Why Is My Brisket Black/Hard/Burnt?

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Here we will cover the reason why your brisket is black or hard on the surface after it has been cooking for some time. This is known as the “bark” on the brisket. It isn’t considered to be a problem for some individuals, and they actually want this to occur for an extra delight to their eating experience.

If a brisket is cooked correctly and it still ends up looking burnt or black on the outside, it is usually due to the fact that it was cooked using smoke (charcoal or wood) in a smoker or a grill. This causes the outside of the brisket to form a bark, which can be crisp (hard) and also appear burnt and black.

This does not occur on every cooked brisket, only on briskets that have been cooked in smoke or by other means that would usually form this crust or bark on the surface layer of the meat. Other cooking surfaces, like cast iron for example, can cause this too happen too. If the meat is left to cook touching the surface of cast iron without moving it too early during the cooking process, then a bark can form on the surface of the meat.

Since brisket cooks for hours in what ever it is cooking in, it can easily form this black layer of crust on its surface. As stated, it isn’t something that you should be alarmed about or worried about, unless you absolutely for some reason don’t want it. We will cover how to prevent it later in this article.

The long cooking time for a brisket can cause pointy ends, thin pieces on the brisket, and it’s surface to burn up or blacken when cooked certain ways.

It isn’t just the smoke from a grill or smoker that forms this bark, but also the rub (seasonings) on the brisket’s surface that also causes this burnt looking surface crust. This isn’t always the case for every brisket that is cooked, only for the briskets that are cooked the ways previously mentioned or similar ways.

It is possible for a brisket to have a hard black burnt-looking crust on its surface, but be uncooked or pink in the middle. This can look strange to some individuals, which could alarm them in thinking that their brisket is ruined or being ruined. However, this isn’t always the case, as the surface of the brisket, despite it looking black and being hard, can be consumed along with the rest of the brisket.

When a brisket is cooked and served, only a small percentage of the black surface (the crust) of the brisket is consumed per slice. This is because the brisket is sliced vertically across the brisket’s length, meaning that the bark of the brisket is only on the edges of every slice. This is why the burnt-looking hard crust that forms on the surface of some briskets isn’t a concern or a problem for most individuals.

It looks as if it would be a huge problem when observing the brisket as a whole when it has this black crust across its entire surface, but most individuals don’t find it to be a problem when slicing and eating the brisket as slices. The only slices that would contain the most bark or crust is the first slices taken from either side of the brisket when it is cut. The end slices would have one side with all bark, and the other side would have meat.

Every other slice of brisket would contain this black crust on its edges, but it would take up less than 2% of the entire slice give or take, depending on the size of each slice. This is why individuals that season a brisket with their choice rub, don’t mind using a heavy amount of the rub to cover the brisket. The crust can add much more needed flavor to certain slices taken from certain portions of a brisket.

Cooking the brisket past the point that the surface looks black is also fine, and normal in some cases. It is fine as long as the brisket under the black surface isn’t burning or being overcooked. If this is the case, then the temperature needs to be lowered when cooking the brisket. An ideal temperature for most cooking methods for a brisket is around 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

How To Avoid A Black Surface Crust On A Brisket

If for some reason you keep getting a black surface crust on your brisket that you don’t want, then there are some things that can be done to prevent it from happening. To prevent a brisket from becoming hard on its surface and black, it can be slow cooked in an oven instead of using wood or charcoal to cook it. This will give the brisket a nice roasted tender and juicy brown crust on its surface, instead of a black and hard crust. This will work as long as the brisket isn’t cooked too long to the point that it’s surface begins to burn and turn black. Of course, the temperature also is a factor too. It is possible to fully cook a brisket cooking it for hours, without the surface burning.

The brisket can also be covered and cooked in moisture (juices). This will keep the smoke from a grill from making contact with the brisket’s surface. Only the heat from the grill will cook the brisket, but of course, the brisket will not have a charcoal flavor if this is done.

Deep frying the entire brisket is also another option. This will prevent the surface of the brisket from being exposed to the air while it is cooking, as long as it is fully submerged in the deep frying oil. It will not form a hard black bark on the surface of the brisket, unless it is done purposely after deep frying it by using other cooking methods.

Even if it is purposely done this way after it is deep fried, the bark won’t be as dark or black like it would if it had been cooked the entire way through in a grill or a smoker.

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