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Butcher Paper Wrapping?

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    Butcher Paper Wrapping?

    Hello! I've been following the site for a couple years now and just joined the "Pit" and am very impressed so far. Thanks for offering the upgrade!

    I am wondering about the wrapping of brisket in butcher paper during the smoking process. The best in Austin (Franklin & La Barbecue) both wrap their brisket in butcher paper at some point during the smoke and return it to the smoker. Have y'all done any study on this process or can you provide any insight?


    Last edited by merrittcb; December 29, 2014, 11:36 AM.

    Problem with this technique is you lose the juice! It soaks into and out of the paper. I tried wrapping in paper and putting the brisket in a pan on a rack to try to catch juice. IMO, compared to foil, the Texas crutch, butcher paper is the Texas cane. Not moisture tight, but it does hold some moisture to the meat in a dry cooking environment.


      Candy, thanks for getting back to me. Franklin and La Barbecue both wrap in butcher paper and are both highly ranked nationally (I think Franklin got best brisket in the country in Bon Apetit Magazine a few years ago?), and most importantly they have the flavor, moisture and bark I am looking for. I know that a lot of science goes into this site and I was wondering if anyone had any insight to why those top joints might use that technique and how it plays a part in the final product.

      When you tried it, did you apply the texas crutch technique and sub the foil for butcher paper? What was your approach?




        Pretty much. You can't really compare the crutch and the cane, IMO. With foil whether you add a savory liquid or not, the brisket juices are held up against the meat, braising the brisket to tender. That doesn't happen with paper. The paper soaks up moisture and makes a barrier between the meat and the hot, drying heat in the cooker. The bark is definitely different. I found that the loss of the juice meant more to me than an improved bark. Plus, since most of my brisket cooking is in a competitive environment, using foil gave me more control over when brisket was done and (maybe) better hold-ablity.


          Have you watched the Tuffy Stone interview? He's one of the best brisket cooks I know and he cooks differently in the restaurant than he does in competition.


            I've been wondering about this myself, but with short rib slabs since the crutch really seems to help break down the fat and collagen. This isn't scientific at all but I did a comparison where I wrapped 2 slabs in foil and another 2 in butcher paper. The ones wrapped with butcher paper were noticeably drier than the ones wrapped with foil, although not so much that they weren't still good eating. Just like Candy mentioned, I remember much of the paper was soaked and a good amount had dripped out (there wasn't much juice left in the wrap to pour out compared to foil). I also used a lot more paper than the foil for what I thought was a good wrap, but maybe that's because I didn't wrap them efficiently. It's important to note that I tried the paper because I wanted to know if there was an easier, tear-free solution due to the bones (a suggestion from moderator Jerod). But this was for short rib and not for brisket which is what you're specifically interested in.

            Here's a quote regarding Franklin's use of butcher paper from a Q&A that he did with tmbbq.com:
            TM: Franklin Barbecue is known for wrapping briskets in butcher paper. Why do you wrap at all, and why do you choose butcher paper?
            AF: The briskets need to stay covered so that the bark doesn’t get ripped off of them when they’re being thrown around. We also wrap them once we know we’ve gotten a certain amount of smokiness. I started using paper because it was cheaper than foil. Foil also gets things real steamy. It’s known as the “Texas Crutch” and it would be embarrassing for me to use foil on briskets, but we use foil on pork butts and sometimes on ribs. I think foiled briskets end up a little pot-roasty for my taste, and the paper breathes a little better. If we were only doing five briskets then I would probably never wrap them, but when you’ve got that many cooking it’s nice to get them off, throw them on the counter and let them rest. It’s really there for protection, but an added side effect is that it helps retain moisture. I can also use the grease soaked butcher paper to start my fires on Monday when we restart the fires. The fires then burn twenty four hours a day until we’re done on Sunday. That’s when we clean the pits.
            ​He seems to offer some good rationale for his use of butcher paper, namely, it can take more abuse, it's cheaper than foil, and it breathes better. Although, I thought it was interesting that he would need to mention that it would be "embarrassing to use foil on briskets". Just my humble thoughts.


              That's the thing about a good cook- they have their methods and it's best to stick with something instead of being all over the place. Aaron is a restauranteur not a competition cook. Aaron likes how his product turns out and so do thousands of others. I have never papered a brisket myself, always foil but I would be willing to try it on my next one just to see what the difference is for my cooker and my method.

              EDIT: But I hate paying for brisket and it's not likely I will ever do one again until prices drop. Not holding my breath. I wont win $5K cooking one in my backyard so it's not worth the investment, lol.


              • HC in SC
                HC in SC commented
                Editing a comment
                I did see where our local Sam's had brisket flats for $3.89 per pound - a heckuva lot cheaper than $7.99 per pound at Publix.

                The things were still like $40-55; where as the same amount of pork but can be had for 1/2 the price.

                If I'm gonna spend $7.99 per pound, it sure ain't gonna be on a stinking brisket!!

              I like butcher paper for the price. But I use foil approx. 95% of the time for the following reasons:

              1. Cleaner going in and out of my barrel
              2. It does better for resting on these low grade Selects
              3. Many times I am cooling and reheating


                I actually like paper on pork butts instead of foil. Butts aren't sitting in the juices. My favorite part of the butt is the "bacon" under the fat cap and it doesn't cook to mush sitting in juice using paper. But you have the bark protection with paper. I'm not so worried about butts drying out.



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