The best way ensuring moist and juicy barbecue brisket, it’s easy to see why using the Texas Crutch is one of the BBQ world’s most popular methods for smoking brisket. Find out everything you need to know with our guide and Texas Crutch Brisket recipe.
The Texas Crutch is a tried and true method used by competition pitmasters around the world for producing deliciously tender and juicy meat. It can be used for ribs and pork butt, but today we’ll be focusing on its best use: Beef brisket. Find out everything you need to know to make the perfect Texas Crutch brisket.
Texas Crutch brisket is perfectly juicy and tender. When it’s wrapped in foil, it has the perfect mouthfeel, while remaining beautifully smoked and rich in flavor.
What is the Texas Crutch?
The Texas Crutch is a smoking method that involves wrapping meat in foil during the low and slow cooking, to help speed up the cook.
It’s not just about speed though. The method also helps to keep meat moist (a crucial criteria in producing elite-level barbecue), and is a proven way to push your meat through the dreaded ‘stall’.
While it’s thought to have been invented on the BBQ competition circuit, the method has proved so effective that it’s now used at events and restaurants alike.
What’s the Stall?
The stall is frequently seen when smoking brisket, and is also known as The BBQ Stall or The Brisket Stall. It happens when the internal temperature of your beef hits a range of about 145-175°F and starts to see the liquid in the meat start to evaporate. This causes the meat to cool down, which in turn slows down the smoking process. This means that while getting the meat temperature to about 145°F is quite quick and easy, pushing it past this point can be frustrating. It’s not uncommon to then see the brisket ‘stall’ and stay at around the same temperature for hours.
This is where the Texas Crutch steps in. When meat hits that 145°F mark, you can wrap the brisket in foil or butcher paper to stop evaporation. This helps to keep the meat moist, while also pushing the internal temperature through the stall and get it cooked in good time.
Benefits of the Texas Crutch
Reduces cooking time. Wrapping brisket in foil helps to push it through the stall, thereby reducing the amount of time that you are waiting for the internal temperature to increase.
You burn less fuel. Reducing the amount of time that the brisket is sitting on the smoker means that you burn less wood and coal, saving yourself significant fuel costs. Saving at least 6 hours’ worth of wood or charcoal is nothing to be sniffed at!
Juicy beef. Allowing the beef to retain moisture by wrapping it means that your brisket keeps a lot of its natural juices, leaving you with one heck of a juicy cut of beef.
Cons of the Texas Crutch
It’s not all good news however. Keeping the brisket wrapped means that the smoke coming from your firebox can’t penetrate the meat, meaning that it can’t enrich it with your chosen hickory, mesquite or oak wood. It also risks preventing a beautiful bark from developing on the meat, which is the iconic crunchy layer that often forms on the surface of smoked brisket.
Fortunately, Susie over at Hey Grill Hey has come up with a workaround that acts as a happy medium between the two. Susie suggests letting the brisket stay in the stall for a little bit of time before wrapping it. This should allow it to develop some bark before being wrapped to retain that moisture. She suggests wrapping it when the internal temperature of your meat is about 165°F.
Foil vs Butcher Paper
There’s a bit of debate around whether you should use aluminum foil or butcher paper for wrapping meat for the Texas Crutch. There are advantages to each, so which one you go for might well be determined by which of these are most important for you.
A benefit of using foil is that it’s better than butcher paper at retaining all the moisture generated by the brisket. Whether that’s juicy run-off from the meat as it cooks, or vapor generated by evaporation, all of it will stay within the foil pouch and help to infuse the beef with more flavor and moisture. You can also recycle the moisture collected in the foil to use in BBQ sauce, or even drizzle back over the meat when you’re serving up.
A big benefit of using butcher paper is that it’s porous, which allows the meat to breathe and exposes it to more smoke from the fire. This can help to give the meat more flavor from the wood, as well as retain a bit more bark to it.
Texas Crutch Pro Tips
If you use butcher paper, make sure you are using food-grade paper that doesn’t contain either wax or silicone. Anything food-grade has been approved by the FDA, meaning they’re safe to have direct contact with food (source).
Wrap at 165°F. As mentioned above, this temperature should achieve a nice ‘sweet spot’, whereby the brisket has been in the stall for long enough to start to develop a good bark, but will need to be wrapped to push it over the line.
Wrap tightly. This is especially important if you’re using foil. Wrapping tightly should help to reduce the occurrences of pockets for condensation puddles to form. Too many of these will produce a strong steaming effect, which could smother your brisket and ruin the texture.