I've been running some smoked brisket tests the past couple of weeks and I want to share the results with you. I'm testing out different smoking temperatures, rubs, injections, and other methods to see if I can improve upon the smoked brisket method in "Competition BBQ Secrets". To be honest with you, some of the results here are good, but the tried and true technique in the book is still the smoked brisket I would turn in at a competition. It's hard to beat. However, I may use some of these methods as an addition to my basic method. For instance, I liked the test with the bacon strips on top, so I may incorporate that into my usual routine for smoked brisket just to add a little more flavor - or as they call it, another layer of flavor. I may even increase the amount of bacon grease injected into the brisket to see how that works. I need to test that one out first though.
Speaking of testing... I tested 12 smoked briskets. I know, one brisket can get expensive, much less 12 or more briskets! So, how can I afford this? I can assure you, I'm not filthy rich! What I did was put together a simple sales flyer explaining that I am a competitor on the competition BBQ circuit and I need more practice. I listed brisket, butts, spareribs, and 10 chicken thighs on the flyer. Basically priced just to cover my costs. I then handed them out to a few family members and friends. Within a day, I had enough orders to keep me busy for a long time. And why wouldn't they order? They are getting a slow smoked, competition quality product at around the same price they would pay for the raw meat - what a deal!
All these tests were 5-7 lb choice brisket flats purchased from Sam's. Smoked on a Cookshack FEC 100 with hickory pellets.
Test 1 - I just wanted to test a lower and slower smoke to see what would happen.
Rub: Cookshack brisket rub.
Cooking chamber temperature: 180°F
Target internal temperature: 180°F (actual internal temperature only reached 168°F)
Actual smoke time: 24 hours
Results: I was surprised this smoked brisket didn't turn out like shoe leather. It was actually fairly tender and only slightly on the dry side. No smoke ring. Good dark bark. It tasted good but not great. Just your "average" brisket.
Test 2 - Cook at 200°F
Rub: Everglades Cactus Dust
Cooking chamber temperature: 200°F
Target internal temperature: 190°F
Actual smoke time: 15 hours (internal temp was 187°F) - placed in warm ice chest for 3 more hours.
Results: This smoked brisket was OK, but nothing great. Good bark and the Cactus Dust was better than the Cookshack rub. Just a slight smoke ring on the edges. I thought it was still a little on the dry side.
Test 3 - High and Fast. Some of the best BBQ teams cook smoked briskets at 350°F for short periods of time and then foil the brisket, wrap it in a blanket, and put it in a warm ice chest for several hours. I though I would test this method out and see how it worked out.
Rub: I had four briskets to smoke, so I used a variety of rubs and I injected one:
Cooking chamber temperature: 350°F
Target internal temperature: Basically the method goes like this... cook at 350°F for two hours. Foil and put back on smoker for two more hours. Remove from smoker and place in warm ice chest for 2-4 hours. I left mine in there for four hours and I think they might have turned out better if I only left them in there for two hours. Believe me... that ice chest will still be steaming hot inside after four hours.
Actual smoke time: Four hours on smoker and four hours in ice chest.
Test 4 - Cook at 220°F
Rub: I tested five different rubs...
Cooking chamber temperature: 220°F
Target internal temperature: 190°F
Actual smoke time: 15 hours
Chatham Artillery BBQ