Discussion in 'Beef' started by kc5tpy, Mar 11, 2015.

  1. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    You could always smoke it 75% of the way then move it to the oven for more temp control at the end. I know a lot of people will say that isn't true smoking but it will work. If you are trying to hit 195-205 degrees and your smoker is dropping down to 180 then it might never get there. I would smoke it to 170 ish then move it to a 250 degree oven. 
  2. californiasmoke

    californiasmoke Fire Starter

    Just called my local specialty butcher(http://www.elsalchichero.com/), they have whole briskets grass-fed briskets at $9 a pound.  OUCH.  The guy I talked to said grass fed isn't USDA graded???  That doesn't make sense to me.  For $9 a pound I should be getting prime, right?

    I called another local place (http://www.freedommeatlockers.com/), they have Choice for $5.98/lb.  That seems like the way to go (not that I have a lot of options).

    I might talk to the butcher at my local grocery store and see if he can order me a USDA Prime whole brisket.  The last time I did that I ended up with just a flat though.
  3. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    How many briskets have you cooked? Here's my rule on all meats, when you can make a USDA choice taste like a USDA prime then is when you should try a prime. I just don't see the need to spend 150 to 200 on a piece of meat that I have not already mastered the technique.

    I can only drool and imagine what a USDA prime brisket would taste like cooked by Gary S. but as to me cooking one, and I have cooks just a few, it would be a waste because I still hit good and better without any consistency.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  4. californiasmoke

    californiasmoke Fire Starter

    I've cooked (badly) one whole packer and two flats.  I don't want to spend money on a prime needlessly.  My point was that an ungraded grass fed brisket at $9/lb seemed like a bad deal to me.

    I'll almost certainly go with the Choice at about $6/lb -- it's still going to be a $70-$80 piece of meat though.

    Separate question: on trimming the fat cap.  I've always read that I should leave 1/4" of fat on top.  On an episode of BBQ Pitmasters I saw them trimming all of the fat off.  I've noticed that when I cook a pork shoulder with the fat cap intact I don't get any visible color into the top of the meat from the smoke or seasoning.  It certainly comes out moist and tender, but I'm tempted to trim my next pork shoulder so I can get more smoke and seasoning into it.

    For my next Brisket trial I'll leave the fat intact, but what do others do on this?  The temperature in my Traeger is very even, I don't think I need the fat to protect the meat from direct heat.  I'm also positive that it won't all render off and will keep the smoke out of the top of the meat.

    I'm sort of gearing up to try brisket again this weekend.  I'll post updates as to how it goes.  I'm probably going to inject it with beef broth, slather and rub it, and then mop it while it smokes.  I'd prefer not to foil it until I pull it off but I'll play that by ear.  I will use the same slather, rub and mop as I used last weekend on beef short ribs.  They had a great flavor and with a 3-2-0 cook they were absolutely done.
  5. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You realize that very few cook brisket exactly the same. Its all about your making the meat taste how you want it to taste using your preferred method.

    The more famous smokers trim, those doing completion trim. Here a great video of a famous brisket Chef trimming.

    Do I trim? No. Why? because I don't see the need to spend the time. Cook it all and trim at serving as needed. Why is a well cooked brisket so tastee? Its all that lovely fat that has near rendered out flavoring the muscle of the meat.

    Fat side up or down, Chevy or Ford? Black or white? Left or right? I have always heard this but.... "fat side up to continuously baste the meat, fat side down with a fire breather to help protect the meat from flare ups". Or, " Trim the fat so that the rub can get to the meat".  Bottle line, try and see what you like. I'm a fat side up kinda guy and every time I have tried trimming I have been disappointed for one reason or another. Anyone that doesn't like that ambrosia called smoked fat would probably kick a puppie in my book anyway.
  6. jcbigler

    jcbigler Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I've smoked hundreds of briskets in my life. And I pretty much only use the cheapest Wal-Mart or local grocery store cut (currently $2.96/lb), which is choice. I've only cooked a prime a couple of times, and, while good, it wasn't three or four times as good. If I was going to do a contest, or had a VIP client or future in-laws to impress then I would shell out for prime or above.

    Certainly when you are learning the techniques it makes more sense to practice on the cheaper cuts of meat. You can improve more by cooking three or four briskets than you will by cooking one that is four times the cost.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  7. Hi Foam!  Long time no speak!  With you on the advice!

    Hello ( I'll call you Cal if you don't mind ) Cal.  Here is the deal!  Buy the cheap brisket!  Then, JUST SMOKE IT!  No trimming.  No messing with it.  Salt, pepper and smoke.  That's IT!  No rubs.  No "slather".  No inject.  No nothing!  Just smoke the brisket.  Get THAT part right and THEN add flavours you think you might like.  If a large brisket add more salt and pepper than you think you should because most will drip away with the fat and also will not penetrate the whole brisket.  NO "fancy".  Just smoke the brisket.  Nothing wrong with good smoked meat and only using S&P!  My advice?  Cut it into 4 pieces.  Like a rectangle, down the length and the across the middle.  NOW you have 4 trials at smoking brisket from 1 packer.  Make the thinner end larger pieces than the thicker end.  YES the point end contains more hard fat and cooks differently than the thinner flat end but EXPERIMENT!  4 smokes for the price of 1.  Keep it simple!  Get the meat right and then play with flavours.  Just my opinion.

