If you are new to the world of briskets, then you might have already experienced your meat stalling at a certain temperature.
Stalling once is often common, but what happens if your brisket stalls twice, maybe even multiple times. What then?
‘Stalling’ is often what is meant when a lump of meat gets stuck at a certain temperature. This is usually a larger cut of meat, such as brisket.
You might be tempted to spritz the brisket to get it to ignite, but sometimes this has the opposite effect and cools the meat down.
So how can you get the temperature of your meat to rise again? What happens when your meat gets stuck at 125 degrees, 190 degrees or even 170 degrees?
How can you get the best results from your larger cut of meat? Well, if you want the solutions to all your brisket needs, then you should keep reading.
What Should I Do If My Brisket Stalls During Smoking?
What Happens When Brisket Stalls?
Stalling is what happens when the temperature of meat gets stuck at a specific level. This could be due to multiple factors, including inaccurate temperature readouts or the quality of the meat is poor.
There are plenty of reasons why the meat in your griller is having trouble reaching the optimum levels. The stalling usually happens around the 160-degree mark. This could be because of many reasons.
You can have your brisket stall multiple times, with some experts suggesting that the reason for this is the fact that the collagen in the meat turns into gelatine at around the 160-degree mark.
However, in the case of brisket, there is not enough collagen in the meat for this to actually happen. So this rules out collagen as being the reason for stalling.
There is also a theory that the protein in the meat denatures at around the same time as the meat traditionally stalls. However, this has also been ruled out, as this process occurring at the same time as the stall is purely coincidental.
The fat in the meat rendering is also another hypothesis for the meat stalling at a certain temperature.
This is because fat doesn’t evaporate like moisture and will usually lead to a spike in heat rather than a cooling down.
However, the true reason for your brisket getting stuck at a certain temperature is due to a process called evaporative cooling. This is when the body releases so much energy and moisture that it cools down the body or the meat.
The temperature of 150 degrees is when the heat of the brisket is not enough to fight the process of natural evaporation.
It can happen at other temperatures too, but the 150-degree mark is where it is the most common.
This process will not last forever, but as the moisture is expelled from your meat, then you could be looking at your brisket stalling for at least a few hours. So how do we remedy this situation?
How Often Can A Brisket Stall?
A brisket could stall more than once during the cooking process. This will happen a lot more frequently if the cooking environment is changing rapidly.
You should make sure that the temperature of the smoker has not dropped down too low.
This is because the heat from the smoker will have trouble counteracting the amount of excess moisture that is coming from the brisket itself.
Once you have identified the reasons why the brisket has stalled, then you can start sorting out the issue. We’ll have a look at all the different types of heat, ranging from 125 degrees to 190 degrees.
How To Stop Stalling At 125 Degrees
The usual temperature for a brisket to stall is around 150 degrees, so if it does this at a lower temperature of 125 degrees, then the chances are that your smoker heat is not turned up high enough.
If you have your smoker at 225 degrees and the heat of the meat is at 125 degrees, then we would suggest that you raise the temperature to around 250 degrees.
This will usually combat the excess moisture coming from your meat.
The reason why you want to get your meat beyond 125 degrees is that if it stays at this level for too long then it will become a real breeding ground for bacteria.
This could lead to you developing food poisoning.
This is why we would recommend that you use a temperature probe for larger cuts of meat, as this will be a great method for you to keep track of the internal temperature of your brisket.
If you have noticed that the internal heat of your brisket hasn’t gone up in the last hour, then we would recommend that you take the meat out of the smoker completely and wrap it in tin foil.
Once it is wrapped in foil, then we would recommend putting it in a higher temperature oven at around 130 degrees in a 300-degree oven.
You can either finish the cooking in the oven or if you are keen for it to have that smokey flavor, then you should return it to the smoker until it has that rich, brown glaze.
How To Stop Stalling At 140 Degrees
This is a more common temperature for your brisket to stall at. This is when the heat of the smoker will really struggle to combat the moisture that is cooling down your brisket.
One of the first things you’ll need to rule out is whether or not your temperature probe is working properly. Here is the best method of fixing your temperature probe:
- Take a pot of water and bring it to the boil.
- Take your temperature probe and place it in the boiling water.
- If the temperature reads 212 degrees, then your probe is working properly. However, if it doesn’t then keep it in the water and alter the dial with a wrench using a nut on the back of the thermometer.
- Now take a pot and fill it with ice water.
- Place the same probe in the pot and see if the readout gets to 32 degrees. If it doesn’t then tighten the nut at the back using the same method.
