Brisket dialed in, FINALLY!

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kevin james

Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
Jul 30, 2012
469
372
Sacramento, CA
Warning... this could get a little long winded lol. I have been sort of struggling with my brisket for a while now. Not that it's bad at all, it's just that I have not been happy with the texture.

The rub and overall flavor profile is 100% dialed to my satisfaction, and the appearance looks great, but every fricken single time it comes out TOO tender and basically over cooked. While it passes the hang test and the pull test no problem, I have NOT been able to get it to pass the bend test... if you hang it over a knife or your finger or whatever, it breaks every single time, and sometimes it shreds a little when slicing, especially when you start getting into the point. Being the perfectionist I am, I'm just not going to be happy with that.

So I decided a while back I was going to cook a brisket every single weekend until I get this figured out, and this weekend I FINALLY nailed it and I now know what my problem has been. RELYING ON PROBING to determine doneness, mostly by how much resistance there is, but also looking at what the temp was, and going off the fact that it should feel like probing peanut butter, which never happens until it gets to about 208-210 IT.... which always ends up over cooked.

Then, I have also been playing around with hot holds, because I really like cooking a brisket all day Saturday, with the intent on slicing in to it for lunch or dinner on Sunday. No need to wake up at the crack of dawn, or to stay up all night etc. Just a relaxing easy day. There was a part of me that was wondering if the hot hold was contributing to the over doneness, even though I ALWAYS rested the brisket down to 145-150 before puting in the hot hold, which lately has been a sous vide bath set at 145. I was wondering if 145 was too high as well, and that maybe I should go down to 141 to keep it as low as possible while staying at or above 140 100% of the time for obvious saftey reasons (The FDA says you can hold indefinitely at 140 or above, OR for 8 hours max at 135 - 139).

But then, there is something else that has bothered me lately as well. The old school guys never had these fancy Thermapens or Fireboards etc... they new when to wrap or when a brisket was done and ready to rest by certain visual and tactile cues, not by probing for tenderness or temp.

So... this weekend I decided I was going to take a chance, knowing I could end up with a tough dry brisket. I was not going to let a probe get anywhere near it and I was going to pull my brisket based solely on feel, using techniques described by some of the top BBQ Youtubers, like Jerby BBQ, Chud's BBQ, and Mad Scientist BBQ. And it worked!!!! It came out 100% perfect!!! Perfect tenderness that passed the hang test, the pull test, and the bend test, it was super juicy even all the way to the end of the flat. I will continue doing a brisket every weekend for the next few weeks just to ensure I can reproduce it.. but this is what I did:

1. Trimmed it to a nice and aerodynamic shape, in the style of Chuds, and Joe Yim who have IMO the BEST trim tutorials on Youtube.

2. Rub with a heavy layer of course black pepper, followed by a light layer of Kosher Salt, then a good coating of my own beef rub which has a lot of Lawry's, Granulated Garlic, and some other things. Used only water as a binder. All applied separately as recommended by Jirby BBQ, with the pepper on FIRST.

3. Smoked in the offset starting low at around 220, then gradually let it rise to 275 over the course of a few hours in an attempt to keep the thinner side of the flat from curling due to being blasted at high temp right out of the gate. It worked pretty well. I also spritzed just the outside edges with water once an hour after the first two hours just to ensure nothing got too crispy in order to avoid shredding on the cutting board later.

4. Waited to wrap until the bark had fully developed and passed the scratch test and had that deep black color. This is based on info from Harry Su (scratch test) and Mad Scientist BBQ ( Waiting until the bark had the deep black color).

5. Once it was ready to wrap based on the bark (about 7.5 hours in) I went with the foil boat method from Chud's BBQ. I've been playing around with this lately and really like it. I think I will be sticking with this method at least for now.

6. Then I waited for some other cues... with the plan of checking once every hour after the wrap.

7. The first cue was courtesy of Mad Scientist BBQ... I started feeling the fat cap with my finger... checking to see how soft it was, and waiting for it to feel soft enough that if I wanted to I could easily poke my finger right through it. I foil boated at 7:30PM... checked it 9PM.. it wasn't quite there but felt like it was getting close.

8. Checked it again at 9:30 still not quite but it was definitely getting softer. Then I tried feeling the underside of the brisket, lifting it slightly with my middle fingers right in the middle of the flat to see if it still felt super stiff, or if it felt like it had loosened up. That too wasn't quite right but felt pretty good so I knew I was close.

