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No Wrapping Brisket (Should you do it)?

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While wrapping is a very prevalent technique for smoking thick cuts of meat, such as brisket, it is still a highly disputed technique among the community.

Wraps, according to some, can hamper crackling skin or bark while causing the meat to become mushy, while others claim that not using wraps dries out the meat, making it tougher and less flavorful.

The truth is that brisket can be smoked without being wrapped, but the texture and flavor may suffer as a result.

The following article discusses the pros and cons of wrapping a brisket while smoking. 

Why Do We Wrap Brisket?

The primary objective of wrapping meat for smoking is to hasten the cooking process and move through the stall at a quicker pace

The stall happens when you smoke meals at low temperatures or for long periods of time. At some point during the smoking process, the juices in the meat begin to rise to the surface and evaporate over the meat. 

As a result, the meat cools at the same (or faster) pace at which the ambient smoke temperature can cook it, causing it to “stall.” This is also referred to as “evaporative cooling.”

Only when all of the superfluous fluids and rendered fats have dissipated will the internal temperature of the brisket continue to rise. Depending on the size of the cut, and the amount of fat it has, this might add hours to the cooking time.

The wrap’s aim is to trap and seal these liquids in with the brisket, causing them to stay warmer, mitigating evaporative cooling and minimizing the stall’s duration. 

Wrapping the brisket can also help it stay warm and moist while resting.

Most cooked meats require time to rest after being taken from the grill or smoker. It allows for the redistribution of all of those lovely fats and fluids into the meat. 

While most meats require just 30-45 minutes of resting time, thick cuts of brisket, benefit from extended resting durations due to the increased fat content (more fat means more rendered juices). 

Wraps can be used to rest meat for extended periods of time. It maintains the meat’s internal temperature and limits its exposure to air. It basically keeps it warm while it’s resting.

You may rest a brisket in this style for up to two hours without letting the meat become cold. 

Cons For Using Wraps

Whether or not to use a wrap is a question of personal taste for how you want to devour your brisket. A wrap can change the texture of the final product significantly.

Smoking “naked” brisket yields a softer bark every time. A wrapped brisket is effectively “steamed” inside the wrap, allowing the bark to soften, and become more delicate. This is not for those who love a textured bark or delicious, savory, crackling pig skin.

How Do You Smoke Brisket Without Wrapping?

Essentially, you must keep it hydrated.  This can be accomplished by basting the brisket and spritzing it with an acidic liquid, such as apple cider vinegar.

Additionally, because your brisket will be bare, you may want to slightly raise your smoking temperatures. This will assist it get through the stall and reduce cooling.

Increasing the temperature is optional and not highly suggested, although it can aid a stalled-out brisket with no wrap.

Tip: Even if you don’t wrap your brisket as it smokes, wrapping it after it’s pulled can be helpful. Wrapping it as it rests can keep it warm, moist, and ready to serve.

What Type of Wrapping Works Best?

Butcher Paper

Butcher paper is preferred by most experienced smokers. It gives you greater control over how the brisket cooks.

Despite the fact that butcher paper does not seal as well as foil, you may still get a crisper texture in the bark without becoming soggy. Furthermore, the paper absorbs some of the oil and grease from the meat, generating a layer of moisture that transmits heat and speeds up the cooking process.

Aluminium Foil

This is the most often used wrapping material. Foil not only tightly closes the brisket, keeping the fluids warm, but it’s also considerably easier to apply, especially for beginners.

The disadvantage of using foil is that it might over-seal the brisket. By thoroughly sealing in the moisture, the meat can turn mushy, and any crispy bark can be destroyed.

Final Thoughts 

There is nothing wrong with smoking brisket without wrapping it. It has its own set of benefits and generates texture that some people prefer.

With that stated, wrapping a brisket is typically a smart idea. It not only aids in the release of stalled meat, but it also acts as a natural baster, keeping the meat warm, moist, and soft.

It is all about trial and error when it comes to smoking. So, try one with and one without a wrap and determine which you prefer.

Happy smoking, everyone!