Keeping Brisket Warm- Food Safety (Pregnant wife)

Discussion in 'Beef' started by overnighter, Dec 12, 2015.

  1. overnighter

    overnighter Newbie

    Hello, I am planning on smoking a 7.5lb brisket for a family gathering. 

    I'm putting the brisket on the smoker at 8pm Friday night, and will take it off when it reaches 190 degrees. I'm hoping it will get to temp by 6:30 Saturday am. Next, I plan on wrapping it with plenty of foil and towels and storing it in a cooler with a probe still in so I can monitor the temp. 

    Now, we won't be eating the brisket until 1pm. That's 6.5 hours in the cooler. I understand that the brisket needs to stay above 140 degrees to be safe. Do you think that the brisket will be able to stay above 140 for that long? Also, what happens if it does drop below 140? Will I be able to reheat it in the oven to 140+ to make it safe again?

    I'm being very careful since I have a pregnant wife who will be eating the brisket. 

  2. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Basic gist of it is that food can only safely spend 4 hours in the 40 to 140 degree temp range.   How long it will stay at temp in your cooler depends on how efficient your cooler is.   Basically, think about coolers holding a bag of ice.  Some coolers can only hold ice for 1 day before melting while in something like a Yeti, the ice will hold for 5 or 6 days.   Same thing applies with heat.   Better insulated cooler will hold the meat at a higher temp for a longer period of time.  

    For a single brisket in a decent sized "normal" cooler, 6.5 hrs is approaching the limit.  Be sure to put some towels in for additional insulation and heat retention.   If the brisket starts getting down near 140, put it in the oven before it gets there.    Put oven on the lowest setting possible.  Ideally, you'd want to hold it around 160.  If your oven won't go that low, heat to it's lowest setting then turn it off.  The heat will drop over time.  Repeat cycle as necessary if that makes sense.   
  3. alamojoe

    alamojoe Fire Starter

    I've held briskets in the cooler that long but they were larger - 12-15lbs.  I'd be worried about holding an 8lb brisket that long but I'd still go ahead.  I'd try to push back the start time to around 9pm and I'd also pre-heat the cooler.  

    Put a large pot of water on the stove and heat it up to ~180 degrees. Pour the water in the cooler, close the lid and let it sit for 15 minutes or so.  Then dump the water, wipe it out and add your brisket.  If you wrap the brisket in some towels, that's supposed to help as well. I usually do 1 towel just to keep the mess out of my cooler. 

    If you did get it too cool or finish way too early . .you can vacuum seal the brisket and reheat it by putting it in a pot of water in the oven for a few hours @ 250. 

    I reheat brisket this way all the time.  In fact, it's such a pain to time briskets that I usually cook ahead and reheat to serve.  It's actually pretty rare that we eat brisket fresh off the pit. 
  4. overnighter

    overnighter Newbie

    Thanks guys for the responses. 

    One last question. If I decide to keep the brisket warming in the cooler, and it does drop below 140, will I need to throw away the brisket? Or will I be able to reheat the brisket in the oven to 165 and be safe? 

    Remember I have a pregnant wife, so food safety is my #1 priority!

    Thank you both!
  5. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    You could always start it later and you can't really depend on the meat finishing on time.

    Good Luck

  6. alamojoe

    alamojoe Fire Starter

    Once it drops to 140, you still have 2 hours to serve it. Well 2hours is the restaurant standard but I believe you could go 4 hours. 

    If you re-heat to 165, in *theory* that should work but I'd be uncomfortable with an at-risk diner.  The heat doesn't kill *everything* . .it just kills it down to an acceptable level.  By letting it go into the danger zone you're allowing bacteria to grow and then hoping you kill it back down enough when you reheat it.  It's probably OK.  I'd feel better about it if I were reheating it Sous Vide and could hold it for an hour at 170 or something.  Otherwise I'd be wary of cool pockets lurking in the middle - filled with pathogens waiting to wreak havoc on my guests.  Well . .that may be laying it on a bit thick . .but better safe than sorry, lol.   
  7. smokeindaville

    smokeindaville Fire Starter

    I smoked a 5.78# flat for yesterday's dinner, my first brisket. It was delicious.

    I started it at midnight and it took 16 hours and 15 minutes to be done. That was coming off at 205* but more importantly, it passed the probe test. I started the cooking at 225* so I'm thinking next time I will use a higher temp. Just wanted you to know what mine did so you could adjust your times or temp if needed.

    I was going to insert a picture of it but this would be the first time and I haven't figured that out yet. :D

  8. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    The only other thing I would add is that I would be surprised if your Brisket was done at 6:30 am if you put it in at 8pm, that's 10.5 hrs, and my guess is you'd need at least 12 to get it tender. I guess temps and thickness fo your brisky will play a part, but I would be quite surprised if it was done before 8:30am or so and that would solve your whole problem. Perhaps consider taking the temp up to 205 if you still need more time to drag it out.

    The time it finishes will be easier to control then having to worry about food safety in the resting period.
  9. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    Just smoked 2 8lb flats Sat. I put them on at 6:20am and pulled them at 3:00 pm smoked them @ 275
    One was 205 and the other was 200 IT.
  10. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    When you do the cooler line the bottom with a towel, put in your brisket, then fill all the dead space with more towels. That will keep it very hot for a long time - another option to help keep the heat up is wrap a couple of bricks in foil and heat them up oven. then put them in the cooler with the brisket - probably on top with a towel wrapped around them.

    Just keep in mind - if you are going to hold it for more than 4 hrs. then pull the brisket just a tad early because it will continue to cook. Pulling it early helps the meat not get mushy or to fall apart.

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