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Help me with Brisket...

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    Help me with Brisket...

    I have lived in California my whole life. I have never travelled to Texas, the Carolinas, Tennessee, or Missouri. My barbecue experience consists of Santa Maria Tri Tip (my whole adult life) and whatever passes for "barbecue" in California restaurants, which I gather, isn't any good.
    A year ago, I got an SNS kettle and have since been making bacon and cooking pork butt pretty regularly, in addition to my normal of Tri Tip, beef roasts and turkey.

    I want to do "real" barbecue, and that generally means brisket and ribs.

    Step one- Brisket.
    This is blasphemy saying out loud, but I have never had BBQ brisket before. Let that sink in a little.
    It is not a "normal" grocery store item here is SoCal, though Costco and Sams do carry the whole thing. I don't think my first brisket should be some 20 hour marathon on a $100+ full packer, so I think I am going to get something smaller. Wild Fork has a 6-ish lb Black Angus flat for about 60 bucks. I think I'll start there.

    Now, the questions, I apologize in advance
    Having never eaten it, how is it served? Assuming it's ready for dinner (cook time + rest), do you slice it and serve it like a roast? What kind of sides- potatoes, rice, vegetables?

    If it's not ready for dinner, what then? Refrigerate, then reheat the next day for dinner? Slice it cold for sandwiches?

    What to do with the leftovers, as a 6lb piece of meat for 4 people surely will have some. I have a nice slicer and a vacuum sealer, can it be sliced thinly for sandwiches? I assume cubed for chili. Frozen and re-heated for dinner again?

    I've read up a lot on here about brisket, but without having actually tasted it, I am flying a bit blind.

    (cracks knuckles)

    First off, start with a chuck roast. Very similar in many respects and cheaper for practice (also fewer leftovers). Chuck isn't brisket but it's also not $100 a shot

    OK now to questions...

    It's served sliced, relatively thick (1/8 to 1/4") - like a roast, basically. Sides can be whatever but I've seen Mac and cheese, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans.

    For leftovers, you can vacuum seal (or just wrap tightly) WITHOUT slicing if you want to have it that way again. Slicing seems to let it dry out and you're going to re-heat it, so it's better done as a chunk of meat. You can freeze the chunk of brisket if you want.

    Check out this 9 min video for basics from a master :

    Prepping the brisket

    Cooking the brisket

    Eating the brisket:
    Last edited by rickgregory; October 27, 2021, 04:45 PM.


    • Huskee
      Huskee commented
      Editing a comment
      In my neck of the woods chuck isn't cheaper, per lb anyway, cheaper in that they're usually comparably tiny. But good advice regardless.

    • rickgregory
      rickgregory commented
      Editing a comment
      Chuck is more expensive per pound here too but you can buy a 2-3lb chuck and be under $20 or $30, so the absolute outlay is less.

    This first item is really, really important. Make sure you slice the brisket across the grain and not with the meat grain. You can freeze left over brisket sealed in vacuum bags. Once defrosted you can heat the bags in boiling water which will keep it moist. Sides are up to you, but traditional sides include coleslaw, potato salad, and piano beans.
    Last edited by LA Pork Butt; October 29, 2021, 11:38 AM.


      Long story short, go to You tube.
      There are literally dozens of vids on how to prepare and smoke a brisket.
      Malcom Reed, Meat Church, Bearded Butchers to name just a few will set you up just fine on how its done from trimming right thru to cutting a brisket correctly.
      I did a brisket two weeks ago and took a coupla tutorials just to brush up on things.
      ....for sides a brisket ain't a brisket without beanz....


        All great recommendations, suggest you go to the free site of Amazing Ribs and follow Meatheads recipe & steps for your 1st attempt. As expected, it is a winner.


        • CaptainMike
          CaptainMike commented
          Editing a comment
          Yep, this how I did my first one and it turned out great.

        As stated above, go to the free side and MH's recipe. Also, ecowper has a great tutorial and hopefully he will chime in shortly.

        Bottom line, don't sweat it! You have a fine grasp of cooking and you've done pork butts, which are not too different from cooking briskets. However, even though you're picking a smaller piece of meat, briskets are done when they're done, whether that's 6 hours or 16. Be mindful of internal temps, but probe tender is what your looking for rather than a specific finished temp. When your thermometer probe slides in like buttah, you're done and ready for a couple hour resting.

