In case you didn’t know, brisket takes a long time to cook, with the point (the thicker part of the whole brisket) not surprisingly taking longer. The flat is thinner so it cooks faster than the point. With that necessary information out of the way, we can dive into what is causing your brisket to take longer to cook than the normal.
There are a few things that need to be realized as well when cooking a brisket. Not every brisket is the same, and not every cooking method is going to yield the same results when cooking a brisket, even if the same temperature is used to cook a brisket for a brisket of the same size. The brisket is a large piece of meat, even if it is one of the smaller ones that only weighs three pounds when compared to the whole brisket that can weigh twelve pounds or more.
One of the things that primarily determines how long a brisket is going to cook for, is the thickness of the brisket, not how “big” it is. A brisket that has been cut into a smaller portion, but still has the thickness of a whole brisket, can still take a long time to cook. When we think in terms of how thick the brisket is instead of how large it is, it will help us understand better why it might still take a long time to cook.
This same reasoning also applies to other cuts of beef, like the cuts from the round or the shank for example. The shank can be cut into thinner and smaller pieces than that of the brisket, yet it still needs to cook long and at low temperatures in order for it to yield great results. If it isn’t, just like the brisket, the end results can be bad.
We also did an experiment that we mentioned in another post explaining the results of the cooking of a thin piece of brisket that we took from a whole brisket. Even though the thinner piece obviously cooked faster, the result wasn’t good, since the thin piece of beef that we cooked, until it was fully cooked, was still tough in the end.
We also explained the stalling period that happens in a brisket that actually prolongs the cooking time in a brisket. This stalling occurs during the time when the brisket is “sweating out” (naturally happens during cooking) its juices, which can result in the internal temperature no longer rising for a period of time. It can cause the cooking to go on hours longer than it needs to.
Once a brisket reaches a certain point when cooking it, it needs to be wrapped in order to prevent this stalling from happening. This can cause the brisket to take longer than necessary to cook when it isn’t wrapped.
In any case, regardless of how long a brisket takes to cook, the thing to keep in mind is the end product. Trying to force the brisket to cook faster by raising the temperature to higher temperatures than what it is supposed to cook at isn’t the solution. The collagen in the brisket has to have time to break down, else you’ll end up with a tough piece of meat.
Checking the internal temperature of the brisket with a food thermometer is the best way to monitor its progress. It may actually be ready sooner than what you expected. It is good to have something to check this temperature with other than what originally came with the grill that you are using, as the readings could be way off from one of them. Also, ensure that you are checking the internal temperatures of the brisket correctly.
When cooking the brisket with a grill or a smoker, we want to also make sure that we aren’t doing anything to impede the cooking process while it is going on. This could be opening the hatch too often in anticipation of it finishing for example, which can mess up the circulation of heat that is trying to cook your brisket. We also want to make sure that are brisket is positioned well in what ever we are cooking our brisket in, as this can also have an effect on cooking times.
We also don’t want our brisket or portions of our brisket “cooking” on cold or warm spots. We want to be sure that the whole brisket is actually getting cooked evenly. Ensure that the brisket or parts of it isn’t on cold or warm spots, and it is positioned well in the thing that it is cooking in.
From what we know, these problems can occur a lot when cooking a brisket in a pellet grill, a smoker, or anything similar to this. For some of these pieces of equipment used, it takes more personal knowledge on how to properly heat them and use them to ensure that the brisket is going to cook and finish, without taking much longer than it should. Certain equipment performs better for cooking larger pieces of meat than others. Also, the brisket could be too large for whatever it is cooking in.
Making sure that the grill, smoker, oven or what ever we are cooking our brisket in, is functioning properly, cleaned regularly, and used correctly, can keep a brisket that is expected to be done cooking, from taking an additional several hours to finish cooking.
When these pieces of equipment are getting old, it may not be immediately noticeable to us that it isn’t cooking the food in a reasonable amount of time, until we have to cook something that takes hours to cook. It is certainly possible for grills, ovens, and smokers to malfunction. They can heat up to their correct temperatures to a certain point and appear to be fine, and then suddenly drop their cooking temperatures later. They can also fluctuate in temperature during the cooking process, making the brisket take really long to finish cooking.
The size of the brisket compared to the space available in what ever the brisket is cooking in does matter. So keep this in mind when preparing and cooking the brisket.