There’s no denying that brisket is one of the most delicious cuts of meat. So, there’s no wonder that there are lots of existing tips and tricks shared by many barbecue enthusiasts as to how you should cook your meat. And one of those tricks is to wrap the brisket.
When it comes to wrapping a brisket, there are already lots of questions surrounding this. Is it necessary to cover a brisket? When do you wrap it? At what temperature? At what time? And a lot more other questions might probably be running into your mind.
But that’s okay.
In this article, we’re answering all those questions as we tackle the following topics:
- Why you should wrap a brisket
- Your options in cooking a brisket
- At what temperature you should wrap a brisket
- The advantages and disadvantages of wrapping a brisket
- Basing everything through color and feel
So, if you haven’t wrapped a brisket before or you just want to know how to do it right, let’s dive into the article below…
Why Should You Wrap A Brisket?
Let’s start this article by addressing the question: Why should you wrap a brisket?
Is it even that necessary to do? Or is it just a useless hassle?
Well, if there’s one thing for sure, wrapping a brisket is not a useless hassle. If anything, it actually helps you achieve three things:
- Reduce cooking time
- Good control over the appearance and flavor
- Juicier meat
How does this help achieve this?
Wrapping your brisket helps us prevent what we call “the stall”. This is when your meat is almost closer to the desired temperature; it just seemed to stop cooking. And this is because the moisture in your meat starts evaporating.
This prevents the meat temperature from going plateau, and it won’t rise until the meat has evaporated enough moisture. And this might result in a slice of less juicy or tender meat because there’s not enough moisture in there.
However, by simply wrapping the brisket, you don’t allow all those juices to evaporate. Instead, the evaporated moisture will stay mainly on the surface and help the meat cook through, resulting in a faster cooking time and more delicious and tender meat.
At the same time, it gives you great control over the appearance of your brisket and, of course, the smoky flavor that you wish to incorporate.
When it comes to cooking brisket, you actually have three options on how to do this. And it’s up to you which of the three you prefer by knowing their advantages and disadvantages.
The first option you have is Bare Brisket or the Naked Method. And as this name implies, this method doesn’t require you to wrap the brisket. I know this may sound like the exact opposite of what this article is all about, but it’s also an excellent way to cook your brisket.
Most people prefer to do this method and at low and slow heat as it’s the natural way. On top of that, it’s the best way if you want to get the best smoky flavor into your meat.
But another reason why people do this is for bark development. When you leave the brisket unwrapped, you expose it better to direct heat. This then results in a thick and crispy bark on the outside surface of the meat.
However, this method also has its disadvantages.
If you don’t control your smoke well, you might end up over-smoking your meat. But aside from that, you might also risk drying out your meat because it takes a lot longer to cook, and moisture tends to escape faster.
Foil Wrap – The Texas Crutch
The next method you can try is the Foil Wrap Method or also called the Texas Crutch.
As the name implies, this method uses aluminum foil to wrap your brisket. And there is probably no barbecue enthusiast in the world that doesn’t use or doesn’t know how to use this method.
The concept behind this method is mainly because aluminum is a great conductor of heat.
So, by wrapping meat in the aluminum foil, the aluminum foil conducts heat to the brisket, allowing the brisket to cook even if it’s not exposed to direct heat. Heat mainly stays inside the aluminum foil, allowing heat to rise faster. This results in faster cooking time and eliminating the stall.
But aside from the heat, aluminum foil traps moisture inside, too, giving you an extra juicier and tender piece of brisket.
The downside, however, is that the brisket isn’t exposed to any smoke at all, which may not give you that delicious, smoky flavor that you’re looking for. On top of that, this method will not give you that crispy bark that you are looking for.
However, there’s a solution for this. And that is something we’ll talk about later in this article.
Pink Butcher Paper Wrap
Next, you can use the Pink Butcher Paper Wrap to cover your brisket. This method is like going in between the bare method and the foil wrap method.
