Lots of PitMasters will try to source the best way to smoke all kinds of meat, and always seeking to better the outcome of their barbecue. One of the best ways to do so, is to use the Texas crutch. It helps push any kind of meat past stalling temperatures while also maintaining significant moisture throughout. It is a great compromise between letting smoke penetrate the meat and insulating it for faster cook times.
What is the Texas Crutch method?
The Texas crutch method is a great way to obtain very juicy meat. It is essentially compromised of wrapping a particular piece of barbecue in either butcher paper or foil, and is commonly used once the meat has hit the stall.
Once a particular piece of barbecue has the chance to reach an internal temperature of around 150°F, many Pitmasters will employ the Texas crutch. As noted, this is basically when the barbecue hits the stall.
The stall is just when the internal temperature hits between 150°F in 170°F and flat lines between that temperature range for several hours.
By wrapping the brisket or any other piece of barbecue, you can effectively push the meat all the way past this temperature range in very short time frames. Using this method makes it an excellent alternative to just sitting around and twiddling your thumbs, waiting for the meat to finish.
Is the Texas Crutch necessary?
Some may wonder whether or not the Texas crush is actually necessary. It definitely is not necessary, but it is certainly suggested as a preferred method by many Pitmasters to produce amazing quality barbecue.
One of the neat things about the Texas crutch is that the moisture content within the meat all have a chance to be encapsulated within the foil or butcher paper wrapping. This makes the finished piece of meat very juicy and incredibly tender. So not only do you have a slightly faster cook time, but you also have significantly more moist and tender pieces of meat afterwards.
The Texas Crutch is truly a meaningful way to produce excellent barbecue, and is something I do quite often!
Texas Crutch Temperature
There are pretty specific temperature ranges that you would want to think about using the Texas brush. Basically, you want to only consider using it when the internal temperature reaches 150°F and 170°F.
The reason why this is a significant temperature range, is because it’s indicative of the stall period of the cook.
As noted above, whenever a big piece of barbecue such as brisket or pork shoulder reaches this temperature range, you can expect to wait around for several hours before there is any significant further rise in internal temperature. This is why the Texas crutch is so effective, because it allows you to effectively push past this portion of the cook with little to no effort.
Texas Crutch Brisket
Using the Texas Crutch on a brisket is very popular, especially in places here in Texas. To use the Texas crutch on a brisket, you simply just take the meat off the smoker and place it directly on top of a piece of aluminum foil or butcher paper, and begin wrapping it. You want the entire meat to be covered by the wrapping. Afterwards, you then place it back on the smoker for further cooking and should notice very quick cook times going forward.
Once the brisket is wrapped, you should expect the stall to only last about a fraction of what it would have otherwise took. Basically, this means that you should only have to wait about an hour or so as opposed to 3-4 hours, to get through the stall.
This is purely an estimation of course, since every brisket and piece of meat is different with their own grades, marbling, and overall weight and size.
Texas Crutch Pulled pork
Making pulled pork is also a very popular barbecue item here in Texas, but can also suffer the same issues as a brisket when it comes to the stall. Using the Texas Crutch on a pork shoulder is also a great way to negate any waiting around between the stall period of the cook and is a fantastic way to obtain very juicy pulled pork.
The implementation is the exact same as you would do with a brisket or ribs, just take the pork shoulder out of the smoker and begin wrapping in butcher paper or aluminum foil. You want to really wrap the meat tight, and then place it back onto the smoker for more cooking.
Texas Crutch Ribs
Whenever someone smoked ribs, they may need to consider at what parts of their cooking venture they may need to wrap them. Commonly, if a PitMaster wants to protect their meat from too much heat and smoke, they will employ the Texas Crutch in the form of the 321 method.
This is basically where they would smoke or cook the ribs for about 3 hours or so, then wrap it in the Texas crutch for 2 hours, then take the wrapping off for the concluding part of the cook.
There are several benefits of this particular method that are very similar to what one would experience with brisket or pork shoulder. It’s essentially just pushing the meat past the stall period of any cook, and is a great way to retain a lot of moisture within the meat.
