There are multiple ways to smoke food. While scouring the internet, you will find thousands of recipes, each explaining a different technique. In this article, we will be focusing on the Texas crutch method of smoking.
You’ve probably heard of the Texas crutch from close friends or online. But what really is the Texas crutch, and how do you smoke your meat using this method?
What is the Texas crutch?
It is a food smoking method where you wrap your meat in foil or butcher paper while smoking. This helps speed up the smoking process, breaking the meat stalls.
What are meat stalls?
Beef, poultry, or seafood each have a unique cooking temperature that guides you in knowing when it’s perfectly smoked. However, certain cuts of meat may reach a given temperature, and they “stall”, meaning the temperature does not increase or decrease. This is what is called a meat stall.
It is mainly the result of evaporative cooling. As the meat sweats during smoking, it causes the moisture to evaporate, cooling it. This tampers with the smoking process, slowing down the break-down of the meat collagens and subsequent fat and moisture build-up.
Why wrap your brisket?
A liquid wrap, where you add juice, sugar, and dry rubs, braises the brisket, helping it push past the stall. This is because liquids have a better heat carrying capacity than air.
What should you liquid wrap with?
Depending on the type of beef and your preferred taste, there are different angles you can take with this.
For instance, with cuts of beef, you can use beef broth, which will help further enrich the flavor. You can use fruit juice like apple juice or sugars like honey and agave if it’s pork.
You can also use water.
Smoking a Texas crutch brisket
- 12–14-pound brisket
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons coarse ground pepper
- Trim your brisket – remove any excess meat and fat.
- After you are done trimming your brisket, mix your seasonings in a bowl. In our case, we will be adding salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Evenly spread your mixture over the brisket and start smoking until the brisket reaches an internal temperature of around 165 °F (74 °C). This is where meat starts to stall.
- Remove your brisket from the food smoker and wrap it with either aluminum foil or butcher paper, a process referred to as the Texas crutch.
How to perform a Texas crutch
- Smoke your meat for some time before wrapping. This depends on when you want to wrap it. It can be when it starts to stall or when you observe a visible Maillard reaction and the rub is no longer sticky.
- Lay two pieces of butcher paper or aluminum foil out and place your meat lengthwise across the paper.
- Carefully fold the edges of the butcher paper over the top of your brisket on both sides to resemble a wrapped burrito.
- Using the remaining large overhanging paper, fold the flaps on either side and then fold the butcher paper’s end over itself so that it doubles in thickness.
- Roll your meat so the flat lays atop the folded butcher paper and the point/presentation side is up.
- Place your brisket back in the smoker and finish smoking it, maintaining a temperature of 225 °F (107 °C).
- Rest, slice, serve and enjoy.
Butcher paper vs. aluminum foil
When performing a Texas crutch, you can either wrap your brisket using butcher paper or aluminum foil. However, if you intend to use liquids, then butcher paper may not be the best option as it’s possible it will leak. We compare the two, explaining when it’s best to use them.
Unlike aluminum foil, the butcher paper is porous. This allows for additional smoke penetration, enhancing flavor. It also helps absorb fat and water, which can cause the meat to cook slower.
- You get a crunchy bark.
This is best for liquid wrapping.
Aluminum foil is impermeable, meaning liquids can’t leak out. It also helps effectively eliminate surface evaporation.
However, a major downside of using aluminum foil is that you risk ruining your bark. As there are no holes for the trapped moisture to escape when it starts to condense, it forms droplets that can leave you with soft, mushy bark.
Food smoking and cooking, in general, is a learning experience, and each day, we learn something new. How you cook your meat when the internal temperature stops increasing can ruin your cooking experience and affect the flavor, leaving you frustrated. Today, we’ve learned how to smoke meat using the Texas crutch method, helping us beat the meat stalls.
For more great ideas on how to get the most out of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.