When cooking a BBQ there are two different types of people. Those who choose to wrap their precious meat in foil, and those who leave their meat unwrapped.
Wrapping your meat is also known as the Texas Crutch. The name is believed to have been created in Texas because competition BBQ pit masters used this style of cooking.
There are people who feel very passionately about their chosen method. However, each different method has its own time and place to be used.
To become a better barbecue master it is best to understand both techniques and know exactly when to use each.
I get so many questions about the Texas Crutch! So I have we decided to put together a FAQ for yall.
Hopefully this FAQs should and answers most of your questions. It will also help you see all of the perks to cooking your meat both unwrapped and unwrapped. If I have missed something let me know and I will try and answer your questions!
In general, there are three main reasons why you should use the Texas crutch:
To answer this question we need to understand how the meat absorbs the smoke.
To understand how much smoke your meat should be absorbing we need to first understand that a piece of meat will only absorb smoke flavour until the internal temperature hits around 145 degrees internally.
Note: I use the iGrill2 to monitor my temps, I have found it is one of the best digital meat thermometer for smokers
When not using the Texas crutch method it is important to pay attention to the internal temperature of your meat and exactly how much smoke is being absorbed into it.
You will know when your meat has absorbed to much smoke because it will get that dreaded ‘lighter fluid’ taste.
How To Overcome This?
One way to overcome this problem is to closely monitor the internal temperature of your meat. When the internal temperature hits 145 degrees stop adding wood to the fire.
At this stage of cooking, you want to create a clean burning fire so no more smoke is produced, only heat. This will continue to cook the meat the whole way through without adding more unwanted smoke to the meat.
So, Does the Texas Crutch Enhance The Flavor?
If you have your meat wrapped you are able to control the amount of smoke that is penetrating the meat.
Charlies Smoking Hot Tip
I find gas smoker temperatures easier to control. Not only that the manual the Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24 came with has extensive information on how to avoid the stall and how to really using the Texas Crutch to get that juicy tender meat
Two ways you can replace the moisture lost when cooking:
"Mopping or basting your meat throughout the cooking process. This helps keep a layer of moisture on the outside of your meat so it doesn't dry."
"Injecting liquid into your meat.throughout the cooking process. Injecting is a great way to keep the center of the meat moist."
Moisture is an essential part of BBQ. Even if you have of the best gas smoker, without moisture, you are stuck with a dry, tough piece of meat and let's face it no one wants to eat that.
When cooking wrapped, the moisture from the meat is trapped, creating a perfect environment for a tender & juicy piece of meat. When you cooking unwrapped you are in a constant battle to keep your meat moist.
During the cooking process your meat is trying to push out all the internal moisture, so if you are cooking unwrapped you need to replace the moisture one way or another to stay away from dry, tough meat.
When you are not wrapping it is quite important not to trim too much fat off your meat. Leaving a thicker layer of fat on your meat will act as a natural wrap and will help your meat stay moist throughout the cook.
Charlie's Hot Tip
If injecting meat make sure you inject after your meat is 180 degrees internally, this will ensure the outer layers of the meat are cooked and less juice will escape.
The last thing you want when you are mid BBQ is to find that the temperature of your meat is not going anywhere. It can turn even the best of us into hangry animals.
This phenomenon is often referred to as ‘the stall’. The stall often occurs around 170 degrees, and if you are not wrapped there are two ways out of this.
The first is to give your meat more cooking time.
The second is to crank up the temperature of your grill. However, in doing this you risk drying out your meat. It is highly recommended that you only do this if you are injecting your meat.
There is nothing better than opening your grill and seeing a glorious charred piece of meat. This is one big advantage to not wrapping your meat.
When you don’t wrap your meat you are going to get a better bark on the outer of your meat. When you wrap or use the ‘Texas Crutch’ often the outer layer of the meat will be soft and mushy, not ideal. You want to have a nice crunchy dark outer, but not too dark. That will just taste burnt.
Charlie's Hot Tip
I have two tricks to getting a good bark.
First; Cook the piece of meat unwrapped until you are happy with the colour and texture of the outer layers.
Second; My neighbor has a smoke hollow 44241G2, the heat temperatures it holds over long period always gives him crispy delicious bark!
When you are happy that you have found your almost perfect outer, throw over a piece of tinfoil. This is not wrapping, it is only shielding, shielding from your meat becoming to burnt.
When the meat is almost ready, take the shield off and let the outer crispen up to perfection, this ensures a perfect bark and no burnt taste.
So, how long do you grill ribs?
