Improve Butcher Paper Performance
A few months ago we had a comparison of the results in most used wrapping methods. There was a substantial parity, where each one expressed its distinctive peculiarities, but no one turned out to be the method of resolution. Among these, we had tested the latest trend on the subject (at least here): the Butcher Paper. In that case the object of the cooking had been pork necks but let’s say it frankly, it was a choice dictated by the need to have certain results, where skill in cooking counted as little as possible and where the contribution of the method of wrapping was highlighted at its best.
The test he had actually highlighted the fact that Butcher Paper is famous for, namely the tendency to give a better bark and to minimize the “boiled” effect of the classic foil. In contrast, the test intuition but even more what highlighted by the reports of many enthusiasts, is that Butcher Paper has in many cases resulted in increased dehydration in meat, particularly on risk cuts such as Brisket.
Let’s try to think about how Butcher Paper works: the paper should be soaked with meat juices to the point where the absorption capacity reaches its limit, making it a sort of leakage plug which, however, ensures a better breathability than foil. If this is true, we may infer that meats that are more juicy, marbled, and somehow fatty, in some way are best off to this method. This would explain why the net is invaded by American videos showing brisket removed from the Butcher Paper dripping with juices while at our latitudes we find some extra problems. Another explanation might be an abundance of used paper: it should be enough to completely wrap the meat but it should not be too much, requiring too much juices to saturate.
I wondered if there was a way to “help” Butcher Paper in her work trying to make her less sensitive to this. I came to think of an experiment: try to saturate the paper manually, spraying it while cooking with the same liquid as I would add to the pan of a classic foil, for what we might call a “Wet Cap”. For the test I want to create a state of extreme stress and complicate my life as much as possible to see if this system really can bring benefits:
- No marbled or high quality Brisket. I choose the smallest (5.5 kg) and the leanest Hereford brisket I’ve ever been able to find. I was even pointing to a finer flat but I’m settled with this.
- I try to further reduce the mass with a very heavy trimming, choosing a competition cut and taking off all the fat I can
- I do some injections without any “help”: just broth, apple juice, apple vinegar and salt
- I will not have any rest phase and I will slice the Brisket as soon as I reach the appropriate temperature (P.S. you remember when we talked about the importance of rest right?)
I realize the competition cut to get a total weight of about 3.5 kg and I go on with injection on the only flat by 10% of the weight. As rub, I used a Oakridge Black Ops. I insert a probe and cook at exactly 100° C. As I mentioned in past, I usually prefer not to use water in the water pan but in this case I make an exception to favor the storage of moisture in the cooking environment so to help the butcher paper.
I reach very quickly the stall temperature of 66° C but as I expected from using water in the water pan, I’m not very happy with the bark and I then wait for getting it better, as I was explaining about how to exploit the stall to our advantage.
I cut two sheets of Butcher Paper about 1.5 mt. long. I wrap the Brisket in the first sheet, taking care to turn the side flaps and then roll it on them so that it is completely sealed. I do the same thing with a second sheet: the basic idea is the sheet above to be for the “Wet Cap” while the one in contact with the flesh actually to absorb the juices. I go on spraying the leftover part of the injection and soaking the outside of the sheet and put it into the smoker.
I notice in a hurry that the outside layer of the butcher paper dries while I waited for it to be soaked with the brisket juices. I decide that I might have been overly cautious, I remove the outer sheet and leave the only first sheet that actually is already soaked. I also try to spray the surface again with the sprayer, to soak even the driest spots and repeat the operation whenever I notice the need. After a while, I can say that I have attended intervals of about forty-five minutes.
As I pointed out in the wrapping test, I have to observe the elongation of the time compared to the classic foil and reaching from the starting 66° C to the 92° C at the heart, the temperature at which the probe test has been successful, has taken almost three hours on five. However, as I said, I immediately took the brisket off from the smoker and sliced.
The Brisket had a good moisture, the slices were damp and soft. The method is definitely interesting and worth the effort. We say that from 0 to 10 I can say I got a 7.5 brisket but if I had a traditional foil with the same flesh and with the same limitations would i get a better result? The answer is probably no, and that’s what I wanted to know. So let’s get a point of what we got:
- Demonstrating the benefits recognized at the butcher paper we got a fair bark. Considering the extreme humidity conditions in which we worked, I consider it an excellent result. If I had used a classic foil in the same condition, I would certainly have obtained a worse result in this regard
- The Wet Cap has probably helped the brisket moisture. I’m convinced that such a lean and small brisket, with the only butcher paper would have been dryer
- The feeling left is that however the butcher paper stretches a little bit the times. One thing I would like to try is to spray the liquid of the injections to lukewarm instead of at room temperature.
Ultimately I judge the results obtained as encouraging. It’s definitely worth trying the test by replicating the same method but with a brisket and the same conditions that I would adopt in a standard cooking to evaluate what it is able to give as added value to the foil.
And you, what do you think? What improvements would you make?