It’s a good idea for pitmasters to keep a supply of butcher paper on hand, even if we just use it to line the serving trays. But what size butcher paper will you need to wrap the brisket? This guide has you covered.
What Size Butcher Paper For Brisket?
Each length of butcher paper should measure about 4 times as long as the width of the brisket. The exact dimensions will vary depending on the size of the cut, but whole packers typically require pieces that measure 2 arm-lengths. For best results, use two sheets of butcher paper for wrapping.
What Is Butcher Paper?
In essence, butcher paper is just another paper product that’s processed from wood pulp. If you want to get specific, there are several different types of butcher paper. The variances can make a difference in your cooking technique, so it’s important to buy the right kind.
First of all, make sure any butcher paper that you buy is food-grade. It won’t do to go home with paper that you can’t use to cook with.
Brown butcher paper is used primarily for craft purposes. It’s brown because it hasn’t been subjected to the same processes and additives that most other types of paper have.
White butcher paper is similar, but it’s undergone a bleaching process to take the brown color out of the pulp. You can use it for cooking, but it’s better as a packaging option.
If you can find pink butcher paper, that’s the one you should use for smoking brisket. The natural composition of the wood pulp gives it its pinkish hue. Steer clear of any paper that has added colors, as the chemicals may render it unsafe for cooking.
Should You Wrap Brisket In Butcher Paper?
When you buy a brisket from the supermarket or local butcher, it will probably be wrapped in sturdy butcher paper, unless it’s stored in cryovac packaging. Should you also use it to wrap the meat for smoking?
First and foremost: Never wrap brisket until it’s been on the smoker for at least 3 hours. During this crucial stage, the meat will absorb the smoke flavor and develop its bark, which is the term for that crisp and delicious outside layer.
If the brisket is wrapped in butcher paper for the duration of the smoke, the flavor will be inferior. Worse, the bark won’t have a chance to develop at all. In our opinion, that would defeat the purpose of firing up the smoker.
The next thing you need to know is that it’s not necessary to wrap the brisket at all. The meat might take longer to cook this way, but that’s all part of the process. As long as you plan ahead, you can skip the wrapper.
That said, wrapping the brisket will help you to move through the stall. That’s the point at which the temperature of the brisket holds steady for long periods of time—often several hours. This typically occurs at around the 150-160 degree mark.
Should you decide to wrap the brisket, it’s best to wait until the meat has cooked to about 150 degrees. At this point, the brisket should have formed a nice bark and taken on the wood-kissed flavor that you crave.
What Size Butcher Paper Do You Need For Brisket?
The answer depends on the size of the brisket in question. A whole packer brisket can top out at 20 pounds, whereas a brisket flat might weigh as little as 4 pounds. Obviously, you’ll need to choose your wrapper size accordingly.
Each length of butcher paper should be about 4 times longer than the width of your brisket. This should give you plenty of room for wrapping.
For optimum results, use a double layer of butcher paper. The brisket will still be able to release moisture and absorb smoke flavor, but you won’t lose as many of the drippings as you would with a single layer.
Remember that butcher paper doesn’t hold its shape the way aluminum foil does. That means that you’ll need to take extra care with your wrapping technique.
How To Wrap Brisket In Butcher Paper
1. Measure out two lengths of pink butcher paper, each one about 4 times longer than your brisket measures at its widest point. This doesn’t have to be an exact measurement—just use your best judgment.
Tip: For a whole packer, each length will probably measure about twice as long as your arm.
2. Set out the paper on a clean work surface. This surface needs to be large enough to accommodate the entire brisket.
3. Layer the butcher paper so that the sheets are running away from you the long way, overlapping them by about half.
4. After taking the brisket off the smoker, position it on the paper so that the fat cap is facing up. The bottom edge of the paper should be long enough to wrap over the entire top surface of the meat.
5. Fold the bottom of the paper over the top of the brisket, pressing so that the paper is as close to the meat as possible.
6. Fold each side over so that the paper is angling away from you and the brisket is wrapped tightly inside.
7. Roll the brisket away from you, then fold the sides again, this time positioning the folds so that they angle in together.
8. Double the paper over the top edge, then roll the brisket one final time to secure the paper. That will give you a double layer of paper on the bottom to catch the juices.
The Bottom Line
When in doubt, use more butcher paper than you think you’ll need. You can always wrap the excess around the brisket again, but you can’t add more once you’ve begun wrapping.
If you start to wrap the brisket and find that the paper is insufficient, unwrap the meat and start the process over again using fresh paper. It’s better to sacrifice a bit of paper than to botch the wrapping job.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!