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Please help with cooking technique on a "unique" brisket butcher (and not by me!)

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  • Arizona Packer Backer
    Club Member
    • Mar 2020
    • 10

    Please help with cooking technique on a "unique" brisket butcher (and not by me!)

    Hello All! I've been reading this website for awhile now, and recently joined. I have an old school, barrel offset smoker, and I normally smoke whole packer briskets, which turn out great (thanks to Meathead and Amazing Ribs!) Looking forward to reading more of the forums here.

    Now to my questions. Awhile back, my friend's sister raised a cow on pasture grass, had it butchered, and my friend now has a side of beef in his freezer. I offered to smoke anything for him (in exchange for a small portion of the goods, of course! So, he just brought me two pieces of brisket...and I mean, two PIECES. I don't think these are flats, or points, and there's very little fat cap anywhere. And they're extremely thin. I attached photos; that ruler in the picture is 12 inches, so you can see how small they are - about 7 inches by 8 inches each, and ranging from 3/4 inch thick to MAYBE 1.25 inches thick. There's also very little marbling. Oh, and the third picture is...almost hair? There was some actual cow hair on the meat, I scraped it off. I think that once it thaws a bit more, I'll trim more of that off, whatever it is.

    Folks, how on earth should I cook these? I don't know if I should smoke them for a few hours, then wrap them in foil with some moisture, and put in the oven low and slow? I'm worried these things are going to dry out if I smoke them very long. And what about marinating? I usually inject my whole briskets, and let that sit for anywhere from several hours to 12 hours, and then add dry rub and smoke. But should I just drown these pieces in a marinade for 24 hours? Or brine? (I've never brined, kinda nervous about doing that to be honest I don't want it too salty.)

    Lastly, any guesses on how long these things will take to cook?

    I'd really appreciate any advice. I'm supposed to have these cooked by Saturday night.

    P.S. I also went out and bought a whole brisket to smoke at the same time. Just in case. But I still don't want to ruin this meat! Thanks everyone!
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Arizona Packer Backer; March 26, 2020, 06:57 PM.
  • FireMan
    Charter Member
    • Jul 2015
    • 8054
    • Bottom of Winnebago

    Forget about the marinating, brine em, no problemo. As far as time, when they’re done. Not to be a smart aleck, but git yer thermometer out, as in a probe, I hope, and bring it to temp. I was thinkin ya might want to to a bit of a front sear on em, before smokin. Maybe some body else has a better idea. Those are mighty skinny. 🕶
    Last edited by FireMan; March 26, 2020, 08:41 PM.


    • texastweeter
      Club Member
      • Jul 2017
      • 2938
      • Republic of Texas

      Make pastrami, or grind for burgers. Grass-fed has very little marbeling to start with.


      • Henrik
        Henrik commented
        Editing a comment

      • texastweeter
        texastweeter commented
        Editing a comment
        I just turned $200 wort of brisket and beef ribs into $600 worth of product. Deliver tomorrow. It's amazing how you can turn what used to be crap cuts into something I can charge $20-$25 a lb for....

      • Troutman
        Troutman commented
        Editing a comment
        Exactly, thaw's what I do with thin brisket flats all the time...PASTRAMI
    • Ahumadora
      Club Member
      • Oct 2015
      • 2157
      • Warkworth, New Zealand

      Ok relax, That looks typical of the briskets we get here in Argentina.

      Skinny emaciated and lean they will burn up in a heartbeat if not careful.
      Here's how I would do it.

      1./ Forget about any preconcieved pics in your head of thick black like a meterorite briskets when you done. Ain't going to happen !!! Your in salvage mode right now.

      2./ Leave what fat is on there and just clean up any funky bits then dry brine (easy on the rub there is not much meat there.) Then toss in the freezer til your ready.

      3./ You can go straight from the freezer to the pit , it doesn't matter if it's frozen. What you want is the meat super cold so it gives it more time to build bark before wrapping. Cook at 225F until it has some color/bark (2 hours or so) or 160f max.

