The poke test for brisket is where you either get a thermometer probe or fork and try to push it into the meat.
This tests for tenderness and should show the pit master whether or not the brisket is ready.
The brisket fork test can be done by beginners, and can be an accurate way for them to get amazing brisket every time.
You don’t have to test with a thermometer probe instead of doing the fork test, although it is easier.
What is the Poke Test For Brisket?
The Poke test for brisket is commonly referred to as the brisket for test. It can also apply to using a thermometer and probing around all areas of the meat.
Either method can work, as they just simply test to see how much of the connective tissue inside the brisket has completely rendered down.
How to know if your brisket is tender enough:
- Grab Thermometer probe, fork, or a toothpick and have them on standby
- Monitor internal temperature of brisket until it gets to 195 degrees
- Once temperature hits 195, start probing the brisket in the thickest areas you can find
- Brisket should have zero resistance when probed with any of the tools
What to do if your Brisket is not Tender Enough:
Is The Brisket Fork Test For Beginners?
The brisket fork test is a great way for beginners to get consistent results with their briskets. Not only that, the fork test can be applied to just about any other type of meat for barbecue as well. The fundamentals are all the same.
The fork test simply just tests for rendered collagen inside your brisket. Taking that same philosophy, you can begin to apply the probe test to just about any cut of barbecue you want.
Notable barbecue cuts that you can apply the fork test to:
- Pork Shoulder
- Beef plate ribs (Dino Bones)
- Pork Ribs
These are some of the most common types of barbecue that I have personally used the fork test on.
They all work exactly the same.
Any beginner can come in and smoke their preferred meat and get amazing, consistent results every time.
Pitfalls for Probe Testing for Beginners:
- Being too impatient
- Not starting the probe test at the appropriate temperature
- Not probing in the correct areas of the meat
- Assuming temperature reading is good enough
One of the most common mistakes I see people new to barbecue is related to the final moments in their brisket expedition.
Usually what happens is they have already been smoking the brisket for so long, that they just want to get the cook over with. I totally understand that one!
But one of the things that really gets them is not knowing when to start the probe test.
They may also not know what temperature range they should be looking for when actually starting the test.
Furthermore, some novices may just think that temperature reading is the way to go. It’s not!
Brisket Fork Test Accuracy?
The brisket fork test is one of the most reliable ways to get consistent results with brisket.
Every brisket you will ever smoke on a pit is different, they each have different weights, grades, different amounts of marbling, the list goes on. They are also done at different temperature ranges as well. However, they have one thing in common – every brisket probes tender when it is done.
Most accurate type of probe test (listed in order of accuracy):
- Fork Probe
- Thermometer Probe
Brisket Fork Test can be done Low and Slow or Hot and Fast
I have seen many briskets all come out fantastic after either a low and slow or hot and fast styled Cook.
This is another misconception I see being passed around the barbecue community.
The brisket is a finicky piece of meat, but if you know how to tame it, then the temperature you actually smoke it at simply does not matter. What matters is when you need to pull it, and that’s where the brisket fork test comes into play.
The Brisket Fork Test Will Not Dry Out Your Brisket!
Briskets are huge pieces of meat that can withstand radiant temperatures ranging from 225 degrees Fahrenheit to over 350 degrees Fahrenheit for over 12 hours straight. Therefore, you should not be afraid of inserting a probe to test the doneness of your brisket.
If you happen to see a loss of moisture when poking around your meat, don’t panic. This is completely normal and there is sufficient moisture left in the brisket. What matters is that you don’t begin to slice it because that will dry out your brisket.
If you want to get into the science behind this occurrence, apparently the cells inside the area of where you are probing or just expunging water and juices.
Thinking in the cellular level – there are millions or billions of cells that comprise your brisket. Don’t worry about a few popping and losing all of your moisture.
Should I Be Testing With The Thermometer Probe Instead?
You can use a thermometer probe instead of a fork for the poke test. It’s a matter of preference, and how accurate you want your results to be. At the end of the day – I personally like to use as little equipment as possible – so I usually just opt for using my thermometer probe to begin testing.
Deciding which type of meat probing device to choose for testing the doneness of your brisket is a matter of preference and convenience.
Grabbing a fork is not that big of a deal, but usually when you are already smoking your brisket – it just makes sense to quickly use the probe thermometer to test the amount of tenderness present within.
Overall, the fork, toothpick, and thermometer probe test are all fairly similar in accuracy.
How Often Should I Be Probing the Brisket?
When your brisket gets to around 195 degrees Fahrenheit internal, you should be probing the tenderness roughly every 30 minutes. You don’t want to be checking the brisket too frequently because when you lift the grates, you are losing ambient temperature.
In other words
if you’re lookin’, you ain’t cookin’!
Just sit tight, and wait roughly 30 minutes between each attempt in probing your brisket, and you will be sure to have an amazing product.
At What Temp Is Brisket Fork Tender?
Brisket is fork tender anywhere between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Since every brisket is different, it makes sense to only pull your brisket off the smoker when it is actually probe tender.
Probing the meat tender can happen at any point within that temperature range. Do not fall into the trap of pulling every brisket you cook strictly at 200 degrees. Sometimes a brisket will be done a little before 200 degrees, and sometimes it will be significantly past 200 degrees.
It all depends.
If you pull the brisket off at the wrong time – you risk undercooking or undercooking it.
Where Do You Probe Brisket For Doneness?
You will want to probe a brisket in the thickest part you can find. This is usually either in the point area, or in the part where the flat of the brisket is the thickest.
Personally, I try to probe the brisket in the thickest part of the flat. That is where the leanest part of the meat is. This area is the most prone to be the last part of the brisket to be done.
It is also less forgiving, so you will absolutely want to make sure to get it right.
The point of a brisket is far more forgiving due to it’s marbling and fat content.