Last Updated on: 29th May 2023, 05:37 am
Brisket is one of the toughest cuts of meat to smoke, and it requires several hours to smoke properly
. When smoking, a little flaw can lead to disastrous results, due to which you have to pay attention to every minutiae.
But the most important thing is when to pull the brisket off the smoker.
As a general rule, Brisket should be pulled off smoker when the internal temperature of brisket has reached 202 °F.
When the internal temperature of the brisket has reached 202°F, collagen starts to break down and the brisket becomes tender.
At this point, you can pull the brisket off the smoker.
Brisket will keep cooking even after being pulled off the smoker and place for resting. so you need to keep in mind this carryover cooking in mind deciding to pull brisket off smoker. here is a complete guide on how long to rest brisket after smoking.
Brisket comes from the bottom region of the cow near the front legs. It has two regions: a flat region and a point region.
The flat region consists of lean meat, while the point region has a higher amount of fat in it. This combination makes brisket one of the toughest cuts to smoke.
When smoking brisket, you need to pull the brisket at the right temperature to make sure it’s tender.
If you pull off the brisket early, then it will result in undercooking, while if you fail to pull it at the right temperature, it will result in overcooking. In this article, we will explain it in detail.
when to pull brisket off smoker
Brisket should be pulled off the smoker when the internal temperature has reached around 200°F and it has become tender.
The temperature will tell you when to check for doneness and pull it off the smoker. But you will have to check the doneness manually.
The connective tissues of muscles are made up of a protein called collagen, which is responsible for holding the muscles together.
When the internal temperature of the brisket has reached 202°F, the collagen turns to gelatin and the meat becomes tender.
You should keep in mind that when the internal temperature of the brisket has reached 202°F, it will still need to be placed inside the smoker for the complete breakdown of collagen and to increase its tenderness.
If you pull it off too quickly, it will be undercooked and stiff.
So, by knowing the temperature, you can make sure that the brisket has started to become tender and will likely be done when you pull it off the smoker.
You should take the temperature as a guideline and verify the doneness of the brisket manually.
To know the temperature of the brisket, you will need to insert a thermometer probe inside it. Usually, the thermometer probe is inserted into the side of a flat region.
The reason is that the point region contains a higher percentage of fat, which can affect the measurement of internal temperature.
You should consider using a good quality thermometer to be able to measure the temperature accurately.
In addition to using a good quality thermometer, you should also calibrate it from time to time to make sure it’s measuring the temperature correctly.
Typically, the brisket must be removed twice during the smoking process.Firstly, you will need to pull it off the smoker to wrap it and help it beat the stall.
Secondly, you will have to pull it off the smoker when it’s done.
Pulling off the brisket during the stall
When the internal temperature reaches around 165 °F and the brisket is in the stall, remove it from the smoker.
You will need to pull it off and wrap it in butcher paper or aluminum foil. After that, you will have to place it back in the smoker for further cooking.
“Stall is the stage in the smoking of brisket when the internal temperature has reached 165°F and stops increasing.
The reason behind this is that the moisture of the brisket starts evaporating and the surface of the brisket cools down.
To increase the temperature of the brisket, it is usually wrapped inside butcher paper or aluminum foil, based on personal preference.
This wrapping traps the moisture inside and helps in increasing the temperature of the brisket to 203°F.
Pulling off the brisket when it’s done
After wrapping the brisket, the internal temperature of the meat will increase and it will reach the desired temperature eventually.
After it has reached around 200°F, you should allow it to sit for 30 minutes and then pull it off the smoker.
The temperature here is just a guideline to let us know when to check for doneness. Different pitmasters have different opinions on this.
Some pitmasters prefer to check for doneness around 195°F, while others like to wait for it to reach 202°F.
There is no right or wrong temperature as long as your brisket becomes tender.
Normally, collagen begins to convert to gelatin at 190°F, but you should consider raising it to 200°F to be on the safe side, as 190°F can result in undercooked brisket.
When smoking brisket, you should keep in mind to not increase the temperature rapidly, because it will result in the burning of the brisket on the outside while being undercooked on the inside.
You will have to cook it low and slow.
So the internal temperature of the brisket will increase gradually and stop increasing at the stall. By wrapping, the temperature will start increasing again and will reach around 200°F.
At this temperature, you will have to pull the brisket off the smoker and check for doneness. This whole process can take 10–18 hours depending on the size and texture of the brisket.
When smoking the brisket, you should consider getting involved in the process and pulling the brisket at the right time.
Over-cooking and undercooking are both equally hazardous and would affect the texture of your brisket.
