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Butcher Paper Brisket

Why Do You Want to Wrap a Brisket?

There are three main reasons for wrapping brisket.

  • Faster cooking time
  • Control over the bark
  • Juicier meat

Why Wrapping Brisket Helps It Cook Faster

All large cuts of meat are subject to the stall. Your large cut of meat can be progressing nicely and right on track for when you want to serve it. Then, when the internal temperature of the meat gets near 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it seemingly stops cooking.

What’s happening? The same process that keeps you cooler on a hot day. Evaporation. Basically, the meat starts to sweat, water rises to the surface of the meat and begins to evaporate, and it cools the entire cut. The battle between evaporation and your smoking becomes a stalemate, and the stall begins. It can last as long as six hours.

When you wrap a brisket, you’re eliminating the air into which moisture can evaporate. A film of the brisket’s own juices surrounds its surface, and those juices stay hot because of the hot air circulating in your smoker. The less air that circulates around the surface of the meat, the hotter it gets.

Because the wrap insulates the brisket against any direct heat from the smoke, you can increase the temperature of your smoker without worrying about drying out or burning the surface of the meat.

(Note: Traeger expert Matt Pittman keeps his Traeger set at 275 degrees Fahrenheit through the entire brisket cooking process.)

With evaporation stopped, the heat of your smoker pulls ahead in the battle of the stall. The temperature of the meat begins to rise again – which you want because brisket gets more tender the longer you cook it.

Legend has it “The Texas Crutch” first came into being on the competition barbecue circuit. In these contests, smoked meat must be delivered to the judges at a specific time. Wrapping brisket – the traditional cut of Texans – helped competitors hit their deadlines.

Control Over the Bark

When you wrap, you have more control over the appearance of the brisket. What most pitmasters are going for is a mahogany-colored crust on the surface of the meat called the bark.

A good bark looks delicious and appetizing, but that’s not all. Bark also contains the pleasing effects of the Maillard reaction, a chemical process that releases the aromas and flavors our minds register as “cooked” meat.

So while some wrap their brisket when it gets to the stall temperature, others wrap when they get the bark to the color or thickness they want.

However, while the brisket is wrapped, the juices of the meat can moisten the bark, making it less crispy. We’ll explain how to avoid that later in the article.

Juicier Meat

Wrapping brisket locks in the delicious and tenderizing natural juices of the meat. Once you’ve smoked the brisket, you wrap and start braising it.Some people think you get more smoke flavor but the meat soaks up all the smoke up until the stall time.

Wrapping meat is a traditional technique for locking in flavor and juiciness, especially in tropical environments where leaves are used. This is the same concept.