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Dabble

Low and Slow Brisket

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Greeting from sunny Tucson Arizona,

I have recently picked up a BB32 to replace a simple propane cabinet smoker.  This is my first post after much reading and a few cooks.  I am excited to be part of the community!

I have stoked up the billows on the KK a few times and I am still working on temp control.  I am cooking up a brisket this weekend for a birthday party.  I would love to hear the voices of experience.  I am going to fill up the basket with lump after I strategically place a few pieces of smoking wood.  I will probably use 5 or 6 pieces of mesquite.  I think I will use 2 lighting cubes to get the party started.  I have two questions:

1. Has anyone ever experimented with where you start the fire? I have been lighting the lump in the middle of the basket.  The burns have been inconsistent.  I thought about lighting the right (or left) side to allow the burn to migrate and possible increase the stability.  Or, I could be overthinking it...

2. I want to smoke the brisket at 225 +/-.  Does anybody have setting suggestions? I under stand that I only need to open the top about 1 inch.  Where are you setting the upper and lower dampers to get 225 using the BB32?

I am excited to hear back from you.  I will post the cook when I finish.

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Hey Cheesehead!

With a name like that, are you up in Wisconsin?

I have cooked a few briskets before on my old propane smoker.  I had to cut the packer into two pieces to make it fit. I am excited to smoke the whole, whole packer.  I try to take detailed notes and pics for my smokes to review and learn from.  I would be happy to share them with you.

You have to let me know when you get your BB32! You are going to love it!

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There will be a learning curve with the new KK.  It's easy to want to keep fiddling with the vent settings (chasing temperature) but you have to do a little of that to find the sweet spot.  I have a 21" KK now and soon to get a 32".  I know I'll be relearning vent settings all over again. But that's half the fun. 

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The bottom vent only needs to be cracked about the width of a quarter for lo/slo cooks..and you’re correct, anything more than a quarter of a turn on the top will be too much. It’s ok to open it more for heat up, but it needs to be barely cracked for 225°. Give it plenty of time, it’s way more difficult if you overshoot significantly. Don’t sweat 10°+/-.

Congrats on your grill, you’re gonna love it!


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2 hours ago, Dabble said:

Hey Cheesehead!

With a name like that, are you up in Wisconsin?

I have cooked a few briskets before on my old propane smoker.  I had to cut the packer into two pieces to make it fit. I am excited to smoke the whole, whole packer.  I try to take detailed notes and pics for my smokes to review and learn from.  I would be happy to share them with you.

You have to let me know when you get your BB32! You are going to love it!

I do in fact live in the great state of Wisconsin. Not too far from Green Bay. 
 

I am stoked to get it! 

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Welcome Dabble! 
It should not matter where you light it, I frequently light it on one side for low n slow.  1-2 inches up top and one of the mid size holes on the bottom typically keeps me in the 225-240f range.   Here is the last brisket cook (I should have wrapped earlier - slept right through that alarm!).  The dome temp on this was 240f, the MEATER in the brisket was reading 225 most of the night.  Hope this helps.  Good luck!

5DE0CCFB-0741-43DD-86A2-B8FBE49D9A24.jpeg

2BC4A03E-FDF2-4997-BFDA-10C325266275.png

60F03619-7A5C-4DA9-A4DD-EBE90F142800.jpeg

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For my brisket cooks on my 32”, I load up the charcoal basket full and light it in one spot in the middle. I stopped using a fan control regularly because I found my temperature actually stayed less consistent with a fan in, but I still use it if I’m headed out on the boat, running a couple errands or doing an overnight after an evening of too many cheers.

Without the fan, I use the second to largest hole on the ride side vent on the bottom, and open the top about a quarter turn (adjust as you see temp settling or rising but it’s always close to a quarter turn). This keeps me about 235 at the main grate which is usually where my food sits.

When using a fan, once it’s light and going, I close the bottom vents and the top vent is more like an eighth of a turn or even less. The top just bumped open enough so that the smoke has a enough room to escape and the fire can breath, but really letting the fan drive the temp by closing the bottom and just having the top open enough so the oxygen flows through.

Both ways I have had great success, especially with brisket.

Another recommendation is put the brisket on cold. I’ve found it helps with the smoke ring…no prod or data points o could share on it, just my observation that I’ve stuck with. Even though a smoke ring really doesn’t matter, who doesn’t love seeing one.

To wrap or not wrap? I always used to wrap before my KK, my first couple of cooks I did but as I learned, I never wrap anymore unless I am only cooking a flat. If it is a full packer (which it almost always is) or the point, my goal is to not even open the lid until it’s to temp. This doesn’t always stay true because often times, I’ll be throwing on a rack of ribs or some chooks mid brisket cook, but it is how I approach it.


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Happy Tuesday from Sunny Arizona,

This is a repeat post from the I did on the everyday cooking.  I will only post under one subject next time.

Brisket Cook,

I cooked up an 18 pound pound brisket this weekend. It was a 16 hour cook that felt like a Greek Comedy; the end results were great but it was a little tricky getting there.

