When cooking a BBQ there are two different types of people.
Those who choose to wrap their meat in foil, and those who leave their meat unwrapped.
Wrapping your meat is also known as the Texas Crutch.
The term originated from the competition circuit, where the BBQ pitmasters from Texas would wrap their brisket, ribs, and pork butts.
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What is the Texas Crutch?
Texas Crutch is a technique that’s can be used to help beat the meat stalling, combat moisture loss, and decrease cooking time.
It involves wrapping half-cooked meat with butchers paper or aluminum foil with some liquid such, beer, juice, wine, or water.
The liquid can also braise the meat, which is a type of slow cooking.
Wrapping your meat also stops surface evaporation. This evaporation is the cause of the stall.
How The Stall Works
As the temperature of the meat rises, the meat contracts.
This contracting pushes the moisture in the meat to the surface.
The moisture then evaporates on the surface, cooling the ambient temperature of the smoker as well as the meat.
You’ll notice that the internal temperate of the meat will rise to 145°F quickly.
Then from that point that it can take hours to get to 165°F. So at around 145°F is when the brisket stall usually kicks in.
So this the temperature you should wrap your brisket.
Some pitmasters will wrap as soon as the stall starts. Others will wait until the Maillard reaction has occurred.
The Maillard reaction occurs when food is placed in dry heat. the food react, then new compounds form and the food surface becomes crunchy and brown with a new depth of flavor
The Reasons Pitmasters Use the Texas Crutch;
1. It can help the meat stay tender and moist.
2. Help speed up the cooking process
3. Allow you to beat the stall.
However, wrapping the meat can REALLY affect the bark on your brisket. That’s is your crunchy and crispy outside layer of rub, meat, and smoke.
Some folk, think the bark is the best part of a brisket.
Below you learn which meat you should and shouldn’t wrap.
As well as HOW to BEAT the stall!
Frequently Answered Questions About The Texas Crutch
I get so many questions about the Texas Crutch! So I have decided to put together a FAQ for yall.
It will also help you see all of the perks to cooking your meat both unwrapped and unwrapped.
How Does The Texas Crutch Work?
When the meat is wrapped in butcher’s paper or foil it stops the moisture on the meat’s surface from evaporating and cooling the air temperature.
You always wrap the brisket after it stalls. Otherwise, it may affect the texture of the meat and bark.
Therefore slowing the cook down.
However, each different method has its own time and place to be used. This can depend on if you are using an offset smoker, electric smoker, or natural gas smoker for example.
Does the Texas Crutch Affect the Bark?
Yes, the Texas crutch technique can affect the bark formation on smoked meats.
While the Texas crutch can result in more tender and juicier meat, it can also soften the bark. The bark is the flavorful, caramelized outer layer that forms during the smoking process. Wrapping the meat in foil or butcher paper creates a moist environment, which can cause the bark to become softer and lose some of its desirable texture. The steam generated inside the wrap can soften the crust and may inhibit further bark development.
However, it’s worth noting that the Texas crutch is a trade-off. While it can impact the bark, it also helps to prevent the meat from drying out, especially during long cooking sessions. Some pitmasters prefer the tenderness and juiciness that the crutch provides, sacrificing a bit of bark texture. Others may choose to unwrap the meat towards the end of the cooking process or utilize alternative techniques to maintain a crispier bark while still benefiting from the advantages of the crutch.
Using The Texas Crutch With Ribs
I don’t like to crutch ribs, I prefer to increase the temperature of the smoker. When the internal temperature of the ribs hits 175°F, brings the temperature back down. If you do decide to crutch your ribs, make sure the bones don’t poke holes in the foil.
It’s best to use two layers of foil. Also, don’t stack your ribs in one foil pack, make sure to wrap each rack separately.
Using The Texas Crutch With Brisket:
Always crutch brisket! The stall will begin at around 145°F to 160°F.
Once the brisket has deep brown color and started to stall, wrap it in foil, insert your temperature probe and place it back in the smoker.
Once the internal temperature hits 203°F remove it from the smoker. Remove the foil and place it back in the smoker at 225°F for 20 minutes.
This will help the bark form as the surface of the brisket dries.
Note: Usually, it takes many hours for these cuts to cook. The connective tissue and fibers need to break down. However, you can encounter the stall. The Texas crutch can help keep the meat moist as well as shorten the cooking time.
Why Should I Use The Texas Crutch?
In general, there are three main reasons why you should use the Texas crutch:
- To decrease the length of your cook time
- To create a nice moist condition for your meat. This generally produces a more tender & juicy piece of meat.
- Significantly helps with the stall.
4 Easy Steps to Master The Texas Crutch
- Keep an eye on the internal temperature:
Once your meat hits 145-160°F you may notice the temperature stalling. Note: Always use a digital meat thermometer to monitor your internal temps.
- Now wrap your meat in at least 2 layers of foil.
You can also add some liquid, we recommend using beer, wine or fruit juice. Make sure you have a tight seal .
- Put your wrapped meat back in the smoker.
Let it cook until your hit your desired temperature.
- Like bark on your meat?
If you want bark on your meat, when it has hit the correct internal temperature, unwrap the meat and return it to the grill for 20 minutes to allow it get crispy. Otherwise let it rest, then your ready to serve.
Will The Texas Crutch Enhance The Flavor?
The crutch is a form of braising the meat. So it can change the flavor and the texture. If you crutch it for too long, you will lose the rub and the protein in the meat will turn it to mush.
It can also slow the amount of smoke penetrating the meat. So if you don’t like the really smoky flavor the crutch might be beneficial for you.
Will The Meat Be More Moist Unwrapped?
Cooking unwrapped can lead to moisture loss.
But if you like to cook your meat unwrapped, Here are two ways you can replace the moisture.
- “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. Without it, you could be stuck with a dry, tough piece of meat.
Wrapped: 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.
Unwrapped: 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 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.
Will Cooking With The Texas Crutch Stop The Stall?
The last thing you want when you are mid-cook 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 145°F 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.
Will I Get A Better Color & Appearance in My Meat?
There is nothing better than opening your grill and seeing a glorious deep brown piece of meat. This is one big advantage to not wrapping your meat.
The second advantage is that 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 can go soft and mushy, not ideal.
Unless you are in competition BBQ, I would always go with the Texas Crutch method for my brisket and only sometimes for ribs.
Do you use the Texas Crutch method?
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).
I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.
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 recipes with you!
You can read more about me on our About Us page.
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