When it comes to wrapping brisket–in other words, employing the “Texas crutch”–you have several options. Aluminum foil is a popular choice, but can you use kraft paper instead? Our guide has the answer.
Can I Use Kraft Paper To Wrap a Brisket?
You can use kraft paper to wrap a brisket, since the material is made of the same wood fiber that’s used to create butcher paper. Just to be on the safe side, we recommend ensuring that the paper carries the “food-grade” or “USDA approved for food safety” label.
What Is Kraft Paper?
Kraft paper is a sturdy paperboard material composed of wood pulp. It’s been around since 1879, but has gained popularity in recent years because of its environmentally sound qualities.
It’s possible to make kraft paper out of various wood types that aren’t typically used in the paper-making industry. Pine, which is too resinous to make good paper, and bamboo, which takes a long time to process, are two good examples.
Many e-commerce businesses use kraft paper for packaging. It’s attractive, durable, and eco-friendly. It’s also waterproof and oil-resistant, making it an excellent choice for packaging food.
Is Kraft Paper Food Safe?
If you want to use kraft paper to wrap your brisket for cooking, check to see if the brand you buy carries the “food-grade” label.
While it may be permissible to use any kraft paper for shipping and storage purposes, you’re going to be exposing the paper to high temperatures. That makes a difference in terms of food safety.
Above all, you need to make sure that the paper doesn’t have any type of wax coating. Wax will melt when it’s exposed to heat, thereby contaminating your brisket.
What’s The Difference Between Butcher Paper and Kraft Paper?
Butcher paper and kraft paper share the same type of wood fiber. The main difference lies in how they’re processed beyond that point, which influences how they may be used afterward.
Some people believe that you can tell kraft and butcher paper apart by their color. However, that’s not always the case. Although most manufacturers offer kraft paper in a natural-looking tan color, it can be white or multicolored as well.
Similarly, the butcher paper you see at your local supermarket will probably be white, but other colors are also available. By way of example, pink or peach butcher paper has become extremely popular among barbecue enthusiasts.
It’s also important to note that butcher paper undergoes a special process to ensure that it’s capable of withstanding moisture. Kraft paper isn’t subjected to this treatment, which means that it won’t retain moisture as well.
When it comes to smoked brisket, this can be a good thing, since you actually want a small amount of moisture to escape the wrapper. Nonetheless, we recommend sticking with paper that’s been FDA approved for direct contact with food.
Is Wrapping Brisket a Good Idea?
Should you wrap your brisket in paper to begin with? The experts don’t have a unanimous response to this question. The answer comes down to personal preference–and most of all, time.
When you wrap a brisket, the meat cooks more quickly because the heat and moisture are trapped inside the packaging. In essence, you’ve created a miniature oven designed to “steam” the meat.
There’s no doubt that wrapping brisket can be a time-saver. However, all that trapped moisture can soften the bark. If you wrap the meat too early, you might wind up with no bark at all.
Should you opt to wrap the brisket, we would recommend waiting until the meat has had a chance to cook for several hours first. That way, it will absorb plenty of smoke flavor and develop the hard outer crust that gives brisket its appealing texture.
Is Kraft Paper Better Than Foil?
When it comes to wrapping brisket, we would always recommend food-grade kraft or butcher paper over foil. The reasoning is simple: The paper allows trace amounts of heat and moisture to escape, while foil doesn’t.
A foil wrapper will raise the temperature of your brisket much more quickly than paper. The impermeable barrier inhibits the evaporative cooling process that’s responsible for the stall. That’s the period during which the temperature of the meat refuses to rise, often for several hours.
While the foil helps the brisket power through the stall, a paper wrapper takes a gentler approach. The meat will still reach the target temp faster than if you’d left it unwrapped, but the bark will be better preserved, and the overall texture will be superior.
What About Parchment Paper?
Parchment paper is a food-grade alternative to butcher paper and foil. This thin, delicate paper can be safely exposed to heat, and it does a great job at retaining moisture. That’s why many chefs use it to create pouches in which to steam seafood and vegetables together.
Parchment paper is permeable enough to permit a small measure of steam to escape, making it a better option than foil. It’s also treated with silicone, which gives it nonstick qualities. That means you won’t have to worry about sacrificing your bark to the wrapper.
There are a few drawbacks to be aware of if you choose to use parchment paper to wrap your brisket. First of all, the paper is so thin that it rips easily. You could end up losing some of the collected drippings to the fire if you’re not careful.
Speaking of fire, parchment paper can ignite if the smoker temperature climbs high enough. Most brands can withstand temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, however. If you follow our advice and smoke brisket at 225 degrees, this shouldn’t pose a significant problem.
The Bottom Line
Some folks claim that you can use any kraft paper for wrapping brisket, even the kind you find at your local art supply store. While this may be the case, we prefer to err on the side of caution.
If you want to try wrapping your brisket in kraft paper, look for the words “food-grade” or “USDA approved for food safety” on the label. Following this basic guideline will give you the peace of mind you need to focus on creating the perfect barbecue.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!