Sunday, March 11, 2018

Brisket Intervention: A Guest Post

The other day it occurred to me that the first-ever post produced here at Grill Knuckles HQ was a brisket cook back in 2009. In the years since, there have been pounds upon pounds of meat; huge piles of charcoal; countless bags of chips; gallons of beer consumed. But there have only been 3 briskets. Three. And I wasn't wild about any of them.

Fortunately in the years since that first post, I have also met many good friends who know their way around a backyard grill. Dave has offered to do a guest post here in hopes of upping the global brisket game.

What follows is his excellent guide. And please check out his excellent blog:

Three Tips for Better Smoked Brisket

Smoking a whole packer brisket can throw folks for a loop.  Here are a few tricks I use to turn out great briskets on a very consistent basis.

Tip #1: Shop Around.

If you start with a better brisket then you will end with a better brisket.  I avoid Select grade briskets at all costs. There is no point in making a challenging cook even harder by starting with a lean brisket.

If I cook a Choice brisket then I will go for Certified Angus Beef.  In general CAB is considered to be at the top 20% of the Choice grade.

These days I am smoking Prime briskets and can really tell a difference in the finished product.  I did some shopping around and discovered that my Costco sells Prime brisket for $2.99 a pound. That’s cheaper than the local grocery stores sell Select brisket!

If you can’t find a deal on Prime brisket in your town then go with Choice and check out this article about wet aging a brisket.

Take some time, shop around and buy the best brisket that you can afford.

Tip #2: Trim Hard, Smoke Easy

A brisket contains two different muscles and has a massive fat layer between them.  The two muscles (flat and point) are different sizes and have different fat content.  It can be HARD to try to get these two muscles done without undercooking one or overcooking the other.

I finally got smart and figured out that if I took the time to separate the point from the flat then I could cook them separately and give both pieces the attention they need.  

Another advantage of separating the two muscles is that you can get rid of a lot of the fat that is just going to get your barbecue dirty.

I can get both the flat and point onto my 22 inch kettle at the same time. Now it is no big deal if the flat is done before the point as I deal with each muscle on its own.

Tip #3: Cook it Until it Loves You

The most common way that people screw up a brisket is by giving up.  They try smoking it “low and Slow” for hours on end and after 10 hours or so realize that they have a dry, chewy hunk of beef.  It turns out though that a dry, tough brisket is one that hasn’t been cooked long enough.

Forget about going low and slow on a brisket.  Use some heat and smoke your brisket at 285-325F.  Don’t be afraid to wrap it in aluminum foil after a few hours to speed up the process.  Get the meat up to an internal temperature of at LEAST 200F. By using high temperatures and foil you can get a brisket up to 200F in 5-8 hours.  
Don’t quit cooking the brisket until you can slide a meat thermometer though with little resistance.  

I hope these brisket tips will help you the next time you decide to tackle this beast!  If you want more brisket tips or just need another barbecue blog to follow then come on over and check out!

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