programs.

Yes,Memphis has always been a pork rib town,althogh you can get good shoulder sandwiches at a number of places.

Memphis in May bills itself as the Superbowl of Swine,since they are a pork only contest.

You may cook whole hog,shoulder,or pork ribs for the contest.

I'd guess your CS,which was originally designed as a brisket cooker, could do a superior job.

Keep up the good work and enjoy.

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