I just cooked a slab of beef brisket at 55C for 48h, I did a lot of prior research to this because brisket is one of those meats where there seem to be a lot of differing views on what temperature it should be cooked at. I ended up going for the lowest temperature I could find. I didn't find the results very satisfactory, the meat was nicely cooked, it could have been a little bit rarer, but that isnt the main issue, the meat was very tough, in the sense that was a lot of elastic tissue holding the meat together. Im not sure what I did wrong, reading up on past user experiences, especially this blog, who had a very similar outcome to mind, despite him cooking at 64C. I think its most likely that I got sold a cheap brisket (with more elastin than normal?), but I'd love to hear any other views.
I'd also like to clear up some confusion that I've been having. Most sites I've read state that collagen dissolves at 60C, but the Baldwin tables indicate collagen begins dissolving at 55C, which is correct?
Important info: Meat was brined in 4% salt, 3% sugar, dash of liquid smoke soln for 2.5 hours
The entire slab of meat(see picture), cost US$16
Meat was cooked with the fat cap on, but it was lightly seared before vacuum packing
I felt that the meat was a little dry, but looking at the cross section of the uncooked meat, there was very little marbling on the meat
I had the same brisket-flop last Xmas (Frank Hsu quoted me in this blog ), and I also suspect I had a cut of "brisket" that was not beef breast but some other cut containing more elastin than collagen (which according to Douglas Baldwin occurs in some muscles in the rump). Since then I always look for a cut which has obviously been cut from the ribs, i.e. I can see the intercostal muscles. Apart from this flop, my briskets 55°C/48h always were fork-tender and succulent. I have no experience with short ribs.
My other preferred cuts are "brisket" from veal 55°C/24h, veal shoulder 55°C/5h (16h was too much, falling apart), beef shoulder 55°C/50h, which all came out even more tender than brisket.
Here is an explanation on gelatinizing of collagen from Douglas Baldwin (personal communication 26.12.2009):
Our experiences with tenderizing tough meat show that thermal breakdown of collagen, contrary to Harold McGee's On Food & Cooking (page 152) and to http://www.britannic...uctural-changes , does occur at temperatures well below 70°C, but it takes much more time.
As a small note, enzymatic tenderizing only occurs in the first six or so hours at temperatures below about 60C --- and only splits a special bond in native collagen. The rest of the tenderizing at 55C and above is caused by the heat induced breakdown of collagen into gelatin --- that is, the native or intact collagen's triple-stranded helix is destroyed to a great extent by thermal energy and becomes random coils which are soluble in water.