How long should I cook this brisket?
April 17, 2010 8:51 PM   Subscribe

How-long-should-I-cook-it-filter: I've got a brisket in the oven right now. The plan was to cook it for five hours at 325F. Problem: First time I'm ever using this particular oven and it seems that for the first two hours the oven was only at ~200F. Everything seems to be working normal now, oven is at 325...but I'm not sure how much total time I should cook for to ensure the brisket is cooked through yet tender.

I'm thinking total cook time should increase by one hour to six hours total (rationale being that 2 hrs at 200f = 1 at 325f) ... makes sense or not so much?

Wow...never thought I'd be posting a cooking question.
posted by dismitree to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
Do you have a meat thermometer? You might see what temp the brisket is supposed to reach after those 5 hours at 325, then check it periodically now that the oven is the right temp.
posted by Happydaz at 9:00 PM on April 17, 2010

Five hours at that temperature seems very long to me even for a brisket. 200 degrees will cook the meat, that's the secret of barbecue. I think it's best to have a thermometer: 125 for rare, 140 for medium, over 155 for well. But if you don't have one than trust your eyes. make a slit in the center and if it looks brownish pink (not red) then it is done.
posted by Some1 at 9:03 PM on April 17, 2010

Unfortunately no meat thermometre and too late to go get one (close to 1am here - should have said in original question).

Also am confident in the five hour original cook time as that's what I've done before for briskets this size (it's a 6lb hunk). Looking more to understand whether 2hrs at 200f did any substantial cooking.

Thanks again.
posted by dismitree at 9:30 PM on April 17, 2010

Your temp is far too high. If I were cooking a brisket for 5 hours, I would never go above 225.
posted by sanka at 9:30 PM on April 17, 2010

Nthing the meat thermometer. Timers are inexact when the heat varies. Internal temperature of the meat tells all.
posted by DaveP at 9:35 PM on April 17, 2010

Just go by sight. By brownish-pink I meant not the dark red of uncooked meat. You have probably eaten enough meat to know when it looks done, cut it open after about four hours, not a very big slit, and then a new one (if it clearly isn't ready) every 15-30 minutes. Remember it is much easier to cook something a little more than it is to uncook it. (I do think that at four - four and a half hours, you should have a good piece of rare to medium brisket.)
posted by Some1 at 9:44 PM on April 17, 2010

Brisket is a VERY tough piece of meat, and requires long, moist, low-and-slow cooking for all that collagen to break down into gelatin. When it's fork-tender, it's done. I typically cook mine at 225-250 for about 8-10 hours if I'm roasting/smoking, or when simmering, 3-4 hours.
posted by deadmessenger at 10:23 PM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know you say you don't have a therometer but for those coming after this is the only sane course of action. The shapes of meat matter so creating a reliable chart of x pounds cooked at y temperature for z hours is down right impossible.
posted by mmascolino at 11:31 PM on April 17, 2010

For whatever it's worth, I've done something similar (didn't realize that someone else had changed the oven temp until my roast had already been in there an hour and change) and just added an hour to the cook time--it was fine. I'd probably check it at five hours, just poking it with a fork to see how it was doing (sometimes the lower temperature affects less than you'd think it would), but six hours should be plenty long enough.

Brisket isn't one of those things where a meat thermometer's really helpful--the meat will register as "cooked" well before the collagen's broken down enough for it to be any good.
posted by MeghanC at 11:53 PM on April 17, 2010

What deadmessenger said.

You don't need a meat thermometer; brisket (unless you're cooking sous vide) will be cooked 1) to very well done and 2) in a moist environment. You're not roasting your brisket, are you?

Why these two things?

1) to allow the substantial amount of collagen in the meat - which would otherwise make it tough and stringy - to melt (and, as it cools, re-form into gelatin, giving your meat a wonderful velvety unctuousness)

2) so the meat doesn't dry out while you're waiting for all of the goodness in 1) to happen.

Cook your brisket (325 degrees is good as long as whatever you're cooking it in has a tight-fitting lid - if it doesn't, lay a piece of foil over the top of the pan before putting the lid on) until it's fork-tender.

If you have time, cool and reheat it before serving. Enjoy!
posted by joshuaconner at 12:00 AM on April 18, 2010

325 degrees is good as long as whatever you're cooking it in has a tight-fitting lid

No. Meat (any cut) will get dry at this temperature, and if it reaches temperature fast enough, will remain tough too.

Temperatures above 250F are only appropriate for quick-cooking applications such as tender mammal cuts and whole/white meat poultry.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:43 PM on April 30, 2010

Meat (any cut) will get dry at this temperature, and if it reaches temperature fast enough, will remain tough too.

If you're roasting uncovered, I'd wholeheartedly agree with you. But as we're cooking in a moist, sealed environment, the meat won't dry out (though it doesn't hurt to give it a turn or two) because the moisture has nowhere to go.

I've turned many tough cuts of meat into tender, unctuous, fall-off-the-bone deliciousness this way, and I'm not the only one:
  • Cook's Illustrated's pot roast recipe (subscription req'd) calls for it to be cooked in a 300-degree oven.
  • Anne Burrell was a sous chef for Mario Batali (of Babbo) and Lidia Bastianich (Italian food giant, host of "Lidia's Italy"), and her recipe for braised short ribs has you cook them in a 375-degree oven.
  • Rick Bayless' short ribs braise at 325 degrees.
You can certainly braise meat at lower temperatures - I've been salivating over sous vide short ribs, which are cooked at 131 degrees for 24-48 hours, which preserves the medium to medium-rare juiciness but cooks for long enough for the connective tissue to fall apart so it's still super tender - it just takes longer. (In that case, a lot longer!)

But as long as you'll be around to flip the meat once or twice, there's no reason not to braise above 250 degrees.
posted by joshuaconner at 11:03 PM on May 1, 2010

Ah, I should've qualified with "will get dry eventually", whether that's an hour or 3 hours depends on how much meat's in your oven and how much muscle/fat/bone is in there. If your meat actually came up to 375F instantly, it would destroy the tenderizing enzyme activity and cause all the muscle fibers to seize up, wringing the moisture out of the meat. It doesn't have much to do with evaporation.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:36 PM on May 2, 2010

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