Originally Posted by kiska95
That's what we are trying to learn and understand why, its just what we read in the BBQ aficionado books and demos, but thanks for that "toothpick test" it is from now on and not IT
Rare and medium Rare are not palatable as a finished piece of meat to some English tastes as they think lt's still "RAW" even though its just pink. We even have a problem with burgers as they are not allowed to cook them medium for us anymore! I was with a guy from LA recently in London and he was refused a burger cooked medium in a number of restaurants
All good Kiska. Smoking / Q'ing has been a learning journey for all of us. I started out destroying meats for a number of years, convincing myself that "oh yeah, this blackened, crispy dry meat was very good". Then I graduated up to the thermometer phase where I had maverick probes everywhere. If the probe said a specific temp, the meat was done no matter what. Today ? Today I use my Maverick as a guide to tell me when to start checking my meat via the probe test.
As to the "why". let me start with a little anecdote. Here in the US, when you start out taking math, we learn that you can't divide by 0. It's simply undefined. Of course, this is absolute rubbish as we later learn in Calculus.
Some people can cook meats to a specific temp and have them come out correctly most of the time. BUT, they are models of consistency. They always pick out the same sized piece of meat, (say a 14lb packer brisket.) The meat is always the same quality (here in the US, Prime, choice, etc, or "Angus", "Waygu", etc). The person doing the cooking is also a master of their pit and have remarkable consistency. When they want to run at 250, that's what they do! The temp doesn't swing down to 210 or up to 280. It stays between 245 and 255ish for the duration of the cook.
IF you have that level of consistency across everything involved in a cook, then yes, you can more accurately use a specific internal temp to tell you when the brisket is done.
Thing is, very few of us have that level of consistency. My smoker might range from 250 to 325+ during a cook. My last brisket was a 16lb Prime packer, the brisket before than was a 12lb Choice brisket. Even with the weights, sometimes you have a thick but narrow brisket, other times it's thinner and wider. Due to these inconsistencies, using IT to determine when the brisket is done is a recipe for failure.
All that said, there is one thing that does not change, no matter the quality of the brisket, the chamber temp of the smoker, the level of humidity, the outside temp, or any other variable; and that is, the brisket is DONE when a probe goes in and out of it like a knife through room temp butter.
Even more depth/detail regarding "why". Unlike "steak cuts" like a Ribeye, Strip, Filet, etc, tenderness and moisture in a brisket comes from the result of breaking down the collagen/connective tissues between the muscle fibers.
Here are some brisket slices that are undercooked:
See the gray lines that the arrows are pointing at ? That's the connective tissue between the muscle fibers. You can see that they haven't broken down and rendered as of yet. Those brisket slices will be tough/chewy and dry.
Here's a slice of brisket that has been properly cooked. The connective tissue has broken down and rendered. The arrows point to the separation in the muscle fibers. This brisket will be nice and tender and moist. The slice will pull apart with a slight tug.
Connective tissue starts to break down at 140F and is a function of time over temp, or time at temp. Different ways of saying the same thing. When the IT of the brisket hits 140F, the breakdown starts to occur. As the IT of the brisket increases, the rate of the breakdown accelerates.
Easiest way to think about this is to picture a block of ice. If you take it out of the fridge and set it on the counter, it will melt but will take some time. If you put it in an oven that was preheated to 300F, it will melt much faster. If you put it in the oven first then turn the oven on and set it to 300F, it will melt faster than it did on the counter, but slower than it did in the preheated oven.