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Real talk: brisket flat

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    Real talk: brisket flat

    Hi! I need to get y’alls opinion on trimming a brisket, specifically the flat (as part of a full packer). I’ve done plenty of briskets, and am proud of the product I put out. But one thing that always bugs me is that I feel the need to trim, or rather cut off, a large part of the flat.

    Main reason: The point is typically 5” thick, while the flat is max 1” thick. It’s just physically impossible to get the two "ends" of a brisket done at the same time and with the same juiciness. Laws of physics and stuff.

    I have never been able to score prime briskets in Sweden. The only option is choice. So, I don’t know if prime brisket flats are much thicker.

    What I do is I trim the full packer as usual, but then I feel the flat for thickness. Most of the time it literally feels like a thin flank steak, flapping about like an appendix. When that is the case, I simply cut it straight off with a knife. It still makes for great burgers, nothing goes to waste.

    So, it’s still a full packer, I just "shortened" the flat by cutting off 4”.

    What is your take on this? Do you share my frustration and experience with the flat being too thin? And if so, do you also cut off 4” (or so) like I do? Is prime so much better?

    Let me know how you do, your feedback is appreciated.

    I know I can smoke the flat and the point separately, but I prefer doing them together.

    Henrik Not for exactly the same reason, I have taken to cutting a full packer (usually "choice" from Costco) in half near the flat-to-point junction. That is to get it all into our rather small freezer. However, it also lets me cook them separately and completely differently from traditional. I posted a thread about the results of this method for the flat section that turned out wonderful. You might give it a try as it really helps overcome the challenge for getting the flat moist, tender and scrumptious.

    SVQ Brisket Serious Eats (mostly) Recipe - Pitmaster Club (amazingribs.com)


      I only worry if a portion of the flat is significantly thinner than the rest of the flat. Then a little extra trimming is in order.


      • Oak Smoke
        Oak Smoke commented
        Editing a comment
        I like the idea you had a year or so ago. We discussed taking two of the trimmed flats and stacking them. I’ve got several thin flat ends. I will be tieing one on top of the other with the fat caps on top and bottom soon. It could be good. The other thing I want to try is SVing one then and making some kind of burnt ends out of it.

      • Jerod Broussard
        Jerod Broussard commented
        Editing a comment
        Oak Smoke While attempting to increase bark on the "downslope" of the point, I'll cut off that skinny section of flat that covers the before mentioned downslope. They've smoked well alone.

      Henrik I dont do tons of brisket due to availability here in NJ but im on the same page. I wish it would cook up hot and fast like a flank but it does not. When i do cook brisket, more often than not the point gets gobbled up and i end up using the flat for chili or stew. I pretty much have just given up on getting legit good flat from a full packer. That could also very easily be my own lack of skill.


        We trim the flat off that is super thin, say less than 3/4" thick. Different packers trim differently. When they are trying to add weight, they just keep more of that thin part of the flat. Trimming off 4" of flat is more than we have ever had to do. Usually it's a curve around the thinnest, corner, and maybe an inch off the end. Sometimes nothing, again, depending on the packer.

        I'm sure your packer sources are more limited. However, it may be time to just try again and see what other options might have popped up.

        I thought I was happy with my suppliers. Then this evil price increase (COVID is being blamed, I'm not so sure), and I scratched harder and found stuff I didn't know was there before.

        Any pictures?


        • Debra
          Debra commented
          Editing a comment
          It would be interesting to hear the "stuff" you found when you scratched harder. The little research I have done seems like nonsense and does not follow the typical patterns. That is not surprising though in these times.

        I got tired of fighting that battle a long time ago Henrik. I just either cut off a large portion of the flat or separate the two muscles and treat them separately. You can cook them together or do what I do, make corned beef/pastrami out of the flat. Got one corning as I write this 👍


        • Henrik
          Henrik commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks Steve! Corned beef from the flat is a great idea!

        • gcdmd
          gcdmd commented
          Editing a comment
          Ditto on corning the flat. The few I've done have been much better than store-bought. Another alternative could be giving it a brief time in the smoker and then braising it, sort of a variant of the chili/stew approach.

        Perhaps you are over thinking this. Don't worry about it. The final is good then it is good.
        I enjoy cooking for friends and family.


          I always trim aggressively, but keep the point and flat together and cook as a single cut of meat. I don’t know that prime or choice makes that much difference as to thickness of the flat. I tend to cut off a couple inches of the flat that seem too thin.

          I am considering separating point and flat at some point and trying it out that way. But the one time I ever cooked a flat by itself, it was the worst thing I ever cooked on a bbq :-)
          Last edited by ecowper; November 28, 2021, 05:42 PM.


            Over the past couple years I’ve been just cut the flat off right where it connects to the point. This leaves me a nice piece of the flat under the point and it cooks up great. For the flat, if it’s thin I’ll just grind it up into burger but otherwise I do the QVQ method with it.


              Because of my cooker I always separate the point from the flat and cook them on two levels in my cooker.


                When I'm cooking a brisket for home Consumption, I ask if the butcher can sell me just the point section. If not, I just go looking for beef short ribs. If I can't score beef short ribs, I will chop off as much of the flat as possible and keep for grinding or chilli. I do not care for the flat all


                • ecowper
                  ecowper commented
                  Editing a comment
                  The thing is, I have fairly good sized groups of people come over and brisket is one of the things I cook for those large groups. Some like flat, some like point. Smart thing to do is cook a whole packer.

                • Ernest
                  Ernest commented
                  Editing a comment
                  ecowper right and that's why I emphasized the home consumption. For a crowd, it's had to beat the economy of a whole packer. It does satisfy the 2 camps. Even then, I tend to trim off the very thin part of the flat after cooking

                • Troutman
                  Troutman commented
                  Editing a comment
                  HEB sells flats and points separately. Unfortunately it's not Prime but select grade. But I'm with you, we just don't need 12# of brisket meat in our house. That's why I only cook maybe 2-3 briskets a year any more. Too many other cooks to be had and too little time !!!

                Thanks all, great input. Basically I'm not alone in cutting off the flat if it's too thin. I'll use it for burgers or pastrami.


                • Polarbear777
                  Polarbear777 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Agreed. That last 4” is makes darn good burgers.

                Due to the size of my vertical offset smoker I always cut them in half, right in the middle. To my surprise they’re usually done at the same time!

                (Costco Prime packer)


                  Since I cook brisket in the PBC and I like to get 15 lbs or better packers, I have to adjust my hook placement to keep the end (tip of flat) from touching the coals. Trimming would help with this but I manage as is because I give out bits of that end for a taste test before we all sit down to eat. Everyone seems to enjoy crunching down on these.


                    I cook full packers as a whole. I'll try to select a brisket with a more uniform thickness if possible. I'll trim any large amount of fat but I've started to leave the flat fat a little thicker. I use a vertical smoker and I think it tends to insulate the meat a little. When you're done with the cook trim some fat that didn't render. I'm not serving it in a restaurant. Fat is flavor


                    • Henrik
                      Henrik commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Fat is flavor, indeed! And yes, picking the best one at the store really helps.


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