Big brisket -- cook it whole or cut it in half

Discussion in 'Beef' started by floridasteve, Jun 27, 2015.

  1. floridasteve

    floridasteve Smoking Fanatic

    I just bought a 13+ pound brisket at Walmart for 2.99/lb to smoke tomorrow. But there is only 3 of us and we can't eat that much. Would y'all recommend cooking it whole and freezing the leftovers, or cutting it in half and only smoking half at a time?

  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey Brother Smoker-

    It's my personal preference, but I don't like the texture of reheated brisket, and especially frozen, thawed and reheated. It can get mealy/grainy, and worst of all, a drier, chewy texture (especially the flat). The drier texture can be compensated for to a small degree by bathing it in broth or Au Jus when reheating, but that only goes so far, and for best results it needs to be thin sliced which in a way gives a false sense of tenderness.

    By cutting the brisket in half (across, side to side), you will have one piece that is mostly the flat muscle and another which is mostly the point muscle, as they taper towards the center of the length of the packer, with a fat layer in between these muscles. If cut into thirds, you would still have one with both muscles (from the center), one with mostly the point and one with mostly the flat. The point being more of tubular muscle construction with much more marbling of fat, while the flat is a fibrous muscle construction with far less fat content, the point is more forgiving if mistreated during cooking, or in extreme situations of reheating. The flat, in contrast to the point, can become a dry and leathery texture if mistreated.

    That said, if I were to cook it whole and freeze the leftovers, I would eat the flat and freeze the point, as the point should be the best candidate for freeze and reheat. BTW, I typically use the entire point for burnt ends (not just the heals of the brisket after slicing it up like BBQ joints do)...they are a favorite here, and I usually catch a ton of flack for not not making burnt ends when I smoke a whole packer...yes, we love burnt ends.

    I'm in the same boat as you, with just 3 mouths to feed now, unless we invite someone to dinner. If it were me, I'd cut it in thirds and smoke those smaller sections in a smaller cooker...just because I like it fresh better than reheated. We have a hard time using up our leftovers if refrigerated, and freezing does break-down meat fibers even's that texture and the lack of a consistent, effective method to control moisture loss that just turns me away. I'd rather toss something on the grill for quick cook than eat leftover meats...I guess I've gotten finicky, or maybe I've just given up on the search for an acceptable reheating method which gives acceptable results...

    Hope this helps you in deciding what is best for YOU...doesn't matter what I like best, but you can probably relate to much of this and weigh you options. I'm probably forgetting a few things, so this is by no means viewing the picture from every angle.

    Have an enjoyable smoke and a GREAT brisket dinner!!!

  3. personally I would cut her in half and throw the flat in the freezer. I prefer smoking the point because of the higher fat content which in turn gives you those tasty burnt ends which you can slice off in to one inch strips then add more dry rub wrap in bacon and put back in the smoker to make gods own candy. 😄
  4. floridasteve

    floridasteve Smoking Fanatic

    Thank you Eric and Bob. You've given me some good advice to think about. I was originally thinking of cutting it in half lengthwise, giving me a long thin brisket with both point and flat. But now I'm leaning more to separating them, as just looking at the thickness difference, it seems each would benifit from different cooking times.

    Anyway, I've got more time to think about it, as today's smoke has been postponed, probably until next weekend.
  5. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ah, I didn't mention the separation, as I didn't know if you'd want to go that route...that is my favorite way to smoke brisket. You control the trimming of fat, so you get what you want in the end. Huh, matter of fact, I used lean trimmed separated points and flats as a subject for the wet-to-dry smoke chamber method...and it works like a charm for that.

    Anyway, do what feels right and you'll be rewarded with good eats.

  6. carolinadoug

    carolinadoug Fire Starter

    Hmmm, older thread and have been searching and reading on here and various other google searched threads from elsewhere.

    10.55 lb Flat from Sams sitting in the Fridge.  Just wifey and me - although I can usually "gift" some nice meat for others.

    Was thinking about cutting it in half, double/triple wrapping 1/2 of it and bagging it carefully (getting all of the air out) and freezing it.

    I was planning on cutting it in half across the short side...not slicing/bisecting it long ways.  Thoughts?  BTW - the frozen portion won't be in the freezer more than a week or two, but I also like the idea of getting some add'l experience and having two shorter smokes to get better at predictable results.

  7. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    Smoke the whole brisket and slice and freeze what you don't use.
    I have a vacuum sealer so I go that route.
  8. lemans

    lemans Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Like the idea of cutting it length wise.. but if it was me.. I would smoke the whole packer and vaccumn seal and freeze the rest.
  9. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If you cut a whole brisket (packer) in half you will be left with one section being mostly the point muscle and the other section being mostly the flat muscle. The flat (thinner, usually wider portion) is a leaner more fibrous muscle which many would agree benefits from having at least a thin layer of the fat-cap attached when smoking, due to the rendering fat basting the meat as it cooks. The point muscle (thicker and narrower portion) has more interior fat and is of a tubular muscle construction with more collagen. You can actually see tubes of muscle tissue with intermingled fat throughout the cross-section of the point muscle. They are different muscles and can benefit from different treatments if cooked separately from each other. In fact, traditionally, the point and flat are separated mid-smoke and then finished in a variety of ways, depending on the individual's preferences.

    That said, you'd probably want to smoke them a bit differently to experience the potential of what each has to offer, but you can also smoke them about the same way. The flat is best when finished at temperatures which just yield tenderness when probed...usually around 180-190*...sometimes a bit higher...good for slicing. The point can be taken all the way to between 200-205* and pulled apart, like one would do with pork shoulder for pulled pork. Or, our all-time favorite, it can be made into burnt ends.

    What are burnt ends, you might be asking? Here's one of my older, yet better burnt ends renditions from a presmoke separated brisket point:

    Shout back if you need more info, or (hopefully not), I just confused the daylights out of you.

  10. carolinadoug

    carolinadoug Fire Starter

    Appreciate the help guys.  This brisket is flat only, so cut in half it goes.  Now to plan out the rest of the cook, rub, injection, temp target, etc....  I've read and watched so many vids/threads, etc...time to decide on a plan and execute :)
  11. myownidaho

    myownidaho Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    You could also cut it in half, smoke the point cut and turn the flat into pastrami or corned beef.
  12. I bought a massive briskett once, didn't think my purchase through. I cut the meat off the bone ( leaving some meat on the bones) trimmed the left over to a size I wanted and rolled it with Brie inside.
    Took the scraps and made burger patties, ribs I smoked at a later stage and the roll I smoked over night.

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