If you are using a digital thermometer, then you’ll have to take that to a professional to be altered properly.
You can get a thermometer that comes with its own adjustable temperature gauge in the back.
This might be tucked into the back of the thermometer, so you might have to remove the outer casing to get it to work.
There might be an instance where your probe has been inserted into a pocket of air in the meat. If you believe this is the case, then you’ll need to put the probe in another part of the meat.
Make sure not to poke too many holes in your meat, as this could damage the presentation and constitution of the meat itself.
How To Stop Stalling At 145 Degrees
This could be the result of another inaccurate probe, in which case, try some of the steps above.
However, if this temperature persists for longer than an hour, then it might be an issue of your smoker’s temperature not being high enough.
If you are using a charcoal smoker, then there are several methods that you can use to heat up your fire. You can put more pellets in the grill, which will help the temperature to rise significantly.
You can also adjust the dampeners on your airflow to increase the air that is flowing into the fire and thereby heating up the meat.
You’ll need to make sure that you don’t get the dome temperature and the grill temperature confused. These two will often be different.
The air currents flowing through the heater will also cause the temperatures of the grill to fluctuate wildly.
You should make sure that you have a temp probe on the grill itself, as this will give you a more adequate readout. This is the temperature that you should be looking at when you are checking the heat of your smoker.
If you are placing your probe on the lid of the smoker, then you might be getting a false readout of the dome rather than the inside of the grill.
This might tell you that the grill is actually hotter or cooler than it really is.
How To Stop Stalling At 155 Degrees
This is the temperature that you’ll often find your meat stalling at.
This is because the heat of the smoker might not be able to combat the cooling process that is involved with the evaporation of the moisture in the meat.
This stalling could last anywhere from a few minutes to upwards of 6 hours. The latter will cause severe disruption to the timing of your food and could in fact scupper your whole barbeque.
You can either wait for the moisture to evaporate completely from your brisket or you can decide to raise the heat of your smoker to help cook it faster.
You can speed up the process of moisture evaporation by wrapping the meat in butcher paper rather than tin foil.
This will still allow the moisture to escape but will retain enough of the heat to cook the meat at a steady rate.
How To Stop Stalling At 170 Degrees
This is not as common as the 155 stall, but some people do find that their meat suffers a temperature plateau at around 170 degrees.
This is when a lot of cooks will employ what is called the ‘Texas Crutch’. This is when the meat is wrapped in tin foil. This will stop the moisture from escaping, causing a braising effect on the meat itself.
The Texas Crutch is a great method of fast-cooking your meat. However, you should be aware that it will give the meat a softer texture, rather than the crispy and crunchy texture that you might be used to.
We would suggest that you simply wait for the moisture in the meat to evaporate rather than use the Texas Crutch method.
This is because it will actually give your meta a different texture than it would if you just left it in a traditional smoker.
How To Stop Stalling At 175 Degrees
This will only happen because your smoker could easily fend off the effects of natural evaporation a lot earlier in the process.
If you have your smoker set to a temperature of 300 degrees or higher, then this can lead to your meat stalling at a much higher temperature.
If this is your second stalling at a higher temperature, then this might be because you have spritzed the meat too much during the later stages of the process.
This is because the added moisture will actually add to the cooling effect.
If you are noticing a stall at this higher temperature, then we would suggest that you wait.
This stall is usually a lot shorter than the ones at a lower temperature, as there will be less moisture coming from within the meat.
However, there is another method that you can adopt for speeding up the stalling at these higher temperatures and that’s the oven method we’ve described below.
How To Stop Stalling At 180 Degrees
This is one of the most frustrating stalls to experience, as you will be so close to your meat reaching optimum temperature.
If you are stalling and you really want to get the brisket to your table for your guests to tuck into, then you can transfer it from your smoker to a 300-degree oven.
You can also wrap the meat in tin foil. This will help to speed up the process and you have your meat at the optimum temperature within 90 minutes.
How To Stop Stalling At 190 Degrees
This is when your brisket is at the very edge of being done (we recommend taking it off the grill at around 195 degrees).
One of the reasons why you’ll need your meat to be over 195 degrees is because when the meat cools it will have a resting temperature of around 190 degrees, which is when it is just right to be eaten.
You should test if your brisket is ready to cook by sliding a knife into it. If the knife comes out completely clean, then that means it is ready to consume. You can also do this with a temperature probe.
As you can see, a stall can happen at any point during the brisket smoking process, so you’ll need to be vigilant of the temperature during the whole cooking process.
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