Where's the stall?

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Original poster
Dec 22, 2006
Danville, CA
I have read a lot about the "stall" or plateau that is experienced while smoking a brisket. I believe it usually occurs in the 150-160* internal range. I am not experiencing this in my Old Smokey Electric.

On my last go, I cooked a 7.22 lb brisket to 190* internal in like 5 hours, without foil. So the 90 minute per pound rule did not apply and there were no apparent "stalls". Mind you, I have an electric smoker and can set exact temperatures. I set it to cook at 200* and actually adjusted it down a bit to slow it down.

The brisket was delicious regardless, I am just wondering why my experience would differ from the majority. Perhaps it is my cooker?

Any thoughts???

Range usually is anywhere from about 150° to 170°. It is interesting that you haven't experienced the plateau. Have you ever checked the "exact" temperature of your smoker with a good thermometer. That is a fast brisket I think plateau or not. I cooked two briskets last weekend that were 10 and 11 lbs. and they took 15-16 hours.

Anyway, my first guess is your cooking hotter than you think or your not really to 190° internal. Actually, if you were set at 200° and adjusted the temp. lower it should take you even longer than 1 ½ hr. per lb. Mine above were cooked as close to 235° as possible the whole cook.
I am fairly certain that my grate thermometer and meat (internal) thermometer are accurate. The reason I say this is because my first cooking experience went WAY too fast. So for my Xmas brisket I purposely set the electric knob to "Low" and after the smoker had a chance to fully heat up my grate thermometer read 150*. Because I was suspicious about the read-out, I let the brisket smoke overnight and sure enough, when I woke up the next morning 8 hours later I was at 150* internal. For this more recent brisket I set to cook at "Med" and after fully heated my grate read 200*. I got to like 170* internal after like 2 hours! Which is why I adjusted down to cook more slowly. I am truly at a loss. I mean, I have no problem smoking great brisket in half the amount of time, but I'm just wondering why this is the case.

Keep in mind it may be the design of my smoker, the OLD SMOKEY. Not only is it electric (consistent temperature) but it is completely sealed (no vent or exhaust) so there is a lot of moisture and pressure. Sometimes it is hard to get the lid off after hours of cooking, you have to give it a good tug! Also the top lid is flat, so instead of the evaporating juices dripping down the inner sides like a domed lid, my juices drizzle back down on to the meat. It's like a smoking rainforest in there.

I plan to buy an ultra-thick whole brisket my next time out so we'll see if this is still the case.

The smoker is the reason cooking doesn't take as long as the rest of us take. I have a friend with the same smoker and he can smoke a brisket in half the time it takes me. That cooker seals like a submarine. While the finished product is juicy, it will never get as tender as a looooong cooked product. It does make an excellent slicing meat though. The plateau is what makes the meat tender. So tender it will fall apart when you pick the meat up off the rack.
My friend can't get the rich smoky flavor that I get either. I think these smokers seal so well they stifle the smoke somewhat. And his meat never has a smoke ring. I personally think you could get the same results from a conventional oven and a small pan of chips. They basically work like a Big Green Egg.
But as long as the meat is done and you and your family like the end result, that's what matters.
Gunslinger, thanks for your insight. This is what I had suspected and is an advantage/disadvantage of my smoker, depending on how you view it. Being a beginner (and an impatient cooker) I think it works to my advantage. Either way, I appreciate your comments and wish you a fantastic 2007!

Go Chargers!
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