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**The Sauce Blog**
August 23rd, 2015, 7:25 pm
#1
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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Central Texas Barbecue is my favorite style, bar none, and it's what I always go for with my brisket. I've smoked quite a few briskets on my YS640 since purchasing, but this one ended up being the best so far....a success on every level. Well, almost every level. I wrote down some notes and took photos along the way and figured maybe this might be of some interest to my fellow pitmasters.



The Meat
A 15lb Choice packer. I live in West Michigan and packers have alway been an expensive proposition - around $8.50lb; often for just select grade!! However, in a most bizarre and awesome turn of events, this summer nearly every butcher shop in the area has started carrying packers of choice grade at a much more reasonable $4.50lb. Still more than what you'd pay in Texas to be sure, but much more affordable for us West Michigan Yankees. This new found brisket bonanza actually corresponds with something of a barbecue renaissance in this area - with no less than 3 barbecue joints opening up in downtown Grand Rapids just this summer! Even more shocking is that they are all offering some pretty serious brisket, and sell all meat by the pound. NICE.
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The Trim
I lost probably about 3lb or so of inedible fat and browned meat edges. This was a really great cut, with nice marbling and a deckle that wasn't out of control, haha. I also trimmed off every bit of silver skin on the back side. I hate the stuff with a passion and getting all of it off with ensure that the rub sticks like glue when you go to pull and then slice.
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The Rub
Nothing but Texas Rub, baby! That is to say, kosher salt and coarse black pepper. Absolutely, positively nothing else. No sugar, no cayenne, no olive oil before the rub, no mustard bath before the rub...nothing. It's taken me awhile to finally adobt the purity of what Franklin Barbecue, Blacks, Cranky Franks, and other classic Central Texas barbecue joints use and I will never go back. Ever. It's not that I'm against a savory blend of other spices for the rub. Those can be really good. It's just that Aaron Franklin and others are right on the money when they stress, like gospel, that salt and pepper is all the meat needs. If you've never tried it; if you have doubts....give it a go just once. Don't do mustard or any other base. A nice choice grade of meat with good marbling will not need it. You will be amazed at the purity and flavor.
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The Cook
(Yoder set to 250° for the entire cook)

(Damper set to slightly, maybe an inch or so, to the left of dead center so that I'd get a bit more heat on the point - which is always positioned closest to the heat grate). At the very start of my Yoder experience I took everything out before seasoning, set the damper so that it's exactly dead center in the pit, then marked that location with a sharpie pen on the stainless rack above the damper handle. I can then see instantly where I need to set my damper to start for an even cook, or adjust accordingly depending on my needs)

(I put a small stainless steel bowl full of water on the top rack. While the bottom rack is best, this still helps keep the meat moist.)

(At no point did I mist. Misting is the enemy of great bark. Unless you've got a massive propane tank cooker that can hold 4 or 5 briskets, misting a brisket on a Yoder is completely unnecessary and will only serve to dampen your bark. I'm not saying don't do it because for a lot of pitmasters the misting is an important part of the process and taste they are after. If you desire Central Texas style like I do, then don't mist.)

(FAT SIDE UP. No self respecting Texan - or a Yankee like me who fancies himself a self respecting Texan - is going to smoke a brisket fat side down. )

I decided to mix it up a bit for this cook. Normally I cook for 7 hours and then wrap in butcher paper for another 3 or so until I hit an internal at the flat of 210° and 200° for the point. Then I'll rest for anywhere from an hour to four hours in the oven (still wrapped in the paper, of course) on a warm setting. I've found that there's very little difference from a 2 hour rest to a 4 hour rest in terms of juiciness. At the one hour mark it's fine, but I go at least 2.

For this cook, however, I went completely unwrapped the entire cook. I got the thing on at 10:45pm and pulled it the next morning at 8:07am. 9hrs and 20min total time. The internals were: Point = 202°, Flat = 210°. You honestly do not want the flat to go any higher than that and, in fact, I should have pulled it at 205° or so.

