Wrapping the meat midway through the smoking process is a popular method.
In the latter stages of cooking, wrapping helps to keep your meat moist and tender and may also speed up the cooking process.
What’s the difference between using aluminum foil and butcher paper when you’re wrapping food?
In this article, I’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches and explain why I favor one over the other for certain cuts of beef.
What’s the use of wrapping meat?
Professional pitmasters and home cooks alike employ wrapping as a common barbecue technique. As the name suggests, you just wrap your meat in aluminum foil or butcher paper before cooking.
For the first half of the cook, you generally leave the meat unwrapped in the smoker to allow the bark to grow and the flesh to absorb the great smokey flavor.
The meat is then tightly wrapped to expedite the remainder of the cooking process and to retain as much moisture as possible to avoid drying out.
When meat reaches a specific temperature, some like to wrap it in aluminum foil.
People I know swear by brisket or pig butt wrapped at an internal temperature of 165°F.
As a rule, I like to let the bark tell me when it’s time to wrap. Between 165 and 190 degrees internal, I like to wrap — it all depends on my bark.
It’s ready to wrap when your bark has completely hardened. A firm bark must not come loose from the wrap in order to achieve this goal.
This holds true whether you’re using foil or butcher paper to wrap your food. Before you even consider covering it, be sure you can’t scrape the bark away with your temperature probe.
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“The Texas Crutch”: Aluminum foil
There’s a lot of dispute over this now. Whether you’re using butcher paper or aluminum foil to wrap your meat, the moment has come.
Texas Crutch” aluminum foil, often known as “Texas Crutch,” has become a popular alternative to butcher paper. Most American families have aluminum foil on hand at all times, but butcher paper may not be as readily available.
Foil is a low-cost, simple-to-use cooking aid that may significantly speed up the cooking process. To prevent the meat from drying out, use foil to insulate the smoker and keep the moisture trapped in the meat while it cooks.
A jibe at Texan pitmasters, the “Texas Crutch” is one that I like. When you’re smoking low and slow, it’s referred to as the “crutch” since it may assist you get through a lull.
The “Texas Crutch” may be a lifesaver when you’re attempting to get your meat through the toughest phase of a cook!
Another benefit of using foil is that it doesn’t absorb any of the meat’s liquids, allowing the meat to continue cooking in its own juices.
There is a strong case to be made against using aluminum foil because of the risk it poses to the bark of your dog. Wrapping the brisket in foil too early may cause the bark to steam and fall off the meat.
If you’re going to wrap your bark in aluminum foil, I suggest waiting until it’s completely set before wrapping it. An expert eye is required since this may occur at 165°F or even later at 185°F.
Final recommendation: get a large roll of heavy-duty foil. It will come in handy. You may use it to wrap tough foods like pork ribs, which have sharp bones and might otherwise pierce your foil.
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In keeping with tradition, butcher paper:
To make butcher paper, wood pulp is used. It comes in a variety of hues, and each color has a distinct purpose.
If you’re going to wrap BBQ in butcher paper, opt for shades of peach or pink.
Brown paper with the logo in black is being used by several businesses instead of the customary peach hue. No matter what color it is, if it’s labeled for use while grilling, you’re okay to go.
The bark of the animal is protected with butcher paper, which also serves to preserve most of the meat’s moisture inside. Even while paper is capable of absorbing some moisture, it does not let nearly as much liquid to evaporate as does aluminium foil.
If you’re smoking a brisket and run into a stutter, butcher paper may really slow things down, particularly if you utilize it. Butcher paper is far less forgiving than aluminum foil when it comes to allowing heat to escape from the meat.
Pros and drawbacks of butcher paper
- Ensures the safety of your bark
- Braising your meat is made easier when fat is absorbed into the paper.
- Smoke taste that is more distinct and intense.
- Because it allows heat to travel through, the meat will not be protected if the temperature changes.
- Cooking time may be extended.
- To verify the temperature, you may need to partly open the package.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to using aluminum foil.
- Cooking in less time
- Ensures that the meat is able to cook in its own juices.
- Consistent temperature is maintained
- By piercing the foil, you can easily check the temperature.
- Makes a lot of steam, which might be bad for your bark.
- Prevents smoke from coming into contact with your meat, reducing the amount of smoke taste.
What, then, would be my suggestion?
It’s not quite that simple, alas. You may use aluminum foil or butcher paper to smoke meat. On the one hand, it depends on what I’m cooking and where I’m cooking. On the other hand, it relies on my mood and the time restrictions I have.
I’ll explain why I chose each choice and when I did so…
Both types of brisket are available.
It’s nearly always butcher paper when I’m smoking a brisket at home with no time limitations. For the length of the smoking process, it preserves the meat’s attractive bark while also imparting a delicious smoke taste.
“The Texas Crutch” (Also known as aluminum foil) is one of my go-to tools for large gatherings, catering, and even competitions.
Regardless of whether I’m competing or catering, I just cannot risk not completing the cook before it’s time to serve at the end of the day.
When it comes to competitions, I usually wait until the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 165°F to 175°F before deciding whether to use butcher paper or aluminum foil. Decide whether or not to wrap the bark based on how well it’s set.
If I opt to wrap the briskets in foil, I’ll wait until the bark has hardened before doing so, so that we can preserve it in the final product.
As a general guideline, I don’t foil the brisket until it reaches an internal temperature of around 185°F.
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Aluminum foil for ribs of pork
If I wrap my pork ribs at all, it’s with aluminum foil. Butcher paper has been touted as the best option by some, but I don’t understand the point.
Pork ribs taste great when cooked with aluminum foil. Adding butter and sauce midway through the smoking process lets the ribs cook in their own juices.
When cooking pork ribs, you don’t have to worry about a “bark” since aluminum foil doesn’t generate any steam.
The aluminum foil will insulate the ribs and hence speed up the cooking process if you decide to wrap them.
In the event that you are accustomed to smoking your ribs without wrapping them in foil and now decide to do so, bear in mind that they will cook more quickly than you think because of the increased surface area of the foil.
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Aluminum foil and an aluminum pan for preparing pork shoulder
I like to use aluminum foil to smoke my Competition-style pork butt.
Our smoked pork butt should have an attractive bark and lots of smokey flavor after the first 6 to 8 hours of cooking. After that, I place the butt on a metal tray and cover it with aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out.
Foil is my preferred cooking medium since it maintains a constant temperature. Rather of using foil to cover the pork butt directly, I’m using a metal tray to do it. As a result, I have no objections about removing the gorgeous bark.
In addition, the aluminum foil traps and releases steam, which enhances the taste of the pork by adding apple juice and butter to the bottom of the aluminum pan.
Butcher paper wrapped beef ribs
The gorgeous peel that forms on the smoked meat is essential to a delicious Texas-style beef rib. When smoking beef ribs, I no longer use aluminum foil; instead, I use butcher paper (or leave them naked/unwrapped).
In addition to allowing all of the great smokey taste to permeate the meat, butcher paper also preserves the magnificent bark.
Our beef ribs are usually wrapped in two pieces of butcher paper midway through the cooking process.
Are bbqs even required to be wrapped?
Although others may disagree, I do not feel that wrapping is necessary. I believe that it can speed up the cooking process, protect the bark, and prevent the meat from drying out as it cooks.
Wrapping your meat may be argued to be harmful to the bark, however this is only true if you wrap it too early. The chance of compromising your bark is low if you wait until the bark has completely hardened, as described above. Wrapping your bark keeps it from becoming too hot and being burned or smokey, which is why I think it’s a good idea.
The sort of smoker you’re using is a big factor, but it’s all about personal choice in the end.