      4./ Wrap in foil and add a little water or beef stock and cook at 250-325f until it hits 203F internal.

      5./ It is not going to probe like butter as it's a ragged ass piece of meat, but 203 it's done then hold it for 2 hours or so in foill at 140F

      6./ Ain't going to look pretty but should taste good but thats about all you can do with that.


      • tbob4
        tbob4 commented
        Editing a comment
        Damn good advice!!! When I was young, my sister would bring me all sorts of cuts from friends’ FFA projects. Some were from dairy cattle, others from beef bidders who really only wanted to support the program but didn’t want the meat. I didn’t have thermometers then. Just a Weber BBQ with offset charcoal and wood, a tin pan with foil, garlic, butter and broth. Tortillas, onions, salsa, cilantro and lime were always on hand for serving.
    • Arizona Packer Backer
      Club Member
      • Mar 2020
      • 10

      Y'all are awesome, thanks for the tips! Yeah, I figured the grass fed is why there's almost no marbling. Fireman - yep, I've got a quality BBQ thermometer and meat probe, so good to go there.

      Ahumadora, thanks so much for the outline of how to go about this! I'm going to do exactly that, and hope for the best. I'll let you guys know how it goes!
      Last edited by Arizona Packer Backer; March 26, 2020, 10:14 PM.


      • fzxdoc
        Founding Member
        • Jul 2014
        • 5317
        • My toys:
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        A while back, I had a tough-looking 5 lb chunk of grass fed brisket, skinny, no marbling, from a friend who raises grass fed beef. With the help of the sous vide unit it turned out great. Tender and juicy.

        First I injected with homemade beef broth+Butcher's BBQ phosphate then rubbed with Worchestershire+Black Ops SPOGOS and let it hang out in the fridge, covered, for 48 hours.

        Then I followed Polarbear777 's excellent QVQ method, starting with Step 2:

        1. Dry brine plus BBBR 24 hours ahead ( I’m lazy so I just throw the rub on on top of the salt layer. One step.) (you can put the rub (or extra) on after the SV, I haven’t noticed that this is necessary as it seems to stick well anyway)
        2. Smoke at 225F until about 130F IT
        3. Bag the meat, vacuum seal
        4. Cook in sous vide at 135F for 72 hours
        5. Ice bath and put in fridge.
        6. A couple hours ahead of dinner, unbag and save all the purge
        7. Smoke at 350F to avoid the stall until an IT of 135F ( 350 hardens/dries the bark and you don’t need a stall because the time in SV took care of the collagen breakdown)
        8. (Optional) Heat previously trimmed and rendered brisket fat to 375-400F and pour over brisket (safely, outside) right before service.
        9. Remove the meat. Heat the purge and pour over meat after slicing.

        From that 5 lb brisket, I ended up with over 2 cups of purge in the SV bag. I heated it, filtered the clumps out, then sampled it to make sure it was not too salty. It tasted great, so I served it on the side.

        As I said, the brisket was delicious. Very tender and juicy. It sliced beautifully.



        • fzxdoc
          fzxdoc commented
          Editing a comment
          troymeister , they're not my instructions so much as Polarbear777 's method. He's the genius here.

          I think you'll like brisket prepared this way, though. My family sure did. I had planned on serving one brisket dinner and using the leftovers for chili. There were no leftovers, it was that good.


        • Polarbear777
          Polarbear777 commented
          Editing a comment

        • fzxdoc
          fzxdoc commented
          Editing a comment
          I haven't tried your method with pastrami yet, Polarbear777 , but I intend to. In light of Meathead's comments about QVQ being only marginally better than SVQ, if at all, are you going to change up your method to SVQ? I say if it ain't broke don't fix it, but that's based on one ornery skinny brisket flat that turned out great using your QVQ method.