9. I waited anothert 30 minutes and checked again at 10:00PM. I felt the fat and Yep! If I wanted to I easily could have poked through it with my finger at every spot I tested on top, so then I tried feeling the underside again, lifting gently right in the middle of the flat with my two middle fingers and Yep! It was feeling nice and loose and felt like if I pressed up any harder it would break right through. So I called it done.

10. I placed it on a baking sheet and let it cool for two hours (no idea what the temp was because again I never let a probe get anywhere near it, although from prior tests I generally found it was about two hours to get it to come down from 210ish to 145 ish so that is what I went by.

11. at 12;00 midnight it was bagged and sealed and went in to a sous vide rest at 141.

I had a busy day today and things went way later than I intended. I pulled it out of the Sous Vide rest at 7:30PM, fearing I had let it go to long but NOPE! It sliced like butter, was very juicy even to the tip of the flat, and passed all of my tenderness tests with no problem.

So I am super happy (and a little proud of myself) to say I think I have FINALLY dialed this tricky brisket in!!!!!

My key take away was that going by probe tenderness, even the "should feel like sticking a probe in peanut butter made me think it should be softer than it really should be, causing me to continuously over cook my briskets due to waiting to feel for a tenderness that just in general is over cooked. Now that I know what the top and bottom should feel like based on touch, I don't think I will ever gauge by any other method.

Unfortunately I didn't take a bunch of pictures, just when I through it on the smoker yesterday, and after I had sliced it tonight...

thumbnail.jpg

thumbnail-1.jpg
 

chp

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Sep 30, 2020
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Great write up with lots of the details I need for learning. When you repeat are you going to add back in the probes for reference? Still making your decisions based on the cues you discussed, but having some temperature values would make it easier for others to try and repeat what you are doing.
 

bmudd14474

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Awesome write up and glad you finally achieved what you desired for your briskets. Great job.
 

kevin james

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Jul 30, 2012
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Sacramento, CA
CHP, not sure why it's not letting me quote you, but to answer your question:
I want to ensure I can replicate these results consistently before I let a probe anywhere near my briskets again. So I will most likely repeat this process exactly as stated above for a least my next four briskets. If the results are the same every single time, then I will try a probe just to see what the temp is when I pull it, and I will try that a few times to see if that is consistent. Although as you mention that will really be just for reference purposes, and to report my findings back here to benefit others.

For my own cooks though, I am most likely done probing all together. This may sound weird... but I just don't like poking holes in my briskets if I don't have to for two reasons.
1. A brisket is already squeezing juices out as it cooks (which is what causes the stall in the first place) so poking holes just results in more places for juices to escape, and I want to retain as much of the juices as possible so that is no bueno.
2. When you insert a probe, you are breaking fibers in the area you inserted it. Generally when you check doneness by probing you probe multiple areas to make sure the feel is consistent everywhere... so you are breaking fibers in every place you probe. Again for me... no bueno.

To be honest, I may be going too extreme based on my two points above, but I like the idea of being able to tell its done by using nothing but my hands, and if I can avoid sticking a sharp metal probe in my meat, I think I just prefer that.

Another reason I want to try this at least 4 more times before I stick a probe in a brisket again is that I am a creature of habit... and regardless of what my hands tell, if I say I think it's done, and I probe it to check temp and it turns out it is way lower then I would expect, that is going to cause doubt and I'm going to second guess myself. I know myself too well. I have absolutely no idea what the IT was when I pulled this brisket, but I do know the commonly excepted rule of thumb is 203... and that is what Franklin said some time ago. In a recent video Jirby said he hasn't pulled a brisket at 200 or above in years, he said his briskets are probably closer to 190-195 when he pulls. That seems low and I know that right now I would second guess myself if it were that low, so I intend to avoid letting my judgment be clouded by that for now. But after at least 4 consistent briskets, then I will be more comfortable accepting that it's done when my hands tell me it's done, and whatever the temp says, it doesn't matter, it's still done.
 

Hijack73

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Aug 9, 2020
396
385
I didn't even own a probe thermometer (other than an old spring dial unit from probably the early 2000's) until about 2015 when I started smoking in bulk. It took me a long time to learn how to use one properly. I made a lot of overcooked brisket with it until I figured it out. For me - the probe goes in about 3-4 hours into the cook and I only start paying attention when it hits 190ish. I do poke it, I used to use a very thin almost worn away boning knife but I switched to toothpicks. Less intrusion IMO. This board and many others heavily promoted temps closer to 203, so I thought that 195 should be a starting point to start checking, and I started questioning my poking.

