Any meat will drop in temperature once you remove it from the heat. The brisket is no different, and if it does drop while you are wrapping it, the temperature will come back up once you put it back on the heat.
However, do not get excited if that takes a while. It can take an hour or more for the temperature of the brisket to come back up. Here’s how to wrap brisket effectively & why the temperature drops in the first place.
The elusive Brisket Stall
Your brisket will likely stall while cooking, but do not get excited because it is part of the cooking process. When wrapping your brisket, taking it off the heat can lower its temperature.
There are many theories about why the temperature of a brisket will stall, whether wrapped or unwrapped. When the meat reaches 150 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, it goes through evaporative cooling.
As the moisture is released from the meat, it enters the smoker. The smoker’s heat must consume the extra moisture inside before the temperature moderates.
Your brisket may remain at a lower temperature until this process has exhausted itself by cooking off the excess moisture. Once this process is finished, the smoker’s heat and meat will realign, and the cooking process will continue.
Why has my brisket temp dropped after wrapping?
If you wrap it before it stalls, it will likely have a temperature drop after putting it back into the smoker, whether wrapped or naked.
Taking the meat from the smoker and wrapping it will also lower its temperature. If this occurs while it is stalling, it will take a few minutes for everything to even out again once you put it back on the heat.
However, you do not need to worry about the temperature dropping, as it will rise soon enough. So, ruining your brisket is not a concern because of a temp drop while wrapping due to the natural brisket stall that occurs.
Many cooks disagree about whether you should wrap the brisket after or before it stalls. However, a rule of thumb is to wrap it when it slows or reaches an internal temperature of 150 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
The longer you leave the meat on the heat unwrapped, it will make it taste smokier. If you do not want it to have a heavy smoked flavor, wrap it soon.
If the temperature of your brisket stalls at a lower or higher temperature, your grill may be too hot or too cool. Besides wrapping and slow cooking, the cooking temperature needs to remain as steady as possible.
This is especially so when cooking brisket in a smoker.
Can a beef brisket’s temp drop more than one time?
It sure can and indeed will if you wrap your brisket before it reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Also, if the meat contains excessive moisture or you add too much to your smoker, the temperature of your brisket can drop in temperature before it rises again.
What is Beef Brisket Bark?
Brisket bark is the product of heat, beef fat, herbs and spices, and salt you rub on the beef before cooking. The water evaporates from the meat and the fat cap as it cooks.
So, once your brisket is cooked, it should have the appearance of, well, it is hard to explain.
However, salt, heat, and smoke turn the brisket’s fat cap and outer layer into a crusty coating called bark.
Its darkness and tenderness are determined by how you cook the roast and whether or not you wrap it to finish cooking it or cook it naked.
If your bark comes out tough, you are likely to cook the brisket at too high a temperature. Roast beef, which beef brisket is, cooks better over a low fire for a long time.
The average beef brisket requires approximately 11 hours from a smoker. Therefore, hurrying it up will not make it better and potentially make your brisket tough and chewy.
Do I have to wrap beef brisket while cooking?
Everyone who can cook a brisket well has their idea about how you should wrap it or whether you should wrap it. They also have different ideas about how long it should cook before wrapping your beef brisket.
You can wrap your brisket with one of several different materials, or you can leave it naked.
Cooking beef brisket naked
Cooking brisket naked is always an option, whether you are roasting, smoking, or grilling it. But, of course, it will require more attention on your part.
However, brisket cooked naked develops a darker bark than wrapped beef. As a result, cooking a brisket naked takes longer than one that is wrapped. It has a smokier flavor and the best-looking bark of any other cooking method.
Wrapping beef brisket with aluminum foil
When wrapped in aluminum foil, a beef brisket will cook faster than when cooked naked or when wrapped in butcher’s paper.
Keep this in mind when using it to wrap your brisket. When wrapped with foil, the brisket has darker bark, and the meat remains moist and is very tender.
Brisket wrapped in butcher paper
Beef brisket wrapped in butcher paper is mid-pack for cooking time than when wrapped in foil or naked.
Although the meat comes out juicy and tender, and there is a definite smoky flavor, the bark of a paper-wrapped brisket does not darken and cook as well as when smoked naked.
