Guide to Wrapping Brisket

Jason Webster
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Why do you Wrap Brisket?

Rib meat (and all other long muscles) are tough because their length causes them to work against the grain when they contract. The only difference between the toughness in rib meat and brisket is that brisket will actually get tougher the more it’s cooked.

This is because the muscles in brisket are arranged in two layers:

{1}. The “deckle” is the meat in the upper part of the brisket that is not part of the ribs.
{2}. The “flat” is the muscle that covers the ribs of the brisket.

The deckle has a grain like the other muscles in a steer, while the flat has a grain that runs parallel to the ribs.

When you cook a brisket, the deckle part becomes tender first; as it takes the most direct heat from the fire. The fat in the deckle melts and bastes the meat, helping it to render out and stay moist.

Meanwhile, the flat continues to take more heat than the deckle. Over the course of the long slow cook, its connective tissues solidify and turn into gelatin, thereby tenderizing the meat.

What is the Texas Crutch

The Texas crutch is a controversial cooking method used in barbecuing briskets. It involves placing aluminum foil over a brisket that has been cooked at high temperatures. The cooking method has been the target of many debates.

Adding to the debate is the fact that, no one seems to know, when and where the Texas crutch was invented.

The name “Texas crutch” probably refers to the fact that this technique is very popular in Texas.

However, it is also used in barbecue restaurants all across the country, suggesting that the technique can be used for excellence regardless of where your guests are from.

Proponents of the technique claim that it helps to prevent the exterior from overcooking while the interior is cooked.

Opponents, on the other hand, argue that it takes away the meat’s natural flavor and texture and softens the meat, giving it a “wet” or “gravy-like” texture.

How does wrapping barbecue work?

Wrapping barbecue is all about keeping your main ingredient warm and moist. There are two different techniques used to do so. One is wet wrapping and one is dry wrapping to prevent the meat from drying out.

The wet wrap will hold more moisture inside the leaf. The dry wrap will be used if you want to drip marinade into the meat, but you still want to keep it relatively moist.

Wet wraps should be used when the meat is going to need some time to finish cooking. So, if you’re slow smoking your barbecue, you should go with the wet wraps.

The dry wrap is tricky to get right, but it’s much faster to cook. They need to be served within an hour if they’re going to be hot, juicy, and full of flavor.

The slow cooking barbecue is pretty safe from drying out, however, you will need to inspect the meat for dryness frequently as the hours pass.

In addition to wrapping, you can also use a tent made of foil to preserve moisture in the meat while you’re smoking it, especially if you’re using dry wood.

The brisket is one of the premium cuts and right up there with the most popular cuts of meat and has a long history of being dried and smoked for preservation.

A whole brisket is usually sold with the point on it and around 15 pounds in weight.

Here are tips on how to wrap it.

Preparation

Slice meat into a uniform thickness, which is half an inch.

It is imperative that you remove fat from being near the surface so meat can be dry and uniform after the cooking.

Lightly cover the meat with seasoning rub and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.

Wrapping

Preheat your smoker using indirect heat.

Prepare the smoker by spreading a thick layer of soaked wood chips.

By this time, the meat has rested for an hour.

Place two pieces of foil parallel to each other.

Place the meat on one of the pieces of foil, carefully fold the other piece carefully onto the meat and loosely roll the edges of the foil.

Be sure not to tightly wrap the foil, as this could result in the loss of juices.

Place the folded meat on the smoker and add an additional layer of dry wood chips over burning wood chips.

Close the smoker and continue to cook for several hours at 250°F or until the meat has reached 180°F.

When to Wrap Brisket

Briskets are a large portion of the chest and they are typically slow-cooked for many hours. They are often cooked and smoked for barbecue competitions and parties.

If briskets are given time to properly cook, they are delicious and tender. However, sometimes we get in a hurry to get a nice brisket on the table. This often prevents the cooked brisket from becoming dry.

So if you have the luxury of time for cooking, switching the briskets after the first couple of hours is a good idea. The first cut is preferably the flat (also referred to as the first cut). The flat lies above the point (also known as the deckle), which holds more marbling.

So if you have time for cooking, then the best option is to use the flat first and then the point. This gives you more to work with as far as meat is concerned.

Options for Wrapping Your Brisket

Brisket is one of the most popular Texan and Southern dishes, especially during the holiday season.

Lightly smoked, tender and juicy, this cut of meat is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

A Basic Guide to Wrapping Brisket

However, difficult to make it look good while serving or grilling.

