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Can you eat brisket at 160? (Explained)

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Is it possible to eat brisket at 160 degrees? Brisket is a cut of beef that comes from the lower chest area of the cow. It is a tough cut of meat, but it is flavorful and can be slow cooked to tenderness. 

Many people like to cook their brisket until it reaches an internal temperature of 203 degrees(F), which is considered medium rare. However, some people argue that you can eat brisket at a lower temperature, such as 160 degrees. 

So, what is the truth? Can brisket be eaten at 160 degrees?

In this post, we’ll discuss whether it’s a good idea to eat brisket at 160 degrees(F), as well as a few reasons why your brisket might be stuck at that temperature.

What Temperature Is Brisket Usually Cooked Too?

The ideal internal temperature for brisket is between 200 and 205 degrees(F). All of those beautiful fatty and connective tissues have had adequate opportunity to properly breakdown and emulsify themselves into the meat at these temperatures.

The emulsifying of these tissue and fibers result in the wonderfully luscious textures and mouthwateringly rich flavors.

Is Brisket Okay to Eat At 160 Degrees(F)?

Brisket is a tough cut of meat that benefits from low and slow cooking. This means that it’s often cooked at a lower temperature than other meats, which can make people wonder whether it’s safe to eat at 160 degrees.

The answer is yes – brisket is perfectly safe to eat at 160 degrees. As long as the meat is above 145 degrees(F), it should be perfectly suitable for safe consumption. 

However, just because the meat is safe to consume at these lower temperatures doesn’t imply it will be as good as a properly smoked brisket.

The meat can still be stiff and chewy at 160-165 degrees(F), making it difficult to shred or pull apart. The succulent characteristics of smoked brisket will most likely be gone. 

What Temperatures Are Used to Smoke Brisket?

Most pitmasters agree that the ideal temperature for smoking brisket is between 225 and 250 degrees(F). Low enough to totally dissolve the brisket’s tissues without overcooking the meat, and hot enough to get the beef to your ideal goal temperature.

A brisket will cook in around 1½ to 2 hours per pound of meat at 225 degrees. This means that a 5-pound brisket will take around 10 hours to smoke completely.

Some smokers, however, prefer to smoke at greater temperatures, between 275 and 300 degrees(F). While this is a risky approach, it will considerably shorten the time required to smoke the brisket.

At 300 degrees, the cooking time per pound of meat reduces to 30 to 45 minutes. This means that the same 5-pound brisket that took 10 hours to cook will only take 3 to 4 hours on the smoker.

Higher temperatures can easily overcook and dry out brisket, so proceed with caution if you choose to go this way.

Why Is My Brisket Stuck At 160 Degrees(F)?

So, you’re smoking a brisket, and everything is going according to plan. The temperature is steady, the wood is giving off the perfect amount of smoke, and your guests are getting impatient. But then, suddenly, the temperature stops going up.

It hovers around 160 degrees for what seems like hours, no matter how much you fiddle with the vents. Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. The dreaded brisket stall is a phenomenon that has baffled smokers for years

While there are many theories about what causes it, the most likely explanation is that the meat’s collagen begins to contract at around 160 degrees, making it difficult for heat to penetrate the centre of the brisket. However, there’s no need to panic. Just be patient and let the brisket cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees. 

At that point, the collagen will start to break down and the temperature will start to rise again. So just sit back, relax, and have a cold beer while you wait for your brisket to reach perfection. 

What Causes Temperature Stalling?

As previously indicated, there are numerous reasons why a brisket may stall, but the most prevalent is a process known as “evaporative cooling.”

The fatty tissues begin to render as the brisket smokes, causing excess juices to rise to the surface of the meat. These liquids then begin to cool around the meat and evaporate, chilling the brisket.

At the rate these surplus liquids are cooling, the smoker just cannot cook the brisket at the same pace. This will continue until all of the juices have risen and evaporated, at which point the brisket will begin to rise in temperature again.

The stall usually occurs between 150 and 165 degrees(F) and can continue from 2 to 8 hours. However, this is dependent on a variety of circumstances, including the size of the brisket, the quantity of fat on it, the ambient heat within the smoker, and even the weather outside the smoker.