I am willing to bet that any problems with this cook can be seen in these two pictures. A 2.1 lb. (0.95 Kg) brisket (left) that had most of it’s fat cap trimmed off (right).
I’d looked at the supermarket’s website the night before and saw they did carry 5 pound brisket flats. Now I normally cook the points, but I figured it would be good to cook a flat to see what that was all about. When I got to the store the next morning, I was in for a big surprise. They didn’t have any 5 pound pieces of flat, they only had pieces that were 2 pound. They were small flats cut in half. The butcher explained to me their customers didn’t want a piece of meat that big, so they’d started cutting them in half. I wasn’t sure what to do at first, because if I went elsewhere it would mean a 3 hour later start. So I made the command decision to try the 2 pound flat. I figured it might be done soon enough, I could actually have the brisket for a late lunch. Also I was intrigued by the idea of a small brisket that could possibly be a quick, impulse cook as opposed to an all-day or overnight adventure.
The typical setup for low and slow on the BGE. The Platesetter is installed legs up (left). Then a dil drip pan is placed on top of the Platesetter (right).
The stainless steel grid is set onto the upturned legs of the Platesetter.
When I got home, I topped of the Egg with some lump. I brought the level up to the top of the fire ring and not the bottom as I’d done for my first cook. I was surprised to see how little of the lump was consumed in my two hours of grilling the day before. When you are done cooking you replace the metal dual function cap on the chimney with a ceramic cap and completely close off the lower draft door. This serves to snuff out the fire and you reuse whatever lump is left. When I lit the paraffin starter yesterday it had ignited about a 6” diameter ring of lump. Today I found the cook had expanded the size of the ring of lit coals to 12”. It was just the top layer or coals too the coals below were unchanged. Even the grey lump wasn’t completely spent. I was amazed at how little coal was consumed in my two hour cook. I guess I was alway a little incredulous about the claims for being able to put out the fire and reuse the lump, as well as the low charcoal consumption. But to my great pleasure and surprise the claims were true. Once again the tight seal of the Egg had many benefits.
The settings I needed to use for 225: The lower draft door was open slightly over 1/8” (0.32 cm) (left). The dual function top cap had the daisy wheel just open a crack (right).
I was able to easily hold 225 for 8 plus hours with only one midcourse correction required.
I lit a paraffin starter that I’d partially concealed in the the lump and just like the day before it burned out in 9 minutes. Once again it had a small 6” diameter area of coals lit when it did burn out. I installed the the Platesetter legs up, I put a foil drip pan on top of the plate setter and I installed the s/s shelf on top of the upturned legs. I was planning on smoking some DOCTORED BUSH BEANS later on too, so I installed the Grill Extender, which is a raised 2nd tier of shelving that clips onto the grill grid. I put the brisket on right away and let it come up to temperature with the rest of the smoker. This way the meat gets a little extra smoke and you aren’t faced with a temperature drop when you put cold brisket on the smoker. Once you get the cooker stabilized at 225 (110 C) , you are good to go and don’t have to tweak the dampers to make up for cold food. Once I closed the lid I was amazed at how fast the Egg rose to 225 F (110 C). Less than 10 minutes. I only had to adjust the dampers twice today. It took me 3 tries during my first cook. But today it was twice, because based on the 325 degree cook the day before, I now had a ballpark idea of where I needed to have the dampers set to hit 225. I made one adjustment to stop the temperature rise about 50 degrees shy of 225 (110 C) and once to hit 225 exactly. The other surprising thing was how little the dampers were open. The lower sliding draft door was open no more than 1/8” (.32 cm) and the top daisy wheel was open just a crack. I kept a close eye on the cooker for the first hour and it was rock steady at 225 (110 C). I needed to run around the corner to the local quickie mart to grab a foil pan for the baked beans. This trip usually take less than 10 minutes round trip, but it was always an adventure with the CG. I’d come back and find the temps had started climbing while I was gone and had risen 50-75 degrees. Now with a Boston butt, this isn’t too big of a problem. But I’ve found briskets to be very temperamental and they don’t tolerate temperature swings well.
With the Grid Extender provide me a second tier of shelving for the Doctored Bush Beans.
