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taperunner

Advice for an overnight brisket smoke

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Hi Everyone.  I've been looking through the forums and other online resources and I see a bit of conflicting info.  I'm going to try my first overnight brisket smoke tomorrow night.  We're having a BBQ on Saturday so I'm going to try getting this on the grill Friday night around 11PM-12AM.  I've read John's tips on getting the grill stable before leaving it so I'm good there.  I should be picking up a full packer brisket tonight.  My goal is to leave it whole, trim it and and a salt and pepper rub Friday morning then put it in the fridge until I'm ready to cook.  My big questions are 1) Should I do a simple beef broth based injection?  Not so much for flavor but more the added moisture which brings me to question 2) Should I plan on wrapping this?  I was hoping to get it on around midnight and sleep till 6am or so.  But if I have to wrap it, that could happen around 4am or so.  If I have to get up, that's fine, I'm just more curious about whether it's needed or not.  I don't want the brisket to dry out.  Usually the store has Prime full packers around 14-16 lbs, so thats what I'm hoping for.  I'm still new to smoking so any advice is appreciated!  I'll be cooking on my KJ Big Joe II

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I never have injected and never felt like I was missing anything. If it goes on around 11-12am it won't need to be wrapped before 6am unless you are cooking it at a pretty high temp. My guess is you would be wrapping between 8-10am. 

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29 minutes ago, RVA Smoker said:

I never have injected and never felt like I was missing anything. If it goes on around 11-12am it won't need to be wrapped before 6am unless you are cooking it at a pretty high temp. My guess is you would be wrapping between 8-10am. 

Good to know.  I 100 percent understand every piece of meat is different but say I did wrap around that time, what time do you think I'd be pulling it off?  Again, I know it varies, just looking for your experience.

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Well if you wrap you typically do it after bark forms and to get through the stall. If you did it earlier my guess is you'd be done by noon or so. I would just wrap and finish it in the oven inside if time is an issue. 

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Don't over trim it and moisture won't be an issue.  You need all that fat for an overnight cook.  Just trim off the very hard fat but that is not much.  And you don't really need to do that except to get the rub on.  The rub will bind to the melting fat and soak into the meat.  Just realize fat is going to drip down so either use a drip pan or put aluminum foil on your heat deflector.  

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7 minutes ago, Family_cook said:

Don't over trim it and moisture won't be an issue.  You need all that fat for an overnight cook.  Just trim off the very hard fat but that is not much.  And you don't really need to do that except to get the rub on.  The rub will bind to the melting fat and soak into the meat.  Just realize fat is going to drip down so either use a drip pan or put aluminum foil on your heat deflector.  

Awesome!  Thanks for the advice!

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9 minutes ago, John Setzler said:

I suggest no injection and i suggest wrapping.

 

I trim mine rather aggressively on the outside.  There is plenty of internal fat in brisket.

Thank you for the tip.  That should make things a little easier on me.

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There are as many ways to cook a brisket as there are people responding....

 

Trim or don't. The meat doesn't care. It doesn't care about the drip pan either, but I find it MANDATORY.

 

I like to score the outside, 1/8" deep cuts in a checkerboard pattern skewed to the grain. On the fat side, I go through to the meat so some seasoning gets through. It also lets you probe the fat cap and once cooked, the squares of fat are easier to remove than slabs of it. 

 

Wrap or don't, the meat does care. 

- wrap early and you get lots of juice and soft bark

- wrap late (starting the rest phase) and you get great bark, but the only juice is inside. 

 

I aim for a point in between, then I wrap loosely until the rest phase. My goal isn't to capture juices, but to slow cooking. I use a large sheet of double-thick heavy-duty foil to make a boat, a big cylinder open at the ends. Air can flow through it, but it creates a microclimate that's cooler and moister than outside the foil. Think "foil on lasagna" so the top doesn't burn. I get some loose juice, but I also get great bark, at the price of a longer cook. 

 

I think your timeline is risky; serving too early is the only real brisket "sin" because the meat will hold for many hours. Do some research on brisket timing, I see four phases when cooking at 225-235F. Times are for a recent 6-lb. flat cook; yours will be 1.5-2x longer.  

- early cook (2 hrs.): expect 40-60F temp rise per hour, (varies with size) up to about 160 F internal. 

- stall (5 hrs.): expect temperature rise to stop for several hours, perhaps even regress, before rising

- late cook (4 hrs): expect ~10F temp rise per hour, until it's "done."

- rest (7 hrs.): wrapped briskets are stored in a coolers until temperature drops to... some level above 140F, the minimum safe service/hold temperature

 

How long it takes depends on your wrapping and rest strategy.

 

Wrapping early will reduce cooking time. The meat stalls because it's wet. The moisture is evaporating, preventing temp rise. Wrapping in foil early in the stall stops evaporation and speeds cooking. But evaporated moisture forms the bark, so wrapping early kills bark. There's a tradeoff. 

