Whether you’re a newbie smoker or a seasoned veteran, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the notorious “stall” while smoking meats.
A stall can keep your brisket at the same internal temperature for up to 8 hours! But did you know that it might actually drop during this phase?
A brisket’s temperature might fall for a variety of reasons, including faulty equipment, low heat, cold and windy conditions, or brisket with too much fat.
However, temperature dips are most typically caused by a severe stall.
This article will discuss why temperature drops occur during stalls, other reasons why temperatures may drop, and what you can do to help and avoid this from happening.
Understanding The Stall
A temperature stall happens in most thick pieces of beef that are cooked at “low and slow” temperatures.
The goal of smoking meat at low temperatures is to completely dissolve all of the fatty tissues and connective fibers within the meat. They are redistributed back into the meat when they breakdown and render.
This is what makes smoked brisket so delicate and flavorful.
However, as these tissues breakdown, residual juices rise to the surface, where they cool and evaporate. The brisket cools at a faster rate than the smoker can cook it as the juices cool around it.
This is known as “evaporative cooling,” and it is what causes the temperature to stall.
The temperature will remain unchanged until all of the surplus juices have evaporated. This could take anywhere from a few hours to eight hours!
What Temperature Does the Stall Occur?
While there is no precise answer, the stall usually occurs between 150 and 175 degrees(f).
At these temperatures, excess fluids begin to sweat from the brisket and rise to the surface. “Will this dry out my brisket?” you might wonder. No, thankfully, and it will ultimately free itself from the stall.
Second stalls have been observed around 190 degrees(F). It is believed that at this temperature, the last of the juices finish rising and evaporating. However, unlike the first stall, this may not occur on every occasion.
Can The Temperature Drop During a Stall?
Yes, if the stall is bad enough, the temperature can temporarily drop. However, this is also dependent on a few of variables.
For example, the more fat on a brisket, the more severe the stall, which increases the likelihood of a temperature decrease.
More fat means more moisture, which intensifies the evaporative cooling effects. The excess moisture will not only cause it to stall, but it will also temporarily drop during a stall.
While fat is important on a brisket, at least half of the fat cap is normally trimmed away to prevent severe stalls and temperature dips from happening.
Can Wrapping Brisket Prevent This?
Wraps are an excellent approach to counteract these effects, and is regarded as standard practice for most smokers.
Wrapping a brisket with either aluminium foil or butcher paper reduces the airflow around the meat. This keeps the juices warm and significantly reduces (and in some cases completely prevents) the evaporation of liquids on the meat’s surface.
Typically, the wrap is applied once the brisket has reached, or begins to rise above 150 degrees(F).
Other Reasons the Temperature May Drop
Not Enough Heat
Brisket should be smoked at temperatures ranging from 225 to 250 degrees(F). At these temperatures, the tissues and fibers can properly dissolve and disperse themselves.
Before you even think about placing that brisket on the grill, ensure sure your smoker is thoroughly pre-heated.
The conditions outside the smoker will undoubtedly have an effect on the ambient smoke heat within.
The smoke heat will be affected by the cold weather. If the temperature around the smoker is particularly cold, you must modify and increase the smoke heat.
When it rains, a smoker experiences its own “evaporative cooling” effects. As precipitation accumulates outside the smoker, it cools and evaporates, causing the overall heat of the smoke to decrease.
Windy circumstances can divert the heat from the smoker away from the meat, dramatically chilling it. To mitigate this, ensure sure your smoker is facing the wind in the direction of its natural airflow.
Unreliable Reads from Thermometer
You’d be surprised at how many blunders can be caused by defective or inadequately maintained equipment.
Before you start cooking the brisket, examine your meat probe to ensure it’s giving you correct data.
Additionally, after each smoke, make sure to fully clean your probes. The temperature readouts will be impeded by residual char from earlier smokes.
As a result, the thermometer may indicate that a brisket has stalled or that the temperature has dipped when, in fact, it has not.
Can You Pull Brisket At 190?
The optimal internal temperature for brisket is between 200 and 205 degrees(F). So, if your brisket appears to be stuck at 190, so close to the finish line, you might consider just pulling it.
Fortunately, this is completely fine! And it’s all because of a process known as carry-over cooking. This term refers to how meat continues to cook after it has been removed from the heat source.
When brisket is pulled, heat absorbed in the thickest regions of the meat moves towards the centre, cooking it further and boosting the temperature along the way.
Carry-over cooking can boost the temperature by up to 10 degrees(F). As a result, smokers will often remove their briskets when they are 10 degrees above their intended temperature.
This permits the meat to reach the correct temperature while resting.
There are numerous reasons why your brisket may encounter brief temperature decreases, some of which may not even be your fault. Fortunately, these are situations that professionals have encountered and can share with you.
You can prevent and lessen these consequences by following these suggestions and looking for warning signs.