A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 09, 2008
Texas Crutch (using aluminum foil in BBQ)

Kansas City “Baron of BBQ” Paul Kirk posed with a crutch covered with aluminum foil, titled “Texas Crutch,” in 1999 or January 2000. Kirk coined or certainly popularized the barbecue term “Texas crutch,” where meat is wrapped in tin foil with liquid to steam the meat and speed its cooking. Kirk favors taking the time to barbeuce the correct way, but many prefer the faster and easier “crutch.”

The website Amazing Ribs explained “Texas crutch” in a Glossary of barbecue terms and also has a detailed page explaining the technique. 


Amazing Ribs: Glossary of barbecue terms
Texas Crutch. A technique for wrapping the ribs in foil with some liquid to lightly steam the meat, tenderize it, and speed its cooking.

Fiery-Foods.com: Ask Dr. BBQ
Hi Dr. BBQ,
I live in Australia and love BBQ. Could you tell me what a Texas Crutch is? Regards,
Paul

Hi Paul,
Good to hear from Down Under. The term Texas Crutch refers to the use of aluminum foil when cooking barbecue. It seems some stubborn old dudes don’t think it’s right and they claim it all started in Texas. I don’t know where it started but I do know that most of the good barbecue cooks sometimes wrap their meat in foil for part of the cooking. It hurries things up a bit and it can save a dry looking piece of meat from going bad.
Dr. BBQ

KC Baron of BBQ
PAUL KIRK CWC, Ph.B., B.S.A.S.
(Kansas City Baron of Barbecue)
Paul Kirk, a.k.a. Barbecue Guru, Ambassador of Barbecue, Order of the Magic Mop, Certified Master Barbecue Judge, Kansas City Barbecue Society Board of Directors, Inductee into the KCBS Barbecue Hall of Flame and 1990 Chef of the Year-Greater Kansas City ACF Chapter. All these titles are honors that have been earned and bestowed by colleagues.

Paul has won over 475 cooking and barbecue awards. Included among these awards are 7-WORLD BARBECUE CHAMPIONSHIPS, one of which is the prestigious American Royal Open, the world’s largest Barbecue Contest.

Paul has conducted the Baron’s School of Pitmasters for 12 years around the world, (South Korea, Ireland, Canada, Switzerland) and across the United States. Chef Paul has trained barbecue restaurant staffs in New Jersey, New York, Washington, Kansas City, West Virginia and Oregon. He has trained six chefs for Disney World’s, Wilderness Lodge and two for Wild Kingdom Barbecue Restaurant. He has conducted seminars at national conventions for The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), The American Culinary Association (ACF) and the National Barbecue Association (NBBQA). 

BBQ Cookoff
The Texas Crutch
Now don’t get Chef Paul wrong… he likes Texas, just not foil!
Photo provided by Gary B. Davis, Dallas, TX.

Amazing Ribs
The Texas Crutch:
Steam makes the tenderest meat
I don’t know about you, but I like meat that tastes and feels like meat, not mush. Lots of folks like boiling their ribs to tenderize them, but boiling ribs destroys the pork flavor, turns the meat to mush, and makes it fall off the bone. Ribs should pull cleanly off the bone, not fall off the bone.

Called “The Texas Crutch” because some folks think it was developed there, this method is so good practically all the top competitive barbecue teams use it. It makes extremely tender, juicy, flaky meat, that is not mushy, still tastes like pork, and pulls off the bone without falling off the bone.

Here’s the theory: We will seal the ribs in a vessel with liquid at a temp just above boiling. The liquid will bathe the meat in humidity and a bit of steam. It will moisten and tenderize the meat. Do this for too long, and you will extract flavor and cause the proteins to get their undies in a bunch, forming tight knots that will make the meat tough and wring out moisture. The liquid can be water, juice, wine, or beer. I like apple juice.

Here’s two methods to use the crutch. (...)

BBQ Pits
Paul Kirk And The Texas Crutch Concept...
Posted by Scott in Flower Mound on January 18, 2000 at 10:38:45:
Just saw a picture of Paul Kirk on a Website holding a crutch made of aluminum Foil called a “Texas Crutch”.

While I see this is as a humorous view/opinion of an often used Cooking Technique to tenderize cuts such as Brisket, I do not agree that anything’s a “crutch” if it’s used to improve the end product.

