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Sous Vide: Stall-proofed Smoked Beef Brisket; No Texas Crutch Required

During the smoking process, beef briskets' internal temperature can stall at approximately 150 F. Can sous vide replace the Texas Crutch?

Ingredients

Beef Brisket: However much you want to make, minimim 2 lbs/1 Kg up to one entire brisket.

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

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.

Equipment requirements
Immersion circulator, portable or stationary.
Heat rated container, minimum of 2 gallons/8 liters.
Heat rated sous vide bags.
Colander
Sauce pot, minimum 2 quart/2 liter.
Kitchen tongs.
Flour shaker/sifter.
Infrared or probe thermometer.

 

 

Notes:
Sous vide replaces calculations based on weight calculations based on the shortest distance from the surface to the geometric center–in simple terms–the thickness. This is why different weights of the meat have almost no effect on temperature or time calculations.

We will use a custom rub, isolating the salt from the mix itself so that we can control exactly how much salt is used without altering the amount of rub:

Serves 2/lb. of raw brisket
Level of difficulty 2.75

Procedure:

Season the brisket with salt in the amount of 2 teaspoons/lb. of meat (450 g).  Sprinkle heavily with the rub, as much or as little as you like. Rub it and press it so it clings to the surface.

Hot smoke the brisket @
225 F/107 C 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 seal it in a heat rated sous vide bag it. We will only seal one end of the bag, so 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 the first opening at an angle, reverse the angle and seal again. 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
155 F/68 C x 18 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!

But…

If you want your brisket to come out pink, you remove it from the smoker/oven when it achieves
125 F/52 C ,
bag it as we did before and set the immersion circulator to
130 F/54 C for 36 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:

This…

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 stage 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.

Professionally yours as always,

Norm King

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

The object 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. This is called the "Texas Crutch." The internal temperature eventually starts to rise again. Using sous vide can avoid the stall altogether.

Comments

2 thoughts on “Sous Vide: Stall-proofed 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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