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Skanky Brisket?

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    Skanky Brisket?

    Being that last weekend was the first weekend I have had off work since Xmas I had my game plan all ready:

    1. Leave work early Friday.
    2. Prep and dry brine a 10 lb brisket.
    3. Get PBC all set up with new coals, get 1 lb of hickory / pecan mis ready and pack mini chimney.
    4. Cook brisket all day Saturday.
    5. Enjoy late Saturday and Sunday during the ball games.

    Step 1 - Check.
    Step 2 - Stop.

    Everything came to an immediate halt when I opened my the cryovac - it smelled pretty bad. Not like rotten meat - but just kinda skanky. Well, real skanky.

    I purchased the choice brisket from Sam's for $3.69 / lb on Jan 2. The sell by date was Jan 7. After reading alot of anecdotal posts from here and other places around the web, the general rule of thumb is that a cryovaced brisket would be fine for a month after the sell by date -- in fact, many noted that you should wet age the brisket at least a week. I wet aged this one a week and two days after the sell by date in the fridge in the cryovaced packaging.

    When I opened this beauty the smell filled the kitchen and then the foyer where my wife was. She immediately came in the kitchen and said, "I am not eating that!!" I told her to calm down - it was fine as I rinsed the brisket off. It was not green or any funny color. It was not slimy. I just smelled really rank.

    The wife wasn't buying it. "Moreover", she told me, "don't even think of putting that rotten thing back in my fridge - it will make everything stink!". I protested. An argument ensued that ended up with me just chucking the whole smelly brisket in the outside trash can. I hated to do it, but I couldn't dry brine it properly, I didn't want to cook it Friday afternoon and even if I did put in a ton of work to cook it - no one else would probably eat it. Oh - and I had my azz on my shoulders by then.

    So is a brisket supposed to smell like a mix of formaldehyde and body odor coming out of a cryovac? Previous briskets I had done just came from the standard butcher's wrap, so this was my first. I know cryovaced pork butts and ribs don't stink like that. I can handle a fail when I cook improperly, etc - but this brisket fail only made it out of the cryovac before crashing and burning.

    Anyway, so after emotions cooled down and the wife admitted it wasn't rotten and I admitted it did smell really bad - we moved on. The wife and I decided to go back to Sam's and get a fresh brisket and continue with the cook plans for the weekend; unfortunately all they had was 2 horrible looking packers with extremely huge fat caps (like at least 2.5 lbs of pure fat) that were $3.69 / lb. They did have a couple of nice trimmed flats, but they were $6.79 / lb!! The cheapest was $60.

    This is where the weekend cook plans changed....

    Instead of buying an expensive, overpriced HOF, I spent my $60 on 3 gorgeous 1.5" thick ribeyes at $9.99 / lb ($48.00) and a pack of 8 huge skinless boneless chicken breasts at $1.88 / lb ($11.00). I dry brined the chicken and steaks and then cooked them on the Kettle w/ Vortex. I think I made the better choice - there is no way ANY brisket would be better than those reverse seared ribeyes w/ garlic ghee. The chicken was just a bonus - what was left went into some jam-up chicken salad:

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    Anyway, I just wanted to pick the amazing AR Pit Crew's collective brain to see if the skanky cryovaced brisket is something others have experienced and whether or not it is safe to eat. I chose better safe than sorry after smelling this one.

    Actually, unless brisket prices come down in our area, not sure if I'll even pull the trigger to buy one when I can get sirloins cheaper, NY Strips for about the same price and ribeyes for $1.50-2.00 more / lb.

    Thanks in advance!!

    #2
    I usually rinse them to see if the tstink goes aways in a few minutes. It almost always disapears.

    Comment


    • HC in SC
      HC in SC commented
      Editing a comment
      This one was pretty ripe initially, but then I rinsed it and dried it.

      After throwing is the outside trash can I came back in and still smelled it for about 20-30 mins.

      I don't think the stink was going away.

    • W.A.
      W.A. commented
      Editing a comment
      Yup. If it doesnt go away in like 1 minute, I chuck it. Happens with various cryovac meats.

    • HC in SC
      HC in SC commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks W.A. The last thing I wanted to hear was that I chucked a prime piece of meat! LOL

    #3
    Great write up! Glad it all had a happy ending. My thoughts on stink are not specific to brisket. In my mind if it smells bad its bad.

    Comment


    • HC in SC
      HC in SC commented
      Editing a comment
      Well the wife did get VERY sick from a Bojangle's restaurant and she did say the chicken had a funny smell.

      Now she refuses to ever eat any Bojangle's chicken - a bit over the top, but I get where she is coming from.

    • Huskee
      Huskee commented
      Editing a comment
      @HC, In psychology they call that a taste aversion. Some very interesting experiments have been performed regarding taste aversions. Humans and animals too.

