Briskets 102

Smoked Brisket

Although trimmed Flats can be cooked in a slow cooker or braised in a large dutch oven, whole Packers are almost always cooked on a grill or smoker. If cooking on a grill over direct heat (the heat source directly under the meat) the meat should be placed fat side down, grill covered and temperature no more then 250F.

Trimming - The particular piece of meat you pick out will dictate how much trimming is needed. A whole untrimmed packer will need much more then say a Flat. I myself would rather have a little more fat during the cook and trim it off afterwards. You should always leave at least 1/4” to 1/2” of the fat cap in place. I generally don’t mess with the cap. On the other side you often have a thick “corner” of fat that runs from the point to about halfway down the Flat, this should be trimmed way down but NOT removed.  

Cooking - I prefer to smoke my packers using indirect heat. Using a smoker with an offset firebox or a vertical smoker with a heat deflector, the meat is placed fat side up in the center of the cooking grate. At this point  you can do either a “Hot & Fast” or “Low & Slow” cook.

   Once the meat has been on smoke for at least 4-5 hours, it can then placed in a disposable aluminum roasting pan, to catch any additional juices which will be used later. I then cover and tightly seal the pan with aluminum foil. (Although foiling is not required, I do it to help keep the Flat from drying out while the thicker Point is coming up to temp. This is especially true during “Hot & Fast” cooking). Continue cooking either in the smoker, grill or even in your oven until the meat reaches an internal temperature of between 195F and 200F. Then perform a “Poke Test”

***The Poke Test - This is the best method to determine whether the meat is done. Taking a thin probe, such as the temperature probe of a digital thermometer, insert it into the meat...if it goes in like it is going through melted butter, then its done. If not, continue cooking and check every 10 minutes.

Temperature Plateau - While cooking, a brisket will tend to reach a temperature “Plateau”. This is the point where the internal temperature will just stop rising, sometimes for up to a couple of hours. This is NOT unusual  and its believed that this has something to do with the amount of moisture in the meat and the conversion of collagen to gelatin. Be patient, the temperature will eventually begin rising again. 

Resting - No matter what method you use, after cooking, always remember to cover your meat with foil and allowed to “rest” for at least 30 minutes to allow all those flavorful juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

Slicing Brisket - Once the brisket is cooked I recommend that you seperate the Flat from the Point before slicing. This can be easily done while the meat is still warm by taking a butter knife and inserting it into the fat vein which separates the Point and Flat. Then carefully work the blade between the two muscles while at the same time lifting the Flat away from the Point. If the meat is too hot to handle, use a pair of tongs to lift the Flat. 

Once seperated slice the Flat AGAINST the grain. Since the grain of the Point is so different, try to slice it against the grain or simply chop it for chopped beef sandwiches or cut it into cubes for Burnt Ends.  

Alternatively, some people simply leave the packer Brisket whole and  slice it against the grain of the Flat all the way down through the Point, thus giving each slice a little of the Flat and a little of the Point.

Burnt Ends


 Burnt Ends are simply little chunks of Heaven. Cubes of cooked brisket which have been sauced and cooked a little longer…rendering out more of that fat and carmelizing the delicious BBQ sauce to create those little nuggets of goodness. These will disappear long before everything else.

Burnt Ends.jpg

Once your brisket has cooked. I take the meat of the point (which is fattier then the Flat) cut it into cubes, sauce it up and place it in a tray. I will continue to slow cook them (indirect heat) allowing the fat to render down even more. Before long you will have some delicious perfectly rendered chunks of beefy delight.