I honestly thought I'd be cooking longer, but I always forget how efficient the Yoder is as compared to a stick burner. Those temp variations are so small! I set my alarm to go off every 90min so that I could wake up and check the pellet hopper and make sure everything was going smoothly. All temptations to peek were resisted! LOL.

I never inject my brisket. Ever. Doing so is criminal. If you cook your brisket right - with a nice choice grade - there's zero need to inject.
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The Rest
After the brisket was pulled I wrapped it in butcher paper and tossed it into my regular oven on the warm setting. I have no idea the temp...it just says 'warm' :) This was a very long rest: 7hrs!! I normally don't rest that long but things got going around the house and we didn't slice until much later than expected. No worries. As I mentioned earlier, there's no difference I can ever tell between that 2 hour rest to a 4 hour rest....or a 7 hour rest. I read all this stuff that people insist on at least a 5 hour rest or whatever. I don't agree. I also never do the whole 'wrap in towels and rest in a cooler or cambro' thing. I find dragging out my cooler for storing brisket to be highly annoying and it always needs cleaning so....oven it is!

Now, let's get down to the heart of this thing: I long ago stopped using foil for my brisket cooks and resting because FOIL IS THE ENEMY. As mentioned above, I usually wrap with butcher paper at the 7 hour mark, but used it here for just the rest. Here's why: Resting in the butcher paper will absolutely retain your moisture and heat but, even if you overwrap, the meat can still breath inside. Even after becoming saturated with the wonderful juice and oils, it still breathes. Foil never breathes. It simply steams your meat and makes the bark into a soggy mess.

If you haven't made the switch to butcher paper, give it a try. You used to have to order it from obscure online restaurant supply houses but now Amazon has it for a great price and very fast delivery!
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The Result
This was the best brisket I've smoked yet. Getting to what the great barbecue writer and blogger Daniel Vaughn calls that 'sugar cookie' bark is so rewarding and a blessing!!

That's not to say there weren't some niggling problems. The bottom of the brisket was very nearly burned. I mean, just barely shy of that point. Close. Very close. It was a bit crunchy, but thankfully not burned. I should have wrapped at about the 7.5 to 8hr mark. Just looking at the thing I can tell that the last hour is when the crunch was probably formed. Even sticking to my original process of the 7 hour mark would be fine but....this brisket had the best bark I've done and that was my mission on this cook.

The flat - even the end of the flat, was moist. The juice was everywhere, in every slice and nugget. Long after the slicing, every remaining piece was juicy. The burnt ends and bulk end of the point were swimming in juice; even the remnants an hour after slicing were still juicy. Love that!
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Well, that's it! Sorry for the long post but I love talking about this stuff! I've still got so much to learn, but really enjoyed those posts where folks go into serious detail. They've been such a help, and hopefully this post will do the same for someone just starting out. I love my Yoder!!

August 23rd, 2015, 8:47 pm
#2
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Very awesome! Thank you for sharing.

Yoder_Herb
August 24th, 2015, 1:00 am
#3
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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Yes, excellent post. Thanks for all the details. If I weren't traveling for work this week I'd give this a whirl.

August 24th, 2015, 2:28 pm
#4
* Wichita ** Wichita *
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Great post. Detail is a good thing. Great picks too.

Good job! :)

Durango 24
August 27th, 2015, 11:17 am
#5
* Abilene ** Abilene *
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Thanks Scott,
My YS640 is 2 weeks old. I did a quick tri-tip on the first day (after a full seasoning routine), and I everyone was very happy with the results.
I, like you, am a Yankee who fancies myself as a self-respecting Texan. I bought my smoker because I couldn't find a decent place in town to get a Central Texas brisket. While I am a huge fan of steaks cooked rare, I am a true admirer of brisket.
I'm doing my first brisket this weekend, and I'm going to follow your suggestions. Based on your results, I'm hoping for the best results. Fingers crossed.

Scott wrote:The Result
This was the best brisket I've smoked yet. Getting to what the great barbecue writer and blogger Daniel Vaughn calls that 'sugar cookie' bark is so rewarding and a blessing!!

