Culinary Arts

How to Wrap Pork Ribs With Pitmaster Aaron Franklin: Texas Crutch Step-by-Step

Written by MasterClass

May 24, 2019 • 2 min read

While not all pitmasters wrap their meat in the final stages of a cook—in barbecue circles, wrapping in foil is known as the “Texas crutch”—wrapping is an effective way of finishing a long cook without drying out the meat and works for everything from pork shoulder to smoked ribs and beef brisket. Wrapping also captures the meat’s fat and juices, so they can be reabsorbed towards the end of the cooking process, once the meat is taken off the smoker to rest and reach a steady internal temperature. Award-winning Texas barbeque pitmaster Aaron Franklin wraps pork using wide rolls of aluminum foil for fall off tender ribs.

In Aaron’s method, the ribs cooks inside a tight wrap of aluminum foil for the entire second half of the 6 hour cook. This is the second portion of the 3-2-1 method for smoking a rack of ribs, which features an initial cook time in the smoker, followed by a wrap, followed by sauce and rest. Learn Texas barbeque pitmaster Aaron Franklin’s method for wrapping pork spare ribs below.

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How to Set Up The Wrap

Cut a sheet of wide heavy-duty aluminum foil that’s twice as long as the length of your ribs. Place the foil on your workstation with the longer edge running parallel to the bottom of your workstation and the shinier side up. When you place the ribs back inside the smoker you’ll want the duller side facing out so it absorbs rather than reflects the heat.

Spritz the foil and spread a little more barbecue sauce on top, then lay the ribs presentation side down on top of the bbq sauce, about 3 inches from the bottom of the foil. Give the non-presentation side of the ribs one last spritz.

Aaron Franklin’s Step By Step Guide to Wrapping Pork Spare Ribs

  1. Fold one end of the foil over the ribs, then the other. Both ends should overlap in the center.
Aaron Franklin wrapping ribs with tinfoil step 1

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2. Use your fingers to tuck the foil tightly around the bottom edge of the rack until the foil conforms to its shape.

Aaron Franklin wrapping ribs with tinfoil step 2

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3. Locate the diagonal edge of the ribs where the sternum used to be, and fold the foil over the top of the ribs. Smooth out the foil and tuck it in tight. Repeat with the opposite corner.

Aaron Franklin wrapping ribs with tinfoil step 3

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4. Use your fingers to tuck the foil tightly around the top of the ribs just as you did along the bottom, making sure the foil conforms to its shape.

Aaron Franklin wrapping ribs in tinfoil step 4

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5. Fold the top edge of the foil over the ribs. Tightly fold in both sides of the foil at an obtuse angle to you so that the meat is wrapped tightly but the sides can still be folded in once more.

Aaron Franklin wrapping ribs with tinfoil step 5

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This method also works for smoking ribs like baby back ribs. Find Aaron Franklin’s wood chips smoker ribs recipe here.

Learn more Texas barbeque recipes and techniques in Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass.