Foil methods compared


Butcher Paper vs Classic Foil vs Texas Crutch vs Naked

Recently it has finally made available he Butcher Paper also in Italy. For those not familiar, this is the traditional paper in which meat was packed by butchers in the United States. In Barbecue field there are schools of thought that believe it constitute the best way to make the phase of foil (more generally, the correct term would be wrapping, not considering more than just the foil). The Butcher Paper is in fact rough and thick, with a high capability of absorbency and soaking up to saturation of the meat juices, creating the insulation effect of the classic foil in foil but compared to this latter has a different heat transmission and a best perspiration, allowing the removal of steam excesses and a better conservation of the bark. A great supporter of this method is Aaron Franklin, owner of Franklin BBQ, a place in which to eat at noon you have to get in line from 7am (literally). It won’t be difficult, if you want to take your curiosity off, find online a video where a brisket is removed by a dripping Butcher Paper,  with a wonderful, soft like a pudding look. We in our own small way we had already used it here.

Foil in Smoker

To Cecca and to the good Faustino came to mind as well, to confront the most famous foiling systems with butcher paper, and while we were at, even compared with a simple cooking naked, without being foiled. The subject of cooking is the most classic of Pulled Pork. The idea is to standardize as much as possible the conditions: starting from pork necks purchased from the same dealer, same producer, same batch, chosen with a weight as close as possible, with the same rub and without injection that could change the result basing on how they are made. We will use a Gravity Smoker able to guarantee the same conditions regardless of the position on the grid and with a great stability. The thermometer probes used have all been previously tested in boiling water.

Foil Crudo 1
1: Kg. 2,640

Foil Crudo 2
2: Kg. 2,654

Foil Crudo 3
3: Kg. 2,625

Foil Crudo 4
4: Kg. 2,645

Just to reach an agreement on the terminology, we gonna call as Classic Foil the necks placed in trays and wrapped with aluminum foil and Texas Crutch the necks simply wrapped in foil. The test started at 11:00, with gravity fixed at 250 ° F from the day before as a guarantee of continuity and in which we had cooked earlier some Beef Ribs. The four necks differ in very few grams, and we have reduced the trimming virtually to zero for no change the anatomical structure. We choose by draw which cup associate with which technique, rub and put in the smoker.

Rub Foil
Foil Infornata
Foil Bark

The curious and some how ironic thing is that despite all our attempts to standardize the conditions, the neck didn’t take a lot to remind us that they’re not bolts and that all the instruments of the world does not change the fact that the barbecue is a ‘ empirical art: even before the time of foil each neck began its own temperature growth curve, which has accompanied us during all the cooking with differences also came to 18 degrees.

The idea was to put in foil as soon as the bark would have allowed it, in order to emphasize the effect of the wrap and remove from baking at the achieving of internal 95 ° C avoiding getting to pulling, allowing us to cut the cup section highlighting the degree of moisture retention independently of the juice remaining in the foil. After 2 and a half hours we felt that the conditions could be suitable and we proceeded to leave the neck nr. 1 naked, put the nr.2 in Texas Crouch, the nr.3 and nr.4 in Butcher Paper and Classic Foil, then putting them back together in cooking in the smoker. The nr. 2 and nr. 4 were the first to arrive at 95 ° C in unison around 17.30. About an hour later she was ready with nr. 1 while the nr.3 took another 3 hours to bring to completion.

Foil Taglio 1
1: Naked
Foil Taglio 2
2: Texas Crouch

Foil Taglio 3
3: Butcher Paper

Foil Taglio 4
4: Foil Classico


The first conclusion is that barbecue is really the queen of the inexact sciences, in the sense that the millimeter readings that we nerds do may have influenced by too many factors. It would take probably several and repeated tests of this kind in order to express a true judgment. In this case, it quickly became apparent that the four necks would have had different behaviors in cooking and it is difficult to understand how they may have been influenced in one way or another from the kind of wrap used. But we try to get some indication, to which you can give the weight you feel most appropriate.

The first consideration is related to the cooking times: the foil is an accelerator and in this sense the expectations have been confirmed, saving about an hour. Wonder a little ‘more the time extension on Butcher Paper. We would have expected intermediate times between the foil and naked but so was not. It must say that it was clear from the outset that the 3 necks would have been the one that we would have mad us suffer more. So we would not know how to take this information for good.

The second is related to the weight: here we are already closer to those who were our assumptions. The naked cooking is one that naturally had the largest drop weight in the order of over 46% (!). Immediately after placing the Butcher Paper with almost 39%, and then the other two methods with declines of around 25%. then confirmed a higher breathability by the Butcher Paper than the two foil, although we had estimated the decline of much closer values.

The third is related to the bark: we did not detect large differences. The best bark was to the one of the naked neck, shiny and with a beautiful deep color. The other three are basically tantamount. Wanting to interpret this evidence, then we should dispel the myth of a better bark through Butcher Paper.

The fourth relates to moisture: probably here we have to give the podium to the Butcher Paper, which gave the wettest neck. The other three methods are substantially equals. We’re talking in any case of differences not abysmal. The slow growing of the neck nr.3 temperature can, however, in this sense have helped and more than indications about the advantage of butcher paper, I would point that the foil methods would appear to make only functions of cooking accelerator and, optionally, recovery of the juices but not of moisture conservation as one might suppose.

In conclusion, beyond all possible interpretations, we would have expected more distant results with each other proving overwhelming in one direction or another. We consider however Butcher Paper a very interesting tool, which lends itself to a variety of functions and on which we will continue our experiments. But then you would like to serve a combo dish on a metal tray on top on an original Butcher Paper…?

Foil Calo Peso
Foil Temperature

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