That's not to say there weren't some niggling problems. The bottom of the brisket was very nearly burned. I mean, just barely shy of that point. Close. Very close. It was a bit crunchy, but thankfully not burned. I should have wrapped at about the 7.5 to 8hr mark. Just looking at the thing I can tell that the last hour is when the crunch was probably formed. Even sticking to my original process of the 7 hour mark would be fine but....this brisket had the best bark I've done and that was my mission on this cook.

The flat - even the end of the flat, was moist. The juice was everywhere, in every slice and nugget. Long after the slicing, every remaining piece was juicy. The burnt ends and bulk end of the point were swimming in juice; even the remnants an hour after slicing were still juicy. Love that!
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YS640 Noobi. I've been grilling all my life; now, I'm learning to smoke. Your suggestions are always welcome.
--Cheers from the mountains of Idaho
August 27th, 2015, 11:59 am
#6
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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BoiseMtnMan, fantastic! I'll be thinking about you as you begin the brisket adventure! Did you get a full packer? Let me know if you are using just the flat because I can give you the method for that as well.

If you are using a packer, you might want to follow what I mentioned above and do the paper wrap at the 7.5 or 8hr mark. As long as that top bark is looking black and good, go ahead and wrap at that point and put it back on the pit.

Did you have butcher paper? If there's a Sam's Club by you they will usually have white butcher paper. This stuff is excellent as well, but just a tad heavier/denser paper than the pink butcher paper.

Hope it goes great!

August 27th, 2015, 2:52 pm
#7
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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Hey Scott,
great detail and pics...thanks for taking the time! I still have not got around to trying the butcher paper thing but have that on my list of to do's. Honestly I have never let my brisket rest that long usually more like 2 hours but have to admit I am still on the fence for injecting or not. The best I have ever eaten was my first on my Yoder AND I did inject. Never before or since have I been able to replicate or had better and I too have family roots in Texas with many eats from St Louis to Texas.

Anyway, thanks again for the pics and detail.

August 28th, 2015, 1:02 pm
#8
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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westhemess1, I say whatever works and tastes great! I know I come across as hard nosed on some of that stuff but the fact remains if it's delicious than who cares? My own injection experiments haven't turned out well so I decided early on to keep it as pure as possible. WIth a 'choice' grade you really shouldn't have to inject but if it's beef stock with some apple juice and mild spices that could be really delicious!

August 29th, 2015, 12:58 pm
#9
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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Hey Scott, no worries I did not think you came across hard nosed at all. I have heard some of the greats say the same thing but others with just as long a pedigree swear by injecting. For me I try to keep it simple... I inject with beef broth with a little Worcestershire. Tried numerous times without and honestly prefer the juices and tenderness.

I will say from your pics your Bark looks great so I am on the hunt for some butcher paper...

August 31st, 2015, 6:02 am
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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I too now own a 640 for almost a month now and have yet to EVER smoke a Brisket and do plan on it Labor Day weekend . The Butcher's Market here in Raleigh NC has Choice Brisket for $5.99 lb and i plan to purchase a 13-14 lber. I am switching to Butcher paper for this wrap and may for all other future wraps depending on outcome. I do have one question tho...did you smoke yours on the bottom grates?

Pitmaster_Rick
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August 31st, 2015, 10:28 am
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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Hi Rick, yes the bottom grates. It would be a much longer cook on the top grates and the chances are good that there just isn't enough heat up there to give you a great bark before the meat is tender. Having said that I've not tried it so I don't speak from experience. Good luck on the cook!

August 31st, 2015, 10:38 am
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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Thanks for your feedback

Pitmaster_Rick
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September 4th, 2015, 4:24 am
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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Another question if I may....once I wrap in butcher paper in order to monitor the internal temp in the thickest part of the flat how should I insert my temp probe through the butcher paper?...should I stick it right through the paper into the meat or insert into meat then wrap?....as I stated earlier this is my first brisket on my 640 and cooking a "top choice " 14 lber and don't wanna mess it up

Pitmaster_Rick
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September 4th, 2015, 6:50 am
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You can go right through the paper if you want to. Odds are that spot will be wet from the juices and will be very easy to get through. However, be it foil or BP, I personally always unwrap because I like to be able to feel the meat while I probe. I also don't want potential of any small pieces of paper or foil getting pushed into the meat.

