Some notes from the second time I busted-out the smoker - I made brisket and salmon.
The brisket recipe is based on https://heygrillhey.com/recipe/texas-style-smoked-beef-brisket/, and the salmon recipe is the one I normally make.
I used a 16.5 lbs brisket from Costco, $2.99 per pound. Turned on the smoker to 225, added hickory wood chips. Trimmed 1-2 lbs fat off, took just over half an hour to trim. Sliced it in half so it would fit in the smoker. Took out two smoker racks to help it fit.
Put on 4 Tbsp kirkland sea salt, 4 Tbsp kirkland course ground Malabar black pepper, 2 Tbsp McCormick garlic powder. Sprinkled it on mostly using an old McCormick spice container. Rubbed it in a little.
1330, 30 Dec: Began smoking brisket, added 1 qt water at that time (should’ve done it sooner but forgot)
I plan to smoke it until internal temperature is 165℉, and expect that will take more than 8 hrs, but I plan to check temperature at 6. When meat hits 165℉, I’ll wrap it in foil like a present, then put it back in the smoker without wood at 225℉ until the thickest part hits 202℉. Maybe 6 hours more. After it hits 202℉, I’ll take it off and wrap it in a towel and let it sit at room temp for 2 hours.
1930, 30 Dec: At 6 hours it was at 155℉
2030, 30 Dec: At 7 hours it was at 158℉. I will check again at 9 hours, 2245 or so.
2245, 30 Dec: It was ready to be wrapped, at 165℉. I wrapped it.
0430, 31 Dec: Brisket was at 200℉.
0615, 31 Dec: Brisket was 207℉ and I took it off, let it rest for two hours. I turned the smoker way down to the fish temperature.
0815, 31 Dec: Sliced it, put most in the fridge, got a stomach ache from eating too much fatty parts. Delicious fatty parts
The brisket was fantastic, and I want to do the same thing again. There are a couple changes I should make though.
1. Don't use foil, use butcher paper next time. The foil broke in some small places, especially where it really stuck to the meat, and left little bits of foil on the meat that were tough to get off. 2. Get a thermometer I can leave in the meat so I don't have to open the door. 3. Trim off more fat next time - get closer to what the source recipe recommended. The fattyness this time was reasonable, but it would be better with a little less.
I started the salmon during the brisket…
1420, 30 Dec: started salmon brining, I should start them drying when I wrap the meat, I should start them smoking when the meat comes off.
2245, 31 Dec: started salmon drying
0840, 31 Dec: I started the salmon smoking - this was after the brisket had finished resting and I had cleaned the smoker just enough to do a different meat. I cleaned the racks and water tray. The drain valve at the bottom of the smoker was plugged with frozen beef fat - I cleared it a little, there was certainly still some in there though, it didn’t affect much
1240, 31 Dec: The salmon finished smoking - right on time as it always does.
The result with this salmon was that it was fantastic again. The starting temperature on the salmon is very low - so low that the wood doesn’t burn much. Before starting, I cranked the smoker up a bit to get more smoke rolling. I let it go at this temperature for several minutes - the temperature in the smoker rose significantly. That wasn’t great - when I put the salmon in I turned the temperature down and left the door open to cool it a bit, but the salmon definitely started by losing more moisture than I’d prefer. In the future - cranking the smoke like this is a good idea, but I need to use a lower temp setting for a bit, keep the vent on top fairly closed, and not go too long. And also I shouldn’t worry about it too much - smoke still rolls.
The worst part about this fish was that it was already a little beat up - not the best fish I’ve gotten from Costco. Still fairly beautiful, I can’t complain.