 

Resting can be accelerated by leaving the meat out to cool a few minutes before putting it in a cooler. There is no carry-over cooking concern, and you want a slow bulk rest. That goes faster if you let the outside cool a little first. 

 

My only specific advice is to start 24 hrs. before service time for a 15 lb. packer brisket; at worst, you hold it in a 150F oven for a few hours. 

 

And in the spirit of full disclosure, I use my Kamado as the resting cooler. If I shut the vents when the meat hits 195-200F, the meat and grill hit 205F at the same time, and the meat never goes any higher. But it stays at 205 for a really long time...

 

Last time, I fell asleep after shutting the vents, so the foil never got sealed up. There was no juice in the foil, only fat. The brisket was excellent. 

 

Let us know how you do! I haven't mentioned fire; I'm hoping this isn't your first long low-n-slow cook; experience matters, especially if you want to sleep well. I don't yet. 

 

Have fun,

Frank

Edited by fbov

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I'm no expert. Only cooked 2 briskets so far, both packers, and they were in the 14 to 16lbs range. Neither were injected nor wrapped and both had a drip pan half full of water. Grill temp stayed in the 220 to 240 degree range for the entire cook and both wound up taking 16 to 18 hours. Start them plenty early and if they get done early pull, wrap in foil, then put in a cooler wrapped in towels. It will stay hot this way for hours. Both got excellent reviews from family members who aren't afraid to hurt feelings.

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On 9/5/2019 at 2:45 PM, fbov said:

 

 

My only specific advice is to start 24 hrs. before service time for a 15 lb. packer brisket; at worst, you hold it in a 150F oven for a few hours. 

 

And in the spirit of full disclosure, I use my Kamado as the resting cooler. If I shut the vents when the meat hits 195-200F, the meat and grill hit 205F at the same time, and the meat never goes any higher. But it stays at 205 for a really long time...

 

Last time, I fell asleep after shutting the vents, so the foil never got sealed up. There was no juice in the foil, only fat. The brisket was excellent. 

This! 

Frank, that is all extremely helpful, but starting 24 hrs ahead and resting in the Kamado! That's pure gold, my friend! That strategy can't miss and it removes the timing stress! A sure winner! 

 

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On 9/5/2019 at 2:45 PM, fbov said:

There are as many ways to cook a brisket as there are people responding....

 

Trim or don't. The meat doesn't care. It doesn't care about the drip pan either, but I find it MANDATORY.

 

I like to score the outside, 1/8" deep cuts in a checkerboard pattern skewed to the grain. On the fat side, I go through to the meat so some seasoning gets through. It also lets you probe the fat cap and once cooked, the squares of fat are easier to remove than slabs of it. 

 

Wrap or don't, the meat does care. 

- wrap early and you get lots of juice and soft bark

- wrap late (starting the rest phase) and you get great bark, but the only juice is inside. 

 

I aim for a point in between, then I wrap loosely until the rest phase. My goal isn't to capture juices, but to slow cooking. I use a large sheet of double-thick heavy-duty foil to make a boat, a big cylinder open at the ends. Air can flow through it, but it creates a microclimate that's cooler and moister than outside the foil. Think "foil on lasagna" so the top doesn't burn. I get some loose juice, but I also get great bark, at the price of a longer cook. 

 

I think your timeline is risky; serving too early is the only real brisket "sin" because the meat will hold for many hours. Do some research on brisket timing, I see four phases when cooking at 225-235F. Times are for a recent 6-lb. flat cook; yours will be 1.5-2x longer.  

- early cook (2 hrs.): expect 40-60F temp rise per hour, (varies with size) up to about 160 F internal. 

- stall (5 hrs.): expect temperature rise to stop for several hours, perhaps even regress, before rising

- late cook (4 hrs): expect ~10F temp rise per hour, until it's "done."

- rest (7 hrs.): wrapped briskets are stored in a coolers until temperature drops to... some level above 140F, the minimum safe service/hold temperature

 

How long it takes depends on your wrapping and rest strategy.

 

Wrapping early will reduce cooking time. The meat stalls because it's wet. The moisture is evaporating, preventing temp rise. Wrapping in foil early in the stall stops evaporation and speeds cooking. But evaporated moisture forms the bark, so wrapping early kills bark. There's a tradeoff. 

 

Resting can be accelerated by leaving the meat out to cool a few minutes before putting it in a cooler. There is no carry-over cooking concern, and you want a slow bulk rest. That goes faster if you let the outside cool a little first. 

 

My only specific advice is to start 24 hrs. before service time for a 15 lb. packer brisket; at worst, you hold it in a 150F oven for a few hours. 

 

And in the spirit of full disclosure, I use my Kamado as the resting cooler. If I shut the vents when the meat hits 195-200F, the meat and grill hit 205F at the same time, and the meat never goes any higher. But it stays at 205 for a really long time...

