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Cooking brisket/butts, the FOIL question

 
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Hoosier Daddy
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30 10 8:37 am    Post subject: Cooking brisket/butts, the FOIL question Reply with quote

I've got a question on cooking time/methods. I've been backyard barbecuing for several years now. When it comes to brisket I've always done the 7-8lb brisket flats from my local warehouse supplier. I've always figured cooking times at 1 1/2 hrs per pound @ 250 and pull my meat at 188-190, and i don't foil. I've had really good luck with the turn outs of the meat, in my opinion.
Now my question is: I've been researching a lot about catering/competition bbq and I noticed that a lot of people foil their big cuts after 4hrs or 160 int temp, approx. According to sample timelines/schedules, people are cooking 12-14lb packer briskets in twelve hours. That would take me 18-21hrs using my math. I'm curious as to how you all figure your cooking times if you foil or if you don't foil as well.
My local store just started stocking 14lb packer briskets and i'm anxious to get my hands on one. I'd appreciate any tips, info or experiences on whether you foil/don't foil, cooking times and equations, do you separate the flat and point before, after or not at all, etc...
The same question applies to pork and butts vs shoulders. I figure my butts at about 2:00-2:15/lb unfoiled and cook to 190-205
Thanks
Kevin
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day_trippr
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30 10 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that there's a huge effect from using foil in the cooker that puts a crink in any "time per pound to cook" formula. So, I think it really comes down to experience gained from doing it enough and making adjustments until you come up with a "formula" that produces consistent results.

Clearly, caterers and competitors don't have a heck of a lot of time to sit around waiting for product to cook, so there's a payoff gained by finding ways to shave hours while providing product that meets the desired texture and flavor. Foil really does that quite well - though it's not completely free of "side effects" (eg: reduced bark formation). That one in particular often causes folks to avoid the foil in spite of the time savings...

Cheers!

edit - and I actually thought of this first - but didn't want to lead with it: Are you possibly over-thinking your methods? Because it sounds like you're pretty happy with the way things have been turning out! Very Happy
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Michael B
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30 10 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

*2 -- What day_trippr said.

I do not use foil.
Your estimates are good...
Getting there is half the fun...
and The results are worth the wait.
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tnbarbq
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30 10 11:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last brisket I smoked took about 13 hours. It was a 13lbs. I foiled around 155 and took it to 200 while foiled. For most smokes I go by temp, not time. Too many variables with my smoker and weather conditions for me to rely on time.
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Hoosier Daddy
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31 10 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the input fellas.
I understand and do subscribe to the idea that you cook meat to temp not time and it's done when it's done and so on. However the first time I smoked something I needed a guideline, a very loose rule or something that told me that a pork shoulder cooked at 250 will probably take me around 14 hrs to get to the temp i want and not take 3 hrs. So anytime I propose trying a new technique, i.e. foiling meats, i'm just figuring that peoples experiences will have some loose consistencies that will keep me from not way undershooting or overshooting my cooking time.
Even though I cook for temp, I always build myself a timeline working backwards from when i want to eat. Granted their is buffer room built in, but I still have a ideal time that i'm expecting the whole thing to take.
Sorry for the rant, but appears to me that using the word "TIME" sends barbecuers into a frenzy...and for what?
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feldon30
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31 10 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just with regards to butts, no doubt everyone here has a story of waking
up at 7am, then due to various circumstances, they don't get the butt started until 8am, then it's 6pm and guests are hungry and the butt is 2 hours behind so you put it in the oven and get mixed results.

I'm starting to approach from the opposite end. How many hours can I hold the finished product in a cooler? I've heard people say 4 hours.

So I have some choices:
* Try to wake up early and get 'er done and cut it close to the deadline.
* Start the night before and either hope that nothing goes wrong, or get a wireless thermo and hope the range doesn't fail
* BBQ at a higher temp
* Foil

I already have a reputation as delivering dinner much later than most people would like. I'd rather not carry that into BBQ too. Even if I have to smoke and pull it the day before, put into bags, and reheat for dinner.
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Mr Tony's BBQ
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31 10 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have only foiled a brisket once, and the meat went too far for my liking! I love pulled pork, but a pulled brisket was kinda counter productive as far as I am concerned! I rough time an hour per pound on the big packers - adjust heat a little as needed as time goes bye! I have met guys who go as high as 300 for over half the cook...I find that a bit extreme, but they say it works for them! I stay around 225, maybe a little over 250 just before the dinner clock starts to start sounding [ my belly ] Once you get past the "stall" - 150-165 range, they tend to heat pretty quick in my experience!
Maybe its just my Lang cooker, maybe its the Wisconsin lack of altitude and dairy air, maybe I am nuts - Shocked Either way, I am catering 2 of the 15 pounders in 2 weeks - they will get about 15 hours total - the ribs will get 5, I am confident they all will be great!
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Hoosier Daddy
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31 10 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

feldon: I've been there with ya. I typically figure lots of fudge room and end up holding meat in coolers for a couple of hours and everyone always likes how it turns out

Mr Tony: I've always figured my 7-8lb brisket flats at 1 1/2 hrs/lb and they hit my target temp of 188-190 about dead on the estimated time. I am curious as to how your packers cook in 1hr/lb. I have no experience with a whole packer. Does have the point and extra fat possibly cause it to cook a bit quicker?
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Mr Tony's BBQ
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31 10 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Mr Tony: I've always figured my 7-8lb brisket flats at 1 1/2 hrs/lb and they hit my target temp of 188-190 about dead on the estimated time. I am curious as to how your packers cook in 1hr/lb. I have no experience with a whole packer. Does have the point and extra fat possibly cause it to cook a bit quicker?"

LET ME BE PEFRECTLY CLEAR - I - Dunnnnknow! Laughing I can get a full packer to 200 degrees in 13 hours in my experience! Maybe my thermometers are off...but 2 mounted and 2 digitals should tell me I am ok....maybe its the fat "frying" it....I dunnnnknow.....Maybe that fat layer between the flat and the point makes it cook like 2 seperate slabs? The "pulled beef" I did by accident was a 7 pounder - I foiled after 6 hours, and at 9 hours it was falling apart! It had sat for an hour [ 8 - 9 hour mark ] I buy the cheaper cut - more flavor, so there too it should take longer, but it doesnt.....I go through a lot of water in the pan of the Lang, it is a 7 foot long smoker...maybe thats part of it - all that area not full up ? Just telling you how it goes for me! The very first one I ever did was on this smoker - I did it 1 hr per pound from what the previous owner told me - it worked!! Fly up, I'll show ya!! LOL
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Hoosier Daddy
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31 10 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr Tony, I wasn't doubting your results, just scratching my head. But I like your experience and it gives me something to go by when I start mine. I appreciate your thoughts
Kevin
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Mr Tony's BBQ
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31 10 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Didnt think you were doubting me Kevin! I was surprised to have that one fall apart! Every machine / operator / wood / etc can and will effect the cook in some way or another I suppose - trial and error my friend - luckily my error was for friends, not a paying customer!!
I wish you the best on your next burn - plan it for lunch, and if it aint there, you've got dinner ready!!! lol Razz
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yardman5508
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 01 10 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to second what Mr. Tony said, in re foiling. I only foiled brisket once and it fell apart on opening/slicing. I won't foil a brisket again. As for butts...never foil that either, just cook it until it is dead LOL. I DO foil BBribs on the 3-1.5-1 system using Johnny Trigg's recipe and get RAVES from all who have tried them.
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