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wilburpan

Surf and turf and turf (plus brisket question)

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It's been a while since I've posted a cook. Here's grilled shrimps and scallops with pasta and pesto and grilled asparagus. No action shots, but here's the final product.

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So that covers the surf part. Here's the turf and turf. I was volunteered by my wife to make brisket for a friend's BBQ yesterday. Then I heard that they were going to cook ribs. I volunteered to smoke the ribs, because (1) it's really no extra trouble for Smaug to cook two things instead of one for a low and slow cook, and (B) I'm being selfish: I know I can make better ribs than my friends. ^_^

The brisket was pretty straightforward. My wife picked up a 13 lb. brisket from our local butcher. I've found that one thing that makes brisket cooks more predictable is to keep the size of the brisket as constant as possible. I've been making sure that any brisket I make is around 12 lbs., and I try to stay within 10-15 lbs. overall. The rub was a 50/50 mix of salt and pepper.

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I set up Smaug, who decided that he wanted to be at 200ºF. The brisket went on at 9:30 PM Friday night. The goal was to have the brisket ready for lunch on Saturday, so I guessed about 15 hours of cook time.

Early Saturday morning I prepped the ribs, using the Aaron Franklin rub method, except that I add brown sugar in for ribs. I planned to give the ribs about 6 hours of cook time before lunch.

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This is what the brisket looked like at that point (9 hours cook time so far).

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I decided to put the ribs on the lower rack. That's not the usual position for smoking ribs on a KK (or any other kamado grill), but I knew from experience that KK grills are so well insulated that the internal temperature is very even across all the racks. I wanted to keep the brisket flavor straight up beef, salt, and pepper, and I figured that the ribs might benefit from beef fat dripping on them.

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And then I put the main rack with the brisket back in position.

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I checked the internal temperature, and at the 14 hour mark the brisket seemed to be in the stall, at 165ºF. But it seemed like it was done, because it was probe tender everywhere I stuck the thermometer probe. Here's the money shot.

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I decided that probe tender beat internal temperature, and I was afraid of overcooking the flat, since it was considerably thinner than the point compared to other briskets I've cooked. So I took the brisket out, and checked on the ribs. By the bend test, they were not quite done, so I set them on the main grate to finish off. They were ready to go after another 40 minutes. Here's the rib money shot.

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And here's how they turned out. Brisket.

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Ribs.

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So here's my question. I've usually gone for a final IT of 195ºF or so for brisket, and it has been really good. But I think this brisket is the best one I've done so far, by a considerable amount. My theory is that Smaug really did sit in the 200-210ºF range for this cook, and there's something about cooking in this lower range that allows the brisket to get probe tender without getting to a 195ºF IT.

My other theory is that when I trim a whole packer brisket prior to cooking, I get pretty aggressive about excavating that big pocket of fat on both sides of the point end. I take out so much of it that it's like the point is being held together by a narrow band of tissue in the center. (I don't have a picture of me doing this, so I hope that explanation made sense.) I haven't seen anyone else do this in the trimming stage of a brisket cook, not even Aaron Franklin. Maybe some of you all do this, and just don't mention it. I think that getting rid of all this extra fat could change the cooking dynamic compared to a typical brisket cook.

The next time I'm making a brisket, I'll be checking probe tenderness more aggressively. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Edited by wilburpan
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Great to see you cooking again, Wilbur!! :smt039   Nicely done, btw.

Interesting brisket cook. I'm in the Franklin camp - wrap in pink butcher paper after the stall and cook to 203F IT. But, I can't argue with your results, looks moist and tender. 

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First, I also trim that huge piece of fat between the point and flat. The way I see it, I'd just be waiting for a ton of fat to render and no one would eat that huge quantity of fat. Second, so you did a low and slow on the bottom rack?  I'm guessing you didn't use a heat deflector then?  I've done low and slow on my main and upper racks but haven't tried the lower rack yet. Those ribs look like they turned out pretty spot on. 

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We are balancing moisture retention against tenderizing when we cook a brisket. The longer the meat is on the fire the more moisture it loses. But a long low temp cook like you did really helps tenderize brisket. We want the most tender AND most juicy we can get. You can't argue with success. 14 hours at 200º, with no foil nor paper wrap did it for you! I would do it again and see what happens.

Yesterday I cooked a brisket and split the point from the flat prior to cooking. I removed as much fat as I could from both pieces. I cooked the point straight through to probe tenderness with no wrap. That worked fine. And I wrapped the flat in paper when it hit 165º which worked quite well as usual. My fire temp started at 200º, I left for a Memorial Day service, came back about 2 hours later, and it had crept up to about 325º The brisket was right at 165º at that point so I wrapped the flat, left the point alone, and finished both pieces by feel. Got raves from the neighbors.

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On 5/29/2017 at 6:26 PM, Shuley said:

Second, so you did a low and slow on the bottom rack?  I'm guessing you didn't use a heat deflector then?  I've done low and slow on my main and upper racks but haven't tried the lower rack yet. Those ribs look like they turned out pretty spot on. 

I did use a heat deflector, and the drip pan. So this is what my grill looked like at that point of the cook, from top to bottom:

  • Brisket
  • Main grate
  • Three racks of baby back ribs
  • Bottom grate
  • Drip pan
  • Heat deflector
  • Charcoal basket/fire

The grate actually sat on top of the drip pan, but that was fine. The reason I used the bottom rack this time was that I wanted the brisket to just taste of beef, salt, pepper, and smoke, whereas I didn't mind if brisket drippings landed on the ribs, and the brisket was too big to fit on the top rack. 

Overall, I would use the bottom rack for low and slows as a last option. I usually do low and slows on the main rack, and then add the top rack if I need more real estate. But it is possible to do a low and slow on the bottom rack, as I found out the time I had to do eight racks of ribs all at once.

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On 5/30/2017 at 9:57 AM, mguerra said:

You can't argue with success. 14 hours at 200º, with no foil nor paper wrap did it for you! I would do it again and see what happens.

No doubt. My boys are already asking when I'm going to make brisket again. ^_^ 

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OK, and now Ken (Ceramic Chef) sneaks in with a "Like" on the post. Talk about a "Family Reunion!"

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