Tag: brisket

Recipe: Burnt Ends

If you’re a fan of smoked brisket, you’ve likely had burnt ends.  I’ve had them, but frankly I usually don’t bother and simply slice up the point of the brisket along with the flat.

For the uninitiated, the brisket is made of 2 muscles.  The flat is the leaner of the two, while the point has more fat.  The grain of the two muscles run counter to one another and are joined by a seam of fat.  Buying the whole brisket, or “packer cut”, can be intimidating to some as there is a significant layer of hard, white fat covering a good portion of the meat.

Typically, I will buy and cook the flat.  The cost per pound is definitley more, but my family prefers the leaner cut and it takes a good amount of work to trim a packer cut before cooking.  Nonetheless, I purchased a small packer cut brisket this past weekend and put it on the Big Green Egg on Sunday morning.

As the brisket was finishing up, I called an audible and decided to seperate the point and cut it into cubes.  I placed these in a pan and hit them some of my rib sauce.  I know, I know, rib sauce on brisket?  Trust me, these were the best burnt ends I’ve done.  And, I’ll definitely do them again.

Heck, maybe I’ll even start buying the packer cut from now on.

Cheers,

Braddog

Review: Qwik Trim Brisket Trimmer

I’m a big fan of trimming my brisket before cooking. This gives me a huge surface to apply seasoning and frankly I don’t like dealing with the fat on my brisket while eating it. I’ve been trimming my brisket now for a few years despite incurring a significant injury while doing so. See my previous post “How Not to Trim a Brisket“.

Rather than risk another injury like this, I jumped at a chance to acquire the new Qwik Trim Brisket Trimmer that promises to simplify the trimming process. I ordered it right away and received it just a few days before I needed to trim a couple of brisket flats for a party.

It’s really a pretty simple concept and protects the pitmater from the inadvertent slip of the trimming knife. I rinsed the brisket flats and was eager to get started.

You can see the concept in action in this photo.  It turns out that it works great for the large, cold, hard fat on the underside of a brisket.  However, it doesn’t work as well on the softer, thinner layers of fat.  I trim both from my brisket, so I still had to use my trimming knife to get the end result that I prefer.

If you’re a pitmaster that likes to leave that thinner layer of fat on your brisket, then the Qwik Trim could be a good option for you.  But, if you’re a fan of trimming all of the fat you’ll still have some work to do with a trimming knife.

Cheers,
Braddog 

Butcher Paper Brisket

Over the past few months, I’ve been reading about this technique on the interwebs.  I’ve tried wrapping my brisket in foil before, but frankly I prefer to cook it unwrapped.  Now keep in mind, I’m not cooking for competitions or trying to cook a brisket in a short amount of time (usually).  However, there are times when I’d sure like to be able to do one in less than 12 hours.

So this past weekend, I decided that I would cook one brisket on Saturday using the butcher paper method.  If that was successful, I’d cook one on Sunday morning for my annual Daytona 500 gathering.  If it wasn’t successful, I’d still have time to cook one overnight on the Big Green Egg.  Seemed like a reasonable plan, all except for the $45 practice brisket.

In general, wrapping your brisket (or ribs, etc) after a couple of hours helps the meat finish sooner.  There is some science behind this around how connective tissues break down etc, but frankly if you’re reading this because you’re looking for the science behind the process you should stop now and move along to another blog.

Most often, you’ll see folks wrap brisket in foil.  But recently the notion of wrapping in  butcher paper has become popular. Part of the theory is that the paper provides the same benefit in terms of helping the meat finish sooner, without the braising effect of foil.

So, I prepped my brisket:

Cooked indirect at 325 degrees for 4 hours

At 4 hours, I wrapped in butcher paper.  Didn’t check temp, but wrapped when the bark had the right “look” and placed the brisket back on the cooker.

I probed the brisket through the paper and when I thought it felt tender and the temp was 200 degrees plus, I pulled it.  Total cook time was about 6 hours.

Here’s the brisket as I unwrapped it:

Sliced…..

The results?  It just wasnt’ tender enough.  You could say that I should have cooked it longer.  Maybe, but it was also dry and if I’d cooked it longer it would have been even drier. 

So the jury is still out for me.  I don’t think this is a viable option for the Big Green Egg.  I’ll try it again on the Backwoods Smoker and see if different cookers have different results.  Stay tuned for more.

