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    Question about cooking whole brisket

    Hey guys, I guess I don't understand why brisket is cooked whole in the first place since the muscle structure and texture are different between the flat and point. Wouldn't you want to apply specific techniques and timings for each? Maybe it's just easier to separate after the cook or it's the challenge that pitmasters enjoy? This inquiring mind would like to know!

    #2
    I cook whole then separate if I am doing burnt ends, since the point needs more time. I might would separate from the get go if I had the room. However, I've cooked enough, I know about what the point needs when the flat is done, when cooked connected.
    Last edited by Jerod Broussard; January 9, 2015, 04:47 AM.

    Comment


    • eugenek
      eugenek commented
      Editing a comment
      It sounds like more a matter of convenience for you, is that right? If you're keeping the brisket in the smoker longer to compensate for the point, don't you risk overcooking the flat and drying it out?

    #3
    What Jerod said! I trim briskets to where the point is almost off anyway. Just makes it easier to separate without all the fat between the two muscles.

    Comment


    • eugenek
      eugenek commented
      Editing a comment
      So in the case where you trim most of the point off, is that because the focus of your cook is really on the flat? Why not just take the point off all the way? Is this because the point plays an essential part in the brisket cook for, say, moisture retention in the flat? Thanks!

    #4
    Great question, as I agree with your premise that the two pieces are different enough that perhaps they should be separated. I'd love to hear from people who have tried that (and why they don't recommend) or people who cook this way as their normal process. One thing I love about this site is how it challenges the conventional wisdom.

    I can see two advantages possibly:

    1) more bark
    2) pulling whichever piece reaches temp sooner off earlier. The converse of that would be that- depending on where your probe is - you might be pulling one piece off too soon if they are together. I know you're supposed to take multiple measurements at different points in the brisket but I'm usually too impatient to do that. If it reads 203 somewhere, I'm setting it out to rest!

    Comment


      #5
      I forgot to mention, watch the Pit Barrel Video on Youtube with Brisket. I trim like he does, and I try to get all the external fat off the thicker part of the point.

      And as Candy mentioned, there isn't much left to that fat vein b/n the two muscles when it comes time to separate.

      Comment


      • Spinaker
        Spinaker commented
        Editing a comment
        Jerod, is there any disadvantage to not separating the brisket? I'm going to be doing a Brisket cook sometime this week, and I have a large packer. (15 lbs) Should I separate it? I'm just nervous about not doing it correctly and ruining a PRIME brisket that I have let age now for almost a month. I see above that you cook it whole then separate, since I have the room because I'm only doing one Brisket, should I just separate it right away then throw the two separate pieces on the PBC? Let me know man. Thanks

      • Jerod Broussard
        Jerod Broussard commented
        Editing a comment
        If it is over 18" in length I would cut off the top of the point as pictured below. That has worked well for me.

      #6
      I'm a noob on Brisket, not like SirJerodtheAwesomeWhoCooks20ofThemAWeekend who I respect so much! (Jerod, when are you driving through Lake Charles next? #StopBy!!!)

      I love the Bark! So I've had fun separating them to cook on my last several. Results have been good! However, as I said, I'm new to Brisket (cooked less than 15 of them) and just leaning.

      Comment


      • Jerod Broussard
        Jerod Broussard commented
        Editing a comment
        Will do. Might be headed down there for the 4th.

      • PaulstheRibList
        PaulstheRibList commented
        Editing a comment
        RightOn!

      #7
      Seems like restaurants/caterers keep them whole because it's a good amount of labor to trim tight and separate, and whole is how we are used to it?

      Comment


      • Jerod Broussard
        Jerod Broussard commented
        Editing a comment
        It is a pain to do all that trimming. But once that is done, nothing really to separating. But when serving, with enough rest, you can offer lean or fatty, and roll with that.

      #8
      I've done it both ways. I changed too many other variables to compare though. See my thread on prime brisket under the PBC section for a separated method and picks.

      Comment


        #9
        Thanks for the replies. I was reading Mosca's thread "Is it heresy to not like brisket?" and I wondered to myself whether brisket might be considered the Jekyll and Hyde of beef. Because I enjoy the fatty point, yet I always come away indifferent when it comes to the leaner flat. My guess is that I haven't really tried great brisket yet, although I've been to a couple better than average places such as the Salt Lick and Iron Works, as well as Bludso's in LA/Compton, and APL's popup when he visited Hollywood.

        Here's a quote from meathead on his brisket recipe page:
        3) Use a whole packer if you can. Small pieces, like a four pound hunk o' flat (HOF) or hunk o' point (HOP) lose a lot of moisture, shrink a lot, and get tough.
        So a couple noob questions:
        • Is it uncommon to cook these separately?
        • If they are cooked separately, wouldn't there be a way to adjust the cook so that you don't lose moisture?
        That second question gets to my original question above: Wouldn't you want to apply specific techniques and timings for each?

        I really appreciate the discussion and help in understanding.

