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KJTerp

Making A Brisket for the In-Laws

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All,

 

So I roped myself into making a brisket for the in-laws this weekend. I've done a flat in the past, and it turned out ok. Details are further down here. I've done some cooks since, but I always seem to have a problem locking into that magical 225-250 zone at the get go.

 

I always start with a full basket and chunks, and generally use 1 firestarter, keep the bottom all the way open and the lid open for 10-15 then seal up with the bottom at about .75-1", and the KontrolTower on the first line (barely open). I'll come back 20-30 later to temps nearly at 300.

 

What am I doing wrong?

 

I know this is probably going to be a 12 hour process for a big hunk o' flat (i don't plan to wrap through the stall but I have the pink butcher paper on standby), but I'm in a constant state of worry about messing this up, and the stakes are a little higher now, I'd rather not have to punt to hot-dogs with the in-laws.

 

Thanks in advance.

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Is that 300° before you put the deflectors in or after? Also, the ceramic needs a good 60 minutes to heat soak and stabilize, adding cold meat will make the temp dip a little so if you're opening vents to combat that, don't, just let it ride. When I do low n slow on my Big Joe, I usually leave the bottom wide open and the top is what I control temp with, I never have trouble settling around 250°. With a full load of meat, I can hit 210-235° effortlessly. I don't have the Kontrol Top cap so I can't say whether  your settings are off but it still sounds like you're getting too much airflow. 

 

To setup for low n slow, which is most of what I do with my Big Joe, I light a full bowl of lump with a single Weber cube, close lid after a few minutes with vents wide open. When I can see the "heat" coming out of the top vent, I'll check the temp and add my deflectors, that's usually happening around 300°. Don't panic, the dome thermo is reading temps before the fire box is blocked by the deflectors and the ceramic has absorbed much heat. You want good, clean, combustion; if white smoke is pouring out the top it's not going to be good. Install the deflectors, close the lid, and set the top vent for low n slow. In 45-60 minutes, the temp should be stabilized in the sweet spot and you're good to go. As your meat cooks, the temp may rise, slightly close the top vent to cut back airflow but don't get crazy.

 

Remember, 225° is not the end all be all of bbq. Kamados cook in a different manner than a traditional offset pit, you have a more moist cooking environment due to the reduced airflow and convection as well as radiant heat all around the meat . Things are going to cook differently and require slightly different methods. With practice, you'll master it. Do some pork butt cooks, if you haven't already, to get some seat time. People tend to make brisket more complicated than it is and then doubt themselves; this doubt leads cooks to mess with things that often times lead to a less than desirable end result. Just keep it simple and let the cooker do the work. Keep an eye on temps for the first few hours (the cooker temp I mean) but don't keep opening the lid. Wrap it around the 3 hour mark and let it ride to completion. Bbq is fun and having a great cooker, like a KJ, makes even a novice look like a celebrity pitmaster once you get the hang of it. Good luck! 

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I should have mentioned, I put my whole kit and kaboodle D/C in when I seal up, should I leave it out til im close to target, then open and throw it in and let it soak for another 30-45 min?

 

I would do pork butts buttttttttttttttttttttttt my wife doesn't eat pork, and the prospect of having large amounts of porky goodness around for just me.....

my doctor just started screaming out of the blue and doesnt know why.

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When I am going to do a long low and slow cook, I start with a full firebox and light a small spot in the center. I leave the top and bottom vents open until the grill temp gets to about 175°. I will then shut the bottom to about 1 inch and the top to about ¼ inch. I will let the temps settle for about 30 minutes before I try making any adjustments. My BJ settles in at 225°-250° with these settings. I then add my smoke wood chunks and diffuser plates. Then I let the grill run for another 30 minutes, while making any adjustments to keep the temps are in my desired range. After this process, the ceramic is well heat soaked and I will add my brisket and start timing the cook. I don't lift the lid for anything until the internal temps reach about 190°. I will then pull the brisket, wrap it in butchers paper and put it back for another 1-2 hrs until the internal temps reach 205°. I will probe for tenderness and if it is butter smooth I will pull it and put it in a cooler for at least an hour. I have had very good success with this procedure and recommend you give it a try.

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I put mine in about 15 minutes or so after lighting it. By that time the lump is good and going.

 

As for all that pork, it freezes well, you can keep in for a while or freeze it in smaller batches and consume at your leasure. 

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14 hours ago, SeaBrisket said:

My KJ holds around 225 with both vents choked to around 1/8-1/4". A full inch on the bottom would get me to 300+.

