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Brisket - Breaking down a whole packer, and the cook

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    Brisket - Breaking down a whole packer, and the cook

    I don't claim to have the secret to doing a good brisket; mine have been inconsistent - some great, some not so. And I've never taken a whole packer apart before this (and don't know entirely if I've done it correctly). But I thought I'd document this, just in case it turns out.

    This was a 13 lb Choice Angus brisket. I froze it in its cryovac shortly after I got it and then thawed it out in the fridge over the course of almost a week.

    Here's the fat cap side up

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    And the other side

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    First, I did a major fat trim and cleaned off most of the silver skin from the non-cap side

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    I trimmed the cap down to about 1/4" and took off that harder fat wherever it was

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    (continued below)
    Last edited by The Burn; December 25, 2014, 07:29 PM.

    Then I started working on separating the flat from the point. Looking at it from different angles

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    I just began to cut with the sharp tip of my knife along the fat that separates the two pieces, leaving fat on the flat for its own "cap"

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    (continued below)


      Looking good....I sure don't miss that when I am not doing it.

      What fascinates me, is the fact that the point muscle ALWAYS goes perpendicular to the length of the brisket. The flat, who the heck knows which way the muscles striations will be.
      Last edited by Jerod Broussard; December 25, 2014, 07:30 PM.


        Here are the two separated pieces. (It only looks like it's attached in the first photo)

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        The flat was still fairly uneven in thickness, but so be it

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        Then I cleaned them up a bit more. After all the trimming, I was down from 13 lbs to a 6.25 flat and a 3.5 lb point. Notice on the left side of the flat in the 1st photo (or on the right in the 2nd) - I trimmed off a corner so I'd have a guide for slicing across the grain (someone else's suggestion). On the point, it'll be easier to remember as I'll be slicing along the long edge (the top edge on the 1st photo) or I'll be cubing anyway if I go burnt ends.

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        These are sitting in the fridge dry brining. Going to start the cook early in the morning. Only a dalmatian rub. No oil layer. No injection. No crutching. Just have to figure out positioning on the kettle/smokenator.

        Check back during the day for updates or the final results.
        Last edited by The Burn; December 25, 2014, 09:10 PM.


          I mark my flat corner just to be sure, especially if the muscle really curves to the side. If you don't lay your rub too thick, especially on a brisket like that, you will be able to see the muscle grain.


            Don't know what's going on with this brisket. No stall!

            It's been on for just about 4 hours and one piece is at 190 and the other at 187. Have not been high temps. To the contrary, I spilled water early on moving the water pan and it dropped to 180. I remembered Tuffy saying that he cooked them at 200 at the restaurants, so I let it rise really gradually on its own over the first two hours. Popped up to 245-250 for about 30 minutes recently, but that's it. Checked my meat probes with the handheld that I calibrated the other day in boiling water, so they're pretty accurate.

            Here's a quick peek in:

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            That's sun reflecting off the moisture on the flat on the far side.

            If it doesn't stall soon, dinner tonight is going to be leftover/re-heated brisket. I think an 8-9 hold is a bit much to ask.


              If it's any consolation I had a Choice brisket, 16lb packer, ready for the cambro at about the 4hr-5hr mark. Cooking at 240ish. Pit Boss was involved in the cook sort of, he's my witness. It happens. I had a 6hr cambro hold. not ideal but it still got compliments.


                I dragged it out as long as I could on the kettle by keeping the temp about 210. The point actually hit 203 first.

                Here are the two pieces right off the grill

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                And put back together

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                They were probe tender and seemed to be internally juicy. Let's what happens after 4+ hours. Frustrating stuff - Texas brisket was the reason I first started smoking and it's the one thing I can't get a handle on. Something different seems to go wrong each time. But like when I used to play golf or go to Vegas - there's always just enough right to suck me back in.


                  They look good! I think you might be OK as long as they don't turn all fall apart on you during that long hold.


                    I have a question because I want to learn something (I have never cooked a brisket but want to): Why do you separate the flat and point, rather than keeping them together in one piece?

                    They look awesome, by the way.



                    • The Burn
                      The Burn commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Not everyone does and I haven't before. BUT the point is usually so much thicker than the flat that it's hard to get it all cooked evenly. On my last whole packer, the point was juicy but the flat was quite dry. Despite having had things go wrong on this cook, both parts turned out great (see below).

                    • Dewesq55
                      Dewesq55 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Thanks for taking the time to respond. And your finished product is making me salivate in front of my computer screen. So that's a good thing, right?

                    • The Burn
                      The Burn commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Only if you have the keyboard drool protector...

                    Thanks for documenting this, it looks great! Hope it turns out the same.


                      Apparently, despite my fumblings, I was meant to cook a good brisket today. The flat was good - nice bark and moist:

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                      The point, on the other hand, was great - tender, juicy, good tasting fat. If I could cook these all the time I'd be a happy man:

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                      And, although I'm a Texas brisket purist, as I was worried that the brisket was going to turn out dry, I found a thin sauce recipe attributed to Walter Jetton (LBJ's pitmaster) and it was a really nice addition. No more snobbery


                        From the outside they looks as good as they should. That is, a mostly black-some brown, slightly moist hunk of meat. Spot on!

                        EDIT: Posted this right before you put up your internal pics. NICE!! That is perfect!! Well done!



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