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Should I Unroll Brisket? (Explained)

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What Is a Rolled Brisket?

A rolled brisket is just a piece of brisket, preferably cut from the flat, wrapped up into a cylindrical shape and kept together with butcher twine or heat resistant skewers.

Rolling a brisket is a classic British technique that is also termed as a “brisket joint,” a name you’ve probably heard of.

As stated above, the flat is used to create a brisket joint, given its wide surface area, and its higher percentage of leaner meat (and less fatty and connective tissues) compared to the point

Aside from its shape, brisket flat is commonly used for rolling since the manner of preparing a roast keeps the flat from drying out. Flat has significantly less fat and far more lean meat, making it prone to overcooking in a smoker.

It transforms a brisket into a compact and easy to handle roast, often times being braised rather than smoked. The lean meat of the flat makes this perfect for braising, while still containing plenty of connective fibres to create a beautifully rich and succulent flavors.

Rolled & Braised Brisket V.S Regular Smoked Brisket 

When it comes to food, there is rarely a concrete response to the question “what is better,” as it is mainly a function of personal opinion and how it is prepared.

Regular smoked brisket is cooked at extremely low temperatures, ranging from 225 to 250 degrees(F), for up to 20 hours! This lengthy cooking time ensures that the meat’s fatty and connective tissues are completely broken down and emulsified.

This results in an exquisite “melt in your mouth” quality, resulting in a delicious, juicy, and incredibly tender product that can be effortlessly shredded and pulled apart.

A rolled brisket joint is often braised at a slightly higher heat (It’s still somewhat lower, but we’ll touch on that later). While tender, rich, and flavorful, brisket joint has a more rustic aspect due to the fact that it’s usually prepared and served with rustic veggies. 

It’s a bit firmer than a regularly smoked brisket and is traditionally served in slices.

Preparing A Rolled Brisket Joint

Rolling & Tying

Most butchers will sell you a brisket joint “pre-rolled,” or you can request that the brisket be rolled. This, however, is easily accomplished by oneself with a little effort and technique.

  • First and foremost, you want to use the flat. If you have a whole brisket, trim the flat from the point while leaving the layer of fat that separates them intact.
  • Before rolling, generously season the marbled side of the flat. The seasonings will spread and become absorbed into the meat as the marbling bastes the brisket while cooking.
  • When rolling the flat, make sure the fat layer is facing out. Also, ensure that the meat grain goes vertically along the cylindrical brisket, never across horizontally.
  • After folding, a 5-to-6-pound brisket flat should yield at least 3 to 4 layers in the roast which can sometimes be as thick as a football. 

After rolling up the meat, bind it with butcher twine. Butcher twine is heat resistant and cooks with the brisket, so tie it in as many places as necessary to keep the beef firmly coiled. 

Skewers, in addition to butcher twine, can be used to hold coiled brisket together. As long as they are composed of metal or another heat-resistant material.

How To Cook a Rolled Brisket

Despite the fact that rolled brisket is typically braised rather than smoked, the internal temperature guidelines remain the same, optimal at 200 degrees(F).

However, braising the joint is not the same as smoking it.

A deep baking pan is filled with beef stock, additional seasonings, or any other type of cooking liquids (wine can also be used). Aside from adding tons of flavor, the warming broth will provide ambient heat, which will help the joint cook faster.

Various rustic vegetables (traditionally rustic, but you can add whichever vegetables you want), such as carrots, celery, potatoes, or parsnips, are usually added to the pan as well.

Unlike smoking brisket, you must first brown the joint before braising it. This is accomplished by baking it at 373 degrees(F) for about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat and continue to braise until it reaches an internal temperature of 190-195 degrees(F).

The heat retained in the thickest regions of the joint will continue to elevate the internal temperature as it rests. It will reach your desired temperature while resting, which is known as “carry-over cooking.”

The braising time is in charge of entirely breaking down the fatty tissues in the brisket, resulting in a luscious texture and rich flavors. This can take up to 6 hours, depending on the size of the joint.

Can You Smoke Rolled Brisket?

Absolutely! Smoking a brisket joint is the same as smoking a normal packer brisket.

Make sure the joint is fat cap side down in the smoker. This will aid in the formation of a layer of moisture that will naturally bast the joint as it smokes, keeping it hydrated and juicy.

This is especially critical when smoking brisket flat, which contains a lot of lean meat and fewer fatty components.

Do You Wrap Rolled Brisket

Temperature stalling will still occur in a rolled brisket, therefore wrapping it will be beneficial.

Wrap it up when the internal temperature hits 150 degrees(F), or when it starts to stall, whichever happens first.

After smoking, keep it wrapped up until the resting period is through. It won’t be as soft and shredable as conventional smoked brisket, but it will be unbelievably flavorful and tender.