Your pork shoulder has been smoking for a good three hours now, but suddenly, you notice the meat’s internal temperature is stalling. This is a barbecue lover’s NIGHTMARE!
When not in a rush, it’s best to let the stall happen naturally and wait it out, but the most common way to beat the stall is to use the Texas crutch method, wrapping the meat in aluminum foil or butcher’s paper to slow down the evaporative cooling effect.
Not all pitmasters can afford a long wait, so in this post, I’ll share a few additional ways to get past the stall when smoking meat.
Best ways to beat the stall
Texas crutch method
The texas crutch is a method of wrapping the meat in foil or butcher paper to speed up the cooking process and get past the stall.
The meat isn’t wrapped at the start of the smoke. Instead, it’s wrapped in aluminum foil or butcher paper about 3/4 of the way through the smoke to help beat the stall.
Wrapping the meat prevents moisture from evaporating all at once. It also helps with uniform cooking.
This technique preserves the meat’s internal temperature more effectively by locking in far more moisture and preventing evaporative cooling during the stall.
Instead of dissipating, the excess moisture condenses inside the wrapper’s interior and collects at the bottom.
The duration of the stall will be greatly reduced by using this technique.
Aluminum foil vs. butcher paper method
It doesn’t really matter if you use aluminum foil or butcher paper to wrap the meat. Some people prefer one over the other, but it’s a personal preference.
If you choose to use aluminum foil, make sure you get the heavy-duty kind. Regular foil will tear easily and won’t do a good job holding in the moisture.
Heavy duty foil is also better at not letting any smoke escape, which is important if you’re using a smoker with a very tight seal.
As for butcher paper, it’s a bit more expensive than foil, but some people prefer it because it’s less likely to tear, and it doesn’t conduct heat as well as foil.
Pink butcher’s paper is another option, and it’s often used by barbecue competition cooks.
It has a natural waxy coating that helps keep the meat moist, and it doesn’t impart any flavor to the meat.
The bottom line is that all these meat wrapping methods will work just fine, so it’s really up to you to decide which one you want to use.
How to do the Texas crutch
To use this technique, cook the meat uncovered for approximately two-thirds of the overall cooking time or until the outside of the meat develops the required smoky bark.
Next, take the meat off the grates once it begins to reach an internal temperature of about 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Return it to the cooker after carefully wrapping it in two layers of Peach Paper or aluminum foil.
Even a small amount of additional liquid, such as water, mop, beer, juice, or a liquid sauce, can be added inside the wrap for flavor.
Let the meat cook until it reaches a temperature that is slightly below the target temperature.
Then, unwrap it and re-smoke it for only a short while to allow the external bark to crisp up once again.
Remember that Peach Paper or pink butcher paper will enable more smoke to touch the meat than aluminum foil when choosing how to wrap it.
However, both of the items will function as a Texas Crutch and let you pass through the stall more quickly.
Pitmasters like to use peach paper or butcher paper because it’s breathable and won’t make the meat soggy.
The downside to using the texas crutch is that it can make the bark on the meat mushy, but it can help beat the stall while keeping the interior temperature of the meat consistent.
Smoke hot and fast
Smoking meat is usually done using the low and slow cooking method.
However, professional BBQ pitmasters have proven time and time again that smoking meat hot and fast is also possible, and it can help you get past the stall quickly.
To smoke meat hot and fast, you need to bring the smoker up to 290-350 degrees Fahrenheit.
At this temperature, the meat will cook faster and won’t have time to stall. That’s because there’s less time for the evaporation process, and thus the stall is shorter.
However, smoking meat at this temperature also has its drawbacks. The high heat can cause the meat to dry out quickly, so you need to be careful not to overcook it.
Still, smoking at a low temperature is better, and no wonder it’s the traditional way of smoking meat.
Plan ahead and take extra time
We know the best way to get over the stall is to wait it out and allow the natural smoking process to unfold.
Therefore, it’s advisable to give the meat an extra hour or two to cook.
So how can you guarantee that your pork shoulder is prepared at a specific time?
Starting early enough to ensure that the meat will be ready at least an hour before you need to dine is the key.
Take the meat off the smoker after it reaches the proper temperature.
The meat can then be wrapped in a couple of old towels while still being covered in foil or butcher paper and kept heated in a cooler for up to 3–4 hours.
Most barbecue cooks give themselves extra time to account for the bbq stall.
Find some more tips for speeding up the smoking process here
This method should be used when you’re absolutely stuck in a stall, and you’re past the texas crutch method.
Altering your culinary style completely is another strategy for breaking the stall.
Smoke the meat till it reaches the stall, then move it to a sous-vide rather than wrapping it in foil or butcher paper.
Because sous-vide cooking requires vacuum packing the meat, it addresses the problem of evaporative cooling in a similar fashion to a tightly wrapped layer of foil.
Additionally, it offers the typical advantages of sous-vide cooking, such as accurate temperature control, even cooking, and the meat can finish cooking in its fatty juices.
However, you’ll have to take meat indoors and away from the smoker.
The drawback of using a sous-vide is that it needs you to have a sous-vide setup and adds one more stage to the cooking process, which some pitmasters might not like.
But it might work well for foods like pulled pork that are meant to be juicy and moist.
Keep an eye on the water pan
Adding a water pan to the smoker is an important part of the cooking process.
Without a water pan, there isn’t enough humidity and moisture, which can lead to the meat drying out. You might have to refill the water pan more than once while smoking.
If there’s a lot of humidity in your smoker’s cooking chamber, the meat is less likely to undergo excessive evaporative cooling.
This may reduce the meat stall and slow down the rate at which the moisture evaporates from the meat’s surface.
Additionally, if the water pan is placed close to the meat, it will help radiate heat and keep the temperature more consistent.
So even as the moisture evaporates, it happens at a slower rate; thus, you end up with a shorter stall.
Use a thick rub or mop the meat
If you frequently have problems with stalling when smoking, the problem may the wrong meat rub.
A wet mop or thick liquidy rub can help with the dreaded stall.
Don’t simply season your meat with a thin layer of seasoning during preparation. Instead, apply a thick layer of seasoning, being sure to cover every square inch.
Curious how it helps with the bbq stall?
Your meat will stay moister if it is covered in a heavy rub. The rub serves as a barrier, minimizing the moisture leaking from the inside of your meat.
Don’t worry, you can still get a good crispy bark even with a thick rub.
Your meat will dry out if it releases too much moisture. More critically, a steak that has lost a lot of moisture can stall because it can chill down too soon.
By using a thick rub when preparing your meat, you may stop this from happening.
Similar to how covering your meat in aluminum foil works, the thick layer of seasoning will create a barrier that lowers the amount of moisture lost by your meat while it cooks, so it’s a good way to avoid a brisket stall.
The bbq stall is a common problem when smoking meat.
There are several things you can do to avoid it or get past it, but the most effective method is called the Texas crutch.
The texas crutch involves wrapping the meat in foil or butcher paper while slow cooking so the amount of evaporative cooling is limited.
So, next time you’re out there smoking pork butt, and it seems to stall below the target temperature, try wrapping it, mopping it, or one of the other tips above that will help you get past the stall!
Now I’m sure you are curious what is actually the hardest meat to smoke?