When you think of Barbecue what comes to mind? Ribs, Chicken, Tri-Tip and? BRISKET! Smoked Beef Brisket is everything barbecue. It’s defines the meaning of low and slow and the mecca of barbecue competitions across the U.S. Beef Brisket is the one thing every backyard barbecue enthusiast wants to cook and wants to cook perfectly. The Texas Beef Brisket is legendary. The Beef Brisket is so legendary and the cook so complex that I believe it is the one thing BBQ deserving of a three part blog series.
I will outline different methods of cooking Beef Brisket: Paper vs. Foil. I will also lay the foundation for how I practice my brisket method without breaking the bank.
In part two I will define the different grades of beef (Select, Choice, Prime and Wagyu). I will also discuss how to pick the perfect brisket and explain the wet aging process.
I will outline my preferred cooking method from trimming, injecting, cooking, resting and slicing. Please understand that I do not consider myself a barbecue or brisket expert. I have spent countless hours researching barbecue and trying different cooking methods. I will discuss what works for me and why I prefer one cooking method over the other.
Lets dive on in, shall we? The two most popular methods of cooking Beef Brisket are very similar. One requires the use of tin foil or a combination of tin foil and a tin pan. The other method requires the use of “pink butcher paper”.
After trimming and seasoning the brisket to your liking, both methods take the first step of placing the meat on the grill. Both cooking methods have the meat on a grill set between 180 degrees and 225 degrees. With either cooking method the brisket is cooked until the internal temperature reaches between 160 degrees and 164 degrees.
This is where the difference of the two methods comes into play. Once the internal temperature reaches the preferred temperature, the brisket it removed and either wrapped in pink butcher paper, placed in a tin foil pan and covered with tin foil, or just wrapped in tin foil. The brisket is placed back on the grill and cooked until the internal temperature reaches somewhere between 200 degrees and 205 degrees.
So what’s the best method and how do you test the different methods with out breaking the bank? The best brisket method is up to ones own personal preference. I have cooked Beef Brisket both ways and while I feel both methods are good, I do prefer one method over the other – which I’ll share later in this blog series.
Depending on the market price and grade of the beef a whole packers brisket can cost between $50 and $180. Not sure about you, but, I can’t afford that to TEST different cooking methods and flavor profiles. Trust me I ruined my fair share of whole briskets over the past year or so.
Beef Briskets are not that popular in my area (Sierra Foothills of Northern California). To be honest it’s not a popular cut of meat outside of the barbecue community, which is growing but still fairly small. I regularly find beef brisket flats at the meat counter that are sealed in cryovac packaging. These brisket flats range in weight and normally cost between $4.99 and $6.99 per pound, which is still fairly expensive.
There are a few things you need to know about grocery store beef brisket flats. These briskets flats are processed at a meat packing facility then packaged and sent to the grocery stores. Once they arrive at the store they are given an expiration date which is essentially a sell by date. I have learned these expiration dates are normally 30-35 days after the date of slaughter. Why is this important? Well I have made friends with my local butcher and have a friend who has been in the meat processing business for years. I have been told these cryovac sealed brisket flats actually have a shelf life of 60 to 70 days before the meat is spoiled. Therefore, these briskets flats are still an editable cut of meat and perfect for practicing different cooking methods and flavor profiles.
Some might think this sounds sketchy. I did too. Don’t worry this little story might help ease your mind. Recently, I asked the butcher what happens to these brisket flats once the sell by date passes. The butcher informed me that the grocery stores will open the cryovac packages and then run the flats through a meat grinder which then is turned into ground beef. The ground beef is then packaged and sold for $2.49 a pound. So obviously the meat is still safe to eat if the store is selling it, right?
I regularly find beef brisket flats on display at the meat department, which are a day to two away from their sell by date. For example I was at the local grocery on the 29th and found six brisket flats that had a sell by date of the 30th. I spoke to meat department manager who discounted the flats for more than half of their original price. So what’s a good price? Anything between $2.99 and $3.99 a pound is a reasonable price. At $2.99 a pound the grocery stores ate still making more than if they were to sell it as ground beef.
I have been scoring these brisket flats between $12 and $15 a piece and use them to test different cooking methods and flavor profiles. These flats are also good to cure make your own pastrami. This has been my tried and true method for testing my briskets without breaking the bank.
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