How to keep a good brisket bark

Discussion in 'Grilling Beef' started by bbqchris52, Aug 16, 2016.

  1. bbqchris52

    bbqchris52 Newbie

    I have cooked brisket flats in foil and in butcher paper, the one in butcher paper had a better bark but the one in foil was the most moist. Is there any way to keep a firm and not soggy bark while at the same time keeping it very moist. I'll be cooking a full brisket this time so I'm not sure if that will be easier to keep moist
     
  2. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I've never used butcher paper, it is on my list to try.  I smoke brisket without wrapping until done.  Then I wrap in foil and towels and rest in a cooler.  This rest allows the juices to be absorbed by the brisket and keeps it moist.  The bark stays nice and firm even though it's wrapped.

    Mike
     
  3. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    With a packer it should be easy...leave some fat-cap on (or all) and don't foil or wrap it. Just smoke it on open grates and let it do it's thing. When resting, lay it fat-cap down on a elevated grate in a roasting pan and cover with a clean towel...it will breathe in stead of steaming the bark when resting. It will cool down a bit faster than it would wrapped in foil and towels and stuffed in a cooler to insulate, but it should still be hot a for few hours.

    When you want a good bark, you don't wrap...you also have to preserve that bark when resting...again, don't wrap. It also helps if you don't have water in a pan if using a vertical smoker...fill the water pan about 1/2 full of pea-gravel or washed sand for thermal mass, and cover the mass/pan with foil to keep from fouling the mass with drippings. You can then add some water to the foil, but let it evaporate dry about 1/2 way through cooking. Water vapor helps the smoke stick to the meat, but transitioning to a dry smoke chamber helps create a better bark, and also seals the surface of the lean/exposed meat to aid in natural moisture retention.

    Eric
     
  4. bbqchris52

    bbqchris52 Newbie

    Wrapping in butcher paper has given me my favorite bark for sure. So keeping moisture in a whole brisket is much easier than just in a flat?
     
  5. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yeah, with a flat (center-cut) they're trimmed lean. Without the fat to baste the meat and less mass to cook, it cooks faster and with more meat surface exposed. It's a trade-off of sorts in that with lean trimmed brisket you have more meat exposed to smoke, more exposed meat surface to form that bark on, but no fat to render out and baste the meat. There are tricks to compensate for the extra bare meat to retaining more natural moisture, but increased cook chamber humidity is not one of them. Same goes for creating a nice bark and preserving it while it rests.

    I don't smoke brisket very often these days, but I always enjoyed a nice big ol' packer. They're easy to smoke and versatile in what you can transform them into, such as burnt ends or pulled beef from the point, and sliced from the flat. Burnt ends are a treat, and any time I smoke brisket I get frowns if I don't smoke up some burnt ends from the point. Burnt ends are the first thing to disappear.

    If you do burnt ends, I recommend that you pull the brisket out and separate the point/flat muscles when the point is still in the mid-150* temp range. Once separated, rest briefly, then cube it up into about 1-1/4 - 1-1/2" chunks, dust with more rub and toss them in a bit of sauce (one of the few times I ever use sauce on my smoked meats) and return to open grates for a second round in the smoke. Cook for another 2-3 hours low & slow...a quick peek in the smoker for color after 2 hours will tell you. When they get a deep brown, almost scorched color, they're ready. They get a nice, crisp bark with a light popping but tender chew, and very good natural moisture...no dipping sauce needed, they're that good. But that's my target texture ever since I learned that the lower-temp separation gives so much better finished burnt ends.

    I wasn't going to post this earlier, but maybe this will help you understand developing and preserving bark, as well as natural moisture retention a little better...this is used with lean-trimmed meats, but is also beneficial for meats with fat-cap intact or lightly trimmed. Look for the brisket...for a killer bark, look for the pork butt or picnic...that best explains how to preserve the bark:

    Wet-to-Dry Smoke Chamber Method

    Eric
     
  6. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've yet to smoke a naked brisket. I just bought butcher paper and I've got two briskets in the freezer. One has just the point half and the other is a whole packer brisket. Since I'll need to cut the whole packer in half to fit on 2 racks in my electric smoker, I think I'll wrap one in the paper and the other will be smoked unwrapped. I'll post the results with Qview.
     
  7. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I'll be looking forward to it!  [​IMG]

    Mike
     

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