cooking butcher paper wrapped brisket

Cooking butcher paper wrapped brisket – By Marshall Cooper

Six years ago, we wrote about cooking brisket wrapped in butcher paper. It continues to be one of the most read posts on this blog.

As anyone who cooks knows, the more you cook the more you learn. So since that initial post, I’ve made some refinements to my butcher paper technique that I’d like to share with you in this Posse cooking update and accompanying video.

For me, the major benefit of using butcher paper instead of foil, or leaving meat unwrapped during an entire cook, is that you end up with a better texture of barbecue, very moist and tender and less potential for over steaming. The butcher paper, which is used near the end of the cook, seems to breath, keeping the brisket from drying out while shielding the meat from too much smoke.

Cooking butcher paper wrapped brisket is really simple if you stick to basics and don’t try to complicate things by using countless techniques you hear about or see at the barbecue joints. Here’s how you just keep it simple:

1. Start by buying a choice or prime grade 12-14 pound brisket. Trim the thick fat off the bottom side down to 1/4” or so. Trim the sides as well to 1/4”. Trim the heal off the top side. If you don’t want to bother with trimming, don’t worry about it.  Then, use whatever rub you like. A simple rub for brisket is 1/2 cup coarse ground (16 mesh or butcher grind) fresh black pepper, 1/4 cup of kosher salt and a 1/4 cup of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. Or 1/2 cup of black pepper and 1/2 cup of kosher salt & throw in 1-2 tablespoons of granulated garlic. That’s it. Now season the brisket, sprinkling the rub from a red plastic cup, applying a light even coat, not too heavy. You want to be able to still see the meat.

2. Now fire up your smoker so it will burn fairly clean, and bring it to it’s ideal cooking temperature so that it won’t burn up your brisket while it cooks for 10-12 hours, unwrapped. This will probably be 225-250 degrees (F) for most backyard stick burners or charcoal pits. Use whatever wood you like — hickory, post oak, pecan or a mix of whatever you like. Just get it burning clean and even. Someone once told me if the smoke doesn’t smell good while it’s burning, the meats gonna taste terrible.

3. Place the brisket on the pit cold. On most backyard stick burners, it should probably go fat side up. Fat side down on charcoal pits if the fire is directly below the meat. You decide what works best on your pit.

4. Cook the brisket at a steady temperature. After 4-6 hours you will see water starting to puddle on the top. This is when it’s in the “stall.” If you don’t know what the stall is, you can read more about it on Amazing Ribs web site. Basically it’s when the internal water in the brisket begins to evaporate and the meat stops cooking until the water has evaporated. The stall will take around 4-6 hours to complete if you do not wrap. And we are not going to until later. So be prepared to let the brisket cook unwrapped for 9-12 hours. If it looks like the meat is burning, slow the pit down.

5. Once the puddles of water on top of the brisket start to dry up, the brisket is coming out of the stall. The internal meat temperature should be around 175-185 (F).

6. Let the brisket continue to cook until your index finger will sink into the fatty end about an inch. Then wrap the brisket in the pink butcher paper like I show you in the accompanying video. Use this butcher paper available from Amazon, it’s what Aaron Franklin uses in Austin.

Follow the directions in the video by letting the brisket cook 1 to 3 more hours until the butcher paper is saturated. Check for doneness by feeling if it’s floppy. If it is, then check the internal temp if you must.

7. Let the brisket rest for at least 1 to 4 hours! Repeat, because it’s so important: Let the brisket rest!

Then enjoy!

Posse member Marshall Cooper is a leading backyard pitmaster with more than 40 years of experience smoking meats.  Let us know what you think about his cooking butcher paper wrapped brisket technique! 

Leave a comment



Gary Jacobson

3 years ago

"Juicy as hell." Love it. Can we trademark that term?

Terry Blodgett

2 years ago

So let it rest as in possibly wrapped up and thrown in an Igloo without ice?

Chris Wilkins

2 years ago

That’s correct Terry, no ice. The cooler serves as a warmer in this case. I’ve let a brisket sit in there up to 5 or 6 hours with great results, it’s stil warm yt very juicy.

Terry Blodgett

2 years ago

Yeah I knew it didn’t need to go on ice I just figured if I said throw it in a cooler readers might think it was supposed to chill! I’ve used the same method but with foil. Turns out great but can’t wait to try the paper. And I’m a fan of minimal spices like stared. I rolled back to coarse pepper and salt but a little Seasoned salt could not hurt. Thanks!

Vincent Fong

8 months ago

I have a plate warmer under the oven which can be kept at a reasonably low temperature. Can i put my brisket in that to rest instead of an igloo?

Chris Wilkins

8 months ago

Great question! According to food safety the brisket needs to be held so it will maintain an internal temperature at least 140 F.