I butchered the trim because I failed to sharpen my knife.  I ended up sawing through most of the fat instead of slicing through it.  Ended up looking like a bad haircut where the fat pad should have been.

I used Kosher salt to dry brine the brisket and let it sit overnight wrapped up in some plastic wrap.  I used BBQ Guys Beef Rub on the brisket before putting it on the grill.

I ended up filling up the basket with some lump on top of some mesquite wood chunks. I only used one lighting cube in the middle to get the fire going.

The temp control was tricky at best. I was trying for 225 (ish). I started with the top damper opened 3 or 4 turns and the lower dampers fully opened.  I let the temp slowly rise up and closed the dampers as the temp got close to 225.  The top damper was opened to 1/4 turn and the bottom damper was only opened on the second to smallest hole on the right side.  And then I fell asleep.  I woke up one or two hours later and the temp was at 240.  I closed the top vent down completely and then opened it about 1 inch.  I moved the bottom damper to the smallest hole only.  And I fell asleep again.... I woke up around 4:00 am and the temp was 227 and slowly fell down below 220.  I thought I may have killed the fire.  I opened up the dampers to get some air flow.  The temp rose up slowly over the next hour and I slowly adjusted the dampers closed again.  I ended up having the top damper open about 1 inch and the bottom damper on the small hole again.  However, the temp settled in about 235 and slowly raised up throughout the day ultimately going over 255.  I closed the top damper down to wear it felt closed but I could see some smoke coming out.

I would love to hear some feedback or ideas about the temp slowly increasing without any changes to the damper settings????

Anyway, I debated wrapping or not and finally double wrapped it in foil to finish the cook.

The end results was a great tasting, tender, juicy brisket and 15 happy guests.

Pictures to follow.

Dabble. 

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Nice job (see my comments about the cook in the other post). Looks like you got a pretty good bark on it for wrapping in foil. I like to follow Franklin's technique of using pink butcher paper instead of foil - YMMV. 

Happy guests - all that matters at the end of the day!

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Looks good Dabble! I’d echo comments on the other chain, no need to chase the perfect temp. Internal matters most, and as long as you are within reasonable range it won’t change much for your cook (just slightly longer or faster).

I’ve experienced the slow rise and slow decline before on cooks. I will not pretend that I have the answer, I usually just slightly adjust as needed similar to why you did. Only once has it really gotten away from me overnight, but that was due to the vent cover being ever so slightly open…I think it pulled out a bit when I was checking the bottom vent setting before I went to bed after it had been steady a couple of hours. The smallest crevice there can make a major difference…but you only make that mistake once.


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2 hours ago, tony b said:

 I like to follow Franklin's technique of using pink butcher paper instead of foil - YMMV. 

Or no wrapping. 

I do find that Franklin's description of foil wrapping makes it "pot roasty" sometimes, but not every time. If you have good bark on it, then it's not terribly pot roasty a lot of the time.  I like foil because it is a true crutch.  You have a better chance of passing a perfect pull test.  You run a slight risk of over-steaming it and it just falling apart, which for my taste can be awesome.  I'm not a competition bbq'er just one that likes tasty food. 

I actually have never tried butcher paper, just foil or nothing.  looking forward to my next brisket wrapped in butcher paper. 

I also need to try pork butts in butcher paper.  Since getting my KK I have not been wrapping my pork butts at all.  I got my first batch of pork last weekend that was maybe a little less fatty/moist than I want it. but the bark (amazing and perfect)!  I want to try butcher paper after the pork butt gets a nice bark on it and then seeing if that does the trick.

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42 minutes ago, BOC said:

Looks good Dabble! I’d echo comments on the other chain, no need to chase the perfect temp. Internal matters most, and as long as you are within reasonable range it won’t change much for your cook (just slightly longer or faster).
 

Agreed, especially with a brisket.  The 240 temp you had when you woke up was going to be just fine - let it ride.  One thing I do find interesting on the KK is that you have ppl like stephen raichlen saying "temperature control to a single degree".  I find my big ol SBB 42 temp fluctuates.  Not as bad as my BGE, but - I have found that "a kamado is a kamado".  there's no such thing as perfect temp control without a fan/board controller contraption.  The thing is though, you don't need it for something as forgiving as pork butt or brisket.  Especially on a brisket you can safely go higher.  Numerous references here to Franklin who does his briskets at 250-275 depending on the stage of the cook.  I've always gone higher on briskets.  The time that I did 225 I was not happy with the results but it may be partially because I relied on the internal temp of the meat alone and not the feel. If a brisket isn't pliable yet, don't take it off.

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BOC and JohnnyMnemonic,

Thanks for the feedback. Using a KK definitely has a learning curve.  Cooking itself is part art and part science.  I am enjoying the learning process and trying various techniques; to wrap or not to wrap, butcher paper or foil, low and slow or hot and fast.  In the end, having the ability to put a great tasting meal together and sitting down at the table with your family and friends is the ultimate goal!

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