Even though not all pitmasters cook by wrapping their meat, it is a good way to prevent the meat from drying out. You can use butcher paper or aluminum foil to wrap your brisket; both have benefits when cooking brisket, pork belly, or spare ribs.
Butcher paper is preferred to aluminum foil for brisket wrapping because paper allows the meat to breathe, making for a firmer bark. Foil collects steam, which makes the bark soggy. Another drawback of foil is its overt “pot roast” flavor, which is obvious compared to brisket wrapped in paper.
Butcher paper and aluminum foil have benefits and drawbacks that we will discuss in this article.
Brisket in aluminum foil – “The Texas Crutch.”
The most popular method of wrapping brisket in aluminum foil is affordable, and everyone uses aluminum foil at home. Although foil will soften the bark, it will prevent the brisket from drying out. According to Aaron Franklin, a foil-wrapped brisket’s flavor is “pot roast.” Franklin favors butcher paper because he thinks it keeps the brisket’s meaty flavor intact.
In a true Texas Crutch, the aluminum foil is an impenetrable barrier and effectively prevents evaporation cooling from occurring. Depending on what’s added to the wrap, you’re essentially gently braising the meat. An issue with aluminum foil-wrapped brisket is that the trapped moisture produces soft, mushy bark.
The benefit of wrapping foil is that it captures the fat and the juices of the meat so they can be reabsorbed once the meat is taken off the smoker to rest, creating the braising effect.
Brisket in butcher paper
Butcher paper works similarly to aluminum foil in that it is used to wrap the meat to prevent evaporative cooling. The difference between butcher paper and foil is that butcher paper is a porous substance that absorbs fat and water rapidly.
Butcher paper can be more absorbent and trap less steam, keeping the brisket moist without making the bark soggy. You can leave the brisket unwrapped if you desire a particularly crispy, crunchy bark, but be careful it doesn’t dry out.
The most frequent criticism of butcher paper is that it can significantly slow the cooking, especially if you’re smoking a brisket and run into a stall. Butcher paper is not nearly as tolerant in allowing heat to escape as aluminum foil is. Aluminum foil insulates the meat and aids in maintaining a constant temperature.
Disadvantages of brisket wrapping
A wrapped brisket will taste significantly less smokey than one left unwrapped, which is the main drawback of wrapping. Other drawbacks include the potential for bark texture loss and the possibility of overcooking.
Somewhat diminished smoky flavor.
By wrapping the brisket, you put a barrier between the meat and the wood smoke. As a result, the meat receives less of the smoke flavor.
Loss of bark texture
The brisket will be covered with a moisture film if firmly wrapped. The tough bark on the brisket’s outside will soften as a result of this, which speeds up the cooking process.
The brisket’s internal temperature will start to rise once it is wrapped, and no one can predict how quickly the rise will occur. It may differ according to the smoker’s humidity, how tightly you wrap, the caliber of the wrapping, the characteristics of your particular brisket cut, and other factors.
Does your brisket even need to be wrapped?
Others disagree with the technique of wrapping briskets. I don’t think wrapping is that important, though I believe it can speed up your cooking, safeguard bark, and prevent drying out of the meat.
Some may say that wrapping your meat can reduce its bark, but only if you decide to wrap it too soon. As previously said, if you wait until your bark is completely set, there isn’t much chance that wrapping it will compromise its integrity. I’ve discovered that wrapping your bark protects it because it keeps it from getting too hot, smoky, or burning.
So what do we recommend?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. When smoking brisket, we at Brisket Pro use both butcher paper and aluminum foil. But since I particularly love a tender and juicy brisket, I prefer using aluminum foil since it preserves juiciness.
Although it may not be what you want to see, this argument has no winner or loser. You can always use what you like and never go wrong. However, we at Brisket Pro endorse using foil over butcher paper. Locking in all those liquids and shortening the cooking time makes sense, especially if you’re smoking a brisket. To get a solid understanding of how both will work on your smoker and with your cooking style, try both ways multiple times. You’ll eventually come to rest on one side of the street.
And if you find this article helpful or have any suggestions, feel free to reach us. Happy grilling!