One thing that stands out about briskets is the long and slow cooking process. This otherwise tough cut of beef can be tender, juicy, and very flavorful when properly cooked. As briskets are typically large, it is not uncommon to have leftovers.
However, reheating brisket presents a unique challenge because if it isn’t done carefully, the meat’s tenderness, juiciness, and overall quality can be easily lost in the process. This article will go over how to store and reheat brisket without it drying out while reasonably preserving its freshness.
Freezing the Brisket
The tenderness preservation starts from how you freeze your leftover brisket. As a general rule, you can refrigerate your brisket for up to 4 days and freeze it for 3 months. However, the quality will gradually reduce as it spends more time in storage.
The key to proper brisket freezing is to use a food vacuum sealer. This way, oxygen is removed from around the meat, and the juices are protected against evaporation.
If you don’t have access to a vacuum sealer, you can still improvise by wrapping the brisket tightly with clingfilm and then holding it in place by further wrapping it with aluminum foil.
Next, place the wrapped brisket into a sealable freezer bag to prevent the odors from permeating the meat. Remember to pour some of the juices in with the meat after you might have separated the fat from it. While it is down to personal preference, slicing brisket before freezing or refrigeration will allow much quicker thawing and reheating.
Different Ways to Reheat Brisket
Interestingly, there are quite a number of unique methods you can use to reheat leftover brisket and retain the juice. There are more than four methods you can use, but for the sake of this article, we will take a look at how you can properly reheat in ovens, smokers/grills, sous vide machines, and slow cookers.
1. Reheating Brisket in an Oven
Arguably, the best way to reheat your brisket without it drying out is to heat it in an oven. This is because it takes less time to reheat brisket in an oven than most of the other reheating methods.
You’ll have to preheat your oven to about 310°F. Bring out the meat from the refrigerator as your oven starts to heat up. If you’ve had the meat frozen and not just refrigerated, you should move it into the refrigerator and allow it to thaw properly before reheating.
Place the meat in a baking pan together with any juice you might have saved from the actual cooking process. Next, cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and transfer it into the oven when it hits the right temperature. Depending on the size of the brisket, reheat for 35- 50 minutes. If the brisket is sliced, it may take as little as 20 minutes to heat up.
To accurately monitor the meat’s internal temperature, use a meat thermometer if you have one. Once the internal temperature of the meat hits 155°F, it’s ready to serve.
2. Reheating Brisket in a Smoker or Grill
Reheating your brisket in a smoker or grill is, to an extent, similar to reheating in an oven; it only takes longer. It is important that you let the meat sit out for a while and get to room temperature after you remove it from the refrigerator.
Start by heating your smoker/grill to 225°F. The idea is to reheat the meat using the 2-zone cooking method. This would involve turning on the heat source in only one part of the grill/smoker and heating the meat on the other part where there is no direct heat.
With the brisket wrapped up in foil, place it on the part of the grill and smoker that’s away from the heat source and heat until it reaches an internal temperature of 150°F. At this point, you can unwrap and move the meat to the direct heat zone directly over the heat source. Heat for some minutes until the internal temperature gets to 155°F and serve.
If you have a gas grill, we recommend that you put it on a medium setting when reheating the brisket.
3. Reheating Brisket in a Sous Vide Machine
With sous vide machine, you can retain the moisture and juiciness of your brisket without any risk of drying it out. However, not many people own sous vide machines, and it can take a considerably long time to reheat with this method.
Take the meat out of the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature. While that happens, fill the sous vide machine with sufficient water to completely immerse the meat in and set it to 150°F – 160°F. Put the brisket with the juice and drippings into a vacuum-sealed bag or watertight plastic wrap and immerse into the water.
The time it will take to heat up properly is dependent on the size of the brisket, but it could take anything from 4 – 6 hours. Allow the internal temperature of the meat to reach 155°F, and you’re good to go. Another advantage of this method is that you can slice up the meat before heating and not have to worry about it drying out.
4. Reheating Brisket in a Crockpot/Slow Cooker
Just like with sous vide machine, reheating brisket in a slow cooker can take a long time. The first thing you should do is let the brisket sit out for about 20 minutes and reach room temperature.
Next, put the meat into the crockpot. If it doesn’t fit in, you can slice it up. Pour in whatever juice and drippings you have saved alongside the brisket to keep the meat juicy. If you have no juice or dripping saved, you can substitute it with beef broth.
Cover the crockpot and choose a low temperature setting between 185°F – 200°F. Heat for about 4 hours and once it heats the required temperature, remove from the cooker and place in aluminum foil, pour the drippings or brother on it and wrap up the foil. Leave for 10 minutes and serve.
Should You Microwave Your Leftover Brisket?
It is generally not advisable to reheat your brisket in a microwave. Sure, it can be very fast, but how microwaves work puts the meat at a very high risk of drying out. Microwaves heat by turning the water molecules into steam. When the moisture is steamed out of the brisket, all you’ll have left is dried out and tough meat that’s not in any way exciting to eat.
We hope you now have an idea of what reheating method you can go with to reheat your brisket and still have it as juicy as possible. If you hope to preserve the freshness, it starts from knowing how to freeze and then knowing how to properly thaw and reheat.
We’ve discussed a couple of things to pay attention to when reheating to prevent evaporation and drying out. Another important thing to keep in the back of your mind is that microwaving is not a good way to reheat brisket, as it will dry out the brisket and make it very tough to chew. Remember to bookmark Hempen Hill BBQ so you don’t miss any new posts.