To Wrap or Not to Wrap: When Should I Use Foil When Grilling?
You’ve probably used foil wrappers at least once during your pitmaster adventures. However, the Texas Crutch method of wrapping your meat might be all new to you. Knowing when and where to rely on this method is the real secret to nailing tin foil-wrapped meat every time.
Why Use Foil to Wrap Meat?
Cultures that value grilled meat has been wrapping meat in everything they can find, including banana leaves, for generations. We happen to have tin foil, which is much easier to find in the grocery store.
Wrapping meat in foil mid-grill or smoke gives it the chance to continue cooking without getting too much of a bark. When done correctly, the Texas Crutch allows the meat to simmer in its own — and added — juices. The result is nothing short of a beautifully finished rack of ribs, brisket or pork butt — no dehydrated, tough protein.
First Order of Business: Some Texas Crutch Tips
The foil in this ridiculously simple way to cook your meat seals in heat, tenderizing the beef faster than if it were unwrapped. However, before you start wrapping everything you love in foil, make sure to stick with a few basic rules:
- If you’re cooking fast and hot, you don’t need to wrap anything in foil. A foil wrapper works best with low and slow cooking methods.
- Take your meat out of the foil earlier rather than later. Otherwise, it can get mushy, and no one will want to eat it.
- Play babysitter the first few times you Crutch your meat. This gives you a benchmark on what to expect during future cooking endeavors.
Making the Proper Foil Boat
What’s the best way to ensure your Texas Crutch BBQ won’t go awry? Start with a stable boat or tent. You may want to use two or three sheets of tin foil. Don’t worry about which side of the tin foil to smoke — it won’t make much of a difference.
Create a boat that you can crimp at the top. Then add some kind of moisture, such as a little beer, water, apple juice or honey-water to rev up the flavor profile. Go easy on the amount, though. If your foil tent works correctly, it’ll act like a slow cooker and limit evaporation.
Be careful when wrapping brisket and pork butt, and particularly when crutching ribs. Wrapping ribs in foil takes patience, so the bones don’t poke through the foil. If you notice a problem, start over. The last thing you want is ventilation messing with your foil grilling plans.
Knowing When to Apply and Remove the Texas Smoking Crutch
So when should you remove your meat from the smoker grill and pop it into your foil boat? Most pitmasters swear that the ideal moment is when you hit the “stall” — when the internal temperature of whatever you’re cooking won’t budge. By moving the meat into a different environment, you force it to start cooking faster internally, while the outside of the meat continues to caramelize and darken.
After 30 minutes, check the temperature of the meat but try not to disturb the tenting or allow too much steam to escape. When your meat reaches the desired level, you can carefully remove the foil. If you’d like, toss the meat back on the grill at a lower temperature to dry the outside and give it a crispier bark.
And now? Well, we don’t need to tell you that it’s time to dig in.