Improve my brisket

I made brisket for the first time yesterday, and while it was quite the nom I know there is room for improvement. What we were going for is a smokey / BBQey brisket not slathered in sauce - kind of like Famous Dave’s smoked brisket. Due to it being beyond friggin cold and the grill being under a few feet of snow, it was made in the oven.

What I did:

Trimmed all but 1/4" of fat off the back

I made a Paula Deen recipe rub - cayenne, garlic powder, mustard powder, black pepper, kosher salt, sugar. It called for onion powder, but I was out. Instead I finely minced onion and put it on top. It also called for ground bay leaf, but without a mortar and pestle and the bay leaf being fresh - well, I ended up tearing it into teeny tiny bits and adding it to the rub. Now, in looking through recipes many stated to do the rub the night before. That is where I failed. Shoulda woulda coulda.

Per her recipe, I put it on a roasting rack and into the oven at 350F for an hour.

Then I got creative. Her recipe called for adding beef stock to the roasting pan, reducing the heat to 300F and cooking for another 3 hours. I looked at an Emeril recipe and instead did the following: Added about 3/4 cup of beef stock to the pan, sprinkled some Liquid Smoke onto the brisket and into the roasting water, and smeared a light coat of BBQ sauce on the brisket. Tightly wrapped the whole thing in foil and put back into a 275F oven for 3 hours.

I let it rest for about 15 minutes before slicing into it.

What we ended up with:
A lot of heat (2T of cayenne? We’re Minnesotan. Maybe not so much)
Fall apart brisket
Not so moist, though.

Any tips? Suggestions?

FWIW, I made the Pioneer Woman’s smashed potatoes, too. Devine. Scrumptious. TheKid thought they tasted like peanut butter, though. I have no idea where she got that from, unless the cayenne screwed up her tastebuds.

I make the Pioneer Woman’s brisket, myself. You don’t cut the fat off until the end. Of course, you serve it with all the sauce, but I think it’s pretty moist. It’s amazing, honestly.

You shouldn’t have had any problem with trimming the brisket. I trim down to about 1/4 inch of surface fat as well when I cook the brisket.

I don’t see any problems with your recipe. I would just have checked on the brisket every once in awhile. Each cut of meat is a little different and cooks at different times. I’ve never done it in the oven, but on a barbecue a full 15-pound packer cut brisket can be anywhere from 8-12 hours at the temps I cook at (250F). So, seven hours for the temperatures you’re at seems a little long to me. Like I said, check. I would have started checking at around four hours. You’re not looking for internal temperature, your just checking the texture of the meat.

Also, a full brisket is composed of two parts: the point/deckle and the flat. If your brisket is under about 14 pounds or so, you don’t have the whole, untrimmed “packer cut” brisket. Which is fine. However, usually what you get is the leaner, flat part down at the Costco or wherever. The flat tends to cook a bit drier than the point and is more susceptible to overcooking. The point is more forgiving, but some people don’t like it as much because it’s a fattier cut (more for me, I say.) If you can find some point/deckle, you might want to give the recipe a shot with that.

It was a 3.5# brisket - hey, there are only two of us here and the remaining 2/3 of it was wrapped and waiting for sandwiches. Well, less than 2/3’s left as my nephew was over this morning. Silly me left the house.

It was only in the oven for a total of 4 hours - one hour at 350F per the Deen recipe and then 3 hours at 275 per Emeril. The Deen recipe wanted a higher oven for the last 3 hours, but I figured lower would be better. Some recipes called for 250 for 6-7 hours, one called for 24 hour crock potting.

It’s the time frame thing that screws me up in roasting meat. Always.

Oh, I for some reason read it as 1+3+3 hours. Sorry. Given the weight of the meat, I would have started checking at about 2.5-3 hours to see what’s up. Like I said, I’m guessing you had the flat cut, so that’s generally going to taste drier than the point, because of its leanness. In recipes, however, I usually find that cooking times are more often-than-not just ballpark figures, especially with meats like chuck, brisket, pork shoulder, etc., that need low and slow cooking to become tender. Sometimes I have to add an hour or two to a recipe. Sometimes subtract. Just poke around every once in a while, take a taste here and there, experiment, trust your senses. Just don’t poke around every five minutes, or the brisket will never get done. :slight_smile:

Do you use a thermometer to see when the meat is done? You’ll get better and more consistent results if you do that than if you just wait the full time specified by a recipe. For brisket I use a probe thermometer and set the alarm on it to go off at 185 degrees.

I’d have gone lower, and slower if I was making it. And 2 TABLESPOONS of cayenne? Wow. That’s a lot. If you were saying 2T of chipotle powder, you’d be closer to the ranges that I’d have wanted. IMO cayenne is much hotter, and less flavorful than other pepper powders like chipotle.

To get a tough cut like brisket to be moist and tender, it needs to be cooked low and slow. On a smoker, you’re down closer to 225/250F for the whole process, as I understand it. Smaller pieces will dry out faster.

Cook fat-side up, at 350, for an hour (you can do 300 for 90 minutes if you like)…of course, season and such as you see fit beforehand. Make sure you have a roasting tray to catch the fat…I would also add some liquid smoke to the meat along with any seasonings at this point…
Pull out of the oven, and cover, TIGHTLY, but not against the meat – make a tent…make sure the foil is bent in such a way as to drain any condensation back into the roasting tray…You can also use this opportunity to slather on a sop or sauce, and some additional liquid smoke, before sealing…
NOW cook for 2 or 3 hours at 250 or so. USE A THERMOMETER and when the meat is about 160 (I like mine a little more rare, so it doesn’t taste like a roast), then remove from the oven, and let rest COVERED for at LEAST a half-hour. This resting period is critical, and should never, in my opinion, be less than a half-hour, since it helps to make the meat juicy. If you cut into it too soon, all that juicy goodness will run out…
If you don’t like the fat, now is the time to remove it. Cut, serve, enjoy…

Taking the brisket to only 160 or less creates a very different product than taking it to 180-185 or so. Your temp will get you sliceable brisket, with still a lot of unbroken-down collagen. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I sometimes do pork shoulder to that temp, rather than the 185-200 I usually take it to, when I want a change of pace, but it’s generally a little bit tougher than what people want when they expect barbecue or pot-roasted brisket. So if you want that tender, unctuous, melt-in-your mouth brisket, you gotta give it time to sit in the 170 temps where the collagen breaks down.

I agree with you, Pulykamell - I was working from memory. It does indeed need to get to between 170 and 180 to break down the collagen. I had an old recipe that insisted on 200 internal temp, and I always found it dry.