Most smokers consider wrapping brisket to be routine procedure.
Wrapping a brisket is typically done in two stages: during the stall and after it has fully smoked and is ready to rest.
The brisket is wrapped in either tin foil or butcher paper during the stall to help it keep its internal temperature rising.
The brisket is still wrapped in foil or butcher paper while resting, but it is also wrapped in a towel for added insulation to keep it warm and above the “danger zone” temperature range.
This post will discuss why you would wrap your brisket in a towel and the benefits of doing so.
Why Wrap a Brisket with A Towel?
Wrapping a completely smoked brisket in a towel essentially buys you additional time to give it a longer resting period.
Some smokers prefer to rest their briskets for up to 4 hours! However, this is only possible if the brisket is correctly wrapped. A towel helps insulate the brisket, keeping it warm and out of the “danger zone” for an extended period of time.
The danger zone is the temperature range at which meat is no longer considered safe for eating. These temperatures range between 40 and 140 degrees(F). Raw brisket should not be permitted to reach 40 degrees(F), and thoroughly cooked brisket should not be allowed to fall below 140 degrees(F).
An unwrapped brisket can only be left out for 2 hours at room temperature. The surface of the meat will then become a breeding ground for bacteria.
If your brisket has already rested but you still need to buy some time before your dinner guests arrive, wrapping it in a towel will help keep it warm, fresh, and safe to consume.
If you simply need to retain a brisket for a brief period of time, an oven or crockpot would suffice. However, if you need to keep it for a longer, it may overcook in an oven.
Why Do We Rest Brisket?
Resting time should be allowed for all meats, whether smoked, grilled, or pan fried. It allows the fluids to penetrate the meat.
If you’ve ever eaten a burger, for example, that hasn’t rested, you know that it’s usually extremely messy and drips the juices all over the place.
The resting period is critical for smoked meats like pork shoulder and brisket. They have a substantially larger fat content, which causes them to break down and liquify.
The fundamental goal of smoking meat is to break down all of the fatty and connective tissues over long periods of time at low temperatures. Once the meat is thoroughly cooked, the fluids and rendered fats inside must be redistributed into the meat.
Keep in mind: Most cooked meats will experience “carry-over cooking,” which occurs when the meat continues to cook after it has been removed from the smoker.
Heat held in the thick parts of the meat continues to travel towards the centre of the cut, continuing to raise its internal temperature.
How Long Should Brisket Rest?
You should rest any cooked meat for at least 35 to 45 minutes, but it should ideally be given one hour. The juices should then have settled enough to begin slicing or shredding.
Should Brisket Rest Wrapped or Unwrapped?
While it is technically possible to rest brisket without wrapping for a short period of time, it is not recommended. Wrapping the meat allows it to hold its juices and retain heat better.
How to Properly Rest Brisket Using a Towel
If you want to keep your brisket for more than 2 hours, it’s not as simple as covering it in a towel and leaving it alone. It only requires modest preparation and the use of a cooler.
Coolers are incredibly insulative and can keep briskets warm and above the danger zone for up to 4 hours!
- First, bring a pot of water to a boil and pour it into the cooler. Allow a few minutes for the water to settle before draining and drying. •
- Next, line the inside of the cooler with more towels for further insulation.
- Remove the brisket from the smoker, keeping the foil (or butcher paper) wrap on, and cover it all in a cloth towel before placing it in the cooler.
- Remove the wrapped brisket every 30 minutes and “re-heat” the cooler with another round of boiling water.
This will buy you roughly 4 hours of rest and carry-over cooking time.
Towels are a fantastic way to rest and hold briskets for longer stretches of time. It ensures that the brisket has enough time to settle and redistribute its juices while remaining safe and above the danger zone.
Follow the steps outlined above to ensure a tender and delicious result, even hours after it has been smoked.