Last Updated on: 20th April 2023, 10:35 pm
Smoking brisket is one of the best ways to show your smoking skills to your family and friends.
But it involves a need to be calibrated to get a properly smoked and juicy brisket. One of these factors is temperature management.
Temperature is an important factor in determining whether the brisket has been cooked completely or not without even opening the lid of the smoker.
A brisket with an internal temperature of around 190-200 °F should have been completely smoked.But to do this, you need to place the probe accurately.
Where to probe brisket
Internal temperature of the brisket is crucial when determining about wrapping brisket and whether it has been cooked completely or not.
But to make sure you are getting the accurate temperature, you should make sure to place the probe carefully.
The probe is typically placed on the thickest side of the flat portion of the brisket.If you are using a single probe, then you should insert it from the side into the flat area .
But if you are using two probes, then you should consider inserting the second probe in the center of thickest part of flat from top.
The brisket usually has two portions: flat and point. Both of these portions are separated by a layer of fat.
The flat portion of brisket contains lean meat while the point contains a higher amount of fat, which helps in increasing the flavor of the meat.
The flat portion is thinner than the point portion and usually contains lean meat.
You need to be careful about the temperature management of this part Because point is only used to increase the flavor of flat portion.
So the temperature probe is usually placed inside the flat region. The probe is placed at the thickest part of the brisket, which usually takes longer to heat up than the rest of the brisket.
So the probe is placed in the thickest region of the flat portion.
The thickest portion of the flat is usually present near the point portion .
So by placing the probe in between the point and flat portion, you basically measure the temperature of both portions at the same time .
On the other hand, the point portion is the thickest portion of the brisket but it has a higher number of fat pockets within it.
It is usually used to to enhance the flavor of the lean meat by the production of meat juices due to the melting of fats.
There is a huge debate on whether you should place the probe at the point or flat , but we usually prefer to place the probe at the flat because the melting of fat can result in increased moisture.
Due to this, the probe will not measure the exact temperature point.
The probe is usually inserted from the side, but while inserting the probe, you should be careful about inserting it into the fat pockets.
Moreover, you should also consider inserting the probe for fewer numbers because when you insert the probe inside the brisket, you may have noticed that a fluid comes out .
This fluid contains different flavors, which can be removed from the brisket by excess poking.
The internal temperature of the brisket does not determine whether the brisket has been smoked completely or not; rather, it helps to identify when the brisket becomes tender due to the breakdown of connective tissues.
This breakdown in turkey usually occurs around 190–203 °F because the collagen present within the connective tissues starts denaturing at this temperature.
The breakdown of collagen increases the tenderness of the brisket and makes it as soft as butter.
where should i put probe? point or flat?
Placing a probe inside the brisket is hot debate topic in smoking community and there are many misconceptions about it .
One of these misconceptions is that you should place the probe at the point or flat portion. So here is the answer.
Although the point portion of the brisket is thicker than the flat portion , we can’t use it to determine the temperature of brisket.
The reason is that it has a higher fat content, which can affect the temperature measurement and give a faulty reading.
Flat portion of the brisket matters the most because it contains the lean meat .
If we place the probe in point portion which will take longer to reach the desired internal temperature, then the flat portion will be over-smoked and will dry out.
So its better to give priority to the flat portion and place the probe there.
Although the point portion will also be cooked completely because we are just measuring the temperature to get an idea of tenderness at this stage. The brisket will still be placed in the smoker for cooking.
The beginners in the smoking community are quite creative, and they tend to find a problem with every solution .
So the second confusion is whether to insert the probe from the side of the brisket or from the top of the flat portion.
Usually, you should place Make sure to place one probe from the side of the brisket into the flat portion.
It should be inserted in the thickest part of the flat, near the point portion, while avoiding inserting it into the point portion or overlapping layer.
Now that you have a probe placed at the side of the brisket, you are free to place the second probe wherever you want .
But normally, you should consider placing the probe in the center of the brisket from the top.
Another confusion among beginners is how deep you should insert the probe into the brisket.
There is no hard and fast rule, but you should consider inserting it half way inside the brisket to make sure it reaches the deepest portion and provides an accurate temperature.
how to tell if brisket is done without thermometer
Thermometers are an excellent way to determine when the brisket is done, but everyone can’t afford a good quality thermometer or some people may be unfamiliar with using them.
So the question arises: how to tell if brisket is done or not without using a thermometer.
The good news is that it is not compulsory to use a thermometer to decide whether the brisket has been cooked completely or not.
