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Better moisture in the flat

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    Better moisture in the flat

    I was hoping to get some guidance / tips for improvement with the flat when cooking a whole packer brisket. The point always comes out great, but more often than not the flat tends to be on the dry side. I typically smoke CHOICE cuts due to limited access to Prime in my area of NJ. I realize that’s a leaner cut and might contribute to the issue. That said, here’s how I cook it. I’d welcome any feedback:

    36” Lang reverse flow stick burner
    briskets average about 15lbs before trimming
    Fat cap is left at approx 1/4” thick
    typically inject night prior to the smoke with beef broth mixture
    cook temp averages 250
    cook to internal temp of 170 then wrap in butcher paper
    Internal temp hits 205 I start probe testing for tenderness then I pull it
    rest in cooler for 2-3 hours. Serve

    observation with the probe test…. I’ve yet to truly get the that effortless glide thru the meat on the flat that I do with the point. Meaning the flat shows signs of tough or dryness before resting. Is that a sign of over cooking the flat or undercooking? Is there a point that the flat stops tenderizing?

    What’s the temps of the point vs flat when you guys consider it done and probe tender ?

    I appreciate any tips!

    You are doing a lot of things right on a great cooker. Go by the "feel" of the brisket rather than a mandatory 205 internal temp every time. Start checking for probe tenderness earlier. Every single brisket is different regarding fat content and Choice cuts are leaner than Prime. Could be probe tender in the flat at a lower temp IMHO. Welcome BTW!


    • spaterno12
      spaterno12 commented
      Editing a comment
      I'll try it next cook. thanks for the welcome!

    1. Ignore the point when cooking a full packer. If cooking the point alone then take it to 210 internal.

    2. Don't compare the flat to the point. You might as well compare it to a medium-rare ribeye.....wow that would be good right now.

    3. The flat is quite literally one of the lowest end cuts on the cow, unless you got a supremely expensive brisket that has a plethora of fatty striations amongst the flat muscle fibers.

    4. Try your best to get the flat to probe tender or 203 internal, whichever comes first. If you get to 203 and it is still a little tight, then just hold it for a couple hours (maybe 4) to eek out the rest of the tenderness it behelds (fake technical term) in itself.


      I pull at 198 and assume that wrapped in cooler it will then come up to a slightly higher temp and avoid overcooking. I always throw in some liquid when I wrap around 160/165 … my go to is some strong coffee with some brown sugar and butter


      • bbqLuv
        bbqLuv commented
        Editing a comment
        Interesting, coffee, brown sugar, and butter braise.
        Just may have to give that a try

      • bbqLuv
        bbqLuv commented
        Editing a comment
        thejonnyfine are you related to The NannyFine?
        Never mind old sitcom.

      It doesn’t seem to me there is a lot more you can do. @thejohnnyfine suggestion of adding liquid might help. Do you use a water pan? You could try separating the point from the flat. You might try checking for probe tender at 195. While it won’t help the bark wrapping in foil might help the moisture. Are you wrapping the butcher as tight as possible?


      • spaterno12
        spaterno12 commented
        Editing a comment
        I have been using a water pan but it's more for temperature regulation. On the Lang, the temp tends to jump around less when I keep the water pan near the fire box. But to clarify, the pan was not positioned under the brisket. Maybe worth trying. thanks.

      Beef Tallow. While I’ve never tried it, the hype everywhere right now is to coat the inside of the butcher paper with tallow before wrapping. Some people also drizzle a little over the brisket too. The seems like a great opportunity to give it a try. I plan to try when I do a brisket again.


        I would add my personal tip of leaving a thicker fat cap on the flat, my advice is leave 1/2" no less. It won't affect much during cooking, but that extra soft fat in your mouth when eating slices of the flat will go a long way to improving mouthfeel and the sensation of juiciness. I started trying that and I haven't gone back.


