What Happened To My Brisket Internal Temp?

Discussion in 'Beef' started by daricksta, Jun 7, 2016.

  1. daricksta

    daricksta OTBS Member

    I smoked a 4 lb. brisket flat on Sunday in my MES 30 Gen 1 and had something happen that's never occurred before.  I used my AMNPS loaded up with oak pellets. My set point was 225° and remarkably, the MES therm remained fairly close to the temp display on my ET-733. About 5 hours in I saw that the brisket IT was stalled at 154° so I wrapped it in foil. About a couple of hours later I saw the IT had risen to 189°. Since I wanted to finish the brisket unwrapped to a finish IT of 195° I removed the brisket from the foil and placed it back on the rack. A bunch of juices fell out of the foil because, honestly, I didn't plan the move right.

    And now comes the part that I've never seen happen before. The IT dropped down to 159°--a 30 degree drop. I moved the FOOD probe to a couple of different spots inside the brisket but the temp stayed where it was. I closed the smoker door and continued to cook the brisket at 225°. A little over an hour later the IT moved back up to 189° and hunkered down there for about 45 minutes. After that the IT slowly but surely climbed up to 195° but I finally removed the brisket from the MES when the IT hit 198°.

    The brisket came out very tender but not as juicy as I've gotten it in the past. To me it was a tad overcooked. But my question is why was there that drastic temp drop when I took the brisket out of the foil? The FOOD probe was securely inside the brisket and not touching the juices and rendered fat inside the foil. I've cooked several briskets before using the Texas Crutch and never had this happen.

    Does anyone have any idea as to what caused that excessive internal temp drop? Thanks.
  2. daveomak

    daveomak OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It's called "evaporative transpiration"....   evaporative cooling.....  When you opened the foil, a ton of evaporation occurred, now that the brisket was in the atmosphere...   the evaporation cooled the meat...   
  3. daricksta

    daricksta OTBS Member

    I'd never heard of or experienced that before. This is embarrassing to ask, Dave, but how do I avoid it in the future? I know it was dumb to remove the foil from the brisket while holding it in my hands. That's when all the hot juice spilled out, just missing my bare legs.
  4. daveomak

    daveomak OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Once smoke has been applied, seal the meat in foil and probably in a pan of sorts....

    Leave the brisket sealed in foil.....   place it in a foil or aluminum pan to finish the cook...    Insert a temp probe through the foil to monitor temps...   I have found that extended temps of 185 or so makes for a very tender, fall apart  meat...   extended like for 2 hours or longer....  Break down of the tissues is time / temp related...    I cook all my meats at 200 ish degrees.... below the boiling point...    takes time but the results are great....  You do not need to take meats to 205...   above 180 for a long time will improve flavor and texture.... 

    Since the forum is not liking links to other sites, here's the whole meal deal....

    Science of Slow Cooking

    --Of all the attributes of eating quality, tenderness is rated the most important factor affecting beef palatability--

    Slow cooked meals are generally easier to make and very cost effective using cuts of meat that improve in texture and flavor when cooked for long periods of time at low temperatures. These tough cuts of meat contain large amounts of collagen which require long cooking times to break down into a rich gelatin.


    When you cook, collagen begins to melt at about 160F and turns to a rich liquid, gelatin. This gives meat a lot of flavor and a wonderful silky texture. When cooking it is important to liquify collagen.

    Denaturation of the collagen molecule is a kinetic process, and hence a function of both temperature and duration of heating. Cooking at low temperatures require long periods of time to liquify collagen.


    105F/40C - 122F/50C --Calpains begin to denature and lose activity till around 105F, cathepsains at 122F. Since enzyme activity increases up to those temperatures, slow cooking can provide a significant aging effect during cooking. Meat should however be quickly seared or blanched first to kill surface microbes.

    120°F/50°C -- Meat develops a white opacity as heat sensitive myosin denatures. Coagulation produces large enough clumps to scatter light. Red meat turns pink.

    Rare Meats: 120°F/50°C is the early stages of juiciness in meats as the the protein myosin, begins to coagulate . This lends each cell some solidity and the meat some firmness. As the myosin molecules bond to each other they begin to squeeze out water molecules that separated them. Water then collects around the solidifyed protein core and is squeezed out of the cell by connective tissue. At this temperature meat is considered rare and when sliced juices will break through weak spots in the connective tissue

    140°F/60°C -- Red myoglobin begins to denature into tan colored hemichrome. Meat turns from pink to brown-grey color.

    140°F/60°C -- Meat suddely releases lots of juice, shrinks noticebly, and becomes chewy as a result of collagen denaturing which squeezes out liquids.

