Forget foil, the hottest BBQ accessory right now is peach paper. Here’s the total breakdown of what exactly it is, and what makes it so special.
So what exactly is peach paper?
Here’s when things get tricky. Peach paper is the popular term used for the tinted paper we see used at barbecue joints. However, within the paper industry, “peach paper” refers to a variety of steak paper. Technically speaking, the barbecue pitmasters we know, love and are trying to emulate are actually using pink paper. Or more specifically, pink butcher's paper. Let me shut down another rumour real quick: neither pink nor peach paper contains any kind of peach essence, it’s simply that the pink colour denotes a natural base whereas white butcher's paper is bleached.
Why wrap in the first place?
Pitmasters wrap meats either close to or at the end of the cooking time, mainly to protect the meat from drying out and losing moisture as it rests and holds at a lower temperature during service. It can also be employed if the cook has gone quicker than expected to try, and retard any further darkening of the bark/exterior crust.
OK, so why paper not foil?
Wrapping with foil is known as the “Texas crutch”, and is more frequently used for pork ribs rather than beef barbecue. Foil is non-porous (meaning, it doesn’t breathe or allow air in/out), and so when meat is foiled, any additional smoke cannot penetrate, stopping the smoking process in its tracks. BUT, foil actually reflects the heat back down onto the meat (radiant heat), and also since metal is conductive, it will retain more heat for a lot longer, so whatever you are wrapping will continue to cook to some degree. The biggest downfall of using foil is that when hot meats are wrapped, the steam cannot escape and turns to condensation, which in turn wets the surface of the meat, ruining any crusty bark that has formed during the cook and turning it to mush. Between you and me, let’s just say there is validity to the argument that if you’re foiling your meat longer than you’re smoking it, you’re pretty much just making a roast which is flavoured with a hint of smoke, so why even have a damn barbecue? Rant over, the point is that paper solves most of these issues because it allows the steam to escape the parcel and doesn’t make the exterior of the meat soggy, all while keeping the contents protected from the full assault of the smoker. And because it doesn’t retain or reflect heat like foil, you don’t have to compensate for any extra cooking time.