Can I Wrap Brisket In Parchment Paper?

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You can’t call yourself a true pitmaster until you’ve mastered the art of making brisket.

A beef cut that comes from the breast of the animal right above the leg, brisket is a little difficult to make and may take a bit of effort on your part.

However, once you get the hang of it and are able to cook it right, it is a thing of beauty that is perfectly juicy and tender with a delicious smoky flavor. Brisket that isn’t cooked right tends to be dry, chewy, and leathery.

If you’re cooking and smoking it at home, there are a few tips to follow to ensure nothing goes wrong. One important recommendation is to wrap the brisket while you cook it.

The technique of wrapping a brisket is usually referred to as ‘the Texas Crutch’ and makes use of either aluminum foil or butcher paper. But what if you don’t have either one?

Can you wrap brisket in parchment paper? Yes, you can wrap brisket in parchment paper, both during and after the smoking process. It will help retain the moisture and also manage the temperature during and after smoking the meat.

Read on to find out why you might need to wrap a brisket in parchment paper, the correct way to do it, and the best substitutes for butcher paper for smoking brisket.

Why Would You Need To Wrap A Brisket In Parchment Paper?

Parchment paper, also referred to as baking paper, is a commonly used kitchen tool for baking and cooking methods, including smoking.

It is a type of thin paper that is usually coated with silicone to provide a non-stick surface, perfect to be used as a substitute for cooking spray or oil.

In addition to providing a non-stick surface to cook on, parchment paper is also grease and humidity-resistant and is disposable which makes for easy clean-up.

The main reason why you need to wrap a brisket in parchment paper is because it can help speed up the cooking process and it creates juicier meat that is super tender.

When you cook a large piece of meat such as a brisket at a low temperature, the internal temperature rises quickly at first. Eventually, as the meat starts to cook, the moisture inside it starts to make its way out and begins to evaporate.

As the moisture is evaporating, the meat will stop rising in temperature and begin to “stall”, which is where the meat will stay at a certain temperature for a period of time as water continues to evaporate before it starts getting hotter.

When that happens, you have two options: you can either leave it as is and ride it out or wrap the meat to aid with the cooking process.

If you choose to wrap it, you are able to keep the moisture inside the parchment paper and allow the internal temperature of the brisket to rise at a faster rate, resulting in a softer and moister final product.

How To Wrap A Brisket In Parchment Paper

The process of wrapping a brisket in parchment paper is the same as doing it with anything else. Once the brisket reaches the desired temperature of around 165°F, you can proceed to wrap it in a few layers of parchment paper.

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to wrap a brisket using parchment paper:

  • You will need 2 wide sheets of parchment paper that are 4 times longer than the width of the brisket.
  • Place one sheet on the counter or tabletop, with the longer edge running perpendicular to you.
  • Place the second sheet on top of it in a way that it overlaps it by about ½ its width.
  • Lengthwise, place the brisket across the paper with the presentation side up, about 1 foot from the bottom edge.
  • If you feel that your brisket needs a little extra moisture, spray a little apple cider vinegar. Lightly spritz the surface of the parchment paper as well.
  • Next, fold the bottom edge of the paper over the top of the brisket and pull it as tightly as possible.
  • Tightly fold in one side of the parchment paper at an obtuse angle away from you. Make sure to smooth it out.
  • Repeat it on the other side and tuck part of it to secure it.
  • Holding the paper tightly on all sides, roll the brisket over, pull tightly to secure the paper, and fold the sides again.
  • Fold the top end of the paper to double its thickness.
  • Roll the brisket over one more time so that the presentation side is facing upwards, a double layer of wrap is beneath it, and the wrap is tightly surrounding it.

Is Parchment Paper Safe To Use In The Smoker?

Yes, parchment paper is safe to use in the smoker and is stable enough to be used for grilling as well. However, since it is paper, it can catch fire upon contact with a direct flame or burning coals, or when heated to 451°F

The good news is that most parchment paper can be safely heated up to 420°F and will perform great under that temperature.

You might notice that it will start to brown a little, but it won’t burn unless it is placed over a direct flame or heat source.

Although, you need to be careful when leaving it in the smoker over indirect heat at 451°F for longer than 15 minutes because chances are that it will burn.

That, however, shouldn’t bother you much since most meat smoking temperatures never exceed 300°F in the first place. But you still need to be careful when working with open flames, such as on gas or charcoal grills.

Substitute For Butcher Paper When Smoking Brisket

There are quite a few wrapping options you can use for smoking a brisket. Of course, as discussed above, parchment paper is one such option that works quite well.

Butcher paper is another great option which is usually the method of choice for many chefs.

It is a special kind of paper that is designed to wrap and protect raw meats, such as briskets, and comes in various colors and sizes to suit your needs.

Butcher paper is more breathable than other alternatives, hence allowing the smoke to get through, trapping in less steam, and keeping the brisket moist without making the bark soggy.

As compared to parchment paper, butcher paper is slightly stronger and, therefore, easier to handle. 

Aluminum foil is another excellent option for cooking and smoking a brisket and is a commonly used tool in many kitchens. It was the original wrapping option for briskets and other smoked meats.

It is incredibly easy to work with, especially when wrapping large meats such as brisket since it is designed to tightly wrap food and take its shape without any effort.

Since foil creates a very tight seal, it can trap more heat inside and speed up the cooking process, allowing the brisket to cook in its own juices. Just make sure to keep checking the brisket every 30 minutes or so.

The one drawback of the foil method is that since it is less breathable, it keeps a lot of the smoke away from the brisket, which results in a less smoky flavor.

Therefore, if you require more of that smoky goodness, it is best to go with other breathable options.

Related Questions

Now that we’ve covered all about wrapping briskets and the different wrapping options to choose from, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have!

Which is the best wrapping option?

As discussed, the 3 main wrapping options for smoking a brisket are aluminum foil, butcher paper, and parchment paper.

Of course, you could also leave the brisket unwrapped and cook it as is. In the end, it all comes down to your preference and which method suits you best. 

When working with aluminum foil, it is the easiest method and you’re sure to find some in your kitchen. The total cooking time is around 11 hours and the bark is the softest out of all and the taste of the brisket is beefier.

With butcher and parchment paper, it takes a bit of practice to wrap the brisket; however, it allows more smoke to penetrate through the meat.

The cooking time is around 11.5 hours and the bark is a little crunchy with a smoky and beefy flavor.

If you wish to leave your brisket unwrapped, you will require no extra tools and can expect the cooking to stall at around the halfway point.

The total cooking time may be 12 hours or longer with a crunchier bark and the smokiest meat out of all the options.

Is there a downside to wrapping brisket?

Although wrapping a brisket helps reduce the cooking time and leaves you with juicier and more tender meat, there are a few disadvantages to it as compared to leaving it unwrapped.

Some of the biggest drawbacks are a slight loss in the smokiness, possible loss of texture to the bark, and a risk of overcooking the brisket.

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