BBQ Tip: Briskets – wrapped or unwrapped?

There may be no greater debate in the barbecue world than whether or not to wrap briskets with aluminum foil during the smoking/cooking process. Those who wrap say it gets the brisket to become fall-apart tender and to reduce cooking times and shrinkage. Those who are against wrapping say the moist environment makes the brisket have more of a roast-beef flavor than the preferred smoked-beef flavor.

Anyone who has cooked large cuts of meat have encountered “The Stall,” where internal temperatures seem to plateau before the desired endpoint temperatures are reached.  The Stall is believed to be caused by evaporative cooling with the surface moisture evaporating and preventing cooking from taking place until the surface dries out.  Wrapping helps to prevent evaporative cooling so larger cuts will cook much faster because evaporative cooling is minimized when the aluminum foil is used as a barrier in cooking.

There is an in-between group on wrapping: those who do not wrap during the smoking/cooking process, but who wrap after the products have been removed from the smoker or pit and have rested for a short time.  At this point, these cooked products will not produce as much steam, which should help maintain the smoked-beef flavor, and will allow the finished products to be handled more easily as they await slicing and serving to those who will be enjoying excellent barbecue.

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