brisket bark

Discussion in 'Beef' started by mick75, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. mick75

    mick75 Newbie

    Hey all I make a pretty good brisket, use a rub of salt pepper garlic paprika and a little brown sugar, but I never get a good bark, crust always seems soft and I would like a little more flavor. If anyone has thoughts please pass them along. Mick
  2. Do you use the TX crutch?  If so, it will soften the bark. 
  3. ballagh

    ballagh Smoking Fanatic

    More sugar and Brown sugar. Do you wrap it? If so what temp? Try not foiling and see if that gets the bark your seeking.

    Sent from my Sony Xperia Z
  4. mick75

    mick75 Newbie

    Thanks guys, what is the Texas crutch? I'm not familiar with that term. I do usually wrap in foil about 165-170 internal temp. I will try more sugar and no wrap this weekend, got a big picnic to get ready for.
  5. The Texas Crutch is wrapping your meat in foil during the cooking process.  It essentially steams or braises the meat.  It can produce a very tender and more moist meat initially (but it is usually drier when leftovers are re-heated).  The moisture trapped inside the foil will soften any bark you have formed.

    I believe it is call the "crutch" since many smokers will say that if you control your temperature properly and take your time (low and slow), you can get great and tender meats without foiling.  I have seen many people rush, run higher temps, then foil to make it moist.

    Of course, many people like their meat cooked that way - you will find lots of recommendations to do foil.

    The think to remember about keeping a cut of meat moist is that all raw meats have lots of water in them already.  Water is a very good heat conductor.  Water boils at 212 degrees-F.  If you boil off the water in a piece of meat, it will get dry, and that part of the meat will conduct heat less efficiently, making it more difficult to cook the interior.  Most BBQ talks about smoker temps of 200-225, which can dry out the edges, but not so hot as to boil out all the water in the rest of the meat.  You will hear people talking about running under 210 - it takes a lot longer, but can yield an incredibly tender piece of meat.
  6. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Time for a related question. I have never slathered on mustard to hold on rub. I have read that you can not taste it and that it increases the bark. True/ false?
  7. True.

    A light coating of plain old yellow mustard acts like a glue to hold the rub.  It dries out and forms the outer crust of a good bark and there is no mustard flavor left.  I use a light coating with a pastry brush - here is a photo

  8. not necessarily true...ive never had mustard help to form a bark. its just to act as an adhesive to help rub stick. i get more bark on my smokes just using plain rub. mustard never did anything for me except help my rub crumble off.
  9. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I don't use mustard, oil, or sugar in my rub and I always get a great bark on my briskets and pork shoulders. I also do not foil. A typical rub for me is salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, onion, chipotle powder.
  10. I'm sorry. I should have been clearer.
  11. mneeley490

    mneeley490 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    For brisket, I use a combination of mustard and Worcestershire sauce. But it must be applied thinly. If you put on too much, yes it will make the bark crumble.

    I believe it adds a layer of flavor to the finished product also, and you will not taste any mustard.

    Now instead of foiling, you may want to use a water pan in the smoker to keep your brisket from drying out.
  12. Hello Mick75.  It is called the Texas crutch but trust me,  unless MAYBE  ( most times not even then ) you are doing competition; most old school smokers in Texas DO NOT FOIL.  Hurts my feelings to hear it called the TX. crutch because I believe it was developed because some folks couldn't figure out how us Texas folk got brisket tender and moist.  That was of course before those folks found out about long and slow.  IMHO.  If you read about the "American" origins of BBQ we learned from the Mexicans about long and slow cooked meat over coals buried in the ground and covered with tow sacks ( and such ) and dirt.  These folks were only allowed to have the "cheap and nasty" tough cuts of the beef.  They developed a way to turn it in to great meals.  Fajitas was a REALLY bad ,tough cut and the butcher would almost give it away.  Try buying and untrimmed flank steak and throw it on the grill.  Your dog will struggle to eat it.  They poor Mexican/white farm workers learned how to prepare it and to cook it and then unfortunately the wider population found out.  Now look what you pay for it.  The methods came up from the southern states and was changed and regionalized according to tastes.  Some of those tastes were also influenced by the African slaves brought to our country.  The results of all those ethnic backgrounds adding their influences is the great tasting BBQ we all enjoy today.  This is an interpretation of my research and in no way is the definitive origin of the "American" style BBQ but is pretty close to the reality IMHO.  Also if you are looking for a Texas style smoked sliced brisket bark is not really a part of the equation.  Bark definitely belongs on pull pork, not on brisket.  Bark on brisket CAN ( not always ) be tough and dry.  I am sorry to ramble on.  Was that "Texas crutch" thing that got me started.  And no, I ain't sensitive [​IMG].  NOT a BONE in my BODY. [​IMG]  I'll shut up now.  Good luck.  Keep Smookin!

  13. gotbags-10

    gotbags-10 Smoke Blower

    Try using butcher paper instead of foil. Helps me out with bark a bunch.
  14. oh im good, i dont have problems with brisket. or bark. mustard is not for me, tried it once and that was the last time. idk even know what dry brisket is bud. thats a no no in my house. im one of them lone star state boys. lol.
  15. PLEASE teach me pulled pork!  PLEASE teach me ALL regional ribs smokes. PLEASE teach me to smoke sausage.  But I think I will stick to Texas sliced brisket if you don't mind. [​IMG]   Just my opinion.  Keep Smokin!

