To Wrap or Not to Wrap

In part 7 of our Central Texas Style Brisket Smoking Class, we tackle the highly debated topic of whether or not to wrap a brisket during the cooking process.

Background

If you go back and read our article on what makes an Authentic Central Texas Style Brisket, you can note that Tim and Damian strongly believe that you don't use a water pan.  You don't spritz the brisket.  And, you NEVER wrap the brisket during the cooking process.  Not in butcher paper.  Not in foil.  Not in anything. 

BBQ Student: I get that you are not a fan of wrapping or water, but why?

Tim:  Wrapping is steaming...and steaming not only replaces the rendered fat with brisket-flavored-water, but it also adds moisture to the sugar-cookie bark that made central Texas style brisket so popular throughout the world.  

BBQ Student: It seems like if everyone wraps their brisket including the famous guy in Austin with the James Beard award.

Tim:  Well, I've studied flavors and how they affect the human palate and the truth of the matter is...when you taste a piece of beef...your mind equates the moisture with fat.  When you say, "Oh, that's a moist steak"... that's a fatty steak, that's what your tongue is telling you...that there's moisture in that steak.

BBQ Student:  Does this concept apply to every meat?

Tim:  No, in chicken, pork, and other white meats, it's liquid..it's actual liquid.  But in beef, it's fat. You are equating moisture with fat.

It is super important for the mouthfeel and the enjoyment of our customers that we don't replace any of this fat with water.  Right?  It's important that we get the fat into the brisket, not water. So, we never put a water pan in our smokers and we never wrap them because we do not want that fat replaced with water.

BBQ Student:  You also say that steaming affects the bark?

Tim:  Yes, smoking meats is supposed to be a dry cooking process. If you add a wet process to that dry cooking process, the bark will not caramelize as well and the fat will never break down properly.  I know people disagree, but I feel like this is an absolute truth.  Even if it is not, if you want authentic Central Texas Style brisket like they smoked in Lockhart, the BBQ Capital of Texas, then you don't want it wrapped.

Anyway, we believe very strongly in this and we just don't ever wrap our briskets... ever, ever, ever.

BBQ Student: And that's why you don't trim them either?

Tim:  Correct.  We don't trim them because we want to get as much flavor as possible from the fat.  We want it to drop down into the brisket and make the brisket taste beautiful.