If you’ve traveled the country in search of the best barbecue, you’ve probably noticed a theme throughout many of the top spots. With its subtle hint of peach or pink, it’s the foundation of the plate, and it instantly recalls thoughts of fresh cuts of pork or beef right off the smoker.
Pink butcher paper is hot, quite literally. The country’s best pitmasters have discovered it’s versatility and inexpensive qualities, and butcher paper is now used for anything from wrapping meat during the cooking process to garnishing the plate to carry-out packaging, kitchen signage, menu boards and marketing opportunities.
You may be using butcher paper already for one or two of these barbecue best practices. Now top pitmasters are learning other uses for the paper that are saving both time and money, on top of improving the quality of your food.
Here are five reasons using the right butcher paper will take your barbecue business to the next level:
1. Butcher paper is engineered to resist heat and moisture
Many pitmasters wrap their meats near the end of the cooking time, either to prevent the meat from drying out or to get the meat to “rest” or hold at a certain temperature. Often times the medium of choice is foil, but butcher paper has proven superior for many reasons.
While foil is non-porous and therefore holds steam and smoke in, paper allows some subtle smoke to continue penetrating the meat and, most importantly, allows steam to escape. This way, you don’t end up with mushy meat that has the consistently of a roast.
Additionally, because foil reflects heat, your ribs, brisket or butt will continue to cook slightly – as opposed to paper, which will give you a more steady hold.
What does a less soggy cut of meat mean? Our favorite part of smoked meat – the bark – just got more crispy and flavorful. Paper helps guarantee a perfectly finished bark surrounding tender, flavorful beef.
2. It’s FDA-approved for direct food contact
Now that we know butcher paper directly contributes to the flavor, moistness and texture of your barbecue, it’s important to carefully consider the best butcher paper.
In the U.S., the FDA approves certain papers as safe for direct food contact, so it’s important you order a food-grade product. This way, you’re avoiding certain dangerous chemicals used in the manufacturing process.
If you’re planning to use paper in the smoker, you’ve got to pay even more attention. While freezer paper is popular for butcher shops, it won’t work in the smoker because it has a layer of polyethylene plastic that will melt at 180 degrees.
3. Butcher paper has multiple purposes
How many barbecue tools have you bought that provide one use during the food prep or smoking process? Sure, they’re necessary tools, but they’re one-use only and often very costly.
One roll of butcher paper, on the other hand, can be used to wrap meat in the smoker, line baskets and trays, cover tables, wrap sandwiches, prepare carry-out orders and wrap fresh meats. Consider it a staple in your restaurant and leverage it wisely.
4. You can use it as branding
As we all know, the barbecue industry is increasingly competitive. You’re probably not the only barbecue joint in town anymore, and there’s likely at least handful of competing restaurants in your area.
How would marketing best practices suggest you differentiate yourself? By making your name, logo, and location stick in the minds of customers to ensure repeat visitors and organic growth.
Enter custom printed butcher paper – white or pink – which can display a combination of words and pictures, including your logo, hours, location, menu or any marketing message. Make sure customers are reminded of your message at the bottom of their tray or on their carry-out order back at home.
5. If it’s Good Enough for Aaron Franklin …
The story of pink butcher paper actually goes like this: Aaron Franklin of the famed Austin’s Franklin Barbecue began wrapping his cooked briskets in paper to hold them during service, something he learned from John and Louie Mueller. Once he started using a pink/peach colored paper, it caught on across the country as both trendsetting and efficient.
With a lot of experience over the fire and a solid business strategy, perhaps butcher paper can bring you similar success.
Feature photo credit: Ben Sassani
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