When smoking thick slabs of meat with substantial amounts fat, like brisket or pork shoulder, temperature stalls are common.
It can be quite frustrating to deal with and may seem to continue forever. To make matters worse, did you realize that the temperature can actually drop during the stall?
However, there are other variables that might influence this, including fat content, smoker temperature, weather conditions, and even malfunctioning or unreliable equipment.
Fortunately, the experts have combined their knowledge and shared their experiences to assist new smokers who may have encountered this.
The article that follows explains why your brisket’s temperature may drop during the stall and what you can do to fix it.
When Does Brisket Stall?
The evaporation of surplus fluids from the surface of the meat causes a temperature stall.
As brisket smokes, its fatty tissues begin to dissolve and render, causing excess fluids to rise to the surface. These juices are cooled as they evaporate. The stall occurs when the smoker cannot cook the meat quicker than the juices cool it.
This is referred to as evaporative cooling.
When temperatures hit 150 to 175 degrees, the stall normally begins. However, stalls have been known to start at temperatures as low as 125 degrees(F).
Each cut is unique and can stall at contrasting times.
Some briskets may even go through multiple stalls. Most typically around 190 degrees(F), when the last of the excess fluids rise to the surface.
How Long Does a Stall Last?
A stall will not persist forever, and the brisket will ultimately be released and continue to cook. This will happen only when all of the extra fluids have risen and evaporated away.
Only then will the temperature of the meat continue to rise.
The most aggravating aspect of a stall is that there is no way of knowing how long it will last. A stall might linger between 2 to 8 hours!
Because of the unpredictability of the time, it is imperative to utilize a meat thermometer that provides precise and consistent measurements.
This keeps the brisket warm and lessens the impact of a stall.
Can The Temperature Drop During a Stall?
If a stall is severe enough, the internal temperature will undoubtedly drop. But a temp dip, like a stall, will be transitory and will eventually balance out and resume rising again.
However, a range of influences can contribute in this.
Smoking Brisket with Too Much Fat
Smoking an untrimmed brisket (with its full fat-cap intact) may substantially intensify stalls, resulting in temperature dipping.
While fatty tissues are an essential component of brisket, too much fat can add too much moisture as they are broken down.
Brisket is frequently spritzed with apple cider vinegar or basted with a blend of sauces while smoking. Over-basting the brisket, however, will add far too much moisture.
The increased moisture, combined with the rendering fats, can greatly lengthen a stall, and cause the temperature to drop slightly.
Not Using Enough Heat
Brisket is typically smoked at temperatures ranging from 225 to 250 degrees(F). If the temperature is any lower, it may not be able to shake off the stall once it starts.
Make sure the smoker is fully preheated to at least 225 before adding the brisket and avoid opening the lid too much while it cooks.
Smoking In Bad Weather
Weather conditions can have a significant impact on how well your smoker retains heat.
Windy situations, for example, can take heat away from your smoker and redirect it away from the meat. If you can’t avoid it, make sure the smoker faces the wind in the direction of its natural airflow, towards its ventilation vents.
The ambient smoke heat might be affected by cold weather. If the weather is particularly chilly, make sure to increase the heat of the smoke to compensate for the loss.
Rain can also cause smokers to cool down. As precipitation accumulates outside of the smoker, it cools and evaporates, lowering the heat inside. It’s essentially another form of evaporative cooling.
Can Brisket Be Pulled At 190 Degrees(F)?
Not only may you pull a brisket at 190 degrees, but most smokers recommend it.
When brisket is pulled, it undergoes a phenomenon known as “carry-over cooking.” This means that even after being removed from the heat source, the meat continues to slightly cook.
While holding/resting, residual heat that is trapped in the thickest portions of the meat continues to migrate towards the centre of the cut. This can raise the internal temperature by up to 10 degrees(F)!
So, if 200 is your target temperature, you can pull the brisket at 190 and let it finish as it rests. Pulling brisket at the precise desired temperature can actually cause it to overcook while resting in some circumstances.
While temperature reductions are infrequent, they have been observed.
While they are the product severe stalling, there are a number of circumstances that can contribute to this happening to you.
So, keep the following in mind:
- Briskets with a higher fat content are more prone to temperature fluctuations.
- Maintain an acceptable temperature in the smoker to alleviate stalling, and keep in mind that the weather might alter the overall ambient smoke heat.
- Avoid over-basting your brisket because the increased moisture increases the likelihood of temperature dips.