Page 31 - JULY 2021 Digital Issue
P. 31

But crutch for too long, and you will extract flavor from the meat, remove the rub, and cause the proteins to get their undies in a bunch, forming tight knots that make the meat tough, wringing out moisture. Eventually crutched meat can get unpleasantly mushy.
The other downside to the crutch: It softens the bark. If you like dry, chewy, jerky-like bark, you won’t get it if you crutch. You can get close by taking the meat out of the wrapper and exposing it to hot dry infrared, directly above flame or glowing coals, but just for a few minutes.
Forget the 3-2-1 method for ribs
Many websites tout the "3-2-1 method" for crutching ribs. It supposed to make the timing easier. You cook a slab of St. Louis cut ribs for 3 hours, then wrap the slab in foil for 2 hours, then take it out of the foil and cook for another 1 hour.
Don’t do it. Sterling Ball of and winner of the prestigious American Royal in Kansas City says, “I’d like to kill the man who came up with the 3-2-1 concept. He’s ruined more meat...”
I agree. Two hours in foil is waaaay too long for pork ribs, especially if there is liquid in the foil. Beef brisket needs two hours or more in foil, but not ribs. I think anything more than 1 hour softens the pork too much and makes it mushy.
Of course, your mileage may vary. Experiment until you and your cooker get the meat the way you like it best. These are guidelines not rules.
How I crutch ribs
I always crutch brisket. I think it makes a significant differ- ence in tenderness and juiciness. But ribs? At home, some- times I do and sometimes I don't. For competitors, it is required.
Most crutchers wait to wrap until the meat hits the stall, the point at which the internal temp ceases to rise because the rate of evaporative cooling equals the rate of heating. Others wait until the meat achieves a dark enough color due to the maillard reaction in the meat and carameliza- tion from the sugars in the rub, close to the color they want it to finish at, usually an even brown. For ribs, I go
with color.
Either way, pull off a strip of wide heavy-duty aluminum foil about six feet long. Fold it in half until it is three feet long and make a canoe out of it big enough to hold the meat and some liquid without leaking. Pour 1/2 cup apple juice into the foil but not on the meat so you don’t wash the rub off. Insert the slab carefully so you don’t puncture the foil. Place the slab on the foil meat side up. Crimp the foil tightly over the top of the meat. It is important that the packet does not leak liquid from the bottom and that steam cannot escape from the top.
You must seal the package tightly. No leaks. Use two sheets of double strength foil to be safe. In a fascinating series of experiments, the science advisor Prof. Greg Blonder proved that if the crutch leaks even a little, the meat will cool from evaporation and it will drastically slow down the cooking. He also points out that you should crimp the foil around your thermometer probe if it is in- serted through the foil, and be careful to insert the probe from the top so juice doesn’t leak out the bottom.
I usually crutch ribs for only 30 minutes. When you open the foil, be extremely careful to avoid the hot steamy air that will escape. Then remove the meat and roast it some more at 225°F for about 30 minutes or so to dry the surface and firm up the bark. My target temp is about 200°F but the bend test is a better mark of doneness: Grab the slab with tongs near the center and when it's done the meat will bow and crack, almost to the point of breaking the slab in half.
   JULY 2021 - 31

   29   30   31   32   33