Whether you’re new to the industry or a seasoned veteran, you know the grips of a temperature stall are nearly impossible to avoid when smoking brisket.
However, some folks may now be aware that brisket can stall multiple times. A rouge stall can be caused by a variety of factors, including insufficient smoke heat, unfavorable weather conditions, and smoking an untrimmed brisket.
In this article, we’ll go over all of the potential explanations of your brisket stalling unexpectedly, how long it lasts, and what you can do to reduce or avoid its effects.
The Science of The Stall
Before we get started, it’s important to understand why a brisket stalls in the first place.
When cooking large slabs of meat at low and slow temperatures, such as brisket or pork shoulder, the internal temperature is likely to briefly halt and cease to rise.
This is also known as a “temperature plateau”.
The goal of smoking brisket at low temperatures for long periods of time is to thoroughly break down and emulsify all of its fats and connective tissues. It’s what gives pulled pork its luscious, melty texture.
However, excess juices will begin to rise to the surface of the meat at some point during the process. When these juices begin to secrete, they cool and evaporate, causing the meat to cool at the same rate as the smoker cooks it, forcing it to “stall” in rising temperature.
This is referred to as evaporative cooling, and it will continue until all of the extra fluids have risen and evaporated.
Unfortunately, this is a pretty common occurrence that affects everyone.
It usually happens when temperatures reach 150 degrees(F), but it can happen at any temperature between 150 and 175 degrees(F).
How Many Times Can a Brisket Stall?
Unfortunately, it can stall multiple times. Aside from the previously mentioned temperature ranges, brisket has been observed to stall at 190 degrees(F).
It can be aggravating, especially so near the end!
But don’t give up; it will ultimately pull itself out of the stall and resume cooking. While letting it come out naturally is the best course of action, there are a few things you may do to free it from a stall’s dreaded grasps.
How to Reduce a Stall
Most smokers believe wrapping brisket to be routine practice. It not only prevents juices from leaving, resulting in a more succulent brisket, but it can also reduce the effects of the stall and allow it to escape much sooner.
This is popularly known as the “Texas Crutch.”
When a brisket is wrapped, the airflow around it is significantly reduced, keeping the extra rising juices warmer and reducing the effect of evaporative cooling considerably.
Wrapping can be done with butcher paper or tin foil.
- Foil may cover the brisket much more tightly, keeping it much warmer. It can, however, degrade the quality of a thick bark or crackling skin by keeping the juices locked in much tighter.
- Butcher paper will not cover the brisket as securely, but it will allow for more airflow, which will help the brisket develop a nicer bark.
Both are effective, so it really comes down to personal preference.
By carefully monitoring the temperature of the brisket, you can remove it from the smoker as it approaches 150 degrees(F), wrap it, and return it to the smoker for the remainder of the time. Don’t unwrap it until it reaches your desired temperature.
What Can Cause a Rouge Stall?
Have you checked the weather forecast before making plans for this weekend’s big BBQ?
The ambient heat inside the smoker is affected by cold weather. While 225 degrees(F) is the recommended temperature for brisket, you will need to adjust this based on the conditions surrounding the smoker.
Similarly, windy conditions can cause heat from the smoker to be directed away from the brisket. Always position your smoker such that it faces the wind in the direction of its natural airflow.
Lastly, rain can pull heat from your smoker. As precipitation accumulates on the smoker, it evaporates and cools the ambient temp of the smoker. The heat must be compensated for this.
Too Much Fat/Untrimmed Brisket
Lucious marbling contributes significantly to the mouth-watering flavor and texture of brisket. However, too much fat can work against you and increase the time of the stall, and the likelihood of a second one to occur.
The general rule is that the more moisture within the smoker, the longer it will take to cook.
A brisket with a higher fat content will produce more liquid, which might either extend or trigger a second stall.
Just as too much fat can provide too much moisture to a smoker, so can too much basting.
If you over-baste a brisket, the extra moisture can cause the temperature inside the smoker to drop, causing the brisket to stall.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to completely avoid a stall, but there are plenty of choices to assist you coast through it and avoid its negative effects.
The most important thing to know is that the more moisture there is in the smoker, the more likely it is that you may experience a second and unexpected stall.
Furthermore, constantly consider the surroundings of the smoker. If it is chilly or raining outside, you must alter the temperature to compensate for heat loss.