Stall-Proofing Your Smoked Beef Brisket; No Texas Crutch Required

Pitmaster and novice alike witness the internal temperature of their brisket“stalling” during the smoking process. This inconvenience usually occurs at approximately 150F internal, and can drag on for up to four hours. "Texas Crutch" is one strategy used to overcome the obstacle. Can Sous Vide/Sous-B-Q™ provide a solution?

Ingredients

We will build a custom rub, keeping the salt separate from the mix itself. Start with:

5 Tablespoons Kosher Salt. This will season 10 pounds of meat.

Combine:

1 Tbsp. Ground Black Pepper.
1 Tbsp. Paprika
1 Tbsp.
Fennel
1 Tbsp.
Anise
1 Tbsp.
Chinese Star Anise
1 Tbsp.
Allspice
1 Tbsp. Ginger,
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
1 Tbsp. Oregano

 

 

CHOICES

In this case, we will hot smoke the beef brisket FIRST and then finish utilizing sous vide.

We rub.  Some people put on the Dr. No gloves and give the brisket a full Swedish massage, but I mostly sprinkle and pat sternly. We stage the brisket into the largest LIPAVI rack…and then…

Hot smoke the brisket @225F/107C until it achieves 135F/57C internal.

The process usually takes 3 hours or thereabouts. Monitor the internal temperature frequently after it achieves 120F/49C to avoid exceeding your target.

Once we achieve our target temperature, we pull the brisket and bag it. There is no debate about whether to use Ziploc bags, FoodSaver devices or a Chamber Vacuum. Why not? Because it does not matter. We only seal one end of the bag.

There are heat rated bags wider enough to accommodate a whole brisket. Unfortunately, the brisket is still too long to fit into most chamber vacuum machines. Channel vacuums’ heating strips are not wide enough to seal a bag big enough to contain an entire brisket. We can, however, seal half of the first opening at an angle, and then the other. In the bottom right slide, you can see the open end of the bag draped over the edge of the vessel. This is what we call SANS VIDE,  the equivalent of sous vide without the task of vacuum sealing.

Whether the bag is sealed at both ends or not, the brisket MUST be fully submerged during processing, for purposes of safety and uniformity.

MORE choices.

Those of you who read the previous article about briskets may be able to guess what comes next…

If you want your brisket to come out well done, the way briskets are usually  EXPECTED to come out, you set the immersion circulator or other PID device to

155F/68Cx18 hours, and then use the pinch/poke test.

This is what you will get:

and this:

and this

and this!

BUT…

If you want your brisket to come out pink, you remove it from the smoker/oven when it achieves 125F/52C , bag it, set the immersion circulator to

130F/54Cx36 hours.

The time required may vary, so start using the pinch/poke test every 6 hours after the first 18.

then you get this:

This…

AND THIS:

Now, what do you think about that?

How this affects your back yard event.

I suppose some practitioners get up “way early” in the morning and fire up the Q, hoping to serve their brisket before sunset. This usually requires some serious finger-crossing and even prayer. It need not be so. Sous vide can take the anxiety out of meal service scheduling.

Let us pretend that you want to have a BBQ party on Sunday afternoon/evening, after church or between games, or whatever. On SATURDAY, sometime between the time you get up and noon (those may be the same thing), you smoke your brisket as described above–approx. 3-4 hours. Then, out of your smoker and into the bag overnight.

No alarm will sound, unless you set one. This is another amazing feature of sous vide. The meat does not suddenly turn to pudding if your interval extends for another six hours. At those temperatures, there will be no noticeable change in the texture of the meat. Heck, you could serve it on Monday if you ran out of propane on Sunday. That is how flexible sous vide is!

No matter which you choose, you might want to consider making something like this:

Either brisket is tender enough to cut into a steak, which can then be pan seared. Make it a habit to heat plates in the oven, and put a slice of Humboldt Fog goat cheese on the plate, very sinful. Heart of Butter lettuce, French, yes, FRENCH dressing. I make a version that my wife loves; garnish with avocado, olives, natural juices.

Sigh, SMH. Doesn’t that look good?

Professionally yours as always,

Norm

 

About

The stall is really not so difficult to explain. The culprit is called "evaporative cooling." As the temperature increases, water is converted to steam and escapes from the meat. This is what converts collagen to gelatin--tendirzation. Eventually, the moisture evaporates fast enough to actually cool the brisket, relatively speaking--a sort of equilibrium ensues. Long distance runners purposely achieve this sort of equilibrium, using evaporative cooling to prevent their own exhaustion.

The goal is to convert as much collagen to gelatin as possible before the brisket runs out of water and becomes dry.
One remedy is to wrap the brisket in foil to slow down the evaporation. The internal temperature starts to rise again. T

Using sous vide can avoid the stall altogether.

Comments

2 thoughts on “Stall-Proofing Your Smoked Beef Brisket; No Texas Crutch Required

    • I consider the two models equivalent….which is a change of outlook for sure. One has the advantage of ending up with a preserved product that can be crisped. The other ends up with a crispy product that can then be preserved.

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