Cheers,
Braddog 

Brisket on the Big Green Egg

For me, BBQ has traditionally been pork.  Ribs, pulled pork, pork steaks, etc.; it was always pork.  I had always heard and read about the elusive brisket and based on the horror stories on the interwebs, I never even tried to cook one until I bought my Big Green Egg.  Since then, I’ve had a decent amount of success cooking briskets for my friends, family, and co-workers.  So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned since I first tackled what is arguably the hardest piece of meat to cook well. 

  • Packers, flats, & points:  You’ll typically find brisket sold in one of 2 ways; flats or packers.  A packer cut brisket is packaged in a cryovac package and usually runs 10+ lbs.  It’s actually 2 cuts of beef, the brisket flat & point.  The bottom side of the package will reveal a thick, hard, white fat covering.  This gnarly looking piece of meat covered in fat always intimidated the heck out of me.  You’ll also find a brisket flat, which is the leaner of the 2 parts of a brisket.  It will have the same covering of fat, will cost a little more per pound, and typically goes 6-8lbs.  (note: we won’t talk about “corned beef” briskets that you can find in the grocery stores)
  • Trim the Brisket:  I often cook brisket flats for my family, but the packers are awesome and what most folks cook for BBQ competitions.  Either way, trim that brisket.  I hate to get a brisket sandwhich in a BBQ joint and find a huge ribbon of fat along one side of the meat.  Additionally, any seasoning that you do to a brisket won’t penetrate that fat layer.  If you’re cooking a packer, don’t try to seperate the 2 cuts.  They’ll come apart much easier after they come off the cooker.
  • Rub &/or inject:  After the brisket is well trimmed, apply your rub &/or injection.  I don’t typically inject, but I do apply a generous rub to the brisket.  I like a combination of fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt, but there are lots of good brisket rubs on the market.  Note:  some folks like to slather their butts &/or brisket with yellow mustard.  I used to, but frankly I’ve abandonded the practice and find that I don’t miss it at all.
  • Indirect Cooking:  Set your cooker up for indirect cooking.  On the Big Green Egg, that means platesetter installed feet up and temperatures steady at 250 degrees.  I like to put a disposable aluminum pan between the platesetter feet and the cooking grate to catch as much of the extra drippings as possible.
  • The Stall:  Like a pork butt, a brisket will reach approximately 160-170 degrees internal temperature and go into a stall.  During this time, the connective tissues in the brisket are breaking down and the magic is happening.  Once the process is complete, the temp will begin to climb again.  When it hits ~195 degrees and a temperature probe slides in easily with little reisisance, the brisket is done.  Frankly, this thing is going to look like a meteorite when it’s done but don’t let that fool you.
  • Burnt Ends:  At this point, if you’ve cooked a packer cut brisket it’s time to seperate the flat and the point.  You should be able to take a long knive and easily cut through the vein of fat that seperates the flat from the point.  The point is fattier and once removed, cube it, sauce it, and return it to the cooker.  The extra fat will continue to render from the pieces and the sauce will carmelize.  The sugar in the sauce will darken until the pieces look “burnt”, but trust me they aren’t and they are good eatin’!
  • Rest, slice, & serve:  I find that a brisket benefits even more from a little rest period than a pork butt.  I like to let it rest for at least a half hour.  During this time, the juices redistribute throughout the meat.  I typically slice with an electric knife and serve.

It’s true that it’s harder to get a perfect brisket than a perfect pork butt, but even the briskets that miss the mark are awesome.  So don’t be afraid or intimiated by that hunk of fat covered meat in your butcher’s meat case.  Take it home and give it a shot, it’s totally worth it.

Cheers,
Braddog 

Brisket Fail

Like most bloggers, I like to post about my successes. However, this weekend I didn’t fair so well and had a brisket that was a bit of a disappointment.

I’d been reading about a “quick brisket” (and a “quick pork butt”). The recipe claimed that you could cook at a higher temperature than normal and by cooking in an aluminum fan with a little beer you could turn out “fork tender” brisket in just 5-6 hours. These were the steps that I followed.

  • Cook indirect at 350* in an aluminum pan
  • When the meat reaches an internal temp of 140* cover with aluminum foil and add a can of beer to the pan
  • When the meat hits 170*, uncover and let the bark form until the internal temp hits 190*
brisketfail


I followed these steps, but what I ended up with was more like pot roast than BBQ.  The meat hit 190* in about 3 hours but it was far from tender.  I backed the temp down to 250*, and the meat temp fell back to ~180*.  I let it cook for several more hours until it was tender.  But as I said, it was more like pot roast than I’d hoped for.

But you know what the best part of a BBQ mistake is?  You still end up with something that’s pretty tasty.  I enjoyed roast beef sandwiches for a few days after this effort.

Cheers,
Braddog