Smoked brisket is not perfect without a delicious bark surrounding it!
But many people ask me, do you eat the bark on brisket?
The answer is yes, of course, you tuck into this tasty treat around your piece of meat!
Its caramelized meat candy!
However It can be tricky to get the bark on your brisket.
So follow my tips below and you’ll be cooking up pitmaster-worthy brisket with bark in no time!
Should You Eat the Bark?
Most people do enjoy eating the bark on brisket (me included!)
The crunchy caramelized outer layer of the brisket is a perfect contrast to the juicy, fall-apart texture inside!
It’s a perfect combination in my eyes!
What Is Brisket?
A cut of brisket can be beef or pork.
Due to the high level of connective tissue and intermuscular fat, these cuts of meat are perfect for low and slow cooking.
The connective tissue and intermuscular fat breaks down slowly into gelatin, which creates the juicy brisket we all love!
What is most prized in a smoked brisket is the flavorsome crust known as the bark.
What Is Brisket Bark?
Brisket bark is a crust that occurs when chemical reactions form through the cooking process.
It occurs when the seasonings, spice rubs, and sugars react with fat and hot smoke or heat source.
The formation is hard in texture and usually a dark brown color, much like tree bark.
If done correctly, bark can be a bonus that wraps up all the tender meat around the entire brisket.
Fun Fact: We have an article on brisket bark here <input link>
How Is Brisket Bark Formed?
So how does the bark form?
It takes a true pit master to understand and balance the techniques when creating a beautiful bark!
This is very popular in central texas where people come from all over the USA to compete.
The 2 chemical reactions are briefly explained to help us understand and enjoy them in further detail.
Chemical Reactions – The Millard Reaction
This is when sugar reacts with a protein and is then accelerated by a heat source.
As the brisket cooks, this reaction occurs and will elevate important stuff like the aroma, taste, and appearance.
The dark brown color is how you tell it has been achieved as the sugar caramelized with the fat and brisket spice rub.
It’s a big concentration of flavor which is why you should defo take a bite into it!
Denaturation is biochemistry jargon that defines when proteins (brisket meat) break down and lose structural integrity on a cellular level.
This is caused by heat and your favorite pellet smoker is the perfect environment with other stressors like you adding salt and acid.
It softens the proteins and adds another depth of flavor and moisture retention.
The bark also protects the softer meat inside and when combined with the Millard reaction forms a crust that will take you to the meat church!
Can You Eat Brisket Bark?
So after all of that, you should understand how brisket bark is formed and why it’s a great tasting experience.
Learning how something works always makes me hungry for more and in this case, quite literally!
What Texture Should Brisket Bark Be?
The texture of brisket bark should be a little bit crunchy and caramelized.
The texture is very important to some people who don’t like it too mushy or stringy.
A balance of textures is known to improve eating experiences and this is the case when it comes to enjoying beef brisket with great bark.
The bark shouldn’t be more than 1 inch thick and you should be able to pick it apart into chunks.
If the bark has a rubbery texture or can’t be split with a utensil it is too hard.
There should also be a naturally oily texture from the rendered fat.
Not greasy where it gets stuck in your teeth, you should be able to bite into it with ease.
No Bark On Your Brisket?
Did you end up with no bark on your brisket?
Don’t worry! There are many reasons that this happens!
What Does Brisket Bark Taste Like?
So what can I expect when eating bark on a brisket?
The crisp smoky flavor balances with the soft and salty meat.
It covers the whole range of flavor compounds our brain loves, salty, sweet, sour, and savory!
A natural and intense beefiness that will leave you salivating for more.
Brisket Bark Cooking Tips
Sugar Ratio In The Rub
Only put in around 20% sugar content in your spice rub with plenty of kosher salt.
We warn against brown sugar is it burns way easier.
Do Not Put Directly On The Heat Source
Do not place your brisket directly near or in the heat source.
This will cause it to dry quickly and cook unevenly so cook with indirect heat.
Maintain A Constant Low Temperature And A Long Cooking Time
If your smoker is too high then it will burn instead of caramelizing and the bark needs time to form the crunchy smoke flavor.
Maintain Moisture When Cooking
Spray the meat every 30 minutes to ensure moisture or have a water pan in your smoker.
Try adding vinegar which will help with the denaturation.
Fat Cap Facing Heat Source
Make sure the fat cap of the meat is facing any hot spots so it can render out.
Good Quality Meat
Great bark building won’t happen without a good quality key ingredient.
Wrapping The Brisket In Butcher Paper Can Affect The Bark
If you wrap your brisket in foil halfway into the cooking process then it will trap moisture.
This moisture can affect the bark.
So to beat the stall and still get bark you want to develop it before you wrap the brisket, then with 30 minutes to go, unwrap tour brisket and put it back on the grill.
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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