          I cooked a choice packer this past weekend and thought that it came out better in terms of texture, tenderness and moisture than any choice I had previously cooked, though not as good as the one prime I did. I was meticulous in following Jeremy Yoder's techniques. Specifically, I let it go untouched for 3 hours then began spritzing with a 50/50 mixture of beer and apple cider vinegar. I spritzed every 45 minutes until I wrapped it. I also did a final spritz as I was wrapping it. I didn't wrap it until I was satisfied with the three or four visual cues that Jeremy recommends. In this case that was at 180°. I wrapped in butcher paper and put down a layer of beef Tallow that I had rendered from the trimmings of this brisket which I smoked for about 5 hours at the same time as the brisket. I am not at all sure that the Tallow made any appreciable difference. I had a FireBoard probe stuck deep in the flat where the point starts to overlap it. When the temp from that probe hit 190° I started probing for tenderness with my Thermapen in 3 sections - point end, middle by the FB probe and flat end, every 30 minutes. It probed tender in all 3 spots at 200°F. I pulled it off and left it wrapped on the counter at room temperature until the IT dropped to 180°F. Then I unwrapped it and rewrapped it with fresh butcher paper and more tallow. I rested it in a cooler for 5 more hours. The IT was 150° when I sliced it. Tenderness was excellent. It might not have been completely pull-apart, but was close. The flat was reasonably moist, for choice. Below is a screen shot of my cooking journal.
          Click image for larger version

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          • Dewesq55
            Dewesq55 commented
            Editing a comment
            1 additional comment on tallow. Jeremy uses wagyu tallow and claims it is much different chemically than regular tallow and that it makes a huge difference. Didn't have any wagyu tallow, so I used what I had.

          Thanks to all of you for these great suggestions. I think the common take away here is to maybe begin the probe test on the flat a bit sooner than waiting to 205. It sounds like I may be over cooking the flat. I look forward to giving it another go next opportunity. BTW, I did try the tallow injection (non wagyu of course)) and paper coating before wrapping on my last cook. Honestly, I don't think I saw a difference in the flat since I may have overcooked it, but as I mentioned, the point always comes out great. If I get to it this weekend I'll be sure to report any progress! Thanks again!


          • ecowper
            ecowper commented
            Editing a comment
            I think you almost certainly are over cooking the flat. I'd start probing for done as soon as the flat IT (using the location that Dewesq55 describes) hits 190F.

          I always use foil if I am wrapping my briskets. Then you can drizzle those juices all over the flat slices once you are ready to serve. This helps a lot with bringing the moisture back to the meat. It also packs a nice flavor punch too. Win, Win if you ask me.


            It seems you are doing everything right! Regarding the flat vs. point in terms of being done, generally this is done rather evenly in the Pit Barrel which i know you do not use. That is fine. You are right to use a water pan, although where possible, I get the meat to the stall and then bring it to 203F in a covered foil pan in my horizontal (large) grill at a very slow range.

            To me, the key to making this fine recipe is the long term brining, dry brining (which you have perfect - 3 days way enough) and then preparing the smoker for "low and slow;" that is, low heat and slow cook (unlike pilot talk which is a whole different subject.

            Spinaker does essentially what I do, and that is to have the brisket above the (drizzled) moisture.

            I have done a half dozen of these or more and the great news is that it get's better and better with patience and attention to temperature.

            Finally, I buy Choice Beef from either Hardy's (L.A. town) or really at the super market where I have received the friendship from the staff, as they will save a whole packer for me and while they offer to trim it, I would prefer doing that on my own since it is important - especially on a flat end to reserve some fat on the meat unlike the point.

            Bon appetit!!!



              Have you ever noticed how nice and juicy the flat is that’s right under the point? So like others have said I would leave a larger amount of fat on the flat. Trim the hard thick fat off but leave the majority of the softer fat on. What doesn’t render during the cook comes off pretty easy when slicing.
              Sometimes if the flat is on the thinner side I’ll cut it off straight down where it meets the point. Smoke it for a couple hours then finish it in a sous vide for 48 hours. Then I have the point to cook for guests at a later date.