  16. dabaroo

    dabaroo Newbie

    Omg you guys are amazing. My brother was the smoker, he died 5 years ago, with his secret brisket recipe/tecniques. I've been missing him and his brisket. (i have his smoker). I've been doing pork loins for about a year, finally but the bullet and combined lots of ideas I've read on here, it turned out perfect. Thanks to you guys I dodnt panic with the stall, no foil, until rest time. Turned out tasty, tender with a perfect bark!!
  17. I always get a good dark firm bark on briskets or butts. I trim very little of the fat cap off, I score it and put on a basic rub, wrap and fridge the day before. I smoke both at 225 for 14 hours, never opening the door until the time is up. I use a cookshack smoker with 4 or 5 2" chunks of wood. Same smoker, same method for 15 years, never had a bad smoke.
  18. Try the butcher paper, I have been using butcher paper for awhile now and my bark always comes out nice.
  19. Looks like someone resurrected a fossilized thread! Cool. 

    I have smoked a lot of briskets the last few years. Not for comps or business. Just cause I love em. Here are a few observations on my never ending quest for brisket nirvana: 


    You can wrap and still have good bark. The key is getting a good bark before you wrap. Obviously, if you don't wrap at all your bark will be harder and more durable, but you can still get very adequate bark if you wrap. Don't worry about what temp to wrap, but instead wrap based on how does the bark look. It will vary with smoker temp and moisture level, but it could be when the IT is 140* or when it is 180*. I have wrapped as late as 185*. 

    Using butcher paper will allow the meat to breathe a little more than foil and may help with bark preservation. Personally, I tend to use foil wrap on a select grade and butcher paper on prime and flip a coin on choice. 

    While sugar can help, I prefer to use a lot of course black pepper instead, though I do like a pinch of sugar in my brisket rub. Just don't use fresh ground black pepper. It will be too strong. Get some cheap already ground coarse black pepper and open it up and let it set out on the counter. Use liberally on the brisket to add that wonderful Texas texture. If you use old, cheap pepper it will not have a strong taste at all. 


    I really wrestled with this for a while. It just seemed too much like cheating. But I swallowed my pride and got into an experimental phase a while back and I have been using Butcher BBQ injection. I don't use full strength though, but mixed at half strength with broth, it can really add moisture and make a very succulent brisket. I think it particularly helps with cheap, select grade briskets. Yes, I am an injector and I have learned to live with myself. I really, really like the " shelf life" I get with the finished product. Believe it or not, I only have 1.5 brisket eaters in my house, so I usually eat off the brisket for 3-4 days. Using the Butcher BBQ product keeps it moist for several days. I do lots of stuff with it and only occasionally have a piece left to freeze, which gets used for chilli or beans. BTW the Butcher BBQ and others like it have phosphates which help retain moisture. 


    I wrestled with this a bit too. But when I ran across a video of Aaron Franklin of Franklin's BBQ, the famous Austin BBQ restaurant with what is widely considered some of best brisket ever smoked, I changed my mind and started looking into it. He wraps in butcher paper. His briskets have great bark. 

    Smokers and Temps- 

    I have an electric, two charcoal and a pellet smoker. I can get great brisket on all 3. Even on the electric. And yes you can get really good bark on an electric. See photo below. I smoke everything but chicken between 225-275*. What temp I use depends on the time I have at hand. For example, if I have a large brisket I will start it late at night before I go to bed and set temp at 225*. This will allow me to get up in the am and wrap well before the brisket is done. If it is a small brisket, I may start it a little earlier in the evening and use 275* and wrap just before I go to bed. Then turn the temp down so i can get some sleep and have it just about done when I get up to rest it. BTW, I employ PID temp controllers on all but one of my smokers. This enables me to get very predictable timing and allows be to sleep peacefully. 

    I have found that 203-207* IT is what I like. It is virtually impossible to get the exact same temp in every part of the brisket, so I like a minimum of 203* in the thickest part of the flat and this usually results in around 207* in the thinner parts. But it may vary. I strongly recommend erring on the side of "overcooking" vs undercooking. I use quotes because when i say overcooking I am not talking about cooking to the point of drying out. But I would rather the brisket fall apart than be tough. But thats just me. The poke, or toothpick test combined with IT is the best way to judge doneness in my opinion. I like my Thermapop probe to slide in very easy and I have never been satisfied with a brisket that I pulled at an IT below 200*. Just my observations. 

    ***Disclaimer--In Texas we practically grow briskets on trees. I just smoked one that cost $1.69/lb. It was only a select grade, but dammit, it was still a brisket. In other words, its pretty painless to experiment around here and not freak out over sacrificing a $200 piece of meat. The one I just did was 10lbs and cost a whopping $17.24. God bless Texas!***

    How bout that bark out of my electric smoker. Also, this is a Salt and pepper only rub:


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