Brisket and Salmon

It’s a Saturday and I don’t have a ton of stuff to do, and we’re out of Salmon!  A terrible problem with one clear solution.  It’s time to smoke more meat.  We’ve eaten almost all of the chicken and pork now, so I can feel good doing another brisket.

Actually, I’ve been excited for the last two weeks to do another brisket.  Ok, I’ve been excited since the last time I did one, but in the last two weeks the excitement has come to a head.  It’s time to make more brisket sandwiches, more brisket dinners.  More brisket snacks.  Brisket in eggs.

It was really good last time and I’m looking forward to trying some small changes.  First, I got some in-meat temperature probes.  I ran their cables through the smoke hole.  Second, I have peach butcher paper now.  That should be an improvement over the foil stuck to the meat.  Third, I plan to trim off more fat than last time.

I got a 20.34 lbs whole brisket from Costco, at $3.49 per lb.  I got two beautiful salmon fillets, totaling about 5.5 lbs.  Cutting open the brisket I noticed a faint sulfur smell, which doesn’t make me feel great.  The internet thinks that cryovac meat smells like that sometimes, but that the smell should dissipate.  It did, so I’m rolling with it.

I’m using the same system and recipe as the previous times.

1213, 24 Mar: I set the smoke holes halfway, started the smoker at 225℉, and began trimming the brisket.

1300: Trimming done, unfortunately I cut myself a little. The pile of fat feels like about 4 lbs.  I’ve really eliminated a lot of the fat cap, and cut more fat out of the flat/point joining area, too.  It’s very clear how the flat and point join now, which is cool.

I covered the brisket with 5 1/3 Tbsp salt, 5 1/3 Tbsp pepper, and 3 Tbsp garlic powder.  This is a similar ratio to last time, scaled up for meat size.

1320: I started the brisket smoking.

1345: Fish brine started.  1/3 cup salt, 1 cup brown sugar, filled the rest of a quart bottle with cool water.  Sliced a filet into 6 pieces and dropped them into one bag with half the quart bottle.  Did the same with the other filet.  Then put them in the fridge in a glass calling dish in case of spills.

1355: Meat temps were 79℉ and 56℉.  Hopefully these will level out.

I need to smoke this until 165℉, then wrap them, then keep smoking until 202℉.  I should start the fish drying after at least 8 hours, maybe when I wrap the brisket.

1640: Meat temps 155℉ and 145℉.  145℉ is the one I believe, I suspect the other one is in a chunk of fat or something.

1830: Meat was 158℉ and 157℉.  Amazing that the temps caught up.

1930: Meat was 159℉ and 159℉.

2130: Meat was 158℉ and 158℉.

2230: Meat was 157℉ and 157℉.  Yeah, it has gone down 2 degrees.

0030, 25 Mar: Meat was 177℉ and 167℉.  I wrapped it, then started the fish drying.  Using paper towel as heat resistant gloves worked very well.

0100: Fish is drying. I should be good to sleep tonight 0600.

0600: Meat was 191℉ and 187℉.

0800: Meat was 196℉ and 190℉.

1100: Meat was 198℉ and 193℉.  I’m starting to think I should have wrapped it more tightly.  I’m not going to open the smoker and do it now, we’ll see how this turns out.

1300: Meat was 198℉ and 194℉.  Stall 2.0.  I cannot wait past 1500 to start the fish, so brisket is coming off at 1500, regardless of the temp it hits.

1430: Meat was 197℉ and 195℉.  I cranked the smoker to 275℉ and unwrapped the meat to let the bark develop for 30 more minutes.  We’ll see what the temp gets to at the end.

1500: Took brisket off, let it sit on the counter for about 40 minutes under some foil and a towel.

1510: After cleaning the smoker very little, dumping the agash and adding new wood, I closed the smoke holes to halfway and opened the door with the temp way up to get the wood cooking and the temp down.

1540: Fish is on now.  It needs to go 2 hours at 120℉, 1 at 140℉, then finish at 175℉ for about 1 more hour.  Final internal temp should be 130℉ to 140℉.  Baste with maple syrup every hour.

1940: Fish done!  Taste good.

For next time:

  • Wrap the brisket more tightly.  Maybe use a little masking tape to help.
  • Make sure to put the fat cap on top, just for consistency.  I have no idea whether I did that this time.  Keep track of it when wrapping, too…
  • Don’t cut so much fat off.  It was a little drier than I’d prefer, unfortunately.

Second Smoking – Brisket and Salmon

Some notes from the second time I busted-out the smoker – I made brisket and salmon.

The brisket recipe is based on, 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.