Using my electric kitchen oven as a holding oven for brisket

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
I'm going to cook a brisket for Smoke Day 16 this coming Saturday. I will cook to 165*F, wrap in butcher paper, take it up to 203-205*F, let it cool to about 170*F, then hold it for several hours before eventually slicing at 145*F.

I would normally hold for several hours using an empty cooler. But just for kicks, I set my electric kitchen oven to its lowest setting of 170*F and monitored it for two hours using ThermoWorks Signals and charted the results.

Notice how the oven shoots way above 170*F, then makes a long slow decline to 145*F then wanders between 145-153*F...the perfect holding oven temp!

I need to do this test at a more typical baking temp like 350*F to see how the oven cycles around that temp. (I guess I should also do an ice bath test of Signals to check for accuracy, but I assume it's rock solid.) But I have to admit I'm not unhappy about what it's doing when set to 170*F. I think this will be perfect for holding my brisket on Saturday like they do with an Alto-Shaam in a BBQ restaurant.

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JKalchik

TVWBB All-Star
Ah, the wonders of data acquisition & logging. IOW, a little knowledge is a good thing.

When you say "several hours", I'd bet there's a safety shutoff at 8-12 hours. Mine shuts off at 8.
 

Dan Lutter

TVWBB Member
two possibilities 1st: oven cooking is not that demanding, or your graphing software is not very good. You could spent a few thousand dollars and get an industrial temperature controller and wire it into your oven. then you will get a graph of true temperature changes. Sometimes digital devices make you aware that tight control of temperature is really not needed to produce finger licking good food.
 

Dustin Dorsey

TVWBB Honor Circle
That's pretty cool. I wish my oven would go that low. Ours is gas and unfortunately not the greatest. I wouldn't try to set it below 200.
 

Lynn Dollar

TVWBB All-Star
I've seen temp charts of electric ovens before, and was surprised at the temp swings.

What spreadsheet software are you using to make your chart ? I'm using Thermoworks Gateway to chart my smokes on my offset. I'm using Google Spreadsheet but not happy with the detail on the chart.

Here's a pork butt cook from last week on the offset, you can see the chart does not give good temp detail

pork butt may 10 vs. Time.png
 

BobJ

TVWBB Super Fan
My wife bakes a lot. We've tested the oven many times over the last 5 or so years when we got it as it varies a good deal, like 50 degrees. What she does now is start the oven about an hour before baking, once it comes up to temp she'll wait about 10 minutes then turn off the oven and turn it back on. At this point the oven is normally 25 or so degrees off what it was initially set to so it'll work it's way back up without waiting till the temp goes down 50 degrees at which point the oven will go back on by itself. She'll do this a couple times up to the hour mark. By this time it's pretty good at holding it's temp. I had done some internet research at the time and found 50 degrees to be fairly common.

For baking, she will repeat the off/on after removing each batch of whatever. Beats waiting for the oven to drop enough so it'll kick in by itself.

I do the same thing when bringing it up to 550 for pizza.

5ish year old GE Profile convection. Convection isn't used in the above.
 

J Hasselberger

TVWBB Pro
I did a similar experiment with a butcher paper-wrapped brisket on a sheet pan in an electric oven. In an attempt to hold 140-ish, I set it to 170 and when it reached 150°, I shut it off. It took quite a while to drop to 140° -- about a half-hour. When it did, I turned it back on and repeated the process for the next 3 hours. It was a minor pain, but it worked. (BTW, I took the advice of the Franklin take-away crew and put 5 or 6 pats of butter on top of the brisket to keep it from drying.)
 

Jeff Boudman

TVWBB Pro
We bought a new Whirlpool oven two years ago to replace a 19 year old Whirlpool.
My favorite feature is the Keep Warm function.
The oven will work fine at a minimum of 140’.
 

Mike Cout

TVWBB Member
I'd be more concerned about the fact that set at 170 your oven swings between 145 and 153 for a couple of hours and then never gets back up to 170. How does it function at other temps?
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
I'd be more concerned about the fact that set at 170 your oven swings between 145 and 153 for a couple of hours and then never gets back up to 170. How does it function at other temps?
Yes, that is a big concern and why I mentioned doing this same test at 350*F. :)
We bought a new Whirlpool oven two years ago to replace a 19 year old Whirlpool. My favorite feature is the Keep Warm function. The oven will work fine at a minimum of 140’.
That's a feature I want! Maybe next time...
What spreadsheet software are you using to make your chart ?
Those two charts are screenshots from the ThermoWorks app on my iPhone. When I download the actual data and chart it using Excel, I get this.

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MikeCantell

TVWBB Super Fan
My whirlpool is gas and has a warming drawer, its electric but on about 5" tall stuff can go in it, it will hold 2 -9x13 pans, great for small stuff. I need to chart the temp on the oven as the wife thinks it cooks at too low of a temp, then fins a way to adjust it. gotta love electronic stuff.
 

Dan Lutter

TVWBB Member
I like the degree axis better on that chart. Will have to look into Excel.
As I said one problem being software, which as you showed was the problem. One must remember not all devices use software that actually works. The real unanswered question is how tight of temperature control is needed to produce great tasting Que. In automation theory, you only provide the control you need, tighter the control the higher the cost of production.
 

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