Not knowing anything about your warming plate, I am unsure how effective it will or won’t be. You should experiment with an internal remote food probe and track the internal temperature of the brisket using the warming plate and the low oven setting.

As an example I use an Alto Shaam 1000-S warmer which I set at 170F which according to my Fireboard probe, keeps a 10-15 pound cooked brisket that has an internal temperature of 160+/- when it goes into the warmer wrapped in 2 layers of butcher paper at 142-143 F (it comes off the pit with an internal temp of around 200-205f and rests until it stops cooking & has dropped to 160f +/-). I see many bbq joints using Alto Shaams that are set at 140f, but those probably are loaded with several briskets at a time which general loads of heat, which may allow a lower setting to maintain 140f internal meat temp.

Insulated coolers work but make sure the brisket has been rested to a lower temp before placing it in a cooler or it might keep cooking, which is what happened to us several years ago at a bbq competition. We had 2 briskets in the cooler!

Regards,
Marshall Cooper

Laurie Honbarrier

1 year ago

I would like to smoke a brisket ahead of time to take when we visit out of town family. Suggestions for serving 1 to 2 days after smoking? How to warm it up? Thanks!

Chris Wilkins

1 year ago

Hi Laura: You should wrap the uncut brisket in either foil or butcher paper & then refrigerate. When you warm it back up, use a low temp around 200-degrees and place in the oven, depending on the size of the brisket it will likely take at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours to warm up. You should put it in a roaster pan so the juice doesn’t leak out & trash your oven. You don’t need to get the meat hot, only somewhat warm, so it doesn’t dry out. Good luck & thanks for checking in! Regards/Chris

Josh Rocklage

1 year ago

What if your using a cut in half brisket like the store offers? My local grocery store sells them cut and most of the time I’m not trying to make a full sized brisket for just my girlfriend and I. I’m assuming cut the cooking time in half?

Chris Wilkins

1 year ago

Josh: Our pitmaster Marshall Cooper shares these tips: “Though a brisket flat brisket weighs much less than a whole packer trim brisket, cook time will depend not only on weight but on the thickness of the flat. While many try to use the an hour per pound rule, I never do because of inconsistency with the grade and marbling of the brisket you’re cooking, the fire and temperature you are able to maintain in your cooker, air flow, ambient temperature and humidity and if and when you crutch it. That being said I cook flats in the smoke at 250f until it has the bark I want which might take 3-5 hours. Then I crutch it with butcher paper and cook it until it’s tender which could be 2-4 more hours. “

Devin Patel

1 year ago

when you are planning to let it rest for 4 hours, do you wrap foil around the pink paper before wrapping in towels in a cooler?

Chris Wilkins

1 year ago

Hi Devin: Definitely do not wrap in foil, that will keep it from breathing and brisket could get mushy. That’s the advantage overall for butcher paper over foil when it comes to wrapping. Thanks/Chris

Neil E Meiskey

10 months ago

Hi Marshall, thanks for the info I am still a bit green at this. When you let the brisket rest 1-4 hours how do you keep it real warm for eating, also wrap it for resting or just on a platter in a cooler?

Thanks, Neil

Chris Wilkins

10 months ago

Neil, you’ve asked a very good and important question. Holding meats properly is really important to avoid food poisoning and also drying the meats out. There are a few different methods used to hold meat. The easiest way, if you are cooking in the hot summer, is to let the meat that is wrapped in foil or butcher paper sit out in the direct sun. Otherwise, the safest method is to place the meat in a beer cooler, wrapped and then wrapped again in a towel, if available.

The BBQ joints hold their meats in warmers that are set anywhere from 140-160F, which will hold the meats up to 12-14 hours. What is crucial is to keep the meat at 140F or above. Anything lower than 140F is considered the Death Zone, which promotes food poisoning. It’s best to use a food grade thermometer or probe to track the meat temp. Be careful trying to use a typical residential oven as most will not maintain temps in the 140-160F range, the usually register 180F and above.

Also, if you used foil to crutch or wrap the meat it is best to vent or burp the foil to allow the steam to escape for 3-4 minutes, to stop the cooking process and avoid overcooking, a mistake we learned at a cook off that might have cost us a 1st place ribbon!
Thank/Marshall

Johnny

6 months ago

When you pull the meat do you let it rest in the same butcher paper you cooked in or so you re wrap the brisket?