    Medium -- Well Meats: Collagen shrinks as the meat tmeperature rises to 140/60 more of the protein coagulates and cells become more seggregated into a solid core and surrounding liquid as the meat gets progressively firmer and moister. At 140-150 the meat suddenly releases lots of juices, shrinks noticeably and becomes chewier as a result of collagen shrinkage. Meat served at this temperature is considered medium and begins to change from juicy to dry.

    160°F/70°C -- Connective tissue collagen begins to dissolve to gelatin. Melting of collagen starts to accelerate at 160F and continues rapidly up to 180F.

    Well Done Slow Cooked Meats: Falling apart tenderness collagen turns to gelatin at 160/70. The meat gets dryer, but at 160F the connective tissues containing collagen begins to dissolve into gelatin. With time muscle fibers that had been held tightly together begin to easily spread apart. Although the fibers are still very stiff and dry the meat appears more tender since the gelatins provide succulence.

    NOTES: At 140°F changes are caused by the denaturing of collagen in the cells. Meat served at this temperature med-rare is changing from juicy to dry. At 160°F/ 70°C connective tissue collagen begins to dissolve to gelatin. This however is a very lengthy process. The fibers are still stiff and dry but meat seems more tender. Source: Harold McGee -- On Food and Cooking

    Anatomy of muscle fiber
    [​IMG]  A muscle is completely enclosed by a thick sheath of connective tissue (the epimysium) and is divided into bundles of fibres by a connective tissue network (perimysium). Individual muscle fibres are bounded by a plasma membrene surrounded by connective tissue (endomysium) which consists of a basement membrane surrounded by a reticular later in which a meshwork of fine collage fibrils is embedded in a matrix. Tendons are elastic collagenous tissues.
    Source: Wikipedia  

    Scattered among the muscle fibers are fat cells which store energy for the muscles. Fat is crucial to meat texture. Waxy when it is cold, fat does not evaporate when you are cooking as does water. It melts and lubricates the fibers as they are getting tougher under the heat. Fat is also the source of much of the flavor in meat. As the animal ages the flavor compounds build up and get stronger. After the animal is slaughtered, the fat can turn rancid if stored improperly or too long.


    We like our meat tender and juicy at the same time...

    We therefore want our meat to be cooked tender where tough collagen is converted to gelatin but with a minimum loss of moisture. The reality is that these methods are contracdictory and hence the challenge or dilemma to cooking meats. To minimize moisture loss requires temperatures less than 130F, however .turning collagen into gelatin requires temperatures above 160F and for extended time periods. As moisture evaporates, the meat begins to shrink. A slab can lose 20% or more of its weight in cooking due to shrinkage. Even meat cooked in liquid will dry out although not as quickly. So we are faced with a dilemma. To liquefy the collagen we need to cook the meat to 180F and hold it there for for long periods of time. But by then it is well past well-done and the muscle fibers can be dryed out. As a result, we need to add moisture.

    How to slow loss of moisture

    Brining. Brining adds a significant amount of moisture, it helps retain moisture during cooking, contributes noticeable flavor enhancements.

    Steaming. Another method of adding moisture is to cook the meat in very high humidity by wrapping it in foil with a little water or juice. This keeps moisture from escaping and some vapors penetrate the meat.

    Braising or poaching (--low temperatures--). Braising is a method of cooking by submerging the meat in hot liquid, but not hot enough to boil. Braising can give you juicy, tender, and flavorful meat, especially if you use a flavorful braising liquid. But it tends to pull all the collagen out and rob the meat of its natural flavor. Flavor the liquid (water with pickling spices is a nice simple start), completely submerge the slab, keep the lid off, keep the temp down to about 160-180F for about 30 minutes, and let the meat cool in the liquid for 20-30 minutes so it will absorb some of the water before putting it on the grill.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2016
  5. daricksta

    daricksta OTBS Member

    Thanks for all this. I've never read up on cooking brisket this much in depth before. I typically cook mine to 200-ish but this time I only cooked it up to 195 because I'd read a few articles about how many pros felt that was the ideal IT. From now the IT goes over 200. I also typically keep it foiled until it reaches the IT I want. I don't place it in a pan but after foiling I just keep it on the 2nd rack of my MES 30. It's always turned out great. This time it wasn't falling apart but it was really tender and flavorful. But for some reason it didn't absorb as much smoke as I'd hoped it would after being exposed to oak pellets for about 5-6 hours. It still has a pleasantly smoky flavor but I had intended more of it.

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