I smoked my first brisket last weekend and even though it wasn't terrible it was a little dryer and rougher than I would have liked.
Here is the smoker I used: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B7W8NHW/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Here are the steps I followed (along with some notes on things I may have done wrong):
- I bought a four pound fresh brisket from a butcher. It was 9.99/lb (next time I'm going to hit up Sam's club and try and get a 10-12 lb packer cut of USDA Choice)
- I used Stubb's store bought dry rub. I rubbed it on and then seared the meat on the grill. I did not sear the fat cap. (Should I have let the dry rub sit longer? Also, next time I'm thinking about doing equal parts salt, pepper, and paprika. Should I have seared at all? A lot of people seem to throw the meat right in the smoker after giving the dry rub some time to set in).
- I had turned the smoker on and set it to 200 degrees before searing, so when I put the brisket in it was at 200 degrees and was already smoking. I used dry wood chips and filled the water pan to the mark specified in the pan.
- The smoker stopped producing smoke about 30 min in. I wet some wood chips and put them in, but the smoke never came back. (How often should I be adding wood chips? Should they be wet? How long should the smoker be spitting out smoke?)
- I let it sit for six hours. I didn't have a meat thermometer at the time. (What internal temp should I go for next time?)
- I pulled the meat out, didn't wrap it in foil, and cut it after 20 min. The bark looked nice but the meat was brown like a pot roast. I know when I get good restraunt BBQ that the meat tends to be a little red/pink. The meat still tasted ok although it was a little tough.
Other questions. Should I have wrapped the brisket in foil at some point? When should I do this and what are instructions for after? Some people seem to advocate doing so once the meat hits ~150 degrees F which will drastically decrease the cooking time. Others seem to advocate taking the brisket out when it hits about 180, wrapping it in foil, then putting it in an empty cooler until it rises to ~200.
I know that this is really a bunch of questions rolled into one but I feel like this is a typical experience for a smoking newbie like myself. I don't expect answers for every item but please try and point out the things I've done which are just empirically wrong.