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September 4th, 2015, 6:55 am
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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So you unwrap every hour or two and check temp?

Pitmaster_Rick
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September 4th, 2015, 9:22 am
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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Hi Rick, the problem you will run into with unwrapping the paper is that it's going to be pretty wet and also be tacky as it touches the bark. Unwrapping just once after the rest can be careful business - you want to go slow. Unwrapping 2 or 3 times you're risking bark being ripped off. You're also kind of upsetting the ecosystem that's been created with the meat and very slight amount of airflow that the butcher paper allows, haha.

In previous cooks, when I did wrap and put it back on the pit, I just pushed my Thermapen through the paper. It will go through very easy as long as the probe point is small and pointy enough. For the cook above, I didn't wrap until I had the internals I wanted, then wrapped and rested. As I mentioned, next time I'll wrap with about an hour to go then put it back on the pit. Then I'll pull and rest it. With your 14lb'r you could easily cook at 250° for 7 to 8 hours, then wrap for another hour or so...

One of the biggest mistakes I made - repeatedly - was to pull the brisket and wrap too soon. Way too soon. There's lots of vids and tutorials that say "at the 4 to 5hr mark, pull and wrap", or "when the internal of the flat is 170°, pull and wrap", or "when it's a beautiful mahogany color it's time to pull and wrap", etc etc. If you're cooking Central Texas style - where you want the bark to be that wonderful black sugar cookie - ignore all that stuff. Mahogany color is great if you're aiming for Memphis or Kansas City or Competition style, but not here.

I can't stress enough - and believe me this isn't my advice, this comes from all the great Central Texas pitmasters - leave that brisket unwrapped until you get that nice bark you're looking for, or very close to it. Then wrap - either for the last hour or for the rest. There's all this talk about how it can't take any more smoke after 5 hours or that it will taste bitter if left unwrapped too long or whatever. Hogwash. While it's true that the smoke will not penetrate the meat any further after a certain amount of time, bark formation needs that airflow/smoke/heat/moisture combo. Bitter taste after a long unwrapped smoke is the result of almost one factor alone: dirty smoke. Not enough oxygen/airflow in the pit resulting in dirty white smoke. With a Yoder, you're never going to have that problem. Ever. As long as you have that nice choice cut, leave at least a 1/4" thick fat cap on the entire top of the brisket, and put a bowl of water in the cooker you'll be golden.

Do you have a probe port on your Yoder? If not I would suggest you don't use the probe at all. I've found, as did the Yoder staff in several forum posts,, that even a slight gap at the door for the probe wire can upset the balance inside your cooker.

When is your cook?!

September 4th, 2015, 11:26 am
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Great advise. I do have a probe port and i have a maverick 733 as well as a thermapen....would you use the maverick or thermapen? Also got my "top choice" 12 lb packer today here in Raleigh NC for only $5.99 lb at "The Butcher Market"...i plan to smoke it on bottom shelf at 250° with the fatcap up of course. Lol and point towards the firebox..sound good?....also my packer on the "flat" half appears to be thinner on one side ,is that normal?! Btw my cook is set for around 2am Sunday mornin as i would like to cut into it around 5pm

Pitmaster_Rick
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September 4th, 2015, 12:23 pm
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Awesome that you've got the probe port! Go ahead and use the Maverick; no reason for the Thermapen at that point. Placement sounds good; centered in the cooker.

Yes, sometimes those flats get quite thin on one side. If it's less than 1/2" I usually slice it off, but that's not at all necessary. I do it because it usually gets way too done and crispy bordering on burnt. Slicing that back a bit will allow that side of the brisket to cook nicely and get a consist quality bark.

