Selecting the right brisket, could use some advice.

Discussion in 'Meat Selection and Processing' started by md56, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. md56

    md56 Newbie

    Hi Everyone,

    So this weekend i'll have some familey over and I really want to try my first brisket

    My plan was to keep it on the smaller side, maybe a #6-7 so I can cook day of, and maybe throw some spares on later in the morning as well.

    Took a trip down to the local costco last night to check out what they had, I was glad to find out that they had a few options, but after going through them I'm left sort of scratching my head. Here are the options they had, maybe you guys can help me decide the right direction to go.

    a) #10-12 whole brisket  (vaccum packed) untrimmed = $2.59/lb

         - This is obviously the best deal, but way to big for what i had planned. Could I butcher this down to something more in the 6-7# range or Would this just be a massive waiste of beef?

    b)  #4-6 brisket flat trimmed (butcher case) "Prime cut" (on the blue tray) = $5.29/lb

        - There was no visable fat on this cut, although I could not see the bottom side.

    c) #6-7 brisket flat trimmed (butcher case) = 4.49/lb

        - This cut did have a fat cap

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
  2. Hello MD56.  Here is my opinion for what it is worth.  Others may have different advice.  This is only my opinion.  I think brisket needs fat.  I would get the untrimmed packer and cut in half length ways if it is larger than you need.  That way you get to smoke 2 briskets.  Good luck and don't forget the Qview.  Keep Smokin!

  3. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Buy the whole packer... separate the point from the flat..... Smoke the flat....  brine the point for two weeks and make a pastrami.. that's what i suggest

    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    That kind of depends on you and your knife skills. The full or Packer Brisket is made up of 2 muscles, the Point and Flat, with very different textures and fat content and are separated by a bit of fat and connective tissue. The Flat makes up the bulk of the weight and is, Yep you guessed it, the large Flat piece that they are most likely selling at the higher prices. The Flat is fairly lean dense muscle that smokes up nicely but easily dries out. The Point covers about 1/3 or so of the flat is smaller and is usually a thicker piece of low density muscle with a lot of intramuscular fat and connective tissue. This makes it somewhat similar to a pork butt in the way that they are hard to screw up. The finished Point is very juicy even if cooked hours longer than the flat. If you can handle a knife they are easily separated along the natural seem so if you wish can Smoke the Flat for guests and save the Point for another day or it makes great Pastrami using Pops Brine, halving the sugar, and my Pastrami Rub. There is more fat on an untrimmed Packer so there is a bit more waste but there is a benefit in that the fat protects and helps keep the meat moist. It is not hard to break down and would be a cost savings...JJ
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
    andybigwood likes this.
  5. md56

    md56 Newbie

    Thanks Jimmy, I appreciate the detailed response.

    I'm sure there's a thread on this already, but what is the consensus on freezing? If I did go with the packer I'd probably have to hold onto that point for at least a week or two.
  6. Hello MD56.  They don't call him chef for no reason.  Chef JJ knows his stuff.  Also he's the man here if you have a food safety question.  Also boykjo has a good option.  He knows his stuff also.  Couple great options!  IMHO, properly wrapped and sealed, that point should be good for 4-6 months, so a couple weeks will be no problem.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

  7. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Thanks for the Kudos Danny and you are correct. My girl Casey just smoked off 2 Points to Pastrami that have been the freezer since St, Patricks Day...JJ
  8. How many in the family?

    I say go with the whole packer. Forget the idea of smoking the day of. Start the night before. Forget the ribs. 

    When you hit an IT of 170 or so, separate the point. Cube it up, re-rub, sauce it for burnt ends, and toss it back on the smoker in a pan.

    Let the flat go the rest of the way until it passes the toothpick test, rest it, slice it, and you're good to go.

    Toss any leftovers in bags for the rest of the week for yourself.
  9. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I'm not a fan of burnt ends.......A waist of a piece of meat that can be made into a good pastrami... IMHO
  10. md56

    md56 Newbie

    We're probably talking 12'ish or so people. Not really huge eaters though so i'm hoping a small brisket and a few 2-3 slabs of spares is enough to go around.

    I get what you're saying about just focusing on the brisket, but i really do want to throw some ribs into the mix also. The Ribs i'm confident about, if something goes horibly wrong with the brisket at least I know i'll have something to put out.

    So here's my plan...

    Go to costco tonight, get a 10lb packet. If the point is about a third of the brisket, that should leave me with about a 7# flat. Going to inject with Auju and hit it with S&P, onion powder and garlic powder. (do you guys like to hit a brisket with a full rub?)