In order to make your brisket look good while serving or grilling, you should wrap it first with aluminum foil or butcher paper, followed with a piece of wood.

Increase the Taste and Texture

When wrapping your brisket with aluminum foil or butcher paper, you will increase the taste and the texture of your meat, making it more ideal for satisfying your guests.

In addition, the aluminum foil or butcher paper helps prevent your brisket from becoming dry and chewy.

Wrapping Your Brisket in Plastic Wrap

The easiest way to wrap your brisket is plastic wrap because it’s durable, relatively cheap and not difficult to source. Wrapping your brisket with plastic wrap is not recommended because it tends to stick to the meat, and it’s very hard to clean. It’s also hard to track the progress of your brisket while it is wrapped in plastic wrap.

The brisket is one of the premium cuts and right up there with the most popular cuts of meat and has a long history of being dried and smoked for preservation.

A whole brisket is usually sold with the point on it and around 15 pounds in weight.

Here are tips on how to wrap it.

Preparation

Slice meat into a uniform thickness, which is half an inch.

It is imperative that you remove fat from being near the surface so meat can be dry and uniform after the cooking.

Lightly cover the meat with seasoning rub and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.

Wrapping

Preheat your smoker using indirect heat.

Prepare the smoker by spreading a thick layer of soaked wood chips.

By this time, the meat has rested for an hour.

Place two pieces of foil parallel to each other.

Place the meat on one of the pieces of foil, carefully fold the other piece carefully onto the meat and loosely roll the edges of the foil.

Be sure not to tightly wrap the foil, as this could result in the loss of juices.

Place the folded meat on the smoker and add an additional layer of dry wood chips over burning wood chips.

Close the smoker and continue to cook for several hours at 250°F or until the meat has reached 180°F.

Aluminium vs butcher paper vs unwrapped

Brisket?

Some people wrap their brisket while some others don’t. What’s the right way to do it?

It can be a fairly controversial topic. On one hand, the purists would argue that the net result (termed bark) from wrapped brisket is only obtainable from unwrapped brisket.

They suggest that foil or plastic wrap –steals” away the smoke and moisture that’s otherwise meant to bind with the surface of the meat.

On the other hand, some say that wrapping with aluminium foil speeds up the cook time. Unwrapped brisket is also harder to judge because it’s hard to know if it has hit the perfect point of being “done,” which is 170 degrees F.

After cutting into an unwrapped brisket, it’s even harder to tell if the meat is tender.

So if you’re wrapping yours with aluminium foil, you can be assured that you are cooking it fast and it’s “done” when it hits a temperature of 165 degrees F.

What the Experts Do

The process of wrapping brisket is as important as smoking it. The long hours you invested in smoking won’t be worth it if you’re not wrapping the meat well.

Most of the time, the wrapping and the smoking are the two factors that determine whether or not your brisket turns out moist and delicious.

Swapping out wraps too early, for instance, will allow the meat to dry out easily, even if you’ve already invested hours in smoking it. Smoking and wrapping at the same time ensures that the meat is well-cooked, tender, and delicious.

So keep in mind, avoid premature wrapping and always give ample time for the meat to fully smoke. Also, note that not all meat needs to be wrapped when smoking.

If not wrapped, the meat would otherwise dry out, and not taste as good, especially if you won’t be able to leave it long enough for it to be flavorful and silky at the same time.

For more on wrapping, check out Fine Cooking’s How to Wrap Brisket article.

Resting Brisket

Brisket is a tough cut of meat that needs to be carefully cooked and prepared. You cannot just throw it on the barbecue and expect it to turn out tender and tasty.

Brisket can be tender through long cooking, which can take hours. There are a few techniques you can use, including wrapping the brisket in various ways and you can do this with or without sauce.

The goal is to use the temperature of the smoker to tenderize the brisket and render fat in a process called the Texas crutch. A crutch is used to hold a baby in a forward-facing position when sitting down.

The Texas crutch is a way to hold the brisket to wrap it so that the fat and juices will stay inside the meat and then to wrap again with foil after it has rested.

The process creates a moister, tender and more flavorful brisket.

Wrapping the Brisket

{1}. Remove the brisket from the refrigerator 1 hour before you plan to cook. Place the brisket flat in a roasting pan or other dish.
{2}. Apply a dry rub using a light to moderate pressure. Most barbecue sauce recipes have a dry rub already included in the mix.

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