Brisket is one of the tastiest beef cuts you can make. But, like most large pieces of meat, it can take incredibly long to cook, especially depending on the method you used.
Now, the problem with this long cooking time is that the exact amount isn’t always set in stone.
And more often than not, the brisket ends up finishing earlier than you’d expected. This may not always be a problem, but if you aren’t planning on eating for another 3-4 hours, it becomes a big one!
So, what are the best ways to keep brisket tasty when it has finished too early? We highly recommend keeping it warm inside your oven. Set the oven to the lowest possible temperature and keep the brisket covered with foil for up to 8 hours!
Today, we will not only look at this easy and effective technique but many others. This way, you never have to deal with dried-out brisket again!
We have also included a brief guide to help prevent undercooked brisket or ones that finish too early.
What Is Brisket?
If you didn’t grow up with brisket, you likely don’t know what it is. But do yourself a favor and grab one over the weekend.
Brisket is an incredibly flavorful piece of meat. Unfortunately, it takes quite some time to prepare, which is why not so many people make it.
On each cow, you can get two cuts of brisket. It is located just above the front shanks and below the chuck part.
Essentially, think of brisket as being the chest of a cow. Brisket is a very tough piece of meat. So naturally, it needs to be cooked over low heat for a long time.
Now, there is a lot of confusion regarding what this cut looks like. A whole piece of brisket is made up of two pieces. The flat brisket is the leaner piece of meat. Then, you also get the brisket point which is more marbled.
The main difference between the two cuts with regards to flavor will be the fattiness.
The more marbled piece of meat tends to pack more flavor than the leaner. But, if you use proper preparation and cooking techniques, both can be equally delicious.
How Should It Be Cooked?
As you may already know, large pieces of meat generally require low and slow cooking. Brisket is no exception. But, the long cooking time allows you to develop incredibly delicious savory flavors, so is well worth the wait.
You can cook brisket in a couple of ways. In an oven, a slow-cooked, instant pot, or smoker. Each of the methods varies slightly, but when the brisket is done remains the same.
In an oven, you can cook brisket at 225ºF for roughly 3 hours. A general rule of thumb to follow is that it should bake for 1 hour 15 minutes per pound of meat at this temperature.
A higher baking temperature will take less time to fully cook.
A pressure cooker or instant pot can take between 1-2 hours. The high pressure inside the appliance helps more quickly heat and tenderize the tough meat.
A slow-cooked takes a very long time because of the extremely low heat. It will take roughly 6-8 hours depending on the size. You will have to monitor the progress to prevent under or overcooking it.
And finally, in a smoker, the time varies quite a lot. But, it can extend up to 12 hours on very low heat.
How Can You Tell If The Brisket Is Done Too Early?
You can tell how far brisket is cooked in the same way you do all types of meat. The internal temperature reading will just be different.
Brisket is often cooked with a cover of foil (in an oven and smoker). this foil helps prevent the surface of the meat from burning too early.
When the internal temperature (at the thickest part of the meat) reaches 180ºF, you can remove the foil.
Then, continue crisping the surface until you reach an internal temperature of around 195-200ºF.
A big problem our readers also run into is that the meat has already darkened and crisped up before it has reached the correct internal temperature. So, you can’t continue cooking it, but it isn’t fully cooked yet.
Another challenge is when the internal temperature mark has been reached hours before the estimated cooking time. Your guests haven’t arrived yet and you are stuck with a big piece of meat. What to do now?
What To Do If Brisket Is Done Too Early?
Luckily, we have 4 amazing tricks that you can use if your brisket has either finished cooking to perfection way too early or if it has overcooked on the outside before it is ready on the inside.
It is always better to prevent the problem completely, but sometimes it is unavoidable! So, let’s have a look at these easy solutions.
1. Resting In Oven
This is possibly the best method to use. You can safely keep the brisket warm without cooking it inside the oven for up to 8 hours.
To use this easy and effortless technique simply lower your oven’s temperature to 170ºF. If your oven can go lower, then set it lower.
Add a cup of beef stock inside the roasted tray with the brisket. Cover the entire pan with foil and set it aside until the oven has reached the proper temperature.
If your oven cannot go below our recommended temperature, you will have to allow it to preheat to the lowest it can go, then switch the oven off to cool (while the brisket is inside of course).
This technique then has to be repeated every 30 minutes.
2. Wrap It Up
This is a trick we learned about from a chef friend of ours. Essentially what you are doing is creating a heat-insulating container or cooler.
To start, fill a cooler with 3 gallons of hot water. Allow the cooler to heat up for about 30 minutes (with a closed lid) before removing the water and drying the inside. Work quickly so that the cooler doesn’t lose too much heat.
Line the bottom with clean towels. Once the brisket is done, wrap it in foil and place it in a large pan.
Add this inside the cooler, cover it with another towel, and close the lid. Your cooler should keep the brisket fresh and warm for 3 hours.
3. Make Burnt Ends
Burnt ends are a Southern savory treat that is often used to make fillings. Essentially, when your brisket has “burnt” before the right internal temperature has been reached, you can use this as an excuse to make it.
You can either cube the entire cut of meat or simply remove the top fat layer. Then, cube the meat or fat into 1 1/2 to 2-inch cubes.
Cover them in some sauce and spice and continue crisping them up for 1-2 hours on relatively low heat.
4. Cool And Reheat
If none of the above-mentioned options sounds appealing to you, you can also simply allow it to cool completely while it is covered.
Once you are ready to serve it again, simply reheat it in a low-temperature setting and serve immediately.
How To Prevent Undercooked Brisket
The best way to prevent undercooked brisket is to check the internal temperature. As we have mentioned, once perfectly done, it should have an internal temperature of roughly 195-200ºF.
Then, you can also check what the correct average baking time should be. As we have mentioned, a brisket should bake in the oven at 225ºF for 1 hour and 15 minutes per pound.
This is only an average, and it is still best to check the internal temperature.
And finally, the best way to prevent the brisket from finishing earlier than you had expected, is to accurately follow the recipe instructions.
Make sure your oven temperature is accurate and stable, and calculate the cooking time using the precise weights of your cut.
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