Let me take Paul’s Logic one step further:

“Because you are not digging a pit in the ground and burning logs down to embers, then throwing on meat and covering the whole thing up for a day, y ou are then using your manufactured welded BBQ pits as ‘crutches’. Tuning your pits must also be seen as a ‘crutch’, I mean why not just use the oven?” What about adding a water pan in the smoker to catch the drippings and avoid the carcinogenic effect s of the fat burning. Is that a crutch too?

See what I mean?

IMHO, I don’t think anything that improves the finished product, as long as you’re using the basic principles of BBQ’ing (i.e., low and slow over smoke)can be looked down on or judged as poor form, can you? 

Google Groups: alt.food.barbecue
Newsgroups: alt.food.barbecue
From: “Louis Cohen”
Date: 2000/06/19
Subject: Re: Paul Kirk BBQ Class

He mentioned the class in New Braunfels.  As Mr. Kirk likes to refer to aluminum foil as “the Texas crutch”, his class presented him with a crutch wrapped in aluminum foil.

Google Groups: alt.food.barbecue
Newsgroups: alt.food.barbecue
From: “Dalton Breaux”
Date: Fri, 07 Sep 2001 19:01:29 GMT
Local: Fri, Sep 7 2001 2:01 pm
Subject: Purists? Bah humbug

I’ve so often read bantering back and forth between the purists and pragmatists....is it ok to parboil, is it ok to finish my brisket or pork butt off in the oven, can I wrap my brisket in foil in my pit, etc, etc. The purists slam the pragmatists with something like this: “Yeah, you can do that but if you want to really be an expert barbecuer then ignore the Texas crutch (aluminum foil)” In my humble opinion it’s all mishmash and yada-yada.  Do whatever it takes to get your meat to the taste and texture you want.  For heavens sake, this is the 21st century!!!!  What worked for my grandpa who didn’t have the technology available to him may not be the best route for me.  Take the advice of the purists but in the long run cook to your own desires.  Just my 2 cents!

Google Groups: alt.food.barbecue
Newsgroups: alt.food.barbecue
From: “Mr. Potato Head”
Date: Mon, 03 Mar 2003 18:23:33 GMT
Local: Mon, Mar 3 2003 1:23 pm
Subject: Brisket Blues

I just did one this weeked.  Smoked it at 200 dF for 20 hours.  Including 6 hours using the Texas Crutch (wrapped in foil).  Sorta tender, sorta dry. It’s now in the crock post swimming in sauce to make shreaded barbeque beer sammyiches.

Christian Science Monitor
16 June 2004, Christian Science Monitor, “Barbecue Baron shares some of his secrets” by Jennifer Wolcott:
Paul Kirk has almost as many titles as Barnes & Noble. The Kansas cook is sometimes called the Barbecue Guru, Master of the Grill, Ambassador of Barbecue, Certified Master Judge, Yoda of the BBQ Pit, Headmaster of the School of Pitmasters, and more. But Barbecue Baron is the name that has stuck the most.
(...)
One trend Kirk could do without is the use of foil on the grill, which he calls “Texas Crutch.” Sure, this might reflect a rivalry between his home state of Kansas and the other barbecue capital, but Kirk insists that wrapping meat in foil is “a shortcut that is not real barbecue.”

White Trash BBQ
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Baby Back to BBQ
(...)
Part of my experimenting today was foiling my meat. I usually don’t foil my meat. I’m not dependent on the “Texas Crutch” but I noticed a lot of people doing this at BBQ contests. So why not? Let’s give it a shot.
(...)
I put the ribs on the fire about 1:00. I added some cherry chips and let cook till about 2:00 pm. At 2:00, I mopped the ribs for the first time. Continued mopping every half hour after that. After smoking for 3 hours, removed the ribs and wrapped in aluminum foil (EEK!!! THE TEXAS CRUTCH!!!) with some honey and a little of the mop. Returned the ribs to the grill and cooked for one hour more. Mixed the meat juices from the foil packages with the sauce.
Took the ribs out of the foil, 2 of the three slabs were breaking apart as I moved them. One I thought was a bit over cooked.

Google Books
Smokestack Lightning:
Adventures in the heart of Barbecue Country
by Lolis Eric Elie
Berkeley, CA; Ten Speed Press
2005
Pg. 128:
Last week I did the class down here. I said, “Okay, guys, you can’t use the Oklahoma or Texas crutch—that’s foil. They wrap everything in foil and that just basically steams everything and you have a lot of flavor and marking. Just cook it slow; I cook my brisket sixteen to nineteen hours. You get it just as tender and have a better-tasting product by not wrapping. And they say, “It’ll get black,” and I say, “Hey, black is beautiful.”
Paul Kirk, the Baron of Barbecue

Google Groups: alt.food.barbecue
Newsgroups: alt.food.barbecue
From: “CAS”
Date: 9 Aug 2005 14:42:04 -0700
Local: Tues, Aug 9 2005 4:42 pm
Subject: Re: Water Jacket?

