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questions about foiling

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for humoring me, guys and gals...

1) What is the benefit or point of foiling meats (shoulder, ribs)? I have never foiled my shoulders and wanted to know if I should or if it actually mattered somehow.

2) Heavy duty foil or will standard foil suffice?

3) Does foiling typically speed up cooking times?

Again, thanks for your help/suggestions!
post #2 of 9
I dont foil shoulders... I do foil ribs, it is to make them tender... I only use heavy duty foil and even then I always double wrap......... Happy smokes
post #3 of 9
Foiling allows liquid to remain in the meat, steaming it from the inside. Any foil will do, but the heavier foil will resist puncture better, retaining juices. I can't comment on the timeliness of the cook times, but what I can tell you is that one draw back to foiling is that you kill your bark. For pork shoulder, I've just accepted that. However, for ribs, I really like a crispy bark.

For shoulders, I go one step beyond. After the foiled butt comes up to temp, I remove the foil and wap it in heavy duty plastic wrap. Then add the foil back, wrap in a towel the place in a cooler. If you've ever had a Hawiian luau pig, it is very similar in texture.
post #4 of 9
The only time I will foil a butt is when it is going on 10 or 12 hours. If I'm at that point in the smoke and it isn't really close to temp I will foil it and finish it up in the oven. They have always turned out delicious.
Ribs I've done both ways. If you want them fallin off the bone you probably need to foil. I think they are delicious either way. You just have to try both and see which method you like the best. A lot of times when or if I foil has to do with the what's going on with me at the time and what works best on a given day.
post #5 of 9
Foiling is done for braising.

Braising (from the French “braiser”), is a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavour. Braising of meat is often referred to as pot roasting, though some authors make a distinction between the two methods based on whether or not additional liquid is added.[1][2]

[hide] [edit] Method

Braising relies on heat, time, and moisture to successfully break down tough connective tissue and collagens in meat; making it an ideal way to cook tougher cuts. Many classic braised dishes such as Coq au Vin are highly-evolved methods of cooking tough and otherwise unpalatable foods. Pressure cooking and slow cooking (e.g., crockpots) are forms of braising.

[edit] Techniques

Braised pot roast

Most braises follow the same basic steps. The food to be braised (meat, poultry, but also vegetables or mushrooms) is first seared in order to brown its surface and enhance its flavor. If the food will not produce enough liquid of its own, a small amount of cooking liquid that often includes an acidic element, such as tomatoes, beer, or wine, is added to the pot, often with stock. The dish is cooked covered at a very low simmer until the meat is fork tender. Often the cooking liquid is finished to create a sauce or gravy.[3][4]
Sometimes foods with high water content (particularly vegetables) can be cooked in their own juices and no extra liquid is required.[5]
A successful braise intermingles the flavours of the foods being cooked and the cooking liquid. This cooking method dissolves collagen from the meat into gelatin, to enrich and add body to the liquid. Braising is economical, as it allows the use of tough and inexpensive cuts, and efficient, as it often employs a single pot to cook an entire meal.

[edit] Barbecue-braising

It is possible to braise meats and vegetables in a pot on top of a grill. A gas or electric grill would be the best choice for what is known as barbecue-braising, or combining grilling directly on the surface and braising in a pot. To braise on a grill, put a pot on top of the grill, cover it, and let it simmer for a few hours. There are two advantages to barbecue-braising: the first is that this method now allows for browning the meat directly on the grill before the braising, and the second is that it also allows for glazing the meat with sauce and finishing it directly over the fire after the braising, effectively cooking the meat three times, which results in a soft textured product that falls right off the bone. [6]

[edit] Braised foods

Familiar braised dishes include pot roast, beef stew, Swiss steak, chicken cacciatore, goulash, Carbonade Flamande, braised tilapia, sauerbraten, beef bourguignon and Moroccan tajines, among others. Braising is also used extensively in the cuisines of Asia, particularly Chinese cuisine.[7]

I hope this helps.
post #6 of 9
Another site.

The Art of Braising - a simple cooking technique with huge outcomes!
What Is Braising?
Braising is a cooking technique in which the main ingredient is seared, or browned in fat, and then simmered in liquid on low heat in a covered pot. The best equipment to use would be a crock pot, pressure cooker or Dutch oven. LeCrueset makes a range of enameled pots and pans that are good for either the stove or the oven. They work well too.
Whether you choose to use the oven or the top of the stove, you will be pleased with the results. Braising is often used as a way to cook less expensive, tough cuts of meat. The end result is tender and flavorful. Other than great taste and economy, there are other reasons to cook this way.
After searing the meat, the remainder of the cooking time (until sauce/gravy preparation) does not require much attention. Once the heat is reduced, you can go about cooking other things, do some chores or take a break. This is also a plus when entertaining: you have more time for your guests.
Yet another plus of cooking with this method is that the meat tastes great and you also get delicious broth, sauce or gravy. It’s one pot cooking at it’s finest. There isn’t much to cleaning up and anything leftover can be reheated or frozen and reheated for later.
This method of cooking is great for tough cuts of meat but also works well with chicken, fish and/or vegetables. You can braise in a crock pot, pressure cooker, large saute pan or the most often used cooking vessel for braises, a Dutch oven.
Some popular dishes you may have heard of that use a braising technique are osso buco, pot roast, braised veal & lamb shanks and braised cabbage. You can braise just about any meat, fish or vegetable you want and be as creative as you like with seasoning, but there are some ingredients that are better for braising and some you want to cook using other techniques like grilling or roasting.
9 Simple Steps to Great Braised Meat

There are 9 basic steps to braising meat:

(1) Season the main ingredient with salt and pepper.

