Summer Time, it’s time to shake off that cooler sitting in your garage to get ready for your next backyard BBQ. While you already know that your cooler is a champ at keeping your drinks at the perfect temperature, did you know that your cooler can also be used to rest your brisket at the perfect temp, too? If you haven’t tried this hack yet for keeping your meat perfectly juicy, here’s what you need to know.
Why Rest Your Meat?
Pitmasters and home grillers alike know that resting meat after taking it off the BBQ or smoker leads to a better-tasting finished product. Letting the meat rest allows it to soak in all of its natural flavors and juices again, resulting in a juicier, more tender piece of meat. A smaller cut, like a steak, only needs to rest for a few minutes before you can dig into it. Bigger pieces, like a brisket, taste so much better when you let them rest for an hour or more so that it has plenty of time to reabsorb all those juices and really integrate the flavors of the rub.
How long you rest your meat will depend on how much the brisket weighs. Under 10 pounds, a brisket only needs half an hour to rest. Between 10 and 15 pounds, give it 45 to 60 minutes. If your meat weighs more than 15 pounds, it will need at least an hour and a half to properly rest. With pieces this big, you’ll want to cut the brisket into smaller cuts ahead of time so that it cooks faster and more evenly.
Resting Your Meat in Coolers
So, why coolers? The technique of resting your meat in a cooler is called faux Cambro among pitmasters, as it’s named after the first kind of container that was used. When you rest meat in a sealed container, like a cooler, it traps heat inside to allow for carryover cooking and maintaining a good internal temperature of the meat. Carryover cooking means the meat keeps cooking itself even when it’s taken off the grill or smoker. A brisket is a cut that has tough connective tissue, so carryover cooking lets these tissues continue breaking down in the cooler. As the tissues break down, the meat gets even more tender and juicy.
Another benefit is that it keeps your meat juicy and delicious until you’re ready to serve it to your guests, giving you enough time to cook and prep before they arrive. If you’re cooking for a crowd, you don’t want to serve up cold or dried-out meat and throw hours of hard work down the drain. When preparing a brisket for an event or backyard BBQ, you want to take timing into account, including how much time you want to rest and hold your meat in the cooler after removing it from the smokers. This planning will help you serve the best-tasting meat possible that really shows off your pitmaster skills.
How to Do It
After taking your meat out of the smoker, the first step is to tightly wrap it in tin foil to keep it from drying out. Then, wrap it again in a towel for even more insulation to lock in the meat’s internal temperature. Make sure that the cooler is dry and well-insulated and has enough room. The Bison 50qt cooler is an excellent choice for resting meat so that it’s not packed in too tight. Before closing up the cooler, stick a thermometer inside so that you can monitor the temperature now and then. You want to make sure that the brisket stays within the safe range of 140℉ to 200℉. As long as it stays within this range, the meat will be safe to eat hours after you’ve put it in the cooler.
If the temperature falls below 140℉, you’ll want to serve the meat within the next horror two. This is not only to preserve the taste but to make sure that doesn’t make you and your guests sick later on. Most pitmasters will serve their meat two to three hours after cooking, but it’s generally safe to allow your meat to rest for up to four hours in the cooler. Under the right conditions, however, it may be safe to leave your meat in the cooler for up to eight hours as long as you watch the thermometer.
After you take your meat out of the cooler, unwrap the towel and the tin foil and you’ll discover a juicy, delicious piece of meat that will make your mouth water off the smell alone. All that’s left to do is slice and enjoy!