Pros and Cons of The Texas Crutch
As with anything in life, it becomes necessary to understand the true benefits and cons of using the Texas Crutch. The most notable benefit is the expedited cook times and retaining of moisture. These two things alone really produce amazing quality barbecue that melts in your mouth.
A con, however, is that the Texas crutch destroys your bark. It makes the meat very pot-roasty, and although it is definitely tender and moist, there is no hard smoked bark. This can be a problem for many, since the entire point of smoking a big piece of barbecue is to get a great smoke flavor with a lot of good crusty bark on the outside. With the Texas crutch, you don’t get that.
Since the Texas crutch can sometimes destroy one’s bark and smoke flavor, a great alternative to wrapping meat in foil, is to just wrap in butcher paper. This is a happy middle ground between just enough moisture and tenderness of the meat, with smoke flavor and bark profile.
Using The Texas Crutch
Using the Texas crutch is simple. You take the meat out of the smoker, and place it directly on top of a laid out piece of aluminum foil or butcher paper. Take the meat, and begin folding it on top of itself using the wrapping, creating a wholly covered piece of barbecue. Once fully wrapped, place it back on the smoker.
This is the Simplest and most effective way to use the Texas crutch in practice.
Also, it should be noted that the wrapping should only be left on between the temperature range of the stall. Once it’s past the 175 degree mark, you should un wrap it to further form a bark that was potentially lost during the wrapping period.
Does The Texas Crutch Ruin Bark
Although the Texas crutch can be an effective way of creating fantastic BBQ, it can also potentially destroy your park that you worked so hard to create.
One of the reasons why this happens, is because as the meat is wrapped in foil or butcher paper, all of the moisture gets trapped inside the encasing and falls back onto the meat and seasoning. This has the effect of making it a very wet in environment, which then destroys the bark.
Since the Texas crutch has the propensity to diminish your bark on your meat, it is recommended to only wrap your barbecue during the stall. Once it has concluded, unwrap your meat and let it finish unwrapped so it can start to form the bark once again. This lets you reap the benefits of expedited cook times while also still forming a nice crispy bark.
Not Using The Texas Crutch
Not using the Texas crutch is a great way to get excellent crust and bark on your brisket or other piece of BBQ. The only downside however, is potentially longer cook times with also slightly less tender and moist pieces of meat.
Despite that however, some claim that a no wrap piece of BBQ is far superior than the one that has been wrapped even for just a short amount of time. This is Simply due to the smoke flavor and overall taste, beyond just the tenderness.
Smoking Brisket Without The Texas Crutch
For brisket specifically, many still claim that a no wrapped brisket is far better than anything that has been wrapped in butcher paper or foil.
That simply just due to the bark and seasoning that you happen to put on it as well as the smoke flavor that gets imparted onto the meat. When a brisket is not wrapped at all, it becomes very crispy and charred, but melts your mouth more so than a pot roast type of brisket ever could. It’s really two different types of briskets and is dependent on whoever is eating it and how they like to eat their meat.
Texas Crutch or Not
If you’re trying to decide on whether or not you should employ the Texas crutch, just know that there are positives and negatives to doing so. As you become more experience throughout your pitmaster career, you’ll begin to understand what you like and don’t like regarding finished BBQ.
If you like tender pieces of meat with hardly any bark, then by all means wrap your brisket. If you don’t like overly tender and moist pieces of meat with no seasoning, then you should not wrap your brisket.
If you are somewhere in the middle, consider wrapping it only during the stall and then taking it off the meat once the stall has concluded to better firm up the bark afterwards. This could be a great compromise and it’s something I didn’t quite often myself.
Using the Texas crutch is a very popular method that everyone down here in Texas uses to produce excellent Texas style barbecue. It basically just means wrapping your meat in a piece of foil or butcher paper. This helps it push past the stall very quickly and can produce very tender and juicy pieces of smoked brisket or pork shoulder.
Despite the benefits however, there are some drawbacks such as diminished bark. This is a problem for many and myself included.
So, as you become more experienced, you need to know how to tweak certain aspects of the cook such as only wrapping the meat during the stall and taking the wrapping off the meat once the stall has concluded.
This is a great compromise between the two methods of wrapping and not wrapping your meat while also producing excellent Texas style barbecue for many years to come!