It turned out the quickie mart didn’t have the size pan I needed and I went home to check on the Egg. It was still dialed in to 225 F (110 C). I decided to go back out and get my pan, plus I decided to run some other errands. I mean the egg was so well insulated, even if the fire went out the temps would not drop too badly. The dampers were barely open so I didn’t see the temperatures running away on me. So I did something I NEVER would have dared to do with my CG. I ran all my errands and was gone for a little over 2 hours. When I pulled back in to the yard, I was happy to discover the Egg was still locked in to 225. At this point the meat was nearly at 160 degrees (71 C) and I was expecting a short plateau. What I was not expecting was the 3 hour plateau I actually got. Throughout this time the Egg stayed locked in at 225 (110 C). While I was not happy with a 3 hour plateau from such a small piece of meat, I was thrilled with the performance of the Egg. I was thinking ahead to how pleasant cooking in the Winter or windy weather would be. I was also thinking that any future all-night cooks would be all night for the food, but not for me. I would now be able to relax and go to sleep with a clear conscience.
Wthe brisket is done after 7 1/2 hours cooking. Far longer than I ever expected a 2 pound brisket to take.
To cut to the chase: The brisket ended up taking 7 1/2 hours. The initial 3 hour rise to the plateau, the 3 hour plateau and then 1 1/2 Hours to finish up and get to 195 (91 C). When the meat began emerging from it’s plateau I added my foil pan with the beans onto the second tier shelf of the Grid Extender. This was the only time during the cook that I needed to tweak the dampers. The Egg never quite got back to 225 after adding the cold foil pan of beans. It was only running 10 degrees low, but I opened the upper daisy wheel damper little more to get back to 225 (110 C). The beans piggybacked with the brisket for the last 1 1/2 hours of the cook. The brisket was supposed to rest inside a covered pan for an hour, and then it would be time to eat. Other than the unexpected plateau of 3 hours, it had been a textbook cook. I was so excited about the prospect of doing more low and slow on my Egg. I mean it was so easy it seemed to good to be true!
My experience has been than briskets have 3 or 4 relatively dry slices near the ends before you start getting into the real moist and juicy stuff. As you can see with this small brisket there isn’t a whole lot of middle left when you take off the 3-4 end slices.
After the brisket had rested, the moment of truth had arrived. I started cutting into the brisket and I could tell that while the cook was a resounding technical success, it wasn’t going to be my moistest brisket ever. I’ve found in the past that when I cut into a brisket, the first 3 or 4 slices tend to be somewhat dry. Then all off a sudden the meat starts oozing juices as you slice it. This time it did start oozing some juice, but not a lot. One of the problems here was there just wasn’t a whole lot of meat. After taking 3 or 4 slices off of each end, there wasn’t much left to give you a moist middle. I am firmly convinced that it was that piece of meat and probably it was also due to the small size and weight. Also I didn’t mention it earlier, but there was not a lot of fat on this piece of meat when I bought it. The reason I am so convinced it was the meat and not my new BGE, was the fact that this was the steadiest low and slow cook I’ve yet to do. The temperatures stayed rock steady and never went more than 5 degrees high or 10 degrees low. The BGE had produced the moistest versions of everything else I have thrown at it, so I know that wasn’t a factor. I only had to open the lid once during the cook to add the beans, so I didn’t loose moisture that way either. I’d bet money it was that particular piece of meat. The brisket wasn’t bad at all. It just wasn’t as moist as most of the briskets I’ve cooked. I actually put the leftover brisket to use in a BRUNSWICK STYLE STEW a few days later.
From a technical standpoint, I couldn’t be happier with my first low and slow on my new BGE. It was easy to reach 225, it was easy to stay at 225. I didn’t have to babysit or micro manage the cook. Since I’ve started working from home I’ve switched to doing all-dayers instead of all-nighters. But as I mentioned earlier: It would appear that it will be an all nighter for the food, but I should be able to get in a good night’s sleep. When this brisket finished up I still had plenty of charcoal left to let the BGE idle for a couple hours at 225 F (110 C) and then I cranked it up to 600 degrees (316 C) for an hour to make pizza. I was quite amazed the next day that I still had coals left that I could use. The low and slow portion of that cook on my CG would have used up two 14 lb. (6 1/3 Kg) bags of charcoal. Here I’d used maybe 1/4 of the 22 pound (10 Kg) bag of lump or 5.5 lb. (2.5 Kg). Plus I’d gone another 2 hours at 225 plus an hour 600 degrees (316 C). Amazing!! If you are trying to justify the price of a BGE or other ceramic Kamado cooker, think about the lower charcoal costs over the life of the cooker. Due to the excellent seal of the BGE I’d used one fist size chunk of wood and gotten plenty of smoke flavor. What is not to be happy about here?