Brisket help, Fat cap, up? down? sideways?

Discussion in 'Beef' started by wwdragon, May 2, 2013.

  1. Hey all.

    I finally found a place that sells brisket, had to special order it, so if all goes well I will be trying for my 6th smoke a brisket. A wee bit nervous as this will be my first time and the in-laws have asked for half of it uncut so they can have smoked meat. Pressure? Nawwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Now I have been reading until my eyes go fuzzy so I have a pretty good handle on what to do. However, nobody can seem to agree on fat side up or down.

    If this helps, I have a vertical charcoal smoker that has 2 grates, 1 right above the water pan, I will be putting a foil pan on that grate to catch the juices and shove some veggies in there with beef broth.

    So...fat side up? down? sideways? help? :)

  2. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    After trimming of course...many believe placing  fat cap down to help insulate it and keep it moister. 
  3. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    This is one of those issues where opinions definitely vary.  It's been much discussed and debated here.  I'm in the fat-cap-up camp.  I've always felt like the rendered fat allows the brisket to self baste itself as it cooks.  But as FWI states, there are many folks who feel that fat cap down provides a measure of protection from the heat/fire.  I'm not sure there is a correct answer, so best advice I can give is to do what I did: try it both ways and determine for yourself what works best for you.  Either way can give you a brisket your In-Laws will be bragging about.

    Good Luck, and be sure to tell us how it goes!

    Edit:  Here's an old thread I found where this issue is debated:

    Maybe perusing it can help you decide.

    Last edited: May 2, 2013
  4. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I've done it two ways....... with my pellet smoker I start fat down to allow the spices to get into the meat on top and to not have the meat side on the bottom for the whole cook that may dry it out. Half way thru I flip it and keep cap up until the end. In my vertical with the water pan underneath I put cap up the entire cook as the water pan protects the bottom of the meat from direct heat. Either way they come out fine. I do suggest you score the fat cap after you trim it to about an 1/8 inch or so. And most patient .........thru the stall, thru getting to about 200, and thru the rest period of about an hour and a half to two. There is so much fat and muscle in brisket the rendering is what makes it great when its done right. Don't get too obsessed with cap up or down cause there's really no right or wrong....its what works best for you and in your set up I would go with fat up for your first one. After wrapping and resting is done the fat should scrape right off with the edge of a knife. Its gonna be great.
  5. Thanks guys,

    Seenred I was thinking the same as you, having it up will help baste it. However being a newbie to this I looked for help and found a can of worms lol

    I believe I will try it fat cap up, as the foil pan under it plus the water pan under that should help protect it from the heat. I of course wil have qview going as long as the store comes through and I can finally get a brisket.

    I must admit this will be my longest smoke ever and I am anxious to try it out. It will be nice and hot out Sunday so keeping temps up at 250 should be easy, also going to open the pool this weekend so working outside with the smoker going and a few frosty drinks seems to be the order of the day :)

  6. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Good luck i'm sure it'll turn out tasty!   What kind of smoker were you using...WSM?

    Anyways i've in the past been in the fat cap up camp until some pitmasters have convinced me otherwise...especially with a vertical smoker with the heat coming straight  up.   It'll be good one way or the other but would try it both ways like Red said to see what you prefer.  Fat makes very good insulator on one hand and on the other it will help self baste but imo this isn't 6 of 1 or half dozen of the other. 
    Last edited: May 2, 2013
  7. kathrynn

    kathrynn Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I am in the Fat side up camp with Red!  Good Luck!

  8. ballagh

    ballagh Smoking Fanatic

    Fat cap up so it melts down into it. :)

    Sent from my LT30at using Tapatalk 2
  9. i really havent ever seen or tasted a difference in either...up or down is just a matter of preference, just like the foiling debate that i see alot on meats dont see foil EVER!! until theyre ready for their igloo nap of course, thats the only time. lol...
  10. Dragon, I have a UDS so I'm a fat cap down guy...although typically when I've done brisket (full packers) I have a lot of fat trimmings.  So since I have 2 levels in the drum, the brisket goes on the lower rack and the fat trimmings are placed above it.  Therefore the fat renders and drips on the meat keeping it moist, plus the fat isn't instantly vaporizing when hitting the coals. 

    As for temp, I typically pull when it reaches 190 or so...then wrap in towels and put in cooler for a while which keeps it cooking so to speak.  When I've cooked briskets to 200, they tend to fall apart on me since I like to slice them thin.  

    Post picks of the BBQ!


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