As lovers of grilled and smoked foods, we’re always looking for new tools to help us achieve the tastiest results. And recently, our attention has been drawn to the wonder that is butcher paper. This innovative discovery has been the mother of some of the most exquisite BBQ recipe results to date. But alas! Not everyone can get a hand on it.
So, what happens in such cases where you don’t have access to butcher paper? Well, one ideal option is to find a close substitute for it. But before you scroll through the options listed below, let’s find out more about the butcher paper? And let’s understand what makes it such an excellent tool for smoking and grilling meat.
What Makes Butcher Paper Special?
Butcher paper was developed initially from the same base material for making Kraft paper. But it’s further improved and reinforced to serve a different purpose. What is meant is that butcher paper has been treated to be durable and food-safe. And it comes in rolls or sheets of white, brown, or pink, with the latter being the most popular in BBQ uses.
The material for making butcher paper is free of any plastic or wax coating. This state makes the piece breathable and perfect for various uses that require air to pass through. The material has a somewhat grainy texture, which is due to its parent pulp material.
Butcher Paper Uses
Butcher paper was initially created for cold storage of meat. The meat would be wrapped around the paper and kept in the fridge or freezer. Originally, most meat cuts sent and sold to customers were covered in this material, hence its name. And the reason is simple; butcher paper is highly resistant to moisture.
Raw meat holds lots of moisture, especially blood and other fluids. And when it comes in contact with most paper material, the liquid will seep into it, causing it to weaken and mash. But butcher paper is strong enough to withstand this excessive release of moisture. Plus, its advantage allows the meat to stay fresh for longer.
It’s this property that won the butcher paper tons of application in smoking meat. When grilling or roasting meat, it releases fluids into any material it’s wrapped. Butcher paper holds the meat for the smoking process without losing form or durability. Plus, its breathability allows the smoke to penetrate the roast and improve the flavor.
This ‘papillote’ cooking method is also applicable to vegetables as well. Butcher paper can also wrap potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and corn on the cob. You’ll also find butcher paper popularly used for smoking briskets, cri-cuts, steaks, Texas crutch, pulled pork, pork shoulder, and many other types of meat cuts.
Butcher Paper Substitutes
Because butcher paper, especially the pink one, has become so popular, it has also gotten quite expensive. Plus, with the current intention to carefully harvest trees, paper industries assess which products should be mass-produced more. So, it can be a letdown when you need it and don’t have any around. But you can still try these substitutes as a last-minute resort in such cases.
Of course, some of these options won’t work as perfectly as butcher paper. Still, they’re also handy materials for kitchen applications and would work satisfactorily well.
An original kitchen item for high-heat situations, parchment paper, is an ideal substitute for butcher paper. This lightweight paper has a thin texture but is still strong enough to withstand the grill’s heat. And though it’s less porousthanbutcher paper, the smoke will still penetrate the food as needed. Plus, it handles the released moisture decently, and the meat will develop a good bark.
When using parchment paper, it’s best to place the meat on indirect heat. The reason is parchment paper mostly comes with a temperature rating of 400F, so direct heat may cause it to ignite. Also, ensure only to employ uncoated parchment paper for your smoking procedures. And when these two conditions are met, you can use it either in the smoker or on the grill.
Another popularly used item in high-temperature cooking, aluminum foil, makes an exciting option for substituting butcher paper. And one main reason is it’s fire-proof and won’t ignite, no matter how hot the cooking temperature is. Aluminum foil also offers a double advantage; not only will it let the meat smoke, but it retains the moisture, so it comes out extra juicy. And it’s easy to find, as you probably have a roll of it in your kitchen.
But the meat bark won’t come out as tasty as it would when butcher paper is used. If you want your smoked meat to come out a bit dry, you can poke a few holes in the foil after wrapping. Through them, the excess moisture will seep out, and you’ll get the desired result. But note that the more holes you poke, the more juice the meat loses. Regardless, you can also use foil to smoke vegetables and cook other recipes like fish fillets on the grill.
Recently, lots of people have come to realize the usefulness of baking mats. They’re great for preventing foods from sticking to baking sheets and can also withstand temperature variations of the oven. But it’s the breathability of these materials that make them worthy for smoking meat. Wrapping a medium-sized meat cut in a baking mat allows it to absorb enough smoky flavor without losing much moisture.
But baking mats are pretty expensive, and most people barely have them at home. But if you do, then it makes an excellent alternative to butcher paper. Also, note that one may not fully wrap some more significant cuts of meat. So, you may need to employ two in such cases.
Paper bags are commonly used to carry foods, which explains why you’ll find them at fast food joints and grocery stores. And since they’re thick enough, they make a decent last-resort substitute for butcher paper. Paper bags aren’t as sturdy as any other alternatives, but they’re suitable for low-heat, quick smoking situations. And so long as you use them for indirect heat, they’ll work just fine.
But note that not all paper bags are recommended for food handling. As such, ensure to check whether the one you’ve picked is FDA-approved. Also, only use paper bags for smoking recipes that won’t extend an extended period. Too much exposure to even low heat may cause it to ignite.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Will butcher paper burn in a smoker?
Butcher paper will hold well for up to the 450F range, including the coveted premium pink varieties. But any temperature exceeding that will cause it to burn. Surprisingly, parchment paper holds better in higher temperatures. And foil surpasses all these substitutes in high-temperature smoking procedures.
Should you rest brisket in butcher paper?
Yes, you should. If the brisket was cooked in a butcher paper wrapping, allow it to rest for a few hours after it reaches doneness. This wait will let the juice redistribute into the meat and further infuse the smokiness.
Can you wrap the brisket in parchment paper?
Yes, you can. Parchment paper makes an excellent alternative to butcher paper and works in all situations. And that includes during and after smoking the meat since it’s fantastic at holding moisture.
The current rave for butcher paper along BBQ heads may make you feel it can never be replaced. But don’t let their excitement fool you. Tons of materials like these substitutes have been used to smoke meat long before it was noticed. So, they’ll work fine in most cases, with some outperforming others.