(2) Heat a few tablespoons of oil and/or butter in a heavy pan or Dutch oven.

(3) Saute meat or vegetables in the pan on medium-high heat until the meat browns.

(4) Deglace the pan by pouring broth, stock, wine or juice and scrape any pieces of meat that are stuck to the pan and stir.

(5) Add cooking liquid (water, stock, wine, juice or some combination) to the half-way point of the main ingredient.

(6) Cover and place the meat on the middle of a rack in an oven that has been pre-heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

(7) Cook until completely tender. This can range from 1 hour to 6 hours, depending on what you are cooking.

(8) Remove the pan from the oven and strain the meat and vegetables out of the liquid.

(9) Remove the excess fat floating in the liquid, and then reduce the sauce to desired thickness by cooking it down over low heat until it thickens. Or, make gravy by adding a mix of equal parts fat and flour (a roux).

The Science of Braising?
If you’re curious about how cooking in this fashion makes tough, leathery meat tender, it’s done by cooking the meat slow, moist and covered over low heat for a lengthy time. This process breaks down the tough connective tissue in meat to collagen. Through time, the moisture and heat build and the collagen dissolves into gelatin. Heat also contracts and coils the muscle fibers.
Over time, these fibers expel moisture and the meat becomes dry. Given even more time, these fibers relax and absorb the melted fat and melted gelatin. As for the vegetables, braising breaks down the cellulose in them and stretches the starches. The long and short of this is that everything becomes very tender.
Without getting to specific, the meat that we eat is muscle and made up of muscle fibers and connective tissue. The muscle fibers are the long thin strands we can actually see and think of as meat. The connective tissue is the thin, translucent film that you sometimes ask the butcher to remove and helps hold the bundles of muscle fiber together. Connective tissue is made up of mostly collagen, a very strong protein that breaks down if enough heat is applied to it.
So braising meat is about breaking down tough connective tissue and changing it into collagen by applying moist heat for a period of time depending on what you are cooking. With more time and heat, the collagen breaks down and dissolves into gelatin. It takes a temperature of about 140 degrees F. to break down the collagen into gelatin.
What happening to the muscle fiber while this connective tissue is breaking down (collagen is melting)? The fibers start to contract, coil and expel moisture. In effect, the heat is drying out the meat like squeezing a sponge. As the process continues and the meat breaks down, you end up with very tender but very dry meat.
The good news is at some point, the muscle fibers have had enough and they begin to relax. When this happens, they begin to absorb back some of the moisture which just happens to be the melted fat and gelatin giving the meat a wonderful texture and flavor. And don't forget you have all this wonderful liquid made up of melted fat, gelatin and whatever cooking liquid you started with.
And this is why braised meat tastes so incredible when cooked properly.
What Ingredients Are Best For Braising?
When it comes to meats, you want to stick with the tougher, less tender cuts that come from an animals more exercised muscles. These cuts tend to have more connective tissue that breaks down making the meat tender and flavorful. A lean cut from the loin area is a waste to braise. The meat is already tender and has little fat or connective tissue.

Some good cuts of meat for braising include:

Top Blade Roast

Chuck Eye Roast

Seven Bone Roast




Short Ribs

The best cuts of chicken, in my opinion, are the legs and thighs although lots of people like to raise a whole chicken. You also want to be sure to use chicken on the bone with skin so you get all the fat and connective tissue. There's really no reason to braise boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You are better off sauteing or grill them.
Although you can braise just about any fish you like, I think large, firm fish are the way to go. Shark, swordfish are worthy of a braise but tender filets like tilapia or even cod will just fall apart on you. If you do braise a more tender cut like flounder, be sure to shorten the braising time.
Fruits & Vegetables
Again you want to stay with the hardier varieties. Squash, sweet potatoes, leeks, parsnips, carrots, beets, cabbage and onions are great braised alone or along with meat and chicken. In the fall and winter, I like to braise meat with firm pears and apples but in the summer, I might braise chicken with pineapple.
Braised Vegetables - the science is the same expect the moist heat breaks down the vegetable's cellulose and expands its starches. The fibers soften giving the vegetables an incredible texture and flavor depending on the cooking liquid you are using.
When braising meats with vegetables, you may want to keep in mind that the vegetables will cook much quicker than the meat. You might want to wait until the last hour or two of cooking to add them so that they aren’t over cooked.

That's all I have.

The foil type doesn't matter, in fact some people use film at lower temps.
post #7 of 9
This is why finishing over open flame works for me. Gives a crispy coating while getting the moisture benefits of having previously foiled.
post #8 of 9
Welcome 2 the site. It's a great place for info and tips. Good 2 C a fellow GA smoker close by!!
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you to everyone who has replied....i guess it all boils down to personal preference.

thanks, speedway. I've already learned a great deal and look forward to learning much more. I am not too far from you - few miles south of the mall.
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