What is the Texas crutch and why you should use it

The Texas crutch is the method of tightly wrapping whatever product you are smoking, usually meat, and slow cooking in paper or tinfoil to accelerate the cooking process. The Texas crutch method of wrapping meat is not exclusive to smoking on the BBQ and is used in professional restaurants and kitchens.

When smoking large chunks of meat at low temperatures for several hours there will come a point where the heat from the charcoal struggles to raise the internal temperature of the meat. Also referred to as the stall, the Texas crutch is a method of passing through the stall quickly.

By wrapping the meat, all of the juices from the meat or additions of liquids like apple cider vinegar steam inside this tight parcel. This steaming liquid inside a blanket of paper or tinfoil you have wrapped around the meat, alongside the heat radiating from the meat with nowhere for it escape causes the internal temperature inside the parcel to rise.

Why is it called the Texas crutch?

Many believe the Texas crutch is named after the infamous pitmasters who invented it from Texas. Texas is largely believed to be the ‘home’ of the BBQ and smoked meats. Some of the most famous pitmasters and BBQ restaurants in the world originated from Texas.

Why you should Texas crutch

If you attend any BBQ competitions, you will rarely see a team not using the Texas crutch method on meat and that’s for good reason.

The main reason you should consider using the Texas crutch method when smoking on the BBQ or cooking in the kitchen is to shave hours off the cooking time. Smoking meats as you will already know is called low and slow for a reason so shaving a few hours off with a simple technique is one hell of a bonus.

By the way, if you left the meat at the consistent temperature you are smoking at without using the Texas crutch method eventually, the temperature will rise and the meat will reach the target cooking temp. Just waiting for your meat to pass through the stall can take hours without a little help from wrapping it, hence the invention of the Texas crutch.

Another benefit to using the Texas crutch method is to stop any further bark forming on the meat when smoking. There’s not a specific reason other than personal preference to not want that tasty bark forming.

What is the bark?

The bark is the dark thick exterior of the meat you are smoking. It is formed by a combination of the seasoning you rubbed before smoking and the smoke reacting with the meat surface. The bark has a lot of flavor to it and you should allow a very good bark to form before wrapping the meat.

Bark forming on a pork shoulder
Bark forming before wrapping Texas crutch style

What is the “stall”?

The Stall is a point at which the internal temperature of the meat when smoking has reached a stalling point. Although it is still cooking the meat can stay at this stalled temperature for a very long time.

When should I wrap the meat?

Just, for example, we are going to talk about it when smoking a brisket. After several hours (if you didn’t know smoking a brisket can take upwards of 10 hours) into smoking a brisket a nice bark will have formed. This means the smoke flavor has set into the meat and a smoke ring will have potentially formed in the meat, although you can’t see it.

The brisket internal temperate will stall and stop rising this could be at a temperature of around 170 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the point you should be removing the meat from the BBQ and now tightly wrapping it in tin foil or butcher’s paper to return to the grill. The meat inside the wrapping’s internal temperature will start to accelerate, pushing through the stall at a quicker rate.

If you aren’t necessarily working to temperature and using a method such as the 3-2-1 method for ribs you will be wrapping the ribs for 2 hours after the initial 3 hours smoking.

How to Texas crutch properly

It doesn’t involve just chucking the meat in the middle and scrunching it up! That will not do!

To do this properly there is a way to wrap the meat rather than try to explain that, click here for a great video that will show you a few different ways of doing it with butcher’s paper.

Foil or butcher’s paper?

You can use either without any troubles, you will find some people only use one or the other. I have found that a good quality butcher’s paper can cost a lot more than foil. You can expect to pay around 5 times more than the price of the same length of tinfoil. Both are usually sold in rolls up to 50 meters in length. Enough for a lot of briskets!

This is an age-old argument, but depending on what you are smoking can affect what you choose to wrap the meat with. For example, if you are smoking a pork butt you might want to add some apple juice into the wrap for additional flavor to steam and soak into the meat. it would then be wise to use tinfoil. Butcher’s paper or peach paper as it is often sold, soaks up the grease and moisture from brisket and forms a layer inside the wrap to keep the heat in.

Things to note

One thing to note when using the Texas crutch method is it can destroy the bark you spent so long trying to form, some pitmasters don’t like that and will continue on through the stall without wrapping. If this is also your taste preference then unfortunately you need to learn to live with the stall and be patient the meat will pass through it.