        Comment


        • Guy
          Guy commented
          Editing a comment
          Eugenek, I imagine Jerod is a pretty good expert on the brisket. Folks pay him to cook their briskets for them. Just from what I have gathered here it does not matter if you cook the flat and point separated from each other. To me since they are finished at different times it seems it would be easier to separate them but again from what I have read here you will separate them in the end anyway. Kind of like cooking a turkey with white meat and dark meat except it would be hard to separate the two on a turkey. I think Jerod did say he thought Meathead cooks is brisket separate now. I just don't see why it would matter. JMHO.

        • eugenek
          eugenek commented
          Editing a comment
          No doubt about Jerod—I wasn't trying to dismiss his expertise (or anyone else's) so my apologies if it came across that way. My gut tells me it should matter because the muscle structure seems pretty different, but that's from what little knowledge I have of brisket. (And I've already proven my gut can be wrong!) My takeaway from what Jerod and Candy wrote above are twofold: 1) It's a matter of convenience and 2) the focus of the cook is mostly on the flat. Thanks guys, I dont want to beat a dead horse if that's pretty much what it is.

        • Guy
          Guy commented
          Editing a comment
          eugenek, I could have probably worded the part about Jerod better than I did. I knew what you meant. And I know you were not dismissing the rest of us. I am just now getting to where I even understand brisket points and flats. So I am really learning from this discussion. Thanks, Guy

        #10
        By the way, while we're on the subject of the flat and point, I thought this was an interesting post from TMBBQ in defense of lean brisket. Here's a quote:

        But lean doesn’t have to be dry; it just takes a little extra know-how from the pitmaster, and maybe a better grade of beef. A Select grade brisket just doesn’t have the intramuscular fat within the lean side to keep it juicy, which is why pitmasters like John Lewis at la Barbecue are choosing to use Prime briskets. No matter the grade, getting a decent slice from the fatty end is easy enough, but it takes a steady fire and a watchful eye to find the sweet spot in the lean end. “The point has a much wider window of perfection than the flat does,” is how Franklin explains it.

        Comment


          #11
          I am pretty sure Meathead is cooking them separately these days.

          I often wondered if it also has to do with the amount of connective tissue. I once cooked a Prime flat that you could literally bend to the side and see the meat just come apart. It had some fat, but it wasn't really loaded like the Wagyu I've seen pictures of. And it got done waaaay before 203.

          I only separate, to some extent, to get my longer briskets (19+ inches) farther off the charcoal basket. Even then, I just cut off the point where the flat ends. Like so in the pic below. That is a 24" ruler. Compliments of my surveying course in college.

          Click image for larger version

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          Comment


          • Spinaker
            Spinaker commented
            Editing a comment
            Wow, then do you just hang that top piece next to the brisket? What if you cut part of the bottom off, hung that and just used to for burnt ends? Just a thought.

          #12
          So Jerod....how long will it take to cook this brisket? And what's your nominal temp?

          Comment


          • Jerod Broussard
            Jerod Broussard commented
            Editing a comment
            Loaded down with at least 3-4 briskets is 8-10 hours. Depends if I let it ride around 250, or push it higher. One thing is for sure, about 4 hours in, expect a sudden drop in temp when they start sweating all that moisture out. : )

          • PaulstheRibList
            PaulstheRibList commented
            Editing a comment
            Jerod, that's in the PBC, I'm assuming?

          • Jerod Broussard
            Jerod Broussard commented
            Editing a comment
            Yeh. You can get done a lot earlier, but I prefer to hang 5.5-6 hours, then start laying on the grate to put the finishing touches of bark on dem bad boys. I cooked one in 3 hours maybe, have to look on here to check. It was cooked with a turkey and a chuck roast. And I went to the grate in just under 2 hours when the turkey was done .

          #13
          My local supermarket sells giant hunks of point already separated from the flat.

          They are excellent, I have never bothered with the flat because the point is so delectable on its own and they sell giant points so getting through one takes several friends over for a few dinners and lots of sangers throughout the week (not a bad thing at all!).

          I still need to try the pastrami recipe, which is what I will buy a flat for.

          Comment


          • Ray
            Ray commented
            Editing a comment
            I'd say you've got a great supermarket!

          • Jerod Broussard
            Jerod Broussard commented
            Editing a comment
            Meathead prefers the Point for pastrami. I myself want to try it with a flat first. I got all the ingredients for my pickling spices. That was a fitty dollar trip to the store(s).

          #14
          I did my first separated brisket a couple of weeks ago and there's a thread around here somewhere with photos. It did allow me to take off one piece before the other. While I had some problem with the cook, both parts still came out great. Those who don't like fat liked the flat and those of us who know better liked the point better.

          Comment


            #15
            Last one I did I separated the two pieces, trimmed all necessary fat in betwix them, and plopped the point right back on from whence it came and cooked it looking as if I never separated them. Everything turned out great, albeit a very fast cook. Just my $.02.

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