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Original poster
Sep 2, 2023
Hello everyone,

I am a chef from New Jersey who is smoking brisket for the first time for a Labor day event for 250 people. Brisket is one of the items on the buffet so I smoked 4, 13-15 lb. briskets to 130 F on the point, and 150 F on the flat for approximately 7 hours at 225-240 F with hickory in the smoker. There was a water pan in the smoker and I made sure to mist the meat with extra water. The bark is nice and peppery, crusted, sealed and super smoky, but I feel like the meat still need more time to cook and tenderize. I don't want to disrupt the bark and I want optimal texture without drying out the meat.

My questions are concerning the best ways to cook the briskets more at this current point, and also the best ways to reheat and hold the briskets. Should I use butter, stock, or keep it dry? Open to the air or foil covered? The briskets are not needed until 9/4 and today is 9/2. Should I spend time cooking them a bit more tomorrow, cooling them down, and reheating them for a third time early on 9/4?

(My restaurant also has a Winston CVap Cooking & Holding machine, which controls humidity/vapor and air temperature).
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Not sure on how to reheat, but 130 on the flat and 150 on the point is not cooked to high enough temp. to start breaking down the collagen into gelatin, you need to get the internal temp. above 180 to start breaking down the collagen and hydrolyzing it to gelatin. Tenderness usually occurs 190-210* internal. The flat is the critical muscle, the point will usually always be tender cooked to these temps. We recommend probing the flat all over with a very thin skewer. It should push through with little to no resistance...

It is best to rest and hold after tender at least 2 hours to continue letting the collagen hydrolyze.
As noted above, 130℉-150℉ is not cooked enough. Yes, it is edible, but won't be tender. Brisket should be cooked until probe tender which usually occurs around or above 200℉. During the smoking process, the temps will stall somewhere around 170℉ and make you wonder if it's finished or not, but it isn't. This is the point in time when many will wrap the brisket in pink butcher paper or aluminum foil to help speed up the process and push through the stall while others will not wrap and just let it cook on.

As you will read over and over and over, brisket is done when a probe inserted ALL OVER will go in like like butter. If any part isn't probe tender, let it cook on. Although time and temp are starting points for cooking brisket, they're done when they're done and that's probe tender.

My 2¢
Wrap at 170*. Like said above, you need the collagen to melt down. Then pull at 205*-210* until probe tender. I use multiple temp probes placed in the point.
I ended up smoking them again today at 200-235 F for another 9 hours. The internal got to an average of 165-170 F. I let them air cool then placed in deep hotel pans with a rack and 1 inch of water at the bottom of the pans (foil-covered). Tomorrow, I arrive at 9 am and must bring the meat to 200 F and let rest for a 12pm serve out. Do you think I will be successful? Will the meat be too dry? What temp. do you suggest for convection or CVAP? The bark looks awesome, and the meat never got above 170 F.
Going to be some tough chewing, high heat and foiled to try to get it tender enough to eat. good luck
Just sliced into the smallest one and it's absolutely perfect. Tender with just enough fat, crazy bark, and flavor. Never got above 185-190 f
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Within the last 5 years or so, more and more information has been coming out about a hot holding method for briskets that a number of Briskateers in Texas are using in their BBQ joints. In a nutshell, you trim, season, and smoke briskets in the 275° range for 6 or more hours, then wrap in pink (uncoated) butcher paper and add some beef tallow. Return to the smoker for up to 6 more hours, to get the internal temp above 195°. Next the briskets are allowed to cool down a bit, and go into 150° holding cabinet for 12 hours. Some add some water to a lower pan, others just allow the tallow and rendered fat to work their magic. The results are very good. Please follow up with the results of your adventure. And happy Labor Day.

I feel like I was successful with this three step method because total cooking time was approximately 16-18 hours at 225 F. I only had so much time in the day on Saturday and Sunday to cook nearly 65 lbs. of brisket for Monday at a noon serving. I probably could have utilized my restaurant's Winston cvap cooking and holding cabinet to make this even quicker and more seamless, but I'm more comfortable with ovens and smokers.

I am more than happy with the turnout. The meat never actually got above 190 f-ish and it shredded effortlessly. The flavor of the bark was in every single bite. I was worried it would be too smoky and too dry, but the flat part of the brisket was still very moist. And the actual fat in the meat was super flavorful when you got a big bite of it with the protein, which helped to make the meat seem even juicier.

It also turned out the event I was hosting went up to 400 people and I only had enough brisket for 300. I had to offer flank steak and pork loin in its place.
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I start checking internal about 193 and rarely go more than about 196.

I've been a proponent of long warm (oven) rests for a long time. Final product is tender but nowhere near pull apart. I only pull the ones I overcook..... adding all of the point fat helps in those cases. Never had much luck with a 2 stage cook, BUT I think you pulling it as soon as you did really helped with the second stage of the cooking process. It didn't lose enough collagen or fat to make a difference in that first stage. The few times I tried a 2 stage I took it much higher on stage 1.

That's an e-SWAG that I pulled out of my rectal cavity - but it can be done with pot roast pretty successfully, so pretty similar.

It sucks when you run short on brisket. when I Q for a crowd I grossly overestimate what I'll need - but 400 showing instead of 300 is rough.

Church cooks have gotten me before. Prepare for 150 and make enough for 200 and 100 show.... Next cook, prepare for 100, make enough for 125 figuring you'll have a ton of leftovers and 150 show.
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