If you're at 12lb I'd really keep an eye on the bark about 6 hours into the cook - maybe even at 5hrs. Don't be afraid to carefully lift the brisket up with a towel or paper towel to peek at the bottom and make sure it's not getting too dark.

Check out my temps in the original post - regardless of the what and when those are pretty good targets. I always take a temp before I wrap and then a couple times after as it creeps up to that 200°-210° mark. Most seasoned pitmasters would laugh at taking temps but I'm still a brisket sissy. haha. Good luck! Post some pics if you can during your cook. Would love to check the forum on Sunday morning to see how it's going! We need live brisket cams!!!!

September 4th, 2015, 12:58 pm
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I usually wrap at the very last hours or two, or after its' done and it is in the rest, so it's not something I'm opening and closing a lot. Scott pretty well nailed down how to do it. It will have a different texture to the bark, but done right it is fantastic. I too agree that it won't get bitter if the fire is clean, which a Yoder pellet cooker will do, or a properly managed fire in an offset will be as well.

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September 4th, 2015, 2:43 pm
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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Thanks Scott and Kirby for all your advise and i will be taking pics through the entire process and post Sunday...just dislike having to resize all the pics in order to post em...any how wish me luck....smoke on!

Pitmaster_Rick
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September 4th, 2015, 11:56 pm
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You shouldn't need to resize. I use photobucket and we have a tool installed that automatically resizes the pictures to fit in the forum properly.

Good luck with the smoke. Other advice I would offer is if you are making a brisket with a crunchier bark, some spots of the brisket can be tougher to cut through. Make sure you slicing knife is SHARP! Most importantly, have fun.

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September 5th, 2015, 1:44 am
* Cheyenne ** Cheyenne *
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Scott, your process has a water pan involved, what happens to your briskets if that isn't present? I've seen lots of other posts that say that isn't needed as the pellets give off enough moisture. Given that you're in MI, you don't appear to live in a dry climate.

September 5th, 2015, 4:20 am
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Yes Kirby i have a set of Henckels Forged Premio Knives and in it is a very sharp carving knife I plan to use . I started to buy a knife like Aaron Franklin uses to carve his brisket which is a Dexter 12 inch scalloped slicing knife but I'm not so sure I'm sold on the scalloped knives as it appears in his videos when hes slicing brisket it appears to be pulling the meat apart!? So for my first Brisket i will try my Henckels Carving knife

Pitmaster_Rick
Proud owner of a YS640
September 5th, 2015, 6:04 am
* Abilene ** Abilene *
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Thanks for the post Scott. Good stuff. I'm with Rick. Relatively new YS640 owner and doing a brisket for Labor Day weekend (only my second attempt and the first wasn't great). Starting late Saturday night (maybe around midnight) for a Sunday dinner. I have a 12lbs Excel "Angus" Choice brisket flat COV from Sam's. $5.77/lb----seemed expensive, but what do I know. It says it's a flat, but it really looks like the whole packer cut. I haven't opened yet, but I'll know as soon as I do. Assuming it is a flat, I am definitely planning to wrap with 40# butcher paper I picked up at GFS. I'm just not sure how long to let it go before I do wrap. Since I'm starting at midnight, and would prefer to get to temperature around noon or 1pm, I'm thinking of running at 225-235F overnight, see where I am in the morning, and crank it up to 250F until I get the bark I'm looking for. Then I'm wrapping until I hit the 200-205F. I wasn't planning on using a water pan----never have up to this point with the YS640. And also wasn't planning on basting or spritzing or anything like that. Wish me luck!

September 5th, 2015, 8:16 am
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Wicked Chicken, I've found that the addition of a water pan in the Yoder does make a difference with the kind of bark I like. Smoke adhesion is largely dependent on moisture that's found at the surface of the fat, meat, and rub. Spritzing is one way that a lot of pitmasters do it, but I avoid that because I don't like to open the lid during the first 5 hours or so. Some folks like a really crusty, almost dry bark and a water pan or spritzing will work against that for sure. I like the sticky/tacky type, so that extra humidity helps.

The water pan is by no means necessary, though!

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