Chris Wilkins

6 months ago

Hi Johnny: Definitely let it rest in the original Butcher paper, don’t want to waste any of that golden juice! Thanks/Chris

Johnny

6 months ago

Thanks for the quick response, one more question. I am thinking about using the himalayan salt for the run, I have y’all ever experimented with it and if so how did it turn out / was it any different than regular sea salt? Thanks

Chris Wilkins

6 months ago

Johnny: I checked with all our crew & no one has tried Himalayan salt. Here’s from our pitmaster Marshall Cooper, “Kosher Salt is the only salt I’ve seen any pitmasters use, besides seasoning salts like Lawry’s.” Thx/Chris

Jason J

5 months ago

You say that you don’t have to trim the fat if you don’t want. If I go to the butcher and order a full brisket(point and flat) untrimmed, and don’t cut the fat down to 1/4, will it affect my cook time? Besides the extra fat and juice, why have all the fat trimmed? I plan on smoking one for the holiday. Thanks in advance.

Chris Wilkins

5 months ago

Great questions Jason, it’s all about choices and preferences when you prep a brisket.

First of all, I assume you are talking about surface fat. You don’t have to trim the fat if you don’t want to. Trimming it to 1/4″ will allow the fat to render down to an 1/8″ during cooking which is ideal. Many people want the 1/8″ because it has a lot of flavors from the rub, smoke and meat, which over time forms the bark. That’s what you don’t want to cut off because you didn’t trim the fat to 1/4”. If you leave more than 1/4″ chances are it will not render down enough for most people to eat and will have to be trimmed off, obliterating the flavors that you have spent many hours building.

The surface fat does not make the interior of the meat juicier, internal marbling does though, which is why Prime, Choice and Wagyu briskets are the preferred choice of many. Surface fat will protect the brisket from the heat source in your pit. All that being said, you can cook a select grade brisket and make it turn out juicy as long as it cooks slowly enough to not dry out, but fast enough so it’s not on the pit too long, which will dry it out as well. 

There are 4 places to trim: 

(1)The kernel or heal that’s located on the meat side that runs along the thickest side and usually is 2 inches wide and at least an inch thick, that will not render.
(2) The bottom side where the fat lays is typically is 1/2″ to 1″ thick which should be trimmed down to 1/4″.
(3) The fat vein that runs between the point and the flat on the thickest end of the brisket, that is usually 2-3″ thick that can be trimmed out.
(4) The edges of the brisket can be trimmed to remove any grey oxidized meat. Usually less than 1/4″ will get it.

Most well-known experts will tell you trimming the fat will speed the cook process. Try trimming if you never have. It’s not rocket science and practice makes perfect.

Regards/Marshall Cooper

Ralph Natalizia

4 months ago

Probably an odd question, but what paper holder/cutter are you using? I’ve found some on amazon (bulman), but people commented that the edge is flat and doesn’t tear cleanly. It looked like you were able to tear your paper with clean edges and pretty easily.

Chris Wilkins

4 months ago

From pitmaster Marshall Cooper: Great question as I have had others describe the same issue. I ordered my cutter from Butcher & Packer. It has worked excellent since I bought it several years ago.
https://www.butcher-packer.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=23_83&zenid=3d81137fc59c124ff71f6875b547d601

Tanya Pratt

3 months ago

Hi there. Question about the butcher paper. Can one use the butcher paper from the butcher that they wrap meat up with at a local grocery store? The kind from my Hy-Vee is a natural brown with a waxy looking under side. Will that suffice or will it ruin my brisket?

Chris Wilkins

3 months ago

Hi Tanya: You definitely do not want to use any butcher paper that has a wax coating, like the kind butchers use to wrap meat. The type of butcher paper for wrapping briskets for smoking is called “food grade” & does not have any coatings or chemical dyes, etc. The lack of a coating allows to meat to breathe slightly while keeping most of the juices inside the wrap. Here’s the butcher paper we use, available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ZYDRI8K/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=texasbbqposse-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B00ZYDRI8K&linkId=a2dc5dd96ff1f52e1c81c6c0980d1102

Thanks/Chris

larry

3 months ago

I don’t see how it can be checked by a “floppy” movement while wrapped. The paper is going to restrict the movement of the brisket.
poking holes in the paper is also restrictive. Unwrapping and testing is the only true way but then it has to be re-wrapped for resting.

Huy Nguyen

3 months ago

Thanks for the good read! Quick question, once the brisket is finished with the cooker, are you “venting” the brisket before wrapping it back up to be put inside a cooler for later eat? Or are you just directly taking the meat off the cook and into a cooler?

Chris Wilkins

3 months ago

Hi Huy: No need to vent the brisket, you can directly put the wrapped brisket in the cooler for resting. Thanks for writing! Regards/Chris

Pink Butcher Paper - Why it's used for BBQ - Smoked BBQ Source

2 months ago

[…] Wrapping meat in foil creates a heat-reflective highly-sealed environment around the meat that can result in “over steaming.”  […]

Copyright 2018 © All Rights Reserved