Barbecued Beef Brisket!

I’m with bump on the higher heat method. Same with pork shoulder. For me, it turns out tastier and juicier (and faster, to boot!), but most of the regular wisdom is 225, like you say, and let your taste be your guide. That said, there are people who do brisket and shoulder at even higher heats: 300-350. I’ve never tried to go that high myself – 275 is about my sweet spot.

Well, I’ve never had a brisket or shoulder that could be considered dry, and I’ve certainly had smokes that went well above 225 for extended periods of time. So, really, hitting 300 or so for awhile shouldn’t be a problem. I often finish mine at 275, after all. They turn out to be perfectly fine briskets.

But the briskets where I was amazed at how well it turned out and have been most complimented on were the ones where I actually didn’t watch the fire well, and it often dipped down to 190-200, and really spent most of its time below 212. That’s a slow, almost torturous way to cook, but when I’ve had the time to be that inattentive, it seems to have paid off. I’ll normally just give up and eventually pop it in the oven to have it done before guests arrive, but when time’s not a concern, it’s paid off.

225 shouldn’t be dry at all, I agree. I just find 275 to have a better bark and it seems a little bit juicier to me.

I’m one who doesn’t pay any attention to what the heat is in my smoker. I just use a WSM, fill it, set the “water pan” filled with sand in it, and go to town. My heat is probably around 275/285 for most of the cook, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it spikes to 300 – I just leave it alone until it looks like it may be running out of fuel (around 6 hours – although I’ve done a brisket on one oversized load of charcoal). The only temps I take are to get an idea of where it is (below stall, at stall, climbing up from stall?) and then mostly go by feel from there. Sometimes I crutch, sometimes I don’t. I do find crutching makes things a bit more consistent, but my best brisket ever was cooked naked. (So was my most mediocre, though.)

Ok, so everything else you say makes sense to me (after all, the internals kind of depend on you guessing what the cow has made inside there, and what’s going on at that temp). But my brother raves about my bark, and so far how much he raves seems to correlate with how much I’ve gone low/slow with increasing proportions of wood to charcoal over the years as I’ve worked through different smokers (generally at about 50/50 these days). What’s the high temp doing to the bark that you’re enjoying? I generally think of the bark as the carbon layer that mixes with the spices and the smoke ring on the outer layer of the meat. I don’t understand how a higher heat could make that form faster.

Of course, we’re smoking meat. Don’t need answer fast.

Oh, and I’m one of those obsessives who has a grate level thermometer and a probe in the meat, with it wirelessly connecting to an alarm unit I can carry around the house. Life was hard ten years ago when I would just set an alarm to get up periodically to check the fire and the temps. These days I just get told that I’m an idiot and have let the fire die down at the appropriate time, and I like it that way.

I agree. I’ve always gotten great results from ~275. And it doesn’t take freakin’ forever.

I’m glad @bump bumped this thread, because it’s about time I BBQed up another brisket, and this time I want to try the method from the video in @pulykamell 's post #23, using seasoned salt, mustard, pickle juice and a couple other ingredients. Been saving up on pickle juice for just such an occasion. Thanks for that video, pulykamell!

Coincidentally we are having four other couples over this Saturday and am doing all of ribs (12 pounds of spare ribs cut St Louis style), smoked chicken (two birds worth, brined with a coffee based dry rub), and a 7 pound brisket flat. Along with the variety of sides. So thinking again about the details. (Obviously I didn’t go with the whole packer squeezed in.)

One cheat for a better smoke ring that I’d like input on (it’s cosmetic in any case) - ground celery seed in the rub? Natural nitrates.

Any thoughts about having the dry rub on from the night before? The salt is the only part that gets sucked in well but maybe getting it more absorbed helps?

As you say it will be cosmetic only, a cheat for appearance’s sake. It won’t make any difference to the flavor. Plus you’re adding nitrates, which is not a great additive just for the sake of appearance alone. Add celery seed if you like the taste of ground celery seed in your rub., otherwise I’d say leave it out.

I’ve always heard the night before is best. I’m not sure of the exact science, but I imagine some flavors get to piggyback along with the salt osmosis. Plus, I think it just helps the rub ‘set’ on the meat better. Again, not science, just my $.02.

Does the seed have any nitrates? I thought it was the juice that was high in nitrates.

At any rate, I’ve never had a hard time getting a good smoke ring with charcoal, natural gas, or straight wood smokers, just on things like electric Bradley Smokers.

Yup. A Masterbuilt electric.

I’ll have to check about the seeds having nitrates or not!

As far as health … I’m making a cornucopia of smoked meats. It’s a once in a while thing. A little extra nitrates are swamped by the rest.

Looks matter!

I’ve heard to let the fire get well established and smoky and then put the meat on cold. I don’t smoke enough to give reliable data, though.

I’ll plug r/bbq and r/grilling. Good groups of folks.