        Keep us posted about your progress and results. Like buying a house, the first one is the hardest one!


        • Dr. Pepper
          Dr. Pepper commented
          Editing a comment
          And, let the temp come down to about 160 during the rest, then if you have time before dinner, wrap in towel, put in a cooler or Cambro. Resting vs Holding. I made a mistake in putting the 203 F brisket directly into a Cambro. When we pulled it out 3 hours later for dinner, that internal heat for three more hours had overcooked the brisket.

        • crazytown3
          crazytown3 commented
          Editing a comment
          +1 on letting the temp come down before wrapping to rest. That's a little step that can make a big difference.

        Worst case, you gotta make some chilli and some omelets or whatever if it's dry. Also SoCal born and raised until I was a teen, then moved a state over that I claim... anyway, BBQ to me was chicken slathered in sauce... so I feel ya.

        You'll figure it out. While I agree with the start with chucks above, I would also look at tri-tip brisket style if you're more comfortable with the cut and price. Tri Tip Cooked Like a Brisket - a How-To - Hey Grill, Hey (heygrillhey.com)


        • glitchy
          glitchy commented
          Editing a comment
          I agree, bad brisket still makes great chili.

        I just have a meta observation: don’t overthink things. It’s just a big hunk of meat. Cook it. If you follow the advice from any of the thousands of videos and tutorials all over the internet, you have a good chance of getting close enough. Even if it isn’t perfect, it will be really good. Let it do what it does.


        • crazytown3
          crazytown3 commented
          Editing a comment
          I'm with you. Have a few drinks, take a nap, have a few more drinks. My first brisket was an overnight cook, and I slept for 95% of it.

        I do think trisket and chuck are good practice runs if you’ve never smoked beef to 200 degrees and maybe zoning in on the rubs you prefer. I personally don’t feel that either is super comparible for actually cooking brisket as chuckies are near impossible to ruin and I feel like tri-tip you can just hit 195-200 and call it good. I really like both though and cook them more than brisket.

        The challenge with flats is drying them out. Well that’s the challenge with brisket period, but flats even more so. Once your bark is set, I’d wrap in untreated butcher paper and maybe even coat the paper with some tallow or drippings caught from the brisket. In theory this helps keep the dry paper from wicking away enough moisture to get saturated.

        There are so many different methods, theories, etc. for cooking brisket. The one step that seems to be the most agreed upon though is a long hold in a cooler, cambro or 160-180 degree oven after letting it sit just long enough to stop cooking.

        Also, prime brisket seems to provide a lot more consistent results than choice. So, if Wild Fork is choice and Costco is Prime, I’d buy the packer and cut it in half if you have a good way to seal it up and freeze the other half for your second brisket cook.
        Last edited by glitchy; October 27, 2021, 06:51 PM.


        • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
          ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
          Editing a comment
          I like the chuckie option because if you rely on temp you can end up with pulled beef (still great and tender), but it teaches you to probe test on a cheaper slab of meat. The tri-tip option only helps you control your fire for a long period of time so maybe not as useful except for time management purposes. It's rare here to get a tritip with a fat cap, I don't remember them ever having a fat cap in Cali, but I have got one mail order with a cap and one local, so who knows these days.

        I have been grilling for decades and smoking meat for about ten years. And although I had eaten a lot of brisket, I had never cooked one. After reading the various advice here in The Pit, I decided to just follow that advice and go for it about six weeks ago. It turned out great and I wondered what took me so long! Don’t sweat it. You’ll do fine.


          I still remember my first brisket and the two that followed. There were no rave reviews to be had. Here’s what was causing me trouble. First I was using a rub I liked on steak, that gave way to just salt and pepper, it was much better. Second I had it in my head that time was what determined when to pull a brisket. That’s wrong too. When the internal temp passes 195F I now start using a bamboo skewer to check for tenderness. Some where between 195 and 203 the skewer will slide through like it’s going into warm butter. It’s done at that point. Last but not least the brisket needs to be wrapped in foil, then wrapped in old towels, and put in a cooler to rest for a minimum of two hours, some of us rest ours as long as four hours or more. It makes a big difference. Every brisket is different. There are several good videos on you tube to help you pick a good one. You’ll get this much sooner than I did.
          Last edited by Oak Smoke; October 27, 2021, 07:04 PM.


