Holding Brisket

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by fishcough, Mar 26, 2015.

  1. fishcough

    fishcough Newbie

    Hi everyone. Wondering if anyone can help with a question about holding briskets. Next week, a few of us will be smoking several (looks like 20-30) briskets for a big school fundraiser. Typically, we'll cook the briskets until just about "done" and then double foil wrap and store in large, well-insulated coolers. We usually fit 10-15 in each cooler. It has always been the group thinking that the ambient heat from all those briskets will help continue to cook the others to get them all way "done."

    I'm questioning this though. Wouldn't it be better to get them all the way done, perhaps let rest for 10 minutes or so, then double wrap and put in the cooler? Or would the heat from so many hot briskets take them all to overdone?

    The reason for holding them in the cooler is that the briskets are generally finished around 2AM and served beginning around 11. We are careful to not let anything get below 140. This has never been a problem with so many wrapped briskets and the quality of the coolers.

  2. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hmmm, while I've never done that many briskets before, I would think that your initial plan would be best.

    Assuming you adhere to all safety temp standards, those briskets are going to essentially "cook" for another 10 hours after being done, so I would err on the side of pulling them off the smoker a bit early. Also, if you are foil wrapping them, the trapped moisture will add to the tenderness as well, so you might not want a completely cooked brisket going into the cooler to start.

    Use the toothpick method to judge tenderness,..discuss what "done" means with your partners, and you should be good.

    Just my 2 cents.
  3. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yes, you can do this , it will work great [​IMG]
  4. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Cook them all to 190°, double wrap in foil, place in insulated coolers... but only put about 5-6 in each cooler. They will cook a little bit more, but by pulling them at 190° it should help prevent them from overcooking.
  5. fishcough

    fishcough Newbie

    Thanks very much! We've had debates in the past about when to pull. Some saying to pull at 170 or so and let the cooking continue in the box. Others have said let it go to 190 or so, just starting to "jiggle" and then pull. They all come out pretty good, frankly, and the stuff that doesn't, well, that's what the cleaver and sauce or for!

    I'm probably over thinking it, or, more likely, under thinking it because I can quite grasp it, but if you put a bunch of items in a closed, insulated space, and all those items are about 190 degrees, would that enclosed space get much hotter than 190 degrees?  And if so, how much hotter? Like, oven hot?? I really should have paid more attention in science, or maybe physics, because I assume the answer is "yes," I mean, if you take two heated bricks and put it in a cooler, it will be warmer in there than one brick, but how much does it rise above the actual temperature of the brick?

    Anyway, probably too much for a Friday morning, but I'm thinkin' on it.
  6. I think (and I preface this is what I think) what is happening is that you are measuring the internal temp of the meat while the outside inch or so may be quite a bit higher temp when that thing is thrown in the cooler.

    As soon as you pull it from the higher temp pit, the outside (hottest part of the meat) isnt going to get any hotter, you are just slowing down the cooling of it by using foil/cooler/bunch of other hot briskets in combination, this allows the internal temp of the meat to still rise a bit to meet the outside edges parts at a higher temp than say if you just pulled one and threw it on the cutting table.

    does that rambling make any sense? 
  7. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Guys, I will try to be as kind as I can be, but there are so many misnomers on this website about when a brisket is done.  There is NO certain temp that briskets finish at!  It's not 190, it's not 200..it's finished when it's finished, which could be anywhere from in the 180's all the way past 210!  This also can go from person to person as to what they think perfect brisket is, some like a little snap, some like it to fall apart, some may have never tried tender brisket and think it's supposed to be tough (bless their hearts!).  This is part of what makes BBQ great, yet confusing, everyone has their own take to what great BBQ is.  The guideline that most folks use to check on a perfectly cooked brisket is the probe or toothpick test humdinger referred to, once it slides in easily into the flat section, like a hot knife into butter, it's done.  Fishcough, your plan to finish them, vent them and rest is perfect!  Pull the meat from the smoker, open and let the foil vent for about 15 minutes to stop the cooking process and release the steam, then start placing them in coolers to hold until it's time to serve.  If you pull at 190 and place directly into a cooler, yes there will be some carry over cooking, but it might not be enough to completely finish them off to the proper tenderness.  With the amount of hot mass you are placing in the coolers, they will stay nice and cozy for hours.  Just my .02....
    humdinger likes this.
  8. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I have not tried to hold that much food but my initial thought is that they will only continue to cook for a few degrees. Once they are off the smoker the internal temp will only rise a few degrees as the temp evens out. If you are not imparting any more heat then it will not continue to cook. If you pull them at 170 then you will be lucky if they make it to 180. (But that's just my two cents)
  9. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    We always take them to 180 or so and double wrap. Then when we put them in the cooler to rest we add a couple old cotton towels or blankets on top of the wrapped briskets to hold the heat better. You can layer them in like that.. They will stay in the safe temp range up to about 4 hours with no problem.

    Just my take on what we have done in the past.Works for me.
  10. fishcough

    fishcough Newbie

    Good stuff here. Thanks to all!

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