Sorry for the tardy reply. They've got me working overtime correcting the page proofs of my next book, Man Made Meals. I just now came up for air.
We're all trying to up our game with brisket. The most valuable technique I learned in 2013 was wrapping the meat in butcher paper. Depending on when you do it, wrapping has a host of benefits: holding in juices, keeping the brisket from drying out, even sealing in steam, which helps break down tough meat fibers.
In my travels in 2013, I watch people wrap foil, plastic wrap, and butchers paper. The foil is best at sealing in steam, which gives you a tender brisket--but one that has what Aaron Franklin (Austin pit master supremo) calls a "pot roasty" texture. (He does not mean it as a compliment.)
Franklin uses butcher paper on the theory that it lets the brisket "breathe." (It also facilitates moving the huge number of briskets he smokes each day.) He wraps about 2 hours before the brisket is done. As the grease soaks the paper through, it breathes less and creates a tighter seal. Also, it looks way cooler than foil.
I tried it recently on a grass-fed brisket from Whole Foods. Grass-fed briskets are notorious for toughening up and drying out, but this one came out as moist, fatty, and luscious as any brisket I've ever made. Wife was happy, because she prefers organic grass-fed beef. I was happy because, when wife is happy, guy is happy, but surely you know that already.
The trick is to find real butcher paper--coarse, porous paper--not the new fangled plastic-coated "paper" you find at upscale markets. This proved harder than it seems (go to a real butcher shop), but the results are worth it.
I learned th cardboard trick from Billy Durney at Hometown BBQ in Brooklyn. (I did a blog on Hometown a few weeks ago.) I'm speaking again with Billy next week, so I'll give you an update.
I regard brisket as a lifelong quest and journey. Here are some other techniques I've found useful.http://barbecuebible.com/2013/11/22/yea ... tc0paU5vwI
Thanks again for asking and for your patience, Eric.
Keep the questions coming, folks. It's one of the best parts of my job.