Keeping brisket warm for 6+ hours (or possible more)

Discussion in 'Beef' started by leeman, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. leeman

    leeman Smoke Blower

    I plan on doing several briskets for our annual holiday party. This year I'd like to do them overnight and have it done early so I can get other stuff done before the guests arrive. I'm going to shoot for them to be done around noon and plan on slicing around 7pm. That is pushing it a little on the amount of time they can survive in a cooler. There is always the risk too that they might finish earlier than noon.

    I may continue to use the smoker after the brisket it done to do some ribs. If I wrap the brisket in saran wrap and foil and place in an oven (heated on low) or the vertical chamber on my smoker (runs about 100 degrees cooler than main horizontal chamber), will that work okay without drying out or ruining the meat ?

    How do restaurants handle this ? 

    Thanks !

      -- Lee
  2. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    most restaurants just chill and reheat. either by steam or in au jus.

     I think 8 to 10 hrs is possible to hold multiple briskets in an ice  chest.

    If you boil some water and pour in to the chest to pre heat it.Dump out the water. wrap briskets in plastic wrap and multiple layers of heavy foil. then wrap in towels. fill all air space in the chest w/ towels or blankets and keep it closed.

     barring that you can slice it, store it and reheat in au jus .
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2011
  3. biteme7951

    biteme7951 Meat Mopper

    What Eman said.  You can put a remote thermometer in one of them in the cooler to keep track of it.
  4. You can also put a "Back Heating Pad" in the botom of the cooler with your foil/towel wrapped meats on top to create a makeshift food warmer box.
  5. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

      Just like Bob said,

    I have used this method in 30º temps and it held the briskets 10 hours, no problem.

  6. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

     That is the way I do it too
  7. shooterrick

    shooterrick Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have kept briskets and butts foiled and packed with towels in a good cooler for 5 plus hours no problem.
  8. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I've gone 8 hours in a cooler with a brisket & it never got below 140.
  9. leeman

    leeman Smoke Blower

    Okay. I may wrap and leave in the warming side of the smoker for a bit until I can get to the 4-6 hour mark (if needed).

    My real question is if I keep the brisket wrapped and heated with ~150 degree heat, will it dry out ? Sounds like I should be okay.

    Thanks !

  10. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Just put some liquid in the foil with it to keep it moist.
  11. You're in the grey area of what's right and what's not right. 

    Most restaurants chill their meat overnight, pop it into a warming oven to quickly bring it to serving temperature and then slide the serving trays into a warming cabinet to maintain that temperature.  The rule of thumb being the zone between room and serving temperature is prone to breed bacteria.  You don't want your food to be in that temperature range very long.  A warming cabinet isn't good at heating food.  The best you will get out of it is maintaining food's temperature

    In a pinch, double or triple wrap your unsliced briskets in foil and store in a heated ice cooler with towels.  Leave the briskets in the foil even when using an oven to bring them up to temperature, since the foil and not being presliced will help keep them hot and moist. 
  12. leeman

    leeman Smoke Blower

    I assume if I foil it and keep it in the warmer part of my smoker (150degrees) that I should be okay ?

      -- Lee
  13. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    If it's above 140º it's safe
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2011
  14. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Lee...Raptor X10

     You can hold all day long wrapped and at 150*F...JJ
  15. I agree.  You can hold all day even as low as 145 degrees if you well wrap and don't pre-slice the brisket into serving trays.  If the temp is right and if you super wrap, everything should stay hot and moist.  Your bark will become soft but it's flavor will remain.  The moisture will remain in the package.

    Use whatever you have to keep things hot.  The smoker is a good choice.  Learn from your mistakes and the next time will be easier.  In my mind, if more things go right than wrong, you're doing something right.
  16. I offer no defense other than safety to my temperature recommendations.  Too much temperature is much safer than too little.  Some may disagree with me about my bottom line in some meats.  At the vending level, I would rather be safe than sorry. 

    Consumer cooking is much different.  I'm re-cooking up some sliced beef heart, shaken in flower and broiled in a dutch oven pan I haven't used for 5 years.  The added onions and garlic will top a small pasta that I intend to start in about 30 minutes . . . if the meal survives at all.  I've been muching on it.  There are times when you know, "I can eat this", and there are times when you wonder, "should I serve this". 
  17. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    When we do festivals we use our warming box on the smoker (which is at 165*) for hot holding the meat for many hours. Double wrap the brisket in heavy duty foil and put it in there. You won't need to add any liquid to it assuming it didn't dry out on the smoker and it will come out just fine.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2011
  18. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Never tried it with brisket, but I've held pork shoulders for 6 or 7 hours no problem.  Pre-heated the cooler with near boiling water and used a cooler that was only slightly larger than the shoulders (not the standard size, but more a mid-sized cooler and it had heavy insulation).  Double wrapped in foil and placed into the pre-heated cooler.  Filled top void with towels and close her up.  Still would burn your hands when pulling 6 or 7 hours later and no problem with drying out (but again this was not a brisket).

    I would think it's doable using a cooler even if you had no way to reheat or a warmer to keep at temp.
  19. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Eman has you covered. I have held a brisket for 7 hrs. and still had it way to hot to handle with bare hands. I line the bottom of the chest with a towel, place my double foil wrapped chunks of meat in, then fill the rest of the chest with old towels. They stay very hot and very moist - in fact if you are going to let them sit for more than 4 hrs. you might want to pull the briskets about 10 degrees prior to the done-ness you are shooting for, otherwise you run the risk of them getting a little mushy from overcooking in the foil.

  20. I've not thought about that one.  What are the costs and how well does it do? 

    I was at a catering about a week ago where the guy used a cooler and I asked him about it.  He said he can get 10 hours if he preheats with hot water, lays down a layer of towels and then a layer of hot bricks.  He then layers his meat in double wrapped tinfol and tries to keep it as compact as possible . . . no trays, just the wrapped hot meat.  Tops it with more towels and closes.  The chest will keep hot for 8 hours if unopened.  Once it's opened and you start service, that's when most the cooling occurs.

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