                As I’ve said in other posts I trim the thin end of the flat off and grind it on my little Kitchen Aid mixer attachment. It’s just another option. IMHO they make a good burger when ground. I’d rather have a good burger than a serving of iffy flat.


                • Troutman
                  Troutman commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Same here but I make pastrami out of it. Quite frankly I’m tired of fighting it. I don’t generally need 8-10# of brisket anyway so a nice point is perfect.

                You know brisket, and probably whole hog, are really the holy grails of barbecue. And as a subset to that, getting a rich, moist slice of flat is probably the hardiest thing to achieve and what really defines a good brisket cook. The point takes care of itself since it's so rich in fat. So let's examine what occurs in a flat during cooking and ways to improve on it.

                First you have a thin piece of meat. Second you generally speaking have a relative lack of intermuscular fat. And third (and I argue a lot of people have lost sight of this), you have a much lower moisture content with greater exposure to its loss.

                Thin meat should speak for itself. You have to concentrate on it and it alone, the rest will follow in kind. That gets into technique and lots has been said so I won't repeat it. In your description it seems you're doing the right thing generally speaking.

                So that leaves fat and moisture. Fat content is a function or result of the grade of beef you buy. Select and most choice have very little intermuscular fat in the flat. Fat provides a natural binder to the protein chains and melting (or rendering it) helps break apart those chains and tenderizes as well as giving you great mouth feel and taste. Thus the more the better. Yes the YouTubers are all jumping on the Wagyu beef tallow wagon. Personally I think it's way over blown.

                First of all why Wagyu tallow? Well Wagyu is a Japanese cow bred to genetically produce fat that turns what would be normal saturated fat into oleic acid which is monounstatured. That means it tends to be oilier and breaks down easier, and thus is supposedly more heathy. Think of it more like olive oil then say a piece of fat from a ribeye. I suppose using it, so it's theorized, helps topically to prevent the lose of moisture. There's no way chemically that the fat somehow mysteriously penetrates the meat and does what rendered intermuscular fat does. That said some say injecting it may help. I have injected tallow but it was mostly just a big greasy mess and didn't see any benefit. You may want to experiment with this, either apply it to the brisket or inject it within the brisket.

                So that leaves moisture. Think of the meat protein cells as little cylinders filled with water all lined up in a row. What happens is when you apply heat to that cylinder the walls of that structure tends to soften and eventually break down. This is why we don't overcook tender meat like steak, we need to retain that moisture. In brisket its a bit trickier. You have to render the fat and connective tissue without moisture loss. Otherwise you end up with shoe leather.

                One of the things that comp pitmasters have done over the years is to inject with a solution containing phosphate. Phosphate tends to bind to that cylinder wall and gives it strength, thus helping to retain moisture. The solution to carry that phosphate of course is up for endless debate. I've seen Harry Soo do lots of briskets by pouring cans of beef consume over the flat during the cooking process. Again he is trying to introduce and also retain moisture. There are plenty of products, like Butchers, that provide powders you can mix that contain a lot of these components. I've found them to help quite a bit, so you might try that strategy.

                At the end of the day, my best advice is to buy quality meat. Unless you are cooking a lot or can't afford it, it's not that much more to go prime. Try one of the fat or moisture strategies I talk about. Get some additional fat or moisture in your wrap. Also think about cutting back the thin end until it's no more than an inch thick. Use the rest for burger or stews. I sometimes make beef stock out of it. Or do what I also do, cut the whole flat off and make pastrami out of it.

                I'm not sure there is any one thing you can do to get a moist, juicy flat. It's a number of things from quality of meat, cooking technique and perhaps injections or topicals that you need to experiment with and perfect to the best of your ability. Good luck, I know there's a lot of satisfaction in nailing the cooking of a brisket, that holy grail of barbecue.

                Last edited by Troutman; August 1, 2021, 08:40 AM.



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