As richoso1 stated "tightly wrapped and covered with towels and/or a blanket"; if I recall correctly I have went 5 hours cooler time and upon opening the foil still having plenty of steam leaving the package of goodies.
Thanks guys. At what point would you decide that you can know longer wait and that you should go ahead and take it out of the cooler, slice, and refridgerate? (i.e. if brisket goes into cooler at 5 a.m. could it stay there until noontime meal?) I just hate the idea of doing a long smoke and then not digging in to it as soon as it comes out of the cooler.
The brisket needs to stay above 140 degrees or be reheated to above 140 degrees. The time you can do this in a cooler will vary with the type of cooler used and the ambient temperatures as well as many other factors.
Leaving the probe in is a great idea bearcarver. If it drops below 145 by mealtime is it best to reheat before or after slicing? By the way, I'm really looking forward to being able to answering more questions on this forum than I'm asking. This is the most helpfull site of any kind that I have ever been own. Thanks to you and all who have responded to my many questions. Its really made smoking fun for me.
I'm with Jerry (pineywoods) on this one to. If you are knowingly gonna leave the meat in the cooler for an extended amount of time I would leave a probe in the meat and take it out before it hits 140°ish or so. But make sure that you pack the cooler tight with old towels too.
Two words: thermal mass. Last weekend I had 5 butts coolered for about 12 hours. None of them dropped below 150. I think is is not only because of the cooler, towels and foil but the fact that there were 5 of them. If it is just one brisket on a large cooler there isnt' as much thermal mass. If you have to keep it longer than a few hours you could always heat up some fire brick wrap them in foil and towels to add mass. Just an idea. The probe idea is a great idea lets you keep an eye without having to open the cooler up.