This is what happens with me too. Everything I've read has said "leave the bottom open an inch and control with the top" but when I do that my bottom vent is barely open enough to put a coffee stir stick through, and i'm up at like, 300+, but when I start up and have the bottom choked down and the top choked down too, i can never seem to get temp to where I want it.

 

Long story short, I'm going to wake up at 430 saturday to start a fire and get it locked in before I put the meat on there, hopefully sometime before 7. I can always take a nap

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Try starting with half of whatever kind of fire starter you use. I've found that a small fire is much easier to control when you're shooting for a specific temp.

 

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21 minutes ago, KJTerp said:

Half a KJ starter cube will be enough?

I'm not familiar with KJ cubes, but I use half of any (store bought) starter when I'm trying to go low 'n slow.

 

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8 hours ago, KJTerp said:

This is what happens with me too. Everything I've read has said "leave the bottom open an inch and control with the top" but when I do that my bottom vent is barely open enough to put a coffee stir stick through, and i'm up at like, 300+, but when I start up and have the bottom choked down and the top choked down too, i can never seem to get temp to where I want it.

 

Long story short, I'm going to wake up at 430 saturday to start a fire and get it locked in before I put the meat on there, hopefully sometime before 7. I can always take a nap

 

I start with vents wide open, choke to maybe 1/3 down on the bottom vent and close the top vent with the daisy wheel open once the thermometer has bumped above 175 or so. As it gets above 200 I choke further down and make small adjustments as things stabilize. I usually throw the meat on before it's stable so I don't have repeat the process after opening the lid to get the meat on. My temps will usually be stable for several hours but start to drift eventually requiring more adjustment. I don't get worked up over a few degrees drift but I try to get ahead of things before the temp really climbs or drops.

 

7 hours ago, KJTerp said:

Half a KJ starter cube will be enough?

I use a quarter of one.

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Thx fellas. Picked up the flat today. Also grabbed a pack of those boneless chuck short ribs Costco sells. Figured I’d toss a couple of those on too, what’s the worst that could happen? Chili? That’s fine. 

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I did my first packer 2 weeks ago.  It was about 9.5 lbs before trimming.

The flat under the point turned out perfectly, and so did the point, but the exposed flat turned out a little dry.  I did not crutch it as I had plenty of time.  I also ended up having some confusing temperature readings. 

The dome was reading 225 and the grate was reading like 210.  I think I was getting some laminar air flow in the dome, so the dome was reading higher.  The temperature of the meat was stuck at 178, which is above the stall!  After about 3 hours, I bumped the dome temp up to 250.  The temperature of the grate and the dome soon matched, and I was done in about another 1.5 hours.  Next time I will be more careful with watching the grate temperature so it doesn't sit there drying out.  Total cook time was about 16 hours.  I think I could have shortened it by 3 hours. I pulled it off at a meat temp of 203 and put it into a cooler for about 3 hours.

The flat cut easily, but I ended up shredding the point.  Make sure you cut opposite the grain!

 

Good Luck and have fun.  I can't wait to try again.

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Just my opinion: you have to learn your own kamado. Suggested vent settings are good starting points but, you may not be cooking in similar conditions (altitude, humidity, ambient temps, wind, etc.) or lighting the same way. My vent settings change regularly. I know for a fact that they are different in summer vs winter vs spring, etc.

 

Anyway, excellent advice above. Good luck with the cook.

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Reporting back.

 

Brisket (6lbs trimmed weight, choice flat) went on at 645AM, after the joe had been lit for an hour fifteen, and had stabilized (with everything inside) at 220. Pulled it off at 7:10PM, so a solid 12hr+ cook. Did not wrap. Rub was coarse BP, Kosher Salt, Garlic and Onion powder and a pinch or four of smoked paprika. I brushed the trimmed flat with spicy brown mustard before adding the rub.

 

I find that I don't get good bark formation until like, hour 8 or 9, which is why I havent tried wrapping them yet.

Any ideas there?

 

I put a drip tray with apple juice and bourbon on the X-rack below. I had to pull a little early due to hungry guests, brisket was juicy and the bark was great, taste was excellent, but was a little chewier than I would have liked to see, but i'm probably being hard on myself. It probed soft and buttery, even though the temp was 185 when I pulled it, which is probably why it was a little tough. Not dry at all.

 

I also threw some of those boneless short ribs they sell at costco on there with the brisket, pulled them at about 3 hours, they were....ok. I won't be doing that again. They werent bad, but they were in no way better than braising them in red wine and herbs and tomato sauce with onion and mushrooms, which is what i'm going to do with the rest.

 

Photos below. No post cut photos because I was hungry.

 

 

IMG_3435.jpg

IMG_3439.jpg

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