I get so lost when people talk about taking a brisket to 200 or more consistently. I have had maybe 3 out of the last 40 go to 200 or above (on purpose) and probably closer to 3 out of the last 60. Most of mine come off and into the rest at about 195.

If I wanted pot roast tender, I'd make pot roast. I want to be able to cut it with a fork, but not be fall apart. I suspect most folks on here would say that mine needed to go another degree or 2 ;) and that sounds like what you are after

The probe thermometer saves me trips to the smoker and reduces the amount of times I open the lid. I could live without it for sure, but it is a handy tool if used correctly.
 
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Bearcarver

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Brisket Looks Great, Kevin!!
Nice Job!
Keep up the Great Work!
Like.

Bear
 

kevin james

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Jul 30, 2012
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Sacramento, CA
Update...

Did another brisket this weekend using the same method, with everything exactly the same as described in my original post. Cooked it all day Sunday, determined doneness solely by feel and didn't let a probe get anywhere near it, then rested it down for two hours before sealing and dropping in to a sous vide bath at 141 over night.

Just sliced in to it, and again, the tenderness was dead to nuts PERFECT.

Unfortunately for me I only got to taste test 1 slice of the flat and 1 small slice of the point, but I was 100% satisfied with the seasoning and overall flavor, moisture level, and tenderness of both. I couldn't have been happier with it really. That said, I'm pretty sure I have this thing dialed in now and won't be doing briskets any other way going forward. The only change will be that I do plan on buying a holding cabinet I will use that for the over night rest once I get it.

The reason I only got to taste test a couple slices is because most of this brisket was to fulfill some orders from some co-workers. Long story short a while back my freezer was overflowing and my better half instructed me to give some of my vac sealed brisket and pulled pork to some friends and co-workers to make room. Theory being they would be stoked to have it... and it would make room in the freezer so win win. Well... that kind of turned into something unexpectedly. All the friends and co-workers I gave it too raved about how good it was, and several told me that I should sell this stuff because they would definitely buy it. So it has become my brand new side hustle. It's very small batch and I'm not offering it publicly, just to friends, family, and co-workers... but the response so far has been great.

thumbnail-2.jpg
 
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ConrodM

Smoke Blower
Jul 1, 2020
126
64
Florida
Warning... this could get a little long winded lol. I have been sort of struggling with my brisket for a while now. Not that it's bad at all, it's just that I have not been happy with the texture.

The rub and overall flavor profile is 100% dialed to my satisfaction, and the appearance looks great, but every fricken single time it comes out TOO tender and basically over cooked. While it passes the hang test and the pull test no problem, I have NOT been able to get it to pass the bend test... if you hang it over a knife or your finger or whatever, it breaks every single time, and sometimes it shreds a little when slicing, especially when you start getting into the point. Being the perfectionist I am, I'm just not going to be happy with that.

So I decided a while back I was going to cook a brisket every single weekend until I get this figured out, and this weekend I FINALLY nailed it and I now know what my problem has been. RELYING ON PROBING to determine doneness, mostly by how much resistance there is, but also looking at what the temp was, and going off the fact that it should feel like probing peanut butter, which never happens until it gets to about 208-210 IT.... which always ends up over cooked.

Then, I have also been playing around with hot holds, because I really like cooking a brisket all day Saturday, with the intent on slicing in to it for lunch or dinner on Sunday. No need to wake up at the crack of dawn, or to stay up all night etc. Just a relaxing easy day. There was a part of me that was wondering if the hot hold was contributing to the over doneness, even though I ALWAYS rested the brisket down to 145-150 before puting in the hot hold, which lately has been a sous vide bath set at 145. I was wondering if 145 was too high as well, and that maybe I should go down to 141 to keep it as low as possible while staying at or above 140 100% of the time for obvious saftey reasons (The FDA says you can hold indefinitely at 140 or above, OR for 8 hours max at 135 - 139).

But then, there is something else that has bothered me lately as well. The old school guys never had these fancy Thermapens or Fireboards etc... they new when to wrap or when a brisket was done and ready to rest by certain visual and tactile cues, not by probing for tenderness or temp.

