How Do You Rest A Brisket After Smoking?

Smoking a brisket is one of life’s great joys. However, a very misunderstood aspect of the process is the resting of the brisket. Resting a brisket well is vital but often neglected by many barbecuers. So, how do you rest a brisket after smoking?

After smoking, wrap the brisket in butcher’s paper and beef tallow. Rest the brisket in the oven or a cooler at 170°F until the meat is tender, juicy, has an internal temperature of 205°F, and is soft to the touch. Briskets can be rested for several hours under the right conditions.

how do you rest a brisket after smoking

Resting is one of the most critical aspects of smoking a brisket. This process adds extra overall time to cooking brisket, but the brisket will never be as good as possible without it. So let’s learn how to properly rest a brisket after smoking for the best results possible.

How To Properly Rest A Brisket After Smoking

Resting a brisket after the meat has been smoked is critical. The resting process allows all of the fat in the brisket to render properly and causes the meat to reabsorb much of the moisture that is lost during the smoking process.

Resting a brisket increases tenderness and flavor and produces a far better brisket. However, resting can be complicated, and there are many conflicting methods for properly resting a brisket.

Let’s take the time to learn the best method for resting a brisket in the most useful and practical way possible to produce great results.

When To Begin Resting

Smoking the brisket is one of the simplest aspects of the entire process, which is why it is so often neglected or not done well. Some professional barbecuers believe that resting is the most critical aspect of smoking a brisket for optimal flavor development.

When to remove a brisket from the smoker and begin resting the meat is determined by several characteristics. After the meat has been smoking for 6 – 14 hours, the brisket should have an internal temperature of 195°F – 202°F, the pools of moisture that collect on the brisket should stop occurring, and the bark on the brisket should be quite dark and not easily removed.

At this point in the process, the brisket is ready to begin the resting process outside of the smoker. Once these criteria are met, the brisket should be removed from the smoker quickly, and the resting process can begin.

Always Wrap The Brisket

The next step in the resting process is to wrap the brisket. This part of the process is critical for procuring the best possible brisket.

A key feature of wrapping a brisket is keeping the brisket moist. Introducing moisture into the environment of the brisket allows the meat to absorb some of the moisture that it has lost during the long smoking process.

The most effective way to keep the brisket moist during resting is to wrap the meat in several layers of butcher paper that have been saturated with beef tallow. It is always best to use beef tallow rendered from the fat trimmings of the brisket that you are smoking.

Coat the brisket in beef tallow before wrapping and saturate the first two layers of paper in fat as well. Then, wrap a few more layers of paper over the brisket to lock in the moisture.

Wrapping the brisket in butcher’s paper and beef tallow helps increase the beef’s temperature and continue cooking while resting, increasing the tenderness and flavor of the brisket drastically.

Keep The Brisket Warm

Another critical aspect of resting a brisket is to keep the brisket warm while resting. 

It is vital not to allow the brisket to cool down entirely during the resting process, or the fat rendered will begin to solidify again, which may ruin the brisket and reduce tenderness, even if the brisket is reheated before eating.

While it is essential to keep the brisket warm, the meat must not be rested at temperatures higher than 175°F. Resting the meat at higher temperatures than that will overcook the meat rather than just tenderize it. Around 170°F is the ideal resting temperature for a brisket.

The most straightforward and practical way to do this is to place the brisket in an oven that is capable of holding such a low temperature.

If your oven cannot hold a temperature as low as 170°F, then the next best option is to rest the wrapped brisket in a cooler. Coolers are good thermo-insulators and keep the brisket warm while resting. Be sure to pre-heat the cooler with hot water before resting the brisket in it.

If you don’t have beef tallow, swaddle the brisket in butcher paper and wrap it in a towel, then place it in the cooler to let it rest.

How Long To Rest The Brisket

The length of time that a brisket should rest is not absolute. There are various theories stating what the best amount of rest time for this cut of beef is, especially after smoking.

However, the truth is that briskets can rest for any length of time, so long as they rest for a minimum of two hours at around 170°F, and they are kept moist throughout the process.

The length of time that the brisket rests depends on how well the meat is wrapped and the stability of the brisket’s temperature.

If the brisket is maintained at an even temperature and kept properly moistened by the butchers’ paper or beef fat, then the meat can be rested for up to 24 hours without drying out. 

When you’re using a brisket wrapped in butcher paper and a cooler, you can let it rest for 3-4 hours. The general rule of thumb is to allow the meat to rest for an hour per pound of meat.

Long rest times in the correct environment will only increase the flavor of the meat and increase tenderness. However, if the environment is not stable or sufficiently moist, the meat will dry out and become difficult to eat.

The brisket has rested long enough when the meat has become tender or when it is easy to press a temperature probe in and out of the meat. 

The temperature of the brisket should be at least 205°F internally when the brisket is finished resting, and the meat itself should be relatively soft when picked up.

Final Word

Resting a brisket is a vital part of cooking this type of meat. Without a proper resting process, the brisket will not be tender or juicy, and it will always be disappointing.

The most vital parts of the process are wrapping the brisket in butcher’s paper and tallow, keeping the meat warm while resting, allowing it to reach 205°F internally, and keeping the meat moist for the entire process. 

This will yield a perfect brisket every time, especially after the brisket has been smoked for a long period of time.

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