          • Jfrosty27
            Jfrosty27 commented
            Editing a comment
            This the kind of advice I was talking about in my post above. Just follow it and you turn out a great brisket.

          • Mosca
            Mosca commented
            Editing a comment
            And on “like butter”: if you’re wondering, “Is that like butter?” It isn’t. When it is, you’ll think, “Oh. THAT is like butter!”

          Once upon a time I was in the same boat as you - a SoCal native who’d never had real barbecue. Eight years ago I went to Texas on a business trip and discovered brisket. My life was forever changed.

          When I came home I wanted to have that brisket again. Even found a local place that came darn close (talking to their pit master I found out he’s from Texas!).

          For a couple years I wanted to make my own, but after reading so many horror stories about how difficult it is to cook properly I was too terrified to drop a bunch of cash on what could end up in the trash.

          So I read, and read some more. I poured over every word of Meatheads brisket guide on the free site countless times. I darn near had the whole article committed to memory.

          Only then did I feel up to the challenge. I picked up a Prime packer from Costco and prayed!

          All my fears were for naught. It was an easy cook. Only about 9 hours. And it came out great! I’m a firm believer that Prime grade beef makes a big difference. Has a lot more room for error compared to (what I’ve read about) lower grades.

          Brisket has been my favorite cook for the last 6+ years. I’ve only ever cooked Prime packers from Costco. And the dozens that I’ve cooked have all come out great! (Save for that one where I fell asleep near the end of the cook and it went to 209°F internal temp. It couldn’t be sliced…it just fell apart. But it was still moist and delicious (thank you PRIME beef!).

          So just go to Costco and pick up one of the smaller Prime full packers. While it’s aging in your fridge for a few weeks devour Meatheads article. You’ll be kicking yourself for not trying it sooner!

          …oh, and all it needs is 50/50 coarse kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper. No need to dry brine, just pull it out of the fridge and trim while your pit is heating up. Hit it with the 50/50 and toss it in the pit!
          Last edited by Santamarina; October 27, 2021, 08:46 PM.


          • Jfrosty27
            Jfrosty27 commented
            Editing a comment
            Oh my. Your story is mine all the way. I feel better after waiting so long to jump in and just go for it. Glad I am not alone. 😂

          • glitchy
            glitchy commented
            Editing a comment
            I tried a S&P only brisket recently and all I can add is brisket controls the flavor. I personally don’t think that adding some other flavors to the mix is wrong, especially garlic, paprika, and chili powder, but you’d be amazed how much s&p brisket tastes like a complicated rub. More so than any other meat I’ve cooked.

          I wrote this post for a friend that was contemplating cooking his first brisket. There’s lots of tips and tricks that I’ve learned over quite a few years and quite a few failures. A couple of my own observations relative to your post
          • the first brisket I ever tried was a flat. It was my most dramatic failure: dry, tough, way over cooked. It wasn’t until I cooked a whole packer that I was successful with brisket
          • One of the keys to success is mapping out the cook from beginning to end, having a plan, and following that plan.
          • I assume you’ve mastered your SNS Kettle, which is a great choice by the way.
          • 6 lbs of brisket, after trimming, and cooking, will yield more like 3.5 lbs of cooked meat. It will feed 4 with leftovers, but not as much as 6 lbs sounds like.
          Biggest tip I have? Enjoy the experience. Brisket is one of the big daddies of BBQ. It’s actually fun to cook, in my opinion. Find a good balance between planning and having fun and go for it.


            I’ve never smoked a brisket either but have owned a smoker for 4 years now. Not because I’m afraid I’ll mess it up but because they’re too expensive now. $100 in Niles Costco. Maybe that’s a good price or the it stays that way but who knows. When I do make the leap I’m going to just buy a prime packer from Costco and use the knowledge I’ve gained from other cooks, most good but even a few bad and apply it to my cook. And make sure I have plenty of beer to that night and day.


            • glitchy
              glitchy commented
              Editing a comment
              Dude, you gotta try it. Butcher paper, probe tender, and long rest are the keys. You’ll get 5-0-70% yield, so think about the other things or just brisket leftovers you can do with $100 worth of meat…a lot more than $100/worth of Prime ribeye for sure. Unless it’s still $9.99/lb in your hood.

            Excellent advice to start with a chuck roast (they're cheaper and more forgiving). Another good place to start is a pork butt (i.e., shoulder) for pulled pork.



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