So... this weekend I decided I was going to take a chance, knowing I could end up with a tough dry brisket. I was not going to let a probe get anywhere near it and I was going to pull my brisket based solely on feel, using techniques described by some of the top BBQ Youtubers, like Jerby BBQ, Chud's BBQ, and Mad Scientist BBQ. And it worked!!!! It came out 100% perfect!!! Perfect tenderness that passed the hang test, the pull test, and the bend test, it was super juicy even all the way to the end of the flat. I will continue doing a brisket every weekend for the next few weeks just to ensure I can reproduce it.. but this is what I did:

1. Trimmed it to a nice and aerodynamic shape, in the style of Chuds, and Joe Yim who have IMO the BEST trim tutorials on Youtube.

2. Rub with a heavy layer of course black pepper, followed by a light layer of Kosher Salt, then a good coating of my own beef rub which has a lot of Lawry's, Granulated Garlic, and some other things. Used only water as a binder. All applied separately as recommended by Jirby BBQ, with the pepper on FIRST.

3. Smoked in the offset starting low at around 220, then gradually let it rise to 275 over the course of a few hours in an attempt to keep the thinner side of the flat from curling due to being blasted at high temp right out of the gate. It worked pretty well. I also spritzed just the outside edges with water once an hour after the first two hours just to ensure nothing got too crispy in order to avoid shredding on the cutting board later.

4. Waited to wrap until the bark had fully developed and passed the scratch test and had that deep black color. This is based on info from Harry Su (scratch test) and Mad Scientist BBQ ( Waiting until the bark had the deep black color).

5. Once it was ready to wrap based on the bark (about 7.5 hours in) I went with the foil boat method from Chud's BBQ. I've been playing around with this lately and really like it. I think I will be sticking with this method at least for now.

6. Then I waited for some other cues... with the plan of checking once every hour after the wrap.

7. The first cue was courtesy of Mad Scientist BBQ... I started feeling the fat cap with my finger... checking to see how soft it was, and waiting for it to feel soft enough that if I wanted to I could easily poke my finger right through it. I foil boated at 7:30PM... checked it 9PM.. it wasn't quite there but felt like it was getting close.

8. Checked it again at 9:30 still not quite but it was definitely getting softer. Then I tried feeling the underside of the brisket, lifting it slightly with my middle fingers right in the middle of the flat to see if it still felt super stiff, or if it felt like it had loosened up. That too wasn't quite right but felt pretty good so I knew I was close.

9. I waited anothert 30 minutes and checked again at 10:00PM. I felt the fat and Yep! If I wanted to I easily could have poked through it with my finger at every spot I tested on top, so then I tried feeling the underside again, lifting gently right in the middle of the flat with my two middle fingers and Yep! It was feeling nice and loose and felt like if I pressed up any harder it would break right through. So I called it done.

10. I placed it on a baking sheet and let it cool for two hours (no idea what the temp was because again I never let a probe get anywhere near it, although from prior tests I generally found it was about two hours to get it to come down from 210ish to 145 ish so that is what I went by.

11. at 12;00 midnight it was bagged and sealed and went in to a sous vide rest at 141.

I had a busy day today and things went way later than I intended. I pulled it out of the Sous Vide rest at 7:30PM, fearing I had let it go to long but NOPE! It sliced like butter, was very juicy even to the tip of the flat, and passed all of my tenderness tests with no problem.

So I am super happy (and a little proud of myself) to say I think I have FINALLY dialed this tricky brisket in!!!!!

My key take away was that going by probe tenderness, even the "should feel like sticking a probe in peanut butter made me think it should be softer than it really should be, causing me to continuously over cook my briskets due to waiting to feel for a tenderness that just in general is over cooked. Now that I know what the top and bottom should feel like based on touch, I don't think I will ever gauge by any other method.

Unfortunately I didn't take a bunch of pictures, just when I through it on the smoker yesterday, and after I had sliced it tonight...

View attachment 631998

View attachment 631999
Awesome Write Up!! Thanks for the explanation and tips! I too watch same utubers religiously. You should be Very Proud of your accomplishment and I admire your hardcore dedication to BBQ & Perfection 😁👍👍
 

ConrodM

Smoke Blower
Jul 1, 2020
126
64
Florida
CHP, not sure why it's not letting me quote you, but to answer your question:
I want to ensure I can replicate these results consistently before I let a probe anywhere near my briskets again. So I will most likely repeat this process exactly as stated above for a least my next four briskets. If the results are the same every single time, then I will try a probe just to see what the temp is when I pull it, and I will try that a few times to see if that is consistent. Although as you mention that will really be just for reference purposes, and to report my findings back here to benefit others.

