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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?


Beef Brisket: However much you want to make, minimim 2 lbs/1 Kg up to one entire brisket. Sous vide self-compensates for the size of a cut of meat.

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.

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



The beef brisket is smoked first in this model first and finished 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 temperature.

The process takes approximately 3 hours. Once the target temperature is achieved, remove the brisket from the smoker and bag it. Since we only seal one end of the bag, it does not matter if we use Ziploc bags, FoodSaver devices or a Chamber Vacuum.

There are heat rated bags wide enough to accommodate a whole brisket. Unfortunately, the brisket is too long for most chamber vacuum machines. Channel vacuums’ heating strips are not wide enough to seal a bag that contains 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 referred to as sans vide; the equivalent of sous vide without the actual vacuum sealing step. Regardless of method, the brisket must be fully submerged during processing, for purposes of safety.

More options

Traditional recipes for brisket are always served with the familiar “well done” appearance–to achieve this effect, set the immersion circulator or other PID device to
155F/68Cx18 hours,

Rather than depending on the clock to calculate a “moment” when the brisket is properly tenderized, use the pinch/poke test to achieve the texture most desirable to you. This is what you will get:

and this:

and this

and this!


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 to achieve desired tenderness varies, so start using the pinch/poke test every 6 hours after the first 18. This will be the result:


and this:

Now, what do you think about that?

How this affects your back yard event

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.

Assume that you want to have a BBQ party on Sunday afternoon/evening, after church or between games, etc. On Saturday morning, smoke your brisket as described above–approx. 3-4 hours. Then, remove from the smoker and into the sous vide bath overnight. The tenderization of the meat occurs very slowly at such low temperatures. The difference in tenderness between a certain moment and three hours before/after that moment is barely detectable, if at all.

Either brisket is tender enough to cut into a steak to be pan seared/broiled or even re-smoked. Heat plates in the oven; put a slice of Humboldt Fog or other aged cheese on the plate. Hearts of Butter lettuce, we used the old-time favorite French dressing. The choice of dressing is purely a matter of preference; garnish with avocado, olives, natural juices.

Sigh, SMH. Doesn’t that look good?

Professionally yours as always,




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. Eventually, the moisture evaporates fast enough to actually cool the brisket, relatively speaking--a sort of equilibrium ensues.

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.
Using sous vide can avoid the stall altogether.


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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