 

Last time, I fell asleep after shutting the vents, so the foil never got sealed up. There was no juice in the foil, only fat. The brisket was excellent. 

 

Let us know how you do! I haven't mentioned fire; I'm hoping this isn't your first long low-n-slow cook; experience matters, especially if you want to sleep well. I don't yet. 

 

Have fun,

Frank

Wow, thank you for the detailed reply.  This actually helped me a lot.  I didn't see it until Friday evening, but it got me to put the meat on before I was planning.  So to sum up the cook....

 

For a quick bit of background, we had out of town guests in that stayed with us Friday to Sunday.  I bought a brisket and small pork shoulder as we were hosting a BBQ Saturday.  I live in Chicago so I was out for the Bears game Thursday night and since it was such a dumpster fire, a lot of drinking was done.  This led to a really tired and hung over me on Friday.  So I was dragging all day and super tired.  I saw Frank's response to my post probably around 7PM.  At that point I decided I needed to get the brisket on before 11 as originally planned.  The brisket was a prime full packer, 15.5 lbs.  I trimmed it pretty aggressively and did a salt and pepper rub around 5PM.  I put it back in the fridge until I was ready to smoke.  I also trimmed the pork shoulder a bit and used one of the random seasonings I had.  It was a small 4.5lbs.

 

I lit my joe at 8:30.  I was following John's advice from another post about prepping for an overnight, so I brought the grill to about 175 then started slowing it down.  It rose very slowly to 225 and then went past it just slightly to around 230.  It was 9:30 so I put the brisket on but then the temperature didn't want to rise past 195 so I opened it up just slightly and it got to 220 and started holding there.  At this point it was about 11 and due to the Bears game hangover, I was struggling to stay away.  I was in bed but at about 12:30 I got a high temp alarm at 240.  If I was sure it was going to hold at 240, I'd probably have left it but I didn't want it to keep rising, so I went outside and made a small adjustment.  At this point I fell asleep from 1-3:30AM but was awoken with a low temp alarm at 199.  From 3:30 to about 4 I was having a tough time getting it above 200, I was afraid the coals might have gone out but that didn't make much sense to me (and they didn't) but I didn't want to over correct.  I took a peak at 4AM for the first time because it had hit 160 so I was thinking about wrapping.  To my disappointment the park didn't look good at all.  Frankly there wasn't much there.  I wasn't sure if it was because the temperature was too low or what.  At this point I got a little more aggressive and raised the temperature to about 250.  I checked it again at 6am (I think it was at that time, lack of sleep now has me very foggy). and the bark looked so much better, much more what I was expecting.  I took the brisket off and wrapped it in butcher paper and put it back on.  I removed the pork shoulder, wrapped in foil and put in a couple tablespoons of apple juice.  I got them both back on the grill and raised the temp to about 275.  The reasoning behind this was I was afraid I under estimated the cooking time and with people coming over as early as 2, I didn't want to chance it.  At this point I was able to get about an hour of nap time in.  My internal probe hit 205 around 9:30 AM.  I was a little nervous just because it was earlier than I planned but when I probed, it was amazingly tender all over.  Both the point and flat, same with the pork.  So at this point I was cautiously optimistic that it was going to be OK.  I wrapped them in a towel and put them in a cooler to rest.  They sat there from 9:15AM to about 4PM.  Since the Joe was still going, I made a jalapeno corn bread in a skillet as well as John's beer pretzels/beer cheese as an appetizer.  When I finally took them both out, I was relieved.  The bone slid right out of the pork and it just fell right apart.  The bark on the brisket looked great.  The point pulled away from the flat almost without the use of a knife.  I just cut a bit of the leftover fat off and started slicing.  I cut up some burnt ends as well.  

 

This was definitely a learning experience and I made a lot of mistakes but in the end, everyone loved the food.  I've had a lot of trouble holding at a temperature, especially at 225.  I really need to work on that.  Between all the beer and BBQ, I was passed out by 10PM and I used yesterday as a recovery day.  I can't wait until I'm more proficient managing the grill.  Even when I had time to close my eyes I couldn't sleep because I was nervous it was going to spike or drop.  Thanks for all the advice here!

brisket.jpg

burntends.jpg

everything.jpg

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No injection.

 

if you are going to rest in the cooler, drop two bricks in, place the platter with the paper wrapped brisket on the bricks, gently add a kettle of boiling water and let that sucker relax until you are ready for service. This has never let me down.

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12 hours ago, taperunner said:

... I made a lot of mistakes but in the end, everyone loved the food.

Honestly, that's a very common result. 

 

You didn't make "mistakes," so much as you executed one of many "paths to brisket success." It may not have been exactly the path you planned... but the meat doesn't care!! Barbecue is a minor miracle. 

 

HAve fun,

Frank

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