If you’ve ever smoked a pork butt, brisket or other cut that requires many hours of cooking over low-and-slow heat, you’ve probably experienced “The Stall.” It’s the point when the internal temperature of the meat plateaus - usually between 150 and 165 degrees – and cooking temporarily “stalls.”
According to experts at AmazingRibs.com, the stall usually happens a few hours into the cooking process, when the heat of the smoker begins to evaporate the natural moisture in the meat. If you were paying attention in high school science class, you know evaporation causes cooling.
Depending on factors like airflow inside the cooker, the cut of meat, and whether it’s been injected, mopped or spritzed with additional liquid, it could take up to seven hours for this evaporative cooling to stop, and the internal temperature of the meat to start rising again. The risk is, the meat could dry out by the time it’s done. Not to mention, dinner could be verrrry late!
Pink Butcher Paper to the Rescue!
Pitmasters use pink butcher paper to implement the “Texas Crutch” to speed through the stall, reduce overall cooking times, and create tender, moist and tasty barbecue. The technique is most commonly used on brisket, pork butt or shoulder, and beef or pork ribs.
Here’s how it works: First, the seasoned meat is placed uncovered in the smoker, with a digital thermometer monitoring the meat’s internal temperature. During this stage, the meat absorbs the wood smoke flavors and forms a nice, dark, crusty bark on the exterior. Once the internal temperature stops rising, the meat is removed and wrapped completely in butcher paper, before being returned to the grill to finish cooking.
The butcher paper acts as a barrier, retaining moisture and reducing the evaporative-cooling effect. This helps the internal temperature of the meat continue to climb so cooking takes less time.
Butcher Paper vs. Foil
Although some people will use aluminum foil to wrap the meat, pink butcher paper has advantages, according to some pro pitmasters. For one, unlike foil, butcher paper is porous, so it allows smoke to permeate the meat. And, although it insulates the meat and retains moisture, the paper is breathable enough to preserve the crusty bark and texture.
Wrapping meat in aluminum foil might accelerate the cooking process faster than paper, but, since foil traps and seals in moisture, it can steam the meat and turn the delectable bark to soggy mush.
How to Pick Butcher Paper
It’s important to choose unwaxed, unbleached, uncoated butcher paper that is certified for food-grade use, like the 24” Pink Butcher Paper Roll from Renaissance Cooking Systems. The heavy-duty, 40-pound stock is strong, heat- and moisture-resistant, and made-in-the-USA. At 24-inches across, it’s wide enough to accommodate a large brisket or rack of ribs.
The bulk roll contains 175 feet of paper that cuts easily to size with a knife or kitchen shears. Or use the handy companion Butcher Paper Dispenser to hold the roll for smooth dispensing and cutting. The unit can be mounted on top of a counter, under a counter, or on a wall, and has a double-edged, spring-loaded blade that cuts from either side for convenience.
Other Uses for Butcher Paper
Besides being essential to the Texas Crutch, the 24” Pink Butcher Paper Roll has many other uses. It can line serving trays and platters like an authentic barbecue joint. It also makes a great sandwich wrapper for picnics and tailgates. And, when cut into small squares, butcher paper can be used to separate burger patties before stacking and freezing.
For entertaining, disposable butcher paper is a practical tablecloth substitute when serving barbecue, clam bakes, lobsters, crab boils, fish fries, and other “messy” foods. As a buffet-table liner, you can write directly on it to label dishes and point out food allergens.
Butcher paper tablecloths and placemats are also blank canvases for doodling during dinner, fun for kids and grownups alike. It’s even good for gift wrapping in a pinch!
For more information on the 24” Pink Butcher Paper Roll from Renaissance Cooking Systems, click here. To learn more about the Butcher Paper Dispenser from Renaissance Cooking Systems, click here. Or, visit www.RCSGasGrills.com.