For my own cooks though, I am most likely done probing all together. This may sound weird... but I just don't like poking holes in my briskets if I don't have to for two reasons.
1. A brisket is already squeezing juices out as it cooks (which is what causes the stall in the first place) so poking holes just results in more places for juices to escape, and I want to retain as much of the juices as possible so that is no bueno.
2. When you insert a probe, you are breaking fibers in the area you inserted it. Generally when you check doneness by probing you probe multiple areas to make sure the feel is consistent everywhere... so you are breaking fibers in every place you probe. Again for me... no bueno.

To be honest, I may be going too extreme based on my two points above, but I like the idea of being able to tell its done by using nothing but my hands, and if I can avoid sticking a sharp metal probe in my meat, I think I just prefer that.

Another reason I want to try this at least 4 more times before I stick a probe in a brisket again is that I am a creature of habit... and regardless of what my hands tell, if I say I think it's done, and I probe it to check temp and it turns out it is way lower then I would expect, that is going to cause doubt and I'm going to second guess myself. I know myself too well. I have absolutely no idea what the IT was when I pulled this brisket, but I do know the commonly excepted rule of thumb is 203... and that is what Franklin said some time ago. In a recent video Jirby said he hasn't pulled a brisket at 200 or above in years, he said his briskets are probably closer to 190-195 when he pulls. That seems low and I know that right now I would second guess myself if it were that low, so I intend to avoid letting my judgment be clouded by that for now. But after at least 4 consistent briskets, then I will be more comfortable accepting that it's done when my hands tell me it's done, and whatever the temp says, it doesn't matter, it's still done.
Any updates?
 

kevin james

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Jul 30, 2012
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Sacramento, CA
Any updates?
I wish I could say yes, but unfortunately not. While I have cooked several briskets since then, a few things have happened that have distracted me from this. First, Costco, my source for Prime grade briskets is no longer carrying them, so I had to switch to choice, and they just cook differently, so I've been doing testing of different brands of choice briskets lately trying to see what I prefer. Second... I just got a brand new pit this last weekend, so now I need to focus on learning this pit.

The good news is I did find the choice briskets I can get from Sam's club are really good. I cooked one yesterday (for dinner tonight) and it was just as good as Costco's Prime, so I need to do some further testing on that.

I will say though that I have stuck to the method in my original post (including not letting a probe get anywhere near my brisket until this last one yesterday), and as far as tenderness, the results have been very consistent. The flats were just a tad dry on most of the choice briskets I tried until this last one from Sam's which was very moist. Because that was cooked on a brand new pit I'm not used to and was a different grade and brand of brisket I did temp it, and it was pulled at 197. It then got the usual over night rest in the sous vide bath at 141. The doneness was perfect. Because of all the differences on this cook, between the brisket itself, the pit etc. I am hesitant to draw any conclusions from that, and i will be doing more testing.

I took a bunch of pictures, but my email does not want to cooperate at the moment and all but one are stuck in outbox jail. The one that did come through though is the bend test.

Bend-Test.jpg
 
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ConrodM

Smoke Blower
Jul 1, 2020
126
64
Florida
I wish I could say yes, but unfortunately not. While I have cooked several briskets since then, a few things have happened that have distracted me from this. First, Costco, my source for Prime grade briskets is no longer carrying them, so I had to switch to choice, and they just cook differently, so I've been doing testing of different brands of choice briskets lately trying to see what I prefer. Second... I just got a brand new pit this last weekend, so now I need to focus on learning this pit.

The good news is I did find the choice briskets I can get from Sam's club are really good. I cooked one yesterday (for dinner tonight) and it was just as good as Costco's Prime, so I need to do some further testing on that.

I will say though that I have stuck to the method in my original post (including not letting a probe get anywhere near my brisket until this last one yesterday), and as far as tenderness, the results have been very consistent. The flats were just a tad dry on most of the choice briskets I tried until this last one from Sam's which was very moist. Because that was cooked on a brand new pit I'm not used to and was a different grade and brand of brisket I did temp it, and it was pulled at 197. It then got the usual over night rest in the sous vide bath at 141. The doneness was perfect. Because of all the differences on this cook, between the brisket itself, the pit etc. I am hesitant to draw any conclusions from that, and i will be doing more testing.

