Probes are meat thermometers used for smoking and grilling different meats.
These thermometers are used to determine the internal temperature of various meats, particularly thick portions of steak, roasts, and brisket.
This is especially true when smoking meats such as pork shoulder or brisket.
There is no “timer” you can set to tell you when the meat is done cooking. Temperature is everything when it comes to smoking meat.
Brisket isn’t properly smoked until all of its fatty and connective tissues have broken down and rendered themselves back into the meat, no matter how long it’s been smoked. This is what gives pulled pork its luscious texture and rich flavor.
There are numerous probes available on the market. The most useful are probes can be placed on the brisket while it smokes, ensuring continuous temperature readings.
These probes will either be attached to heat-proofed wires that connect to a screen outside the smoker, or they will be “remote” probes that offer readings via wireless screen or an app on your phone.
When Should Brisket be Wrapped?
When briskets achieve an internal temperature of 150 degrees(F), they are usually wrapped. Temperature stalls commonly begin around this temperature, which is typically about 3-5 hours into the smoke.
The wrap’s goal is to reduce the stalling effect. It inhibits airflow around the brisket, preventing evaporative cooling from occurring.
Once the brisket is in the stall’s clutches, you’ll need to rely on those probes to guide you through it. A stall can last between 2 and 7 hours!
You’ll know you’ve passed the stall when the temperature continues to rise.
Where Should You Probe a Brisket?
Stick the probe into the thickest portion of the brisket while temping it. Always angel it in a horizontal direction, going across the grain of the meat.
Brisket should never be probed through the top, but rather into the sides of the meat.
Always temp the flat rather than the point when smoking a “whole-packer” (whole brisket).
A flat will give you a far more accurate read than a point because it is considerably meatier. Since points have a lot of fatty and connective tissues, a thermometer may provide incorrect results.
How Do You Probe a Wrapped Brisket?
You should not open a wrapped brisket until it has finished smoking. Unwrapping it prematurely can result in stalling or even temperature drops.
So, how do you go about probing it?
When inserting the probes, carefully pierce them through the wrap. Try not to wrap the brisket around the probes.
The seal of the wrap is more looser and less effective when wrapped around the probes. The brisket is still securely confined within thanks to minor incisions through the wrapping.
“Leave-in” and digital remote probes are the best options for this. They are completely heat resistant and safe to leave in the brisket as it smokes.
They also allow you to monitor the temperature without having to open the smoker cover, which is important for maintaining a consistent heat.
What Type of Wrapping Should Be Used?
Aluminium foil and butcher paper are the two primary materials that can be used.
Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and the question of “which wrap is superior” is always hotly disputed within the smoking community.
Foil is an excellent choice, especially for beginners. It’s simple to wrap a brisket in and provides a tight closure that firmly keeps the rendered juices in.
It also does a better job than butcher paper in reducing airflow around the brisket, allowing it to come out of the stall much faster.
However, because foil so tightly wraps the brisket with its juices, it has been known to diminish the quality of the bark and crackling skin. It has been observed to make brisket a little mushy.
Butcher paper is the way to go if high-quality bark is essential to you. Paper creates a looser seal on the brisket, allowing it to breathe more and better retain the bark and skin.
Butcher paper is more difficult to work with and takes some practice. Furthermore, because paper allows more air circulation around the brisket, getting past a stall will take longer.
When smoking meats, probing, and monitoring internal temperature is a must-have skill. A strong knowledge of this is what distinguishes amateurs from professionals.
While leave-in and remote thermometers are more expensive, their worth and use will pay for themselves. They not only allow for higher quality brisket but can also make the smoking process much easier for you.