      • Huskee
        • May 2014
        • 15419
        • central MI, USA
        • Follow me on Instagram, huskeesbarbecue

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        Just yesterday I cooked a small brisket flat, butchered from a home-raised grass fed steer, similar to what you have here but evem less fat. I told my buddy I was worried it'd be quite dry and tough being grass fed and no fat cap. I dry brined it for about 20 hrs ahead of time, cooked it at 225 for about 8-9hrs until out of the stall (~170-180F) then wrapped in double layer of foil (crutch) to ~200, then faux cambro'd for another 1.5 hrs (~12 hrs total) and delivered it to him. He said it was incredible, could cut it with a fork. I didn't taste it to know, but he raved. So therefore my suggestion is leave as much fat on one side as you can, dry brine it, and cook it as if it were a bigger packer brisket and you'll quite likely be ok. Heat has to travel in to the center to cook it, so it matters less the LxW size of the chunks, but more the thickness and the time needed to soften it.


        • Arizona Packer Backer
          Arizona Packer Backer commented
          Editing a comment
          Awesome, thanks! You all have made me feel better about these cuts, and all the advice is really helpful. I'll let you know how it turns out!
          P.S. When you dry brine, does that mean no wrapping in the fridge? I've never dry brined before; I did it last night and ended up wrapping it, maybe I shouldn't have?

        • Huskee
          Huskee commented
          Editing a comment
          With beef it's your choice, on the one hand not wrapping will help dry it out some for bark development, or at least that's a theory. One the other hand, I don't care much for raw meat int he open so I wrap with plastic wrap or vac-seal it. Chicken or pork should always be wrapped for safety to avoid cross contamination.
      • Polarbear777
        Club Member
        • Sep 2016
        • 1842

        I’ve noticed the same problem with most purchases of sides or quarters of an animal. They cut everything into exasperatingly small pieces by default.


        • texastweeter
          texastweeter commented
          Editing a comment
          Y'all need a new butcher, or to order it "primals intact" Polarbear777 Huskee

        • Arizona Packer Backer
          Arizona Packer Backer commented
          Editing a comment
          .5 inch to .75" thick steaks??? Nooo! That's a crime against beef.

        • Polarbear777
          Polarbear777 commented
          Editing a comment
          Yeah in Texas they know what you mean. Around here if you say the name of any cut they look at you like you are from another planet.
      • pkadare
        Club Member
        • Jun 2019
        • 949
        • Bobcaygeon, Ontario
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        I have a really big one like that in my freezer. When it warms up a bit my plan for that is to make a duxelles, spread that on the brisket then roll up the brisket as if it were a giant beef porchetta and then smoke it low and slow. No idea how it will turn out but it will be fun to try for sure. :-)


        • Troutman
          Troutman commented
          Editing a comment
          Make a giant Wellington out of it

        • pkadare
          pkadare commented
          Editing a comment
          It will be a "faux" Wellington. Too many carbs in the crust on a real one for my blood sugar. :-)

        • texastweeter
          texastweeter commented
          Editing a comment
          They roll thin brisket all the time in...England, I think is the place.
      • Oak Smoke
        Club Member
        • Aug 2018
        • 425
        • Central Texas

        Way to go Ahumadora and fzxdoc! The grass roots of low and slow are based on lean, tough cuts of meat. It grew out of the need to turn a cheap cut of meat into something delicious. I remember what it was like raising children. Even with the wife and I working we had to live on a budget. Yes you can come here and learn how to smoke a prime brisket on a Cadillac smoker, but you can also learn how to smoke that $1.59 a lb choice brisket you caught on sale on your Weber kettle. The beef pictured at the start of this thread would challenge most people, but with the knowledge posted here it will turn out just fine.


        • Oak Smoke
          Oak Smoke commented
          Editing a comment
          +1 Huskee also. Your post wasn't up when I started mine. I came out of typing class at a blazing 18 words a minute and have slowed in my later years.



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