I Thinketh My Brisket Stinketh

Last Sunday I arose at 3:00am began the process of smoking a brisket. As some of you know, this effort superseded my normal Sunday blog post routine. I was surprised at how much support I received in my decision.

One of my elderly readers, whose name I won’t mention, (But it rhymes with ‘Hike Menneke’,) wrote the following: “Waits for brisket story that illustrates gospel principle in your next post.”

It’s as if something as mundane as smoking a brisket could engender some type of gospel message. Sure, I feel the pressure. Does everything – even my brisket – have to have a gospel principle attached?

Now that you mention it…

For those who aren’t part of the meat smoking cult, there is some debate if occasionally “spritzing” the meat with a liquid will keep it moist, or improve the bark. (The bark is the dark, crusty goodness that you’ll find on good BBQ.) I am pro-spritzing, but if you look at the picture above, my bark was a little weak this time around.)

About 40 minutes before Church was to start, I was standing in the backyard in my smoke-scented loungewear, spritzing my brisket. The sprayer stopped working, so I took the cap off to check for a clog. Underneath the cap, there is a small, clear plastic doodad that I will refer to as the doodad.

Here’s a picture to help:

That thing in the yellow circle is the doodad.

I thought that with the blue cap out of the way, it would spray. I gave the trigger a good squeeze, and the doodad shot off, flew right past the brisket and fell into the bottom of the smoker. Not good. You all know what burning plastic smells like.

Quandary: Do I take the time to remove the meat, take apart the grill, heat plate and find the doodad before it melts – and be late for Church? Or, do I close the lid, pretend it didn’t happen and hope that it won’t contaminate the dinner with toxic fumes?

I chose the latter.

Took a quick shower, double shampoo to get the smoke smell out of my hair, dressed and was ready to go in plenty of time.

However, before we left, I just HAD TO CHECK and see what was going on in the smoker. I lifted the lid and was happy to find that there was not a black column of toxic doodad smoke. Smelled fine, looked good. Hopped in the car and off we went. I’m proud to report that we were there early enough to sit in the pews.

About fifteen minutes later, during the sacrament, I began to notice the faint smell of burnt plastic! I whispered to Chrissie, “Do you smell burnt plastic?” She shook her head. “Do you smell smoke on me?” Again, she shook her head.

I realized I was being irreverent, so I shut up and sat back, but I was distracted by that acrid burning plastic smell. Was it in my nose? Was it my imagination? Would the family smell or taste it? Did I ruin that expensive slab of meat?

Needless to say, it wasn’t a productive sacrament for me. For the next two hours I could smell that unique odor and wondered if anyone else could smell it on me.

Got home and checked on the brisket. Smelled great, no toxic fumes. I decided not to mention it to anyone else because I wasn’t convinced that my response to the situation wasn’t a wee bit irresponsible.

Everyone thought the food tasted great. Nobody said anything about burning plastic. I couldn’t smell or taste it, so I called it a success. (I will confess that the meat was tad bit dry the go around.)

When I was sitting in sacrament meeting, sensing the smoke, an old expression occurred to me: “It’s good thing our sins don’t stink.”

I find that the peace and focus of a sacrament service well-spent can be an opportunity for the Holy Ghost to bring things to our attention that need correction. In his talk “What Lack I Yet?,” Elder Larry Lawrence said this:

“In this reverent atmosphere, as our thoughts are turned heavenward, the Lord can gently tell us what we need to work on next.”

There are times when the Spirit brings things to our minds that we need to work on or repent of. (Usually we already know.) Sometimes we think that, since nobody else can smell our sins, we can just go on pretending they aren’t there. Yet they are, and they will eventually need to be dealt with.

I readily admit that there have been times in my life when the Spirit has brought acrid things to my attention during the sacrament. It’s often the best place to get my attention.

One of the times the Lord called out the Children of Israel, He addressed their iniquities, saying, “These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.” (Isaiah 65:5,)

I understand that metaphor, and don’t want to contribute to that smoke. The Holy Ghost is always happy to help and even do the heavy lifting if we will take the basic steps outlined by President Oaks:

“We are commanded to repent of our sins and to come to the Lord with a brokenheart and a contrite spirit and partake of the sacrament in compliance with its covenants. When we renew our baptismal covenants in this way, the Lord renews the cleansing effect of our baptism. In this way we are made clean and can always have His Spirit to be with us.” (link)

Reverently focusing on the Savior during the sacrament gives the Spirit an opening to let us know if there is “smoke in our noses,” so that we may keep it out of the Lord’s.


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  1. Thank you. As an attentive parent I’m sure your children will attest to your (and your EC’s) ability to turn any and all experiences into a gospel conversation.

    The brisket is a challenging cut to get right. I’m a “mop” guy myself. Spritzing lacks focus for my taste. Am betting it was still delicious.

  2. If I were “Hike” I might be a little offended to be called “elderly.” hahahaha That being said, did you ever find the plastic or the reason you kept smelling burning plastic? Come on, give us the rest of the story. 😉

    1. My theory is that the doodad di, in fact, burn up and only released a little burnt plastic smell. When I checked it, I got a whiff of it that lingered in my nose, but it wasn’t enough to impact the cooking.

  3. Our visiting Area 70 shared something I hadn’t thought of regarding bringing our offering to the sacrament table:

    “ Many members show up to the sacrament ordinance without an offering. Think of the old testament sacrifices. The priest was the one that put the offering on the altar, but the people were the ones that brought the offering with them. It was no good just to stand and watch other people’s offering being sacrificed on the alter. The efficacy of the sacrificial ordinance was the offering that the people brought to be sacrificed.

    Likewise, at the sacrament altar, we bring that broken heart and contrite spirit created by our daily repentance. We then consciously covenant to keep the covenant that we had broken in the week. Not just baptismal covenants, but every covenant is renewed in that ordinance.”

Add your 2¢. (Be nice.)