If you pull your brisket off the smoker at 190°F, then there is a huge risk of undercooking if your brisket is larger in size or has a stiff texture.
Your brisket will be chewy and will not be ready to serve to guests.
If you increase the internal temperature above 205°F to make sure that you don’t undercook it, you will end up overcooking it.
Overcooked brisket will have a bitter taste and it will be so soft that it will fall apart without any force. That’s why you should consider checking your brisket at around 200 °F to be on the safe end.
How to tell if brisket is done after pulling it off the smoker
The internal temperature of the brisket is a guideline to tell us when to check for tenderness in a brisket. But to make sure if it’s done or not, we will have to examine it manually.
There are several ways to test the doneness of a brisket. The most common of them are discussed below.
By looking at the appearance
whether you want to tell whether a brisket has been thoroughly smoked or not, you should generally start by looking at its color.
It has been used for ages, far before the development of temperature. A well-smoked brisket will have a distinct look.
The color of the brisket should have darkened somewhat to indicate that it has been exposed to smoke for an adequate amount of time.
You need not be concerned about the other aspects at this time since we will go through them one by one.
Furthermore, if you are smoking the brisket, you should examine the smoke ring to determine whether it is thoroughly smoked or not.
If it has a smoke ring, it is no longer smoking. But just because it doesn’t have one doesn’t mean it isn’t cooked yet.
By meat juices
After you have examined the color of the brisket exteriorly, you should probably have a good idea of whether the brisket is done or not. But you should follow the process to confirm your decision.
After examining the color of the meat, you should examine the color of the fluid present in the brisket.
These fluids are usually known as meat juices because they enhance the flavor of brisket when smoked properly.
To examine the meat juices, you should consider poking the brisket with toothpicks or any other pointy object.
A small amount of the meat juices will seep out of the brisket at the point where you have poked the toothpick.
You should consider examining the color of the meat juices carefully regardless of their amount. If the color of the meat juices is clear, then it means that the brisket is done.
If it is red or pink, it means that the brisket is not done yet. The pinkish color is due to the blood present in the juices.
Check the interior color
Now that you’ve examined the brisket’s appearance and determined whether or not it has been smoked, we’ll go on to the deeper area of the brisket to ensure that the brisket pieces have been thoroughly cooked.
Take a fork and knife and chop off a slice of smoked brisket to examine the inner color.
The color of the brisket indicates whether or not the beef has been adequately cooked, but it should not be relied on only, but rather in conjunction with other indicators.
The interior of an undercooked brisket piece will be light pink. When properly cooked, it becomes white or opaque.
The color shift is caused mostly by the breakdown of meat proteins at higher temperatures.
One thing to remember is that the inside and outside of the brisket should be inspected individually.
A fully smoked brisket chop may be undercooked because to the presence of lower temperatures. While it can be cooked well, the smoke deposition should take longer time.
size of the brisket
The size of the brisket is another reliable indication of whether or not it has been smoked.
Uncooked brisket chunks are greater in size owing to the presence of moisture within them, which evaporates during smoking.
So, while determining whether the brisket is done or not, you should definitely check to see whether it has shrunk in size.
If the brisket has shrunk in size, it has been exposed to heat long enough for the moisture to evaporate.
Finally, after inspecting the brisket’s hues and meat fluids, you should consider examining its texture to determine if it’s done or not.
If the brisket is done, it should be firm on the outside.
On the exterior, the uncooked brisket will be soft and delicate. The finger test is performed to determine the doneness of the brisket based on its texture.
The finger test involves comparing the hardness of your fingertips to the brisket to determine if it is done or not.
When your hand is relaxed, a raw brisket will be as soft as the palm region of your hand below your thumb.
When you press your thumb on your middle finger, you will feel a little stiffness. It will be the same as the cooked medium-rare brisket.
If you touch your thumb to your ring finger, it will feel like medium-cooked brisket.
Brisket should have the texture of touching your thumb with your pinkie finger when done. As a result, the brisket gets tougher as it cooks.
Get a taste of brisket
I know it may seem philosophical, but you have to have a feel for the brisket before deciding if it’s done or not.
After inspecting the outside for smoke deposition and the inside for softness, we must now inspect it as a whole.
Feel of the brisket refers to touching the brisket to determine if it is done or not depending on your instincts.
Wear heat-resistant gloves before beginning. To assess the temperature, you could consider testing its heat.
Brisket should be pulled off the smoker when it’s internal temperature has reached around 200°F but you should consider checking it’s doneness manually.
You should pull the brisket at the right time to avoid over-smoking or undercooking it.
if you are interested in digging deeper into checking doneness ,then don’t forget read our article on How to tell when shrimp is done