Last Updated on: 21st October 2022, 12:28 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
If you want to know if a brisket has been smoked completely or not, then you should probably start by examining its color first.
It has been traditionally used for centuries, even before the invention of temperature. A finely smoked brisket will have a unique appearance.
The color of the brisket should have darkened a little bit to assume that the brisket has been exposed to smoke for enough time.
You should not worry about the other factors at this point because we are going to examine all of them one by one.
Furthermore, if you are smoking the brisket, then you should also consider checking the smoke ring to see if it is smoked completely or not.
If it has a smoke ring, then it is done smoking. But if it doesn’t have one, it doesn’t mean that 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 have looked at the appearance of the brisket and have a good idea if the brisket has been smoked or not, we are going to move into the deeper portion of the brisket to make sure that the brisket chunks have been cooked properly.
For examining the interior color, you should take a fork and knife and cut out a piece of smoked brisket.
The color of the brisket describes if the meat has been cooked properly or not, but you should not completely rely on color but rather take it into account along with other factors.
An undercooked brisket chunk will have a light pink color on the inside. It turns into a white or opaque color when cooked properly.
The color change is mostly due to the breakdown of meat proteins at higher temperatures.
One thing that you should keep in mind is that the interior and exterior of the brisket should be examined separately.
A brisket chop can be smoked properly but can be undercooked due to the presence of lower temperatures. While it can be cooked properly, it should require more time for smoke deposition.
The size of the brisket is also a good indicator of whether the brisket has been smoked or not.
When a brisket chunk is uncooked, it will have a larger size due to the presence of moisture inside it, which is evaporated during smoking.
So when you are checking whether the brisket has been done yet or not, then you should probably see if it has decreased in size or not.
If the brisket has decreased in size, then it means that it has been exposed to heat for enough time to evaporate its moisture.
Finally, after you have examined the colors and meat juices of the brisket, you should consider checking its texture to make the final decision about whether it’s done yet or not
. If the brisket is done, then it will be firm on the outer side.
The raw brisket will be soft and tender on the outside. To check the doneness of the brisket by its texture, a test called the finger test is used.
The finger test means comparing the firmness of your fingers with the brisket to decide if it’s done or not.
A raw brisket will be as soft as the palm area of your hand below your thumb when your hand is relaxed.
If you touch your thumb with the middle finger, then you will feel a little bit of firmness. It will be the same as the medium-rare cooked brisket.
If you touch your thumb with your ring finger, then it will feel like the brisket, which is medium cooked.
A done brisket will have the texture of touching your thumb with your pinkie finger. So you can imagine that the brisket becomes harder as it cooks.
Get the feel of brisket
I know it might look philosophical, but you have to get the feel of the brisket before making the final decision about whether it’s done yet or not.
After we have examined its exterior for smoke deposition and interior for tenderness, now we have to examine it as a whole.
Feel of the brisket means touching brisket to decide whether the brisket has been done or not based on your intuition.
Make sure to wear heat safety gloves before doing so. You should consider checking it’s heat to estimate the temperature.
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
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