Temperature stalling is common in meats with a high concentration of fatty and connective tissues. It might be frustrating to deal with, but every pitmaster should have the skills and understanding to go through it smoothly.
Excessive pooling of rendered liquids causes stalling. This can occur late in the smoking session, usually around 190 degrees(F).
The truth is that a temperature stall around 190 can be caused by a variety of circumstances, including smoking meat with too much fat, not using a hot enough smoke heat, adding too much moisture to the smoker, or even the weather outdoors.
In this post, we will discuss the possible causes of your brisket’s late stall, as well as strategies to both help and prevent this from happening.
Why Does Temperature Stalling Occur?
Thick portions of beef, like brisket or pork shoulder, are densely packed with fatty tissues and connective fibers. These tissues are gently broken down into rendered juices at low and moderate temperatures, which are then redistributed into the brisket meat.
They are responsible of the rich and savory flavors, as well as the delicate and extremely tender textures.
However, as the fats begin to render, excess juices begin to rise to the surface of the meat, causing them to pool. Once the juices have risen, they begin to chill and evaporate around the meat.
As a result, the cooling liquids cool the meat more quickly than the smoker can cook it, causing the temperature to halt. This is process is referred to as evaporative cooling.
The internal temperature will begin to rise again only when all of the surplus juices have rendered and evaporated. Getting out of a stall can take anywhere from 2 to 8 hours.
When Does Stalling Normally Occur?
When the brisket is between 150 and 165 degrees(F), temperature stalling is frequent. (Most smokers wrap their brisket around 150.)
Unfortunately, stalling is unpredictable and can occur numerous times during a single smoking session. They have been observed as late as 190 degrees(F) and as early as 130 degrees(F).
Why Does Brisket Stall At 190?
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s just a matter of luck. For causes beyond your control, the brisket you’re cooking may be late stalling.
However, it is sometimes the result of trivial, easily correctable errors.
Smoking Untrimmed Brisket
Untrimmed indicates that the brisket still has its complete fat cap intact. Typically, this is trimmed to 1/4 inch.
However, if the entire fat cap is left on, the amount of liquid that renders and pools will increase significantly. The added moisture can cause your brisket to stall unexpectedly.
The more liquid there is, the longer it takes to evaporate, thus your stall can continue much longer than usual.
A general rule of thumb to follow is that the more moisture there is inside the smoker, the longer it will take to cook your meat.
Adding Too Much Baste or Spritz
Over-basting your brisket will have the same consequence as smoking brisket with too much fat: it will add too much moisture.
Basting or spritzing brisket is a very common technique. It not only keeps the meat hydrated and juicy, but it also adds a slew of new flavors.
Going too heavy on the baste, on the other hand, will provide too much moisture inside the smoker, potentially causing excessive temperature stalling.
Cold, Rainy, and Windy Weather Conditions
Check the weather prediction before this weekend’s big barbecue. Adverse weather conditions might have an impact on smokers.
Cold weather can reduce the temperature within your smoker. If it’s cold outdoors, you’ll need to adjust your heat to compensate.
Rain might have an evaporative cooling impact on smokers. As precipitation accumulates outside of it, it cools and evaporates, thereby cooling the inside of the smoker. This can also happen with snow too.
If it starts to drizzle or rain, you must increase the smoke heat to compensate.
Windy circumstances can draw heat away from your smoker if it is not properly positioned. Arrange your smoker such that the wind flows through its ventilation ports if it’s windy outside.
Can You Pull Brisket At 190?
Not only is it absolutely fine to pull your brisket at 190, but most professionals actually recommend it…
When thick cuts of meat, such as brisket, are removed off the barbecue, they undergo “carry-over cooking.” This term refers to meat that continues to cook somewhat after being removed from the heat source.
Heat is retained in the thickest parts of the brisket, which continue to flow inside, slightly enhancing the internal temperature while it rests.
Carry-over cooking can boost the interior temperature by up to 10 degrees(F). So, if your target temperature is 200, you can pull at 190 and let it climb to it as it rests.
Carry-over cooking might overcook your meat in some circumstances, even if you pull it at the correct temperature.
As you can see, while late stalling is inconvenient, there are several alternatives available to help prevent it.
The good news is that stalls, no matter how annoying they can be, will pass. Patience is one of the most important qualities a pitmaster possesses.