The in-laws didn’t want to have turkey for Christmas dinner. I really wanted to smoke a turkey, but understood where Steve and Joanne were coming from. They bought a 16 lb. turkey for Thanksgiving and had been eating on it ever since. They were rightfully tired of eating turkey. I didn’t feel like brisket was an appropriate Christmas dinner, so we settled on a nice beef top roast.
Steve and Joanne can’t come down without me barbecuing something, so we decided to hold off and due the brisket the Saturday after new years. I went to HEB and picked up a 17-pound prime packer. I’ve only ever purchased select briskets because I was of the thought that it didn’t matter what grade the cow was given. I was slow cooking cheap meat so why should grade matter? I think it does matter. So much so that I want to smoke another prime brisket very soon. The prime just had so much more marbling in it.
I still don’t know how to really trim a whole brisket. Especially the big fat layer between the point and the flat. I was getting frustrated when I was trimming this brisket and was going down a rabbit hole in how-to videos on YouTube, so I finally just split the brisket into the point and the flat and treated them as two separate briskets.
If I recall correctly, I think I had a 5 lb point and an 8 lb. flat after I trimmed both cuts. And instead of cooking by weight, I cooked by temperature this time. I received an instead read thermometer for Christmas and decided to put that thing to use. Whenever each cut got to 165-170-degrees I pulled it and double wrapped it in foil and put it back on the smoker at ~230-degrees until the brisket got to above 190-degrees and then I pulled it off the smoker. I let both cuts rest for 3+ hours and they were both amazing.
Here are the 4 main takeaways from this last brisket I smoked:
- Buy a quality brisket (Prime or better)
- Trim the deckle but don’t worry so much about removing the huge fat layer between the two muscles
- Use a water pan underneath the brisket if you’re not using an off-set smoker
- Cook to temperature vs. weight (wrap at 165, pull at 195)