Infact humans have been smoking meat for centuries, but thermometers started being used in smoking just a half century ago.
You can accurately describe whether the brisket has been done or not without a thermometer by examining it physically.
You should consider examining the bark, ,color , feel, tenderness, and it’s movement pattern upon shaking to decide whether it’s done yet or not.
Thermometers are usually used to give an idea of when to check for tenderness of brisket being smoked in a smoker.
So, by placing a thermometer probe inside the brisket, you get notified when the internal side of brisket has reached the temperature required for tenderness.
Depending on the texture of the brisket, this temperature can range from 190 to 203°F.The reason is that the connective tissues start breaking at this temperature and the brisket becomes tender.
But the temperature is used to determine the tenderness, not doneness.
So if the temperature of brisket is at 190-203 °F, then you don’t have to pull your brisket off the smoker rather it gives you and idea that the brisket has started to become tender.
so you should examine whether the brisket has been done completely or not.
You can check the doneness of brisket without a thermometer by looking at it and examining it physically.
There are several ways that you can utilize to make sure if the brisket has been smoked completely or it needs more time .
Here are the most common ways of telling whether the brisket has been done or not without using a thermometer.
1-Color of the brisket
First of all , after taking the brisket out of smoker, you should consider examining the brisket by looking at it’s color.
If you have been smoking the brisket for enough time, then you will be able to distinguish uncooked brisket from brisket that’s done completely.
If you are new to smoking and smoking brisket for the first time then you should still estimate that by looking at it’s color.
A done brisket will have a dark or pink color. You don’t need to be worried about it at this point because we are going to examine it further before deciding if it’s done or not.
2-Bark of brisket
After examining the color of the brisket, you should consider examining the bark of brisket.
You should keep in mind that you are not examining the color of the bark but thickness of bark on the surface of brisket.
Bark develops on the surface of brisket due to the reaction of different rubs and sauces with the smoke.
So if the brisket has a thick and crispy bark then it would have been smoked completely. But if it has a thin and delicate bark, then you should smoke it for some time .
3-Checking the tenderness of brisket
Until now , we have examined the exterior of the brisket to make sure it is smoked completely.
But to make sure it is done, we also have to take into account the tenderness to make sure it is cooked properly in the deep side.
Brisket usually becomes tender at around 195°F due to breakdown of connective tissues. The reason is the breakdown of collagen at 195 °F .
When the collagen is broken down , then the connective tissues become delicate and the brisket becomes tender.
As you don’t have the thermometer, then you should consider checking for the temperature without taking in account the temperature.
Usually the tenderness is examined by inserting the probe into the meat , but in case you don’t have one, we have an alternative.
You can try poking toothpicks into your brisket to check if it’s tender or not.
The brisket should feel like butter and toothpicks should be inserted into the brisket without any resistance. You can try inserting toothpicks at different locations to be sure about tenderness.
Moreover, you should keep in mind to not poke too much because it can result in the removal of meat juices from the brisket. Preferably, you should only poke in the flat region because it’s our priority.
Additionally, you should avoid poking in fat pockets.
4-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, we now have to examine it as a whole.
Feel of the brisket refers to touching the brisket to determine whether it is done or not based on your intuition.
Make sure to wear heat-safe gloves before doing so. You should consider checking it’s heat to estimate the temperature.
Finally, you should pick up the brisket in your hands and shake it gently. If it shakes easily and feels like jello, then you can assume that it is done .
By following the complete process described above, you can decide whether the brisket is done or not without a thermometer.
How to check if the probe is measuring the accurate brisket internal temperature?
Although good quality thermometers can measure the temperature accurately, you should not use them blindly and test your probe from time to time to make sure it’s working properly.
If not, you should consider calibrating it to give the accurate temperature.
To test your probe, you should take a bowl of boiling water and insert your probe into the water.
The thermometer should show a reading of 212 °F at boiling temperature if it’s working correctly, otherwise you should consider calibrating it.
The probe should be placed in the flat region of the brisket. It should be preferably placed on the side of a flat region.
It can only tell you when to check for tenderness based upon temperature. But you will have to examine the brisket yourself to decide if it’s done yet or not.
The tougher cuts of brisket may require more temperature to become tender, so you should check the tenderness of brisket manually by poking the probe inside it.
You can even tell if the brisket is done or not without a thermometer by examining the brisket physically.
if you are interested in digging deeper into checking doneness ,then don’t forget read our article on how to tell if pork is done without a thermometer.