I took a bunch of pictures, but my email does not want to cooperate at the moment and all but one are stuck in outbox jail. The one that did come through though is the bend test.

View attachment 638715
Thanks for the update 👍👍. That slice looks amazing! What smoker were you using and what are you rolling with now?
I’m going to have to get some cotton glove liners and nitrile gloves so I can learn “The Feel Test”. - is that what you are using?
Thanks again 😁👍👍
 

culpepersmoke

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I have often said, tools are tools but they are not a substitute for experience. Nice write up, thanks for posting.
The SV method for keeping the Brisket warm without drying it out is very intriguing to me. We host a couple family get togethers throughout the summer and Brisket is always requested. I generally get up between 2 and 3 AM to get started cooking, by the time guest start showing up in the afternoon I'm exhausted and in need of a nap :emoji_laughing: .You got me thinking I could cook the brisket the day before, put it in a SV pot at 141 and get a good nights sleep?
Anyone have any idea how long this could sit in there without getting too mushy or if there would be any ill side effects?
 
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kevin james

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Jul 30, 2012
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Sacramento, CA
Thanks for the update 👍👍. That slice looks amazing! What smoker were you using and what are you rolling with now?
I’m going to have to get some cotton glove liners and nitrile gloves so I can learn “The Feel Test”. - is that what you are using?
Thanks again 😁👍👍
I was using a KAT 24x48 Reverse Flow smoker. I still have it and will continue to use it, but I wanted a traditional flow offset as well, for best of both worlds. The new one is a Blue Smoke Smoker by Big Phil's smokers. It's also a 24x48 but this one is made out of 3/8" steel for the cook chamber and firebox, vs. the 1/4" steel that KAT is made out of. It also has a round firebox as opposed to the square firebox the KAT has. I can already tell I prefer the round firebox, with the fire right on the bottom, no fire grate or fire basket needed.

And yes, I am using "the feel test" on my briskets now, which has been working great, and I do use cotton liners with nitrile gloves over that.

You can see the rest of my first cook on the new pit pics in this thread:
 
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kevin james

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Jul 30, 2012
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Sacramento, CA
I have often said, tools are tools but they are not a substitute for experience. Nice write up, thanks for posting.
The SV method for keeping the Brisket warm without drying it out is very intriguing to me. We host a couple family get togethers throughout the summer and Brisket is always requested. I generally get up between 2 and 3 AM to get started cooking, by the time guest start showing up in the afternoon I'm exhausted and in need of a nap :emoji_laughing: .You got me thinking I could cook the brisket the day before, put it in a SV pot at 141 and get a good nights sleep?
Anyone have any idea how long this could sit in there without getting too mushy or if there would be any ill side effects?
For the situation you describe, I HIGHLY recommend the sous vide rest method. It just makes life so much EASIER. I will never go back, and the only time I intend to do it any other way is when doing multiple briskets, and I am planning to buy a commercial holding cabinet for that. For a single brisket... this can't be beat. This allows me to cook my briskets on a Saturday for example, without needing to wake up at the crack of dawn, pull it off the pit late Saturday night, and drop it in the sous vide bath until I'm ready slice for lunch or dinner on Sunday. I have gone as long as 24 hours on the sous vide rest with no ill effects. I set my sous vide to 141, which is consistent with with what the Texas joints set their warmers to, which is 140. USDA says you can hold hot food at 135 or above for 8 hours, or 140 and above indefinitely. The sous vide is as accurate as it gets with fluctuations of only about 0.5 degrees. Call me wierd, but I just like 141 because it will never drop below 140.5.

A couple things to keep in mind for this method. The bark will be very soft, but will NOT rub off if done correctly. It is almost identical to what you get if you paper wrap a brisket with Tallow in the wrap.

Doing it right means you really need to make sure your bark is totally set. for that reason I would avoid any type of wrap method that will soften your bark, like a paper wrap or a full foil wrap. The foil boat method work amazingly well, because you have a nice crunchy bark that is perfectly set, and when it comes out of the sous vide rest it won't be crunchy anymore, it will be very soft but it will remain 100% intact.

Also, you need to let the brisket rest down before vac sealing to stop any carry-over cooking. I usually throw it in my oven (turned off) for like two hours still in it's foil boat to cool down before I vac seal it. Idealy you want to let it get down to 140-145, but honestly I have not been temping it. Two hours usually gets it where I need it.
 
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