Published: June 14, 2016
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Barbecue enthusiasts and professional pit masters alike have accepted pink butcher paper as the go-to paper product for authentic barbecue, and for good reason.
This inexpensive, yet valuable, paper adapts as a versatile tool for cooking, serving and storing, delicious pork, beef, and chicken. It has also become a staple product in the kitchens of many of the top barbecue hot spots across the country. Looking for ways to put pink butcher paper to use?
Below is a complete step-by- step guide revealing exactly how the pros use pink butcher paper, so that every aspiring pit master can make the most of this useful tool:
Storing with pink butcher paper
Pink butcher paper is designed with the durability and moisture holdout (ability to absorb liquid without falling apart) necessary to effectively wrap and store raw cuts of meat prior to cooking.
It’s perfect short-term storing of freshly cut meats from the butcher and avoiding messes that other potential wrapping materials could cause.
To effectively wrap a piece of meat:
- Place the cut of meat in the center of a large enough sheet of butcher paper.
- Bring the top and bottom edges of the paper together above the meat, fold them together and crease.
- Continue to fold that creased edge until it is flush with the surface of the meat.
- Remove all air bubbles above and below the meat, the wrap the sides down and around the bottom to create a sealed package.
- Use quality butcher tape to seal the main seam, but don’t be overly concerned about creating an air- and water-tight package (like you would if you were wrapping for long- term freezer storage.)
Cooking with pink butcher paper
Many of the same qualities that make this paper so effective as a wrap make it work well for two unique cooking purposes. While one is not exactly barbecue-related, pitmasters may want to experiment with it for variety and side dishes. The other process, however, is a vital part of every pit master’s repertoire.
Cooking “en papillote”
This traditional French cooking method involves placing all the ingredients and seasonings for a meal or side dish together in a sealed paper pouch and baking the whole package.
Here’s how to do it:
- Fold a sheet of butcher paper in half and cut out a half-heart shape twice the size of the food to be cooked. (The unfolded paper looks like a butterfly wing, which is how it got its name derived from the French “Papillion”, meaning butterfly.)
- Open the paper, brush with oil and center your food on the heart.
- Fold the top over and secure the edges tightly by rolling them several times.
- Place the packet on a baking sheet and cook according to your recipe’s recommendations.
- Serve the packets on plates and let your guests unwrap them at the table. They will love the flavorful and aromatic punch of these pouches!
Using pink butcher paper in the smoker:
A perfectly smoked beef brisket is the holy grail of traditional BBQ, and there’s a lot of margin for error. Doing it right consistently involves a great piece of meat, a quality smoker, pink butcher paper, and a lot of patience.
- Select the perfect brisket. Look for a deep red color, marbled with bright white striations. The red is tender, fresh beef. The white, of course, is fat, which is vital to a smoked brisket because it helps keep the meat moist and tender during the long cooking process.
- Trim the fat properly. Generally, it’s best to leave about ¼ inch of the “fat cap” (the large surface layer that covers one side of the meat) intact, but remove the rest of the surface fat, including the large section over the “point” of the brisket.
- Season to taste. Use a dry rub if you’re going for the authentic Texas style. Something as simple as salt and pepper can do the job on a quality piece of meat.
- Place it in the smoker. Regardless of which type of smoker you use, you’ll want to keep a close eye on the internal temperature of the beef for timing purposes. It will heat up to around 165 degrees quickly, then it will stall for a bit, probably about 75% of the way through the estimated cooking time. It’s not done!
- Grab a large sheet of pink butcher paper. Wrap the smoking hot beef in the butcher paper to retain enough moisture and keep the right texture while also letting it breathe some. That way, it doesn’t come out tasting like a pot roast, which can happen if you seal it in too tightly with foil. The protective layer of butcher paper helps seal in the heat, and reduces the effects of evaporation.
The result is a faster internal heating that gets you past the stall without forcing you to dry out the brisket, cooking it for hours longer.
And, as an added benefit, it makes for a great presentation when you open the wrapped brisket perfectly smoked in butcher paper.
Serving with pink butcher paper
Many popular BBQ joints use pink butcher paper for more than storing and cooking their meat. It also makes for an attractive and practical serving option as a tray liner, sandwich wrap, or takeout packaging.
Some restaurants don’t even bother with plates, preferring instead to serve a hot helping of delicious BBQ directly on the butcher paper tray liner. Others use a small sheet of paper wrapped in a cone to hold french fries or other side items. Or, using the wrapping steps described above, it serves equally well as a holder for a BBQ sandwich or as a sealed package to prevent messes on the way home.
Looking for a roll of pink butcher paper? Oren International provides 100% FDA approved pink butcher paper on Amazon for your next BBQ project.
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