    The arlam is going to be set for 3am. Get up, fire up the pit and hopefully be at temp and ready to put the brisket on by 4. If everything goes somewhat according to plan, i should be able to wrap it and wrest it by 2-2:30 pm and ready to eat for an early dinner. Haha, just that easy right!?
  11. Sorry, I am new here and was wondering what is the toothpick test?
  12. Temp is only one indication as to whether a brisket is done -- more key is tenderness.

    The "toothpick test" is to push a toothpick (or other sharp object -- perhaps the temp probe of your instant-read thermometer) into the brisket. If there's a lot of resistance, you're not done. If it goes in with little to no effort*, you're nice and tender.

    * Note - you may need to break through the bark, which will take effort. The test is related more to how much effort it takes to go into the meat AFTER you break through the bark.
  13. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Hear hear ! Couldn't agree more. I would rather smoke a point any day of the week , either for pastrami or just plain sliced brisket. It's unbeatable.

    You're a better man than I am getting up at 3 am....I'd be more like to put the fire together before bed time , then roll out at 6am and light smokin by 1.5 hrs per pound I think you'd still be done in time. But that's just me , man , I like my sleep. :32:
  14. md56

    md56 Newbie

    I know it's been a while but I thought i'd post the results just in case it's helpful to someone else. 

    So I did end up going with a 10lb packer from costco. Got it home, did my best trimming it up and was left with what I think was a 6-7 lb flat. 

    After trimming I injected the flat with beef stock and hit it with my rub.

    3am the next morning wake up and get my coals started. By 3:45 my terms said was was right at 220 so on went the brisket, fat side up. 

    Woke up again at 5am, temps were down in the chamber a bit so I added a bit more fuel and adjusted my dampers for more air. 

    Slept for 2 more hours and then decided to do my first temp check (3hrs on the smoke so far). This is where things got weird, I put my probe in and was shocked to see it at 170 already... my first thought was that my probe had gone bad so I made a quick run the the grocery store for a chepo analog meat thermometer. Got home, tested again and sure enough I was between 170 and 180. According to the oven thermometer I had in the chamber temps were still just a bit over 220. 

    Not really knowing what to do I pulled the brisket off the smoke and wrapped. I set the over for 200, threw it in and prayed. After another 3hrs in the oven i pulled it, wrapped it in a towel and chucked it in a cooler to wrest. 

    3hrs later I pull it out and had pretty much expected it to either be dry as grandmas pot roast or something else inedible all together. I unwrap it, grab my probe and wouldn't you know it... it's super tender, and by the looks of it even juicy! I did notice that it didn't really have much bark to speak of, but it definitely did have a nice smoke ring. 

    Carved it up, set it out and within about 10 mins all of my hard work was in the belly's of my family. They all had nothing but great things to say. 

    ** One issue i noticed was that after carving it, it went supper dry. I swear when I pulled it out of the oven and took a test, you could have squeezed a pice and juice would have run down your arm. When I sliced it though all of that good moisture just vanished.

    All in all the cook was very successful. I also did 3 racks of spares that I picked up from costco. (Costco is the best place for these by far, best price per lb on both trimmed and non trimmed. Our grocery store charges more per lb for untrimmed).  
  15. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Well , at least you learned you don't have to get up in the middle of the night to cook a brisket that size...took about an hour per pound , no ?
    Well , it sounds like you did ok ...glad your fam enjoyed it. :grilling_smilie:
  16. So I'm trying to locate a whole packer here in SoCal. Previously (this summer) we bought a beautiful Prime packer from Costco @ $2.79 a lb, and at the time they had several different ones available. Well, we're not in summer any more, and the Costco we shop at hasn't seemed to have whole packers available the last few times we've gone.

    This isn't TX, so we don't exactly get them at the supermarket, either. 

    Any ideas?
  17. Not sure of the butchers in OC but down in San Diego we have two great ones right off the 5 and 805. Iowa Meat Farms and Cecil's Deli/Market have awesome selections including great brisket. :sausage:
  18. Ended up finding a bunch at Smart & Final for $2.28/lb, Choice.

    We have good butchers locally as well, but one wanted $5.49/lb for a full packer and the other wanted >$7... Not worth it...
  19. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    2.28 is real good. 7 bucks a pound is just crazy. I look at brisket all the time at the supermarket , and I just keep going. Good find. :grilling_smilie:

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