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Topic: Tender Smoke-Cooked Meat . . . . From: James,
Subject: Re: Smoking
I have been dissapointed with my recent attempts at smoking. Maybe you can help.
The two most dramatic examples have been ribs and a brisket. Neither came out like I expected them too. The flavor was fine, but they were both tough even though the ribs were cooked for about 8 hours and the brisket was cooked for 10.
Here's my setup:
I have a Brinkmann Professional smoker/grill, essentially a large barrell shaped pit with a firebox offset on the left side of it. I build the fire in the box and, with the aid of the built -in thermometer, I keep the fire between 200-250°F.
I put a water pan under both meats.
The only screw up I know of is that in both cases I kept the fire grates in their highest position instead of the recomended height for smoking, which is about six inches lower. Could this have made the difference?
What was most disspointing is that other briskets I've had literally fall apart and mine had more of a texture of a fatty roast cooked in the oven. And the ribs clung to the bones tenaciously.
I've had great success with grilling and I'm frankly getting pretty demoralized with all this smoking stuff. Do I have a bad thermometer, a bad pit, are my grates too high or am I just expecting too much out of my food?
Help me Smoky. I don't want to kick the smoking habit, but at this rate, I think it's too unhealthy to continue.
Just relax. Stress makes the meat tough. You are probably over cooking.
First off, I wouldn't trust the Brinkman thermometer. Get a bi-metal Taylor or such with a small 6" probe. Check the temp. of the air from your vent. It should read around 200* F. Check the center of the meat when you think it is about done. For brisket it should register about 150°F. Ribs 160°F.
Secondly, lower the fire grate and your cooking temp. to about 210-215°F.
Thirdly, relax. Have a beer on me. Shoot, have a six pack.