By wrapping the meat with butcher paper, you get to trap the heat and moisture inside, resulting in faster cooking time and juicy meat.
But because the butcher paper is more breathable than aluminum foil, you still allow some smoke to go through and cook the brisket’s surface better, resulting in a tastier meat and a bit crispy bark.
This method is actually what I would recommend the best to use, as you don’t risk drying out your meat, but at the same time, you still give it a good flavor.
What Temperature To Wrap a Brisket
As mentioned above, wrapping a brisket won’t help get you a good crispy bark. And if you’re using aluminum foil, you don’t also get a good, smoky flavor into your meat. But that doesn’t mean you’d have to leave your brisket unwrapped.
What you can do, though, is combine the two methods by leaving your brisket unwrapped at the start of your cook and wrapping it mid-through. Now here’s the question of when to wrap your brisket comes in.
But the most honest answer we can give you is it depends. There are actually many factors involved as to when you can wrap a brisket, and one of them is the temperature.
To ensure excellent cooking, allow the brisket’s internal temperature to reach 150 °F. This is usually the temperature where the stall happens. If you’ve reached a lower temperature and it seems that the temperature is no longer rising, then it’s time to wrap your brisket.
So make sure that you have a reliable temperature probe to get an appropriate reading of your meat temperature.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Wrapping a Brisket
Now, why should you wrap your brisket at this temperature? Well, there are a few advantages. The first two of which were mentioned above:
- It cuts down your cooking time because you get to prevent the stall from happening. When you wrap the meat at 150 °F, you get to trap the heat and just allow it to rise instead of being maintained for longer hours.
- It keeps the meat moist and tender. If you just allow the stall to happen, more moisture from the meat will evaporate, resulting in dried-out meat. But wrapping the meat at that right time will lock in the moisture and keep your meat tender and juicy.
But aside from these two, there are two more advantages you get to enjoy:
- It stops the meat from taking in more smoke. You don’t want to oversmoke your meat. It would just destroy what could have been a really good flavor on your brisket.
- It will also allow you to hot-hold the brisket for several hours. One risk of leaving the brisket bare is that after you’ve removed it from your cooker, it can get cold really fast, and nobody wants to serve cold meat. But when your brisket is wrapped, you don’t have to worry about this. You also get to move the brisket in your cooler to keep it hot.
But, what would happen if you wrap the brisket earlier or later than the said temperature? Well, two things might happen:
- You can ruin the bark. If you wrap your brisket too early, you won’t be able to get that nice crispy bark you want.
- You can oversmoke the meat. Again, you don’t want to expose the meat in the smoke for too long.
- You risk some moisture getting out. Let’s say you forgot to monitor the meat’s internal temperature, and it has been stalling for a few minutes. This means that some moisture has already gotten out, which might affect your end cook.
For these reasons, there’s another factor involved as to when you should wrap your brisket, and this involves you simply judging by color and feel.
Judge When to Wrap by Color and Feel
Wrapping a brisket may also depend on personal preference. Some of us love a lot of smoke on our meat, and some of us may want a less crispy bark.
So, depending on what you want, decide when you should wrap your brisket by basing it on its appearance. When you think you’ve incorporated enough flavor, the color is what you want, and the bark is as crispy as you wanted it, then you can wrap it at that time.
In other words, just listen to what you think is right, and go for it.
If there’s one thing we love about cooking brisket, it’s that there are a lot of tricks that you can do to cook it the best way possible. And wrapping it is definitely one of those.
As a simple recap, wrapping a brisket allows you to cook it faster, keep it tender, and gain control over its appearance. But don’t wrap the brisket at the start of your cooking. This way, you can incorporate some flavor and make sure that you get the bark to a crispy texture.
Instead, wait until you reach 150 °F before reaching the brisket. This way, you get to keep in the moisture and keep the meat cooking.
What you use to wrap the brisket is up to you. How you want the bark to be crispy is also up to you. Each of us has different preferences, but hopefully, having this little standard temperature to follow can help.