    • Jon Solberg
      Jon Solberg commented
      Editing a comment
      I'm totally with Doc on the food safety thing. I OCD about it.

    #4
    My question is, why did you not take it back? It was bad from the packaging, and pricy, should have gotten your $$$ back?

    Comment


    • HC in SC
      HC in SC commented
      Editing a comment
      I am sure I would have been told that since it was past the sell by date they would be held harmless.

      I bought before the sell by date and used 9 days after the sell by date w/o freezing.

    #5
    No, if it has a sell by date, follow it! The ones that you can save for 4 weeks are the ones that don't have a sell by date, but instead have a packaged on date. If ever there's a sell by date then it probably has already been aged or otherwise isn't fit for going past that date.

    If it makes you feel any better, one time I got a 3-pack of baby backs from Sam's, which is about a 35 min drive from me. I pulled them out 2 days before their sell by date, and they were funky. Gross, sour, bad meat funky. I took back the stinky package sans meat (70 min round trip, plus time in the store) and they replaced them after one sniff. I was sort of happy. We ate a dinner 90 min late that night and had no dry brine time.....this was the part of my experience where I discovered dry brining ribs immediately prior to smoking had little overall effect on flavor vs a long rib dry brine.
    Last edited by Huskee; January 19, 2015, 08:04 AM.

    Comment


    • Jon Solberg
      Jon Solberg commented
      Editing a comment
      A bit off topic here

      @Huskee do you think the short brine and same taste has anything to do with the cooking method?

      Wood verses Kingsford to be more specific. I need to do a side by side on this for sure. Sound like a real time saver.

    • HC in SC
      HC in SC commented
      Editing a comment
      10-4 -- at this point the wife has a "sell by date" aversion as well.

      I swear I have read where many people go well past the sell by date simply for wet aging.

      Oh, well - I tried wet aging and will not try again!

      Thanks!

    • Huskee
      Huskee commented
      Editing a comment
      @Jon, I dont think so. Salt penetrates more with heat as we know. Ribs meat is thin meat. The salt penetrates a little in the first hour to 3 hrs, then more as it cooks. When you bite a rib, you're biting the whole thickness of the meat usually, getting all of the salt- whether it's all from the surface or whether it has penetrated. Either way it's now all in your mouth. This conclusion I came to before hearing Dr Blonder's seminar which solidified my assumption. Wood vs Kingsford would surely change the smoke flavor intensity though, and perhaps how it interacts with the rub.

    #6
    HC don't give up, you just need a fresh brisket that has a "packed on" date to do that, then you can go 4 weeks past it. NEVER go past a sell by date ever. If you do you're on your own.

    Comment


    • HC in SC
      HC in SC commented
      Editing a comment
      Lesson learned for sure -- nothing like taking $35 and flushing it.

    #7
    If I open a cryovac bag and the smell is rank bad, I do not eat the meat. Sometimes there's an off smell that goes away after the rinse, which I can live with. If there is a smell after I rinse, I refuse to spend my entire day cooking it and worrying whether it'll taste good and be safe to eat.

    Comment


    • HC in SC
      HC in SC commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks David - the only way this deal could have been worse is if I had spent 10-12 hours cooking it only to chunk it.

    #8
    I'm sorry you had a crappy brisket, HC. I had a pork shoulder that was skunky right out of the package, some time ago.It ruined a planned cook. The store took it back, with no issues, thank goodness. It's okay if a cryovaced piece of meat is a bit "gamey," but if the smell doesn't dissipate within a short time, out it goes. I take ZERO chances with bad meat. I've even lost jobs when I wouldn't serve "distressed" meat. I have called the health department when , in an interview( where they show you the facilities), I see distressed product being used, or cross contamination occurring as part of their everyday procedures.

    Comment


    • HC in SC
      HC in SC commented
      Editing a comment
      Well, it looks like from the feedback I made the best decision to chunk it.

      Granted, my decision to 'wet age' past the sell by date was probably not the best decision.

      Thanks Strat!

    • Strat50
      Strat50 commented
      Editing a comment
      Anytime, sir. In my opinion, I just buy and cook the food. Most issues with meat can be mitigated by cooking procedure(s) rather than hanging your hat on the whole aging thing. What makes you a good cook/chef, is to gain consistency from an inconsistent product, such as meat.

    #9
    In my experience SAMs has always taken my returns back opened or not. One clerk even told me once, we're Walmart, we take anything back.

    Comment


    • HC in SC
      HC in SC commented
      Editing a comment
      I don't think it was worth $35 to deal with the stink that I created.

      I also would have been kinda embarrassed to tell them I waited 9 days after the use by date on purpose.

      Plus being out the $35 will help me remember not to try this wet aging again.

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