Almost nothing beats good beef brisket. Whether for a simple lunch, or during a big party, a plate is sure to impress. That said, you don’t always have the opportunity to eat brisket fresh from the barbecue pit.
In this article, we’ll show you how to properly reheat a brisket, whether whole or sliced, to ensure that it’s as, or near as good, as it was when it was first cooked.
The Proper Way to Store a Brisket
It takes time to properly cook a brisket, and usually, that’s time that a lot of people don’t have. The solution that most have found to this problem is to pre-cook a brisket, then store it in the freezer for reheating later. This cuts down on prep time during the day it needs to be served.
Properly storing a brisket makes sure that none of the juices are lost during the reheating process. No one wants dried-out slices of beef. Proper storage also applies to brisket leftovers so that you can enjoy them later.
If you’ve pre-cooked the meat for serving at a later time, allow the brisket to cool before wrapping or storage. If you haven’t sliced the meat yet, keep it unsliced. This way, all of the meat’s juices stay inside and there’s less chances of drying out during reheating.
If you’re trying to store leftovers, or if you’ve already sliced the meat, then that’s fine too. You’re just going to have to adjust the time during the reheating process.
To properly package a brisket, you’ll need to make sure that the entire cut of meat is covered and airtight. If you have plastic containers that can fit the whole thing then go ahead and use that. If not, you can use vacuum bags, plastic wrap, or foil.
If using vacuum bags, be sure to add the gravy if there’s any. You can freeze the gravy a bit beforehand, then add it into the bag before you place the brisket in the freezer. When reheating, frozen gravy doesn’t only help spread the heat evenly, it also permeates the meat adding more flavor.
Brisket stored in the fridge can keep from two to four days. If placed in the freezer it will keep from two to three months.
Thawing Your Meat
One of the most overlooked parts of reheating frozen meat is the thawing process. Although no one is going to stop you from plopping your brisket straight from the freezer into the oven, it’s usually a bad idea — frozen meat will not heat evenly. At best you’ll get warm meat outside and still-frozen meat inside, and at worst, the meat inside is warm and the outside is burnt.
Be sure to properly thaw your meat before reheating, this will ensure that the reheating process is applied to the whole cut of meat properly.
There are several ways to thaw meat, and the only real factor to consider is how much time you have before serving. Some of the best methods are:
Thawing Inside the Fridge
This is considered one of the best methods to thaw meat, or any other frozen food for that matter. Because the temperature inside the refrigerator is controlled, you don’t run the risk of spoiling your food.
The disadvantage of this method is that it’s very slow. You’ll need to have a bit of time on your hands if you want to thaw your brisket this way. At least 24 hours is needed to thaw a pound of frozen meat, though already sliced meat may take a bit less. If you know you’ll be serving pre-cooked brisket at a future date, you can begin the thawing process a day beforehand.
An often recommended, but bad idea, is to leave meat thawing on the counter. Don’t do this. If you must, make sure that you never leave the meat at room temperature for longer than an hour or two. This runs a high risk of spoilage and shouldn’t be done unless you have no other choice.
Thawing Meat Under Cool Running Water
This method is much faster than fridge thawing, if you’ll have to keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t run the risk of staying at room temperature for long.
You don’t need to run your faucet at full force when using this method. Just leave your brisket, still inside the bag, foil, or wrap, and put it under your faucet while open slightly. Even a small stream of water will do the trick. The flow of water draws the heat away constantly from the meat, making sure it thaws evenly.
Don’t thaw your brisket by leaving it in a bowl of water. This isn’t the same thing as using running water. Leaving your brisket floating in a bowl leaves no place for the heat to go, and will be a lot slower than keeping your meat under the faucet.
Thawing in a Microwave
Although a very fast way to thaw frozen meat, this is only recommended if you’re thawing even slices. Thawing a whole brisket, if you can even get it to fit, will be very tricky if you’re using a microwave for the job. Most of the time doing this will end up overcooking the outside even before you start defrosting the inside of the meat.
