Becoming a pitmaster entails not just flawlessly smoking meats, but also learning how to handle these meats safely once they have finished cooking.
Whether your brisket finished cooking much faster than expected or you simply want a longer resting period, knowing how to hold meat for extended periods of time is a crucial skill.
In this article, we will explore how long cooked brisket may be held, as well as a few tricks to maximize this time.
How Long Can Cooked Brisket Be Held?
First and foremost, whether the brisket is raw or fully cooked, it must adhere to the “danger zone.” This term refers to the temperature range in which cooked or raw meat should be considered hazardous for ingestion.
The danger zone ranges from 40 to 140 degrees(F).
Raw brisket should never be permitted to warm above 40 degrees(F), and cooked brisket should never be allowed to go below 140 degrees(F), (unless it has been prepared for storage and refrigerated or frozen of course).
Fully cooked brisket takes roughly 2 hours at room temperature to enter the danger zone. Brisket typically requires only 30 to 45 minutes of resting time, but any resting time greater than 2 hours will necessitate additional processes.
How To Hold Brisket Longer Than 2 Hours
Holding In a Cooler
The finest and most recommended way to store and keep brisket warm is in a cooler.
It may be weird to use a cooler to keep brisket warm, but they are exceptionally insulative and good at retaining heat within.
Brisket may be kept warm and fresh for up to 4 hours in a cooler! However, some modest preparation is required.
- Bring water to a boil and pour it into the cooler a few minutes before removing the brisket.
- Drain and dry the cooler before lining it with dry cloth towels. Close the lid quickly to retain the heat inside.
- Immediately remove the brisket from the smoker and cover it in another dry linen towel.
If you haven’t previously wrapped the brisket in tin foil or butcher paper, do so before wrapping it in a towel.)
Every 30 to 45 minutes, remove the wrapped brisket and re-filter boiling water through the cooler to maintain a consistent environment.
If done correctly, this should give you roughly 4 to 6 hours of holding time without sacrificing quality. It will keep it fresh, safe, and ready to serve.
Holding ovens are frequently used in more professional settings. They are set to low temperatures, which keep the brisket ready to serve for long periods of time.
Some argue that even when set to low temperatures, the oven might still overcook the brisket. This is why any wrapping from the smoker should be left on.
The contained rendered liquids will keep the meat moist and soft, preventing it from drying. If you smoked your brisket without wrapping it, make sure to wrap it before putting it in the oven.
Most ovens include a “warming” feature, but if yours doesn’t, simply set it to 170 degrees(F).
You should be able to keep a brisket in the oven for up to 8 hours.
Can Brisket Be Held Too Long?
Absolutely. You eventually reach a threshold of diminishing returns, and the quality begins to deteriorate. Overholding or resting might lead the meat to become mushy, thereby jeopardizing any thick and crispy bark or skin.
This can happen even if the brisket is kept at safe temperatures. It will still be safe to consume, but most of its quality will be lost.
What Temperature Should Brisket Be Before Pulling?
The ideal internal temperature for smoked brisket is between 200 and 205 degrees(F), however 200 is preferable.
At this temperature, all of the fatty and connective tissues have dissolved and redistributed themselves into the meat, resulting in the mouth-wateringly soft texture and outrageously rich flavors that smoked brisket is famous for.
Can Brisket Be Pulled At 190 Degrees(F)?
While 200 should be your target temperature, 190 is perfectly acceptable. Most pitmasters prefer this because of a phenomenon known as “carry-over cooking.”
This word refers to meat that continues to cook slightly after it has been removed from the smoker.
It’s caused by the heat that’s trapped in the thickest parts of the brisket. The leftover heat moves towards the centre, slightly elevating its internal temperature.
Carry-over cooking can raise the temperature by up to ten degrees(F). So, pulling at 190, which his 10 degrees below the target temp, can be quite beneficial.
Brisket can be stored for a long time with proper technique and management while remaining fresh and ready to serve. This is a vital talent that distinguishes pitmasters from beginners.
- Depending on how well it’s prepared, a cooler can keep brisket fresh for 4 to 6 hours.
- Brisket can be cooked in an oven for up to 8 hours. If you are concerned about it drying out, simply add juices to the baking dish to keep it moist and hydrated.
- Brisket should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Following that, the rate at which bacteria develops doubles, making it unfit for human consumption.