Over the past few months, I've been reading about this technique on the interwebs. I've tried wrapping my brisket in foil before, but frankly I prefer to cook it unwrapped. Now keep in mind, I'm not cooking for competitions or trying to cook a brisket in a short amount of time (usually). However, there are times when I'd sure like to be able to do one in less than 12 hours.
So this past weekend, I decided that I would cook one brisket on Saturday using the butcher paper method. If that was successful, I'd cook one on Sunday morning for my annual Daytona 500 gathering. If it wasn't successful, I'd still have time to cook one overnight on the Big Green Egg. Seemed like a reasonable plan, all except for the $45 practice brisket.
In general, wrapping your brisket (or ribs, etc) after a couple of hours helps the meat finish sooner. There is some science behind this around how connective tissues break down etc, but frankly if you're reading this because you're looking for the science behind the process you should stop now and move along to another blog.
Most often, you'll see folks wrap brisket in foil. But recently the notion of wrapping in butcher paper has become popular. Part of the theory is that the paper provides the same benefit in terms of helping the meat finish sooner, without the braising effect of foil.
So, I prepped my brisket:
Cooked indirect at 325 degrees for 4 hours
At 4 hours, I wrapped in butcher paper. Didn't check temp, but wrapped when the bark had the right "look" and placed the brisket back on the cooker.
I probed the brisket through the paper and when I thought it felt tender and the temp was 200 degrees plus, I pulled it. Total cook time was about 6 hours.
Here's the brisket as I unwrapped it:
The results? It just wasnt' tender enough. You could say that I should have cooked it longer. Maybe, but it was also dry and if I'd cooked it longer it would have been even drier.
So the jury is still out for me. I don't think this is a viable option for the Big Green Egg. I'll try it again on the Backwoods Smoker and see if different cookers have different results. Stay tuned for more.