If you’re going to reheat brisket slices, then feel free, but stay away from this method when trying to thaw a whole brisket.
Reheating Your Brisket
Now that you have your brisket thawed, you can proceed to the best part. There are several recommended methods to reheat your brisket, and we’ll detail all of them here.
If your brisket is whole and unsliced, using the oven to reheat it is probably the best method to use. Of course, the steps change depending on how you stored your brisket to begin with. The famous brisket joint in Texas, Snow’s Barbecue recommends this technique.
Vacuum Bagged Brisket or Plastic Wrapped Brisket
Don’t take the brisket out of the bag or plastic wrap. Especially if you’ve packed it in along with the gravy. If you have a deep roasting pan that you can place the entire bag in, you can heat it in the bag by following these steps:
- Pre-heat the oven to 275° F.
- Place your brisket, still in the bag, or wrap, in the deep roasting pan then cover it with hot water. Make sure that the entire brisket is well covered.
- Once the oven hits 275° F, place the deep roasting pan inside.
- Keep it in the oven for about two hours, or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165° F. The time needed may be shorter if you’re heating already sliced brisket. Make sure to monitor your meat’s internal temperature. A meat thermometer will prove invaluable here.
- Once it reaches the temperature, take it out of the oven then plate for slicing and serving.
Foil Wrapped Brisket
- Preheat the oven to about 325°.
- Check the foil for any holes. Nothing dries brisket faster than holes in the foil. Cover it with an additional layer if needed.
- Place a cooking rack on top of an oven tray, then put a small layer of water, fruit juice, or beef broth at the bottom. This is meant to keep the meat from drying out during reheating.
- Place the brisket on top of the rack, then pop it in the oven.
- For whole briskets, cook for about an hour or until internal temperature reaches 165° F. For sliced brisket, it may take a shorter time. Add more liquid if the first portion starts to dry out.
- Monitor the meat to see if it hits the desired temperature then take it out.
- Plate and serve.
Using a Grill or Smoker
This method is similar to the oven method, though the cooking times are a lot longer. The famous Salt Lick Barbecue restaurant claims that this is the absolute best way to reheat a brisket. Brisket that was frozen using vacuum bags or plastic wrap isn’t suited for this method, for rather obvious, plastic melting reasons. Foil wrapped whole or sliced brisket will be fine.
- Preheat your grill or smoker to about 225° F. Place the charcoal to one side of the grill while leaving the other side without any.
- Place your brisket, still wrapped in foil, in the side without charcoal, allowing indirect heat to permeate the meat.
- Use your meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. You want it to reach about 155° F. Keep close watch so that you don’t overcook your meat.
- Once at 155° F, move the meat over the charcoals, allowing direct heat to finish reheating.
- Once the meat reaches 160-165° remove it from heat.
- Plate and serve.
Boiling or Hot Water Bath Method
This method is similar to using the deep cooking pan in the oven. The goal of this method is to submerge the still wrapped meat in water, then heat the water until the meat reaches 165° F.
A cooking pot can be used to reheat the brisket, just make sure that your brisket can be fully submerged in water inside the pot. Also, make sure that the pot still has enough leeway that it won’t spill over once the water starts boiling.
- Fill a pot with water. Enough to cover the brisket.
- Put it on the stove and allow it to boil.
- Once the water is boiling, place the brisket inside the pot. Monitor the meat until it hits an internal temperature of about 155° F or so.
- Once it does, take the pot off the heat. Leave the brisket in for a few minutes until it hits 165° F.
- Remove from the pot, plate and serve.
Better After Freezing
Some say that brisket is one of those foods that taste better after being frozen for a while. Though the sentiment is, at best, anecdotal, no one is going to argue with a nice slice of brisket, reheated or not. So, fire up your grill and make yourself a nice big portion of brisket. You can always reheat the leftovers for later.