Q: Dear Dr. BBQ,
I love your book, tried many recipes…They all are great! Also, I enjoyed watching your participation in the “All-Star BBQ Showdow”n on Outdoor Life Network earlier this year.
As a veteran backyard barbecuer and head pitmaster at my church, I’ve cooked more than 500 briskets and served lots of hungry folks over the last twenty years. I have never entered a barbecue competition but intend to do so this next year. In preparing to compete, I attempted to cook a brisket using the method listed in your book on page 59 titled, “Dr. BBQ”s Big-Time Competition Brisket.” The packer cut brisket that I cooked was 14 pounds and heavily seasoned with brisket rub 24 hours before I placed it on the pit. My pit is a backyard chef model built by David Klose of Houston. I maintained a temp in the smoker chamber between 200 and F 260 degrees. Per your instructions, I placed the brisket in the cook chamber “fat-side” down.
The results were as follows:
1) The smoke ring was the best ever achieved.
2) Texture was good, not as tender as I usually achieve cooking fat-side up.
3) The flavor tasted “washed-out.”
It seems that smoking the brisket with the fat-side down allowed all of the seasoning to drip off of the meat, leaving a bland watered down flavor similar to a boiled roast beef.
Historically, I always smoke my briskets with the fat-side up for about 3 hours, then I put them in an aluminum pan elevated a quarter inch using a wire grate, add a little beef broth to the pan, smoke an additional two to three hours in the open aluminum pan; then I seal the aluminum pan with foil and continue until the briskets have cooked a total of 16 hours. I”ve always had great results, though I don”t know what to expect from BBQ judges.
My question: Why cook fat side down? How can I prevent that “watered down, washed out flavor?” Where did I screw up? Thanks for your insight,
A: Hi Jeff,
Thanks for the nice words. I don’t have the book here with me, but I think if you look at it, you’ll see that there are exceptions to the fat down concept, and your Klose is probably one of them. Unless you have the tuning plates, that cooker has more heat coming from the top than it does from the bottom. I’d probably cook about half the time fat-up and half fat-down. The reason I cook fat down is to protect the exposed fat side from the direct heat in many cookers, and to keep all the juices from running out the bottom. As for the washed out flavor, I don’t have any good way to know what taste you’re talking about. Obviously I haven’t thought my briskets tasted washed out, or I wouldn’t cook them that way. Frankly, I would expect more of a boiled beef taste and texture from the pan covered with foil technique that you described. I just don”t know what to tell you here.
If you and your guests like what you’re cooking, why change? For a competition, anything goes, but you are going to have to get some nice slices, and that 10 hours of cooking in the covered pan is going to make it real tender. Thanks for writing and thanks for buying the book.