To replicate this on a barrel smoker, get a can opener and open the top of a soda or beer can and fill with some liquid like whisky, vinegar, and some rub then place in the barrel on bottom as close to the fire box as you can get it so the liquid steams out..  Works the same way, just another way to introduce moisture into the chamber.  Some people do this as well as mop then maybe a Texas crutch at the end (getting the meat and wrapping it in tin foil with some extra mop sauce and place the tin foil enclosed meat back in the barrel smoker). I haven’s seen the inside of the kingfisher, just the outside, but i doubt it’s pipes and you’d need to be able to get in there and clean it every once in a while because people seldom just put water in there.  Hope this helps.

Google Groups: alt.food.barbecue
Newsgroups: alt.food.barbecue
From: ldg
Date: Fri, 09 Sep 2005 01:37:21 -0700
Local: Fri, Sep 9 2005 3:37 am
Subject: Re: Indifferent brisket guy is getting in over his head.........Help??

I was talking to the “Change Smoker” http://www.imperialkamado.com/i_feature.htm at a recent http://www.cbbqa.com/ event to find out why he wins the brisket events so often.  (He won the “Go for the Gold” event recently.) Besides being in love with his earthen smokers, he apparently smokes for 4 hours or so at about 225 with wood chips & charcoal, then foils the meat to keep it moist while he finishes the cook. Called this the “Texas Crutch”.  Cooks 1.5hrs per pound.  To around 190 I’d guess.  He starts with the fat side down, which is opposite of most advice.

Using a Grill for Helpdesk Stress Relief
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Success!
(...)
When I checked it at 4pm the temp was only 150 degrees. It was time to get out the Texas crutch, tinfoil. I wrapped it up and let it cook till 5pm. Checked the temp and we had hit the magic number. Off it came into a turned off oven to sit for an our. Filling the house with the pleasant smell of grilled meat.

Google Groups: alt.food.barbecue
Newsgroups: alt.food.barbecue
From: meathead
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2007 13:48:49 -0000
Local: Fri, Aug 10 2007 8:48 am
Subject: Re: Pork spare ribs question, please.

Most of the top competition barbecue cooks put their ribs in foil near the end of the cook, a technique called “The Texas Crutch” for about an hour. They don’t steam too much, but they do gain moisture and tenderness. Do it for much longer and the meat will get mushy. They put a little sauce or apple juice in the foil. Then they take the slab out and put it back in dry heat to firm up the surface. For more on the Texas Crutch:
http://amazingribs.com/technique/texas_crutch.html

ChowBelly
Anniversary @ Holly Springs Moravian Church
September 16, 2007
(...)
A few weeks ago I met Fred Thompson, the BBQ Nation author, at Barnes & Noble in Cary, NC. He told me that roasting meat in a foil pouch is what the professional BBQ’ers call a Texas Crutch and it’s a preferred method on the BBQ circuit.  The pork loin roasts in the oven for about an hour and then I take it out of the foil and roll it onto a BBQ grill for about 7-8 minutes per side over a medium heat just enough to carmelize it and get a nice crust on the outside.  Wrap it back up in foil to keep the heat in and let it stand for about 10 minutes before slicing. This time is important for all the pores to close back up and keep the juices sealed deep in the meat.  Carve it up, ladle some of the Peach & Pepper Glaze over the top and sit back and enjoy the compliments!

Get Your Grill On
3 racks 3 rubs 3 steps 3 results
(...)
Foiling your ribs, butts, briskets, etc. is another highly controversial step in the barbeque circuit. Paul Kirk, the Baron of BBQ calls it “The Texas Crutch.” John Willingham says that if you foil, you’re no longer Qing, but braising. Foiling will help tenderize your meat and will speed up the cooking process. Where do I stand on this highly controversial issue? Well, it depends. I usually foil butts and briskets but rarely ribs. Today, I’m in a rush so foiling it is. On the competition circuit, in my limited experience and from personal observation only, about 95% of the teams out there foil their meat, but you need to make up your own mind. Try it both ways and see which method results in the barbecue you want.
Posted by Robert Fernandez
September 27, 2007

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Wednesday, January 09, 2008 • Permalink