  8. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    What's the diffs prime vs choice?
  9. Hi mummel.  It is a USDA grading which I am sure you know.  It has to do with the percentage of fat to meat as far as I understand it.  So that choice has more fat to meat content than prime.  Which personally I think is a good thing!   Maybe others know better.  Keep Smokin!

  10. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  11. HEY!  That's it Adam!  Marbling!  I knew it was something to do with fat.  Thanks for sorting us out on that.

  12. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    But marbelling indicated higher fat no?
  13. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Prime will have the most fat or marbling in the muscle. More marbling means more flavor and tenderness...Grass fed is not graded because it contains a similar amount if not less marbling then Select. A great deal of the marbling in meat comes from the Corn Finishing, feeding corn the last few weeks to fatten the beef up. Grass fed beef don't get Corn finishing...JJ
  14. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Logic says corn fed bad, fat bad etc. grass fed good. But the meat with the marbelling cost more?
  15. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One means your children will not go to college. The other, well they will need a few scholarships.
  16. jaxrmrjmr

    jaxrmrjmr Smoking Fanatic

    Good to post.  I was looking for the extensive one that covers the odd stuff to explain the grass fed beef not being graded.

    All major slaughter houses are inspected, thus the "USDA inspection" stamp that is on the carcass.  This is for public safety, cleanliness standards, etc.

    However, having beef "graded" is a choice - no pun intended. If the slaughter house chooses to to have it graded then they have to pay for that.  They usually choose to have this done as a higher grading demands a higher price. 

    But.  There is always a "but".  Some cattle come in and they know that they will not meet a reasonable grading so they don't even pay for it.  Think 20 year old milk cow instead of plump, juicy steer.  70% of the beef we eat come from old milk cows - not beef cattle.

    I grew up thinking there were 3 levels of grading - prime, choice, select.  I was big time wrong!  There are many levels below select.  That's why you will actually see some lower end retailers advertising that their meat is "select grade".  When old milk cows come in, they don't pay for grading.  The typically call it "utility" or "ungraded" if they are selling the tenderloin sections and such but don't mention it when it's ground beef.  Religiously slaughtered animals (such as Halal) are usually not graded either.  Muslims automatically buy the non-graded Halal beef just like certain people automatically buy the "grass-fed" beef.  "Grass-fed" means nothing other that it does not meet the criteria for being called "grain fed".  Twenty years ago, "grain fed" was what every wanted because it is typically higher graded.  Today, ''grass fed" beef is about like people that want eggs from free range chickens raised in free range pens.  Go figure.

    Just a little FYI from a guy who used to raise beef cattle.  BTW, there are two great beef deals out there on the market that most people don't know about.  1) a filet mignon graded "utility" is still tender and tasty if cooked no more than MR.  2) a cut called the "hanging tender" or "hanger steak" is very tasty and very tender.  I love this cut for kabobs.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  17. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You are opening a can of worms here.
  18. jaxrmrjmr

    jaxrmrjmr Smoking Fanatic

    Research the difference between "fat" and "marbling".  Yes, people pay more for well marbled meat.  No, people do not pay more for fat covered meat.
  19. jcbigler

    jcbigler Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I think it depends on what you are going to do with the meat.

    Brisket, shoulder clod, and beef ribs, anything you are cooking low and slow you probably want corn finished beef with more fat. For steaks, fillet and roasts when you cook hot and fast you probably want leaner beef with less fat since there is less time for the fat to render out than there is in low and slow smoking.

    Psychology is another big part of it. Some people feel better about themselves if they think the cattle were allowed to live free and eat grass for their whole lives; rather than being kept cooped up in pens and fed corn or grain for the express purpose of making their meat taste better.
  20. Smoked my first brisket this past weekend.  cut off the extra hard fat;  Used a tangy dry rub I found on the internet; turned the smoker at 210F at 8 PM (Masterbuilt Electric (new));  used up about 3 lbs of hickory chips over next 4.5 hours;  and around 9 AM (next day) packed the briskets (4 in all) into tinfoil pans with lids (here's where I put a little ketchup, barbecue, slightly tangy, spiced mop - not lots, just a light coating) and then turned up heat to 250F until 2 PM.    They turned out fantastic  YUM.  The only problem I had was with the amount of juice that came out the meat during the first 4-5 hours of smoking - WOW, couldn't believe how much water came out.  I was fearful that the meat would be really dry.  It is not dry but a little of that moisture would have added to the texture of the cooked brisket.    OVERALL, it was a success and I plan to do it again.

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