Brisket is a large cut of beef taken from the lower breast of a cow. The lower breast muscles hold a significant amount of weight in cattle, as they do not have collar bones to support their body. As a result, beef brisket has a high amount of connective tissue. If it is not cooked correctly, the meat will be too tough to chew.
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On average, you should bake a beef brisket at a temperature between 220 degrees Fahrenheit and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. At these temperatures, the beef brisket will require approximately 90 minutes per pound to cook. When your beef brisket has cooked for approximately the correct amount of time, it is close to being done.
Poke a meat thermometer into the center of your beef brisket. The internal temperature should be between 180 degrees Fahrenheit and 210 degrees Fahrenheit. The meat is at its most tender between 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit. If the brisket is not at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit, it is not done.
Slice a 1/4-inch thin piece of meat from the outer portion of your beef brisket. Hold the piece of meat between both hands and give it a slight tug. If the meat pulls apart easily, the brisket is ready to serve. However, if the meat does not pull apart cleanly, it needs to cook for a while longer.
Place the brisket into a baking pan and allow it to rest for between 30 and 90 minutes after you determine it is done. This gives the meat time to allow its internal temperature to regulate. The longer you allow the meat to rest after it is done, the more tender it will be.
Beef brisket can take more than 12 hours to cook. Do not raise cooking temperatures or remove it before it reaches at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Before the meat hits 180 degrees, it will be too tough because the essential chemical change in its connective tissues has not yet taken place.
References and Resources"Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections from the Pit Bosses"; Robb Walsh; 2002
"Backyard BBQ: The Art of Smokology"; Richard W. McPeake; 2005
"Cooking Basics For Dummies"; Bryan Miller, Marie Rama and Eve Adamson; 2011