I can not give you 'one time fits all answer' to this question. This is because each different type of rib takes a different time to cook. Lets look a little closer into the different cuts of ribs listed below and how long it takes to grill each rib,
How Long to Grill Spare Ribs
You might notice that each cooking method is basically the same, it all comes down to several elements. The indirect grilling method and how much time they are on the grill for. If you leave them too long they will end up being dry, tough and in some cases burnt.
Once you wrap the ribs in foil it can be a great flavour enhancer to add some of your favorite stock, beef, cider or other liquid that you may have. This also helps keen them moist and juicy.
Wrap your ribs in heavy-duty aluminum foil, double wrap each half rack in its own packet. Make sure you position the meat side down.
Spare ribs come form the same magical place that bacon comes from. Spare ribs are large ribs and take longer, and can be a little more tricky to cook than others.
With that being said, they also have more meat and a higher fat content than other ribs. This makes them more tender and flavorsome.
As with most ribs, these are two main ways you can cook em. The slow way, and the fast way.
Cooking spare ribs the slow way takes between 4 and 5 hours.
Cooking spare ribs the fast way takes between 2 and 3 hours.
Contrary to popular belief (including my kids) baby back ribs do not come from baby pigs.
They actually come from the pigs upper rib cage near the spine. This is also known as the loin section.
Baby back ribs are much more tender than the bigger spare ribs, this is because they come from a part of the pig that doesn't do much work. This means that they are cooked in far less time and don't take as much to flavour them.
Cooking baby back ribs the fast way takes between 1 and 1 1/2 hours.
Beef short ribs are my personal favorite. Why you ask? Its because with beef short ribs you get more bang for you buck.
Essentially you get more meat for the same amount of cooking time and effort. Not to mention they have a way of being much more tender than the others.
Unlike spare or baby back ribs, you can also choose what doneness level you want them. Which means finally, we can eat a rib that is rare!
When it comes to cooking these beauties there is no slow or fast way. At the end of the day it all comes down to how thick your beef short ribs are.
To be honest this is the only way I think beef short ribs should be cooked. In my opinion you can never get the true flavour and texture potential of meat cooked any more than this. However that rant is for another time.
Following your grills manufacturing instructions set up your grill for indirect grilling and pre heat to 225°F.
Note: I like to smother my ribs in sauce for the last 20 minutes of cooking. This allows the sauce to start to develop a nice crust. This is optional though.
Charlie's Hot Recipe
I know he isn't a bigger griller but I love what Gordan Ramsey has done with these beef short ribs in this recipe
Even though I think it is a crime to eat short ribs well done, I will advise you on how you should cook them. Please try medium rare first though!
Charlie's Rib Cooking Times
1 inch Thick: Grill for 3 hours, turning once. You are looking for an internal temperature of 180°F.
1 1/2 Inch Thick: Grill for 1 1/2 hours turning once. You are looking for an internal temperature of 180°F.
2 Inch Thick: Grill for 4 hours turning once. You are looking for an internal temperature of 180°F.
3 Inch Thick: Grill for 4 hours turning once. You are looking for an internal temperature of 180°F.
The beef back ribs are a cut that I typically like to stay away from. This is because they are form a tougher part of the animal.
This means that you have to cook them to well done to get them really tender, not a huge issue but I like my meat to b rare or medium rare at best.
Together with a nice BBQ or hot sauce these ribs are still a crowd pleaser. I like to get a nice char on the sauce before serving, this helps lock in as much moisture as possible.
Cooking beef back ribs the slow way takes between 2 and 3 hours.
Cooking beef back ribs the fast way takes between 1 and 1 1/2 hours.
Over the years I've been asked how to cook ribs on the gas smoker, Well folks here is what I like to call the best foil-wrapped ribs around!
Another common request is our smoked turkey, we find not only our family and friends are requesting but so are you guys!
Unless you are in competition BBQ I would always go with the Texas Crutch method.
I love the nice moist meat that is produced from cooking this way. If you see my hot tip above, I usually follow that method. That way I also get a nice bark on the meat.
If your looking for some more great rib recipes I follow many other top notch BBQers. So if want to see where I get my inspiration, have a look at favorite BBQ bloggers.
Do you use the Texas Crutch method?
You will more often than not find me tinkering around in my backyard. I will have one hand tightly gripped around a can of beer and the other hand tightly gripped around my spatula. Not so long ago (almost 8 years now) I got obsessed with Grilling, smoking and BBQ-ing. I can't get enough of it.. and neither can my family!
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