Something to note:
Meat temp: Reaction:
less than 125°F; Meat will not contract
Meat will be soft, it has not heated to a point where the internal fluids have cause the proteins to contract. It will not tighten up at normal room temperatures.
135° to 140°F; Outer layer of the meat will contract
The outer layer of the meat will tighten up, depending on the point in the temperature range, the internal meat will tighten variable. This is why, when you slice a rare to medium-rare roast, the middle of the meat seems to bulge as the roast cools. The inner meat has not gotten to the same heat as the outer layer of meat. Both parts of the meat contract, just that the layer on the outside heated beyond the point where the proteins remain relaxed.
145°-169°-all of the roast will contract;
As the internal moisture has all been heated to the point that it has activated the proteins. Now, proteins such as collagen are heat sensitive. When heated, they relax, when cooled, they now contract to the original state, but, you have cooked moisture out of the meat, and the proteins now tighten beyond their natural state.
169°-190°-Meat will harden
This is the range, where you find that the meat if hard, both on the cooker and off. It is at it's maximum heat level, prior to the collagen and proteins denaturing. Almost no meat will be edible in this range. The water based moisture has largely been driven off, and the moisture from fat and collagen has not been rendered.
And here is the trick with brisket, from 190°F and up until it is done, the meat will begin to soften on the cooker as the process of rendering finalizes. But, until the process is done, the meat will still tighten when/as it cools. This is another way of reading your cooked brisket.
I'm feeling bearish, and I'm packing a Wusthof Grand Brisket slicer from MABA
"I'm Armenian...perhaps...but then again...maybe not..."