How long does brisket take to finish after wrapping?
That depends on when the meat is pulled during the cooking stage. Wrapping a brisket holds in the heat, so unless it is stalling when you wrap it, expect the heat of the brisket to rise, not fall.
Even though you may have a stall and the temp drops, the brisket will come back up to temp quickly and cook faster than if it were naked.
Not everyone wraps their brisket at the same point in their cooking cycle. Some cooks wait for the brisket to hit a specific temperature, and others go on time.
Can you overcook the brisket when it’s wrapped?
You can overcook any meat, wrapped or not. The wrapping you put around a brisket is to keep the outside from being overcooked. However, leaving the brisket on the fire too long after wrapping can quickly go from perfect to dry.
You want beef brisket to be cooked through, as it is not a roast that is served any way other than medium well, too well done.
However, cooking a brisket at too high of a temperature or too long will make it dry as dust. To prevent this from happening, try to keep the temp of your smoker between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spritzing to maintain moisture
As noted, the stalling issue with the brisket is due to a moisture build-up in the smoker. However, your brisket will develop a better bark if you spritz it lightly.
Some cooks use water only to keep the outside moisture of their brisket even. However, others have unique mixes: apple cider vinegar, hot sauce, apple cider, and even beer.
I once had a boss who would put Coca-Cola in the smoker’s water pan, each their own. However, it did add an enjoyable sweetness to everything we smoked.
Spritzing does not need to start until your beef has been in the smoker for two or three hours. Once you begin the spritzing, do it every hour or so until you wrap your brisket, or when it is done, if you are cooking it naked.
How to Prep your Brisket before it hits the heat
What you do before your brisket ever sees a fire will make a difference in its flavor once it is cooked. Like everything brisket, there are many routes to take when prepping a brisket, and you will need to find yours.
There are many different rubs; you can put on a brisket before cooking it. Popular ingredients for rubs for brisket include salt, garlic, onion powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, chili powder, coffee, hot sauce, and brown sugar.
A dry rub should be worked into the brisket at least six hours before you plan on cooking it and placed in the refrigerator. This stands for brisket. You will grill, smoke, or roast in the oven.
Cooking your beef brisket in an oven
Some of the above instructions are for brisket, no matter how you cook it, and the rest is for when you are smoking brisket. However, you do not need a grill or a smoker to enjoy beef brisket.
Briskets can be roasted fine in the oven and will take less time to cook than they would in a smoker. However, if you want the beef to have a smoky flavor, then adding a little liquid smoke to the liquid of your roasting pan will work.
When cooking the brisket in the oven, preheat it to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the brisket in a foil-lined roasting pan with the fat cap side up. However, leave the foil loose enough for steam to escape.
Cook your roast for an hour and fifteen minutes per pound until the internal temperature of the brisket is 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
Finding a brisket that still has its fat cap
Beef brisket is not as good without the melting fat that soaks into the meat as it cooks and adds flavor. And, like the rest of the brisket, the fat cap will cook and crisp up.
However, you may have to look further than your local grocer to find a brisket that has not had almost all of its fat removed.
The flat of the brisket, which is the meat, is marbled and has plenty of fat, but the fat cap is a signature feature on the best bar-b-que and smoked brisket.
My brisket is done—now what?
Okay, you’ve powered through the stalls. Your brisket has been smoking for over ten hours. The beef has an internal temp of 185 degrees Fahrenheit, too. Now, what do I do with it?
Like any roast beef, your beef brisket will need to rest once you remove it from the smoke. The best way to do this is to put the meat in a dry cooler and wrap it with towels so that its temperature does not drop too fast.
To help keep the temperature up on your brisket, fill the cooler with hot water, let it stand for a few minutes, and dump it out. This will heat the inside of the cooler slightly and help keep the brisket warm.
Letting the brisket rest also helps the meat redistribute the juices that remain and gives you a more flavorful piece of beef.
Once it is done, it is very tempting to tear into a brisket, but patience will give you a better roast. Letting the brisket rest for half an hour or more will ensure you have the best brisket you have ever eaten.