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Wrapping brisket for a smoker is considered standard procedure by most smokers, but it remains one of the most heated debates within the smoking community.
To smoke, or not to smoke, that is the question.
Truth is that brisket does not necessarily have to be wrapped in order to be smoked.
However, it does help and significantly contribute to the quality and overall flavor of the meat after it has been cooked.
Aside from that, wrapping a brisket will help it cook faster and pass through the stall much quicker.
If you’re having trouble deciding on a method, the information in this article will emphasize all of the benefits (and drawbacks) of wrapping a brisket for the smoker.
Why Would You Wrap a Brisket?
Getting Through the Stall
The main reason for wrapping meat on a smoker is to speed up the cooking process and get through the stall faster.
Smoking pork shoulders and briskets can take up to 12 hours, or even longer depending on how merciful the stall decides to be.
- The stall occurs when smoking foods at low temperatures or for extended periods of time. This is when the juices in the pork begin to rise to the surface and evaporate around the meat at a certain point during the smoking process.
- As a result, it cools the meat at the same (or faster) rate that the ambient smoke temperature can cook it, causing it to “stall” out.
- This is also known as “evaporative cooling”
The internal temperature of the brisket will continue to climb only once all of the excess fluids and rendered fats have evaporated.
This can add hours to the cooking time depending on the cut.
The wrap’s purpose is to catch and seal these liquids in with the brisket, forcing them to evaporate much faster and shortening the duration of the stall. This tactic is also known as the Texas Crutch.
Resting/Holding Pork Shoulder
After being removed from the grill or smoker, most cooked meats require time to rest.
It permits all of those wonderful fats and fluids to be redistributed into the meat.
While most meats require only 30–45 minutes of resting time, certain meats, such as pork shoulder or brisket, benefit from longer resting times due to their higher fat content (more fat means more rendered juices).
Wraps can be used to allow meat to rest for longer periods of time.
It keeps the meat at a consistent internal temperature and reduces its exposure to air.
It essentially keeps it warm while it is resting.
You can rest a brisket for up to two hours like this without causing the meat to cool too much.
But keep in mind, pork should not be allowed to rest at room temperature for longer than two hours.
After that, it starts to become a haven for bacterial build-up.
A Higher Quality Brisket
Remember that this is mostly a matter of personal preference.
By utilizing a wrap, you are sealing in all of the liquids and allowing them to make their way back into the meat.
This will result in a much juicy brisket and a rather softer bark. You’ll get that wonderfully melty texture that’s ideal for pulled pork.
Are There Downsides to Using Wraps?
As I said before, deciding to use a wrap can be a matter of personal preference of how you like to enjoy your brisket.
A wrap can slightly alter the texture of the finished product.
Smoking “naked” brisket (brisket without a wrap) will always result in a softer bark.
A wrapped brisket is essentially “steamed” inside the wrap, enabling the bark to become considerably softer and delicate.
This is not suited for folks who prefer a textured bark or excellent, savory, crackling pork skin.
When Should You Wrap a Brisket?
Usually, you don’t wrap a brisket until you get to the stall, which has temps ranging from 150 to 170 degrees (F).
As a precaution, remove the brisket from the smoker as it begins creeping towards 150 degrees (F), wrap it, and place it back on the smoker.
Use a dependable meat thermometer to keep track of its progress, especially at this stage.
Before wrapping, let it to reach at least 150 degrees(F).
If you wrap the brisket too early, you may lose a lot of the smoky flavour you’re aiming to get in the meat.
The Second Stall
When the brisket reaches 190 degrees(F), smokers may encounter a “second stall”.
At this point, the pork is rendering and breaking down the remaining tissues and fats, which are sweating out and evaporating.
However, if a brisket has already been wrapped at 150°F, it may be able to power through the second stall without trouble.
Butcher Paper VS. Aluminium Foil
Wrapping is most typically done with foil.
For one thing, it’s usually something that’s already in most people’s kitchens.
Most folks do not have extra butcher paper sitting around.
Butcher paper will not seal a brisket as well as foil.
This will allow the pork to become more melty and soft over time, perfect for shredding pork.
Most experienced smokers will prefer to use butcher paper. It allows you to have more control over how the brisket smokes.
Since butcher paper does not seal as firmly as foil, you can still obtain a sharper texture in the bark and assist pork skin crackle without becoming soggy.
Furthermore, the paper absorbs part of the fat and grease from the pork, forming a layer of moisture that conducts heat and cooks the meat faster.
At the end of the day, this is a personal preference.
It all depends on how you like your brisket.
If it tastes nice to you, you didn’t do anything wrong.
Just keep in mind:
• Don’t wrap the brisket too soon.
This will cause part of the smoky flavour to fade, and you risk making the bark soggy.
• The temperature to keep an eye on is 150 degrees (F), as this is when the meat usually starts to slow.
•At 190 degrees, you may encounter a second stall (F).
Smoking meats is a trial-and-error technique. Experimenting with various coverings and temps is an excellent way to immerse yourself and develop experience.