Anatomy of a Brisket Packer

Discussion in 'Beef' started by rabbithutch, Aug 31, 2015.

  1. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Can someone point me to pics of a brisket that show the flat and other parts of its anatomy? What is the point? How can I tell by looking at it?

    I smoked a whole packer overnight last night. It started life with me at 18.57 pounds. I took my knives to it and trimmed away a BUNCH of fat - a little over 5 pounds actually weighed on an accurate scale. The rate per pound was $2.47 but I still hate to throw out $12.50 of what I paid for.

    I got some pre-trim an some rubbed pics and will take some before I slice it and do a better post later. I used equal amounts of coarse black pepper, kosher salt, onion powder and garlic powder (is that SPOG?) over yellow mustard for the rub. I've only just tasted the ends but it seems a bit salty to my taste. It went on my Weber OTG at 68° with the heat chamber at 220° and a ring of KBB and pecan chunks. The KBB and chunks burned out around 6:00 am and the temp dropped below the Maverick ET-733 alarm limit so I put it in the kitchen oven at an IT of 168° at 240° oven setting for another 3 hours to get it up to 205°. I took it off, transferred it to a fresh pan, placed parchment paper over it and wrapped it in 2 beach towels.

    I smoked it with my Weber because I have not yet replaced the heating element in my MES and the mini-WSM would not hold a packer that big. I would have preferred to take it all the way to finish in TBS but I'm not too proud to use a kitchen oven just to finish a piece of meat.

    More later. I still want more info about the anatomy of a brisket. I (think) I know where the cut comes from on the steer but I don't know what the detailed anatomy is . . . especially that thick wide and deep hard fat.

    TIA
     
  2. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I just found this pic on google. It is a little basic but it gets the point across:

    [​IMG]
     
  3. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks, bmaddox!!

    I'm assuming that what you have there is sort of a 'side' view since the fat cap is at the top of the pic. Is that line of fat through the mid portion the thick, hard fat? Which part is used for burnt ends?
     
  4. tumbleweed1

    tumbleweed1 Smoking Fanatic

    Burnt ends would be made from the fattier, point end.

    TW
     
  5. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Wow great pic.  Thanks.  I was also wondering this same thing.  So the brisket at Costco is part A right?  Sell for ~$6.50 / lb if I remember correctly?
     
  6. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    Yes, at least the Costco by me only sells the flats (part A). IMO it is not worth it. I would rather pay a little more at a butcher shop to get a whole brisket. It is a night and day difference.
     
  7. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    The point is used for burnt ends. Once the flat is finished cooking you will be able to peel the point right from the flat with very little effort. 
     
  8. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If it's listed as a brisket flat, yes.  I've seen both flats and whole packers at Costco in the past.

    rabbithutch, SPOG is Salt (your choice, i do either sea or kosher) Pepper (again your choice, but black is best coarse cracked is my go to), Onion powder, flakes, or granulated will work, Garlic powder, flake, or granulated.  Hard to beat for a simple rub and over yellow mustard it really hangs on well!

    Look at this link and select "BEEF" once the PDF opens, it'll have a picture of a cow with all the parts listed.  Lots of other info in there as well.

    http://www.crankybuzzard.com/CrankyBuzzardBBQWorkbook001.pdf
     
    areallynicegirl likes this.
  9. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    But OP said like 30% of his brisket was throwaway fat.  How come the whole packer is better?
     
  10. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    A whole packer is untrimmed. Yes you end up loosing some weight to trimming but 30% is not the norm. Some people don't trim their briskets at all. 

    There are two advantages:

    1. You get to trim it yourself and control the amount of fat. The ones I have seen at the store that are already trimmed have next to no fat cap left on them.

    2. You get the point which has really good fat marbled through it. The point is my favorite part. Once the point is taken off the flat you end up with a section of the flat that is exposed to the heat without any fat to protect it making it hard to keep it from drying out. 
     
  11. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm not saying the whole packer is better, I just prefer it because I slice the flat and chop the point.  Or I chunk the point and make burnt ends.

    The amount of fat on the fat cap of a brisket will be determined by several things.  Who trimmed it at the packing plant, the diet the bovine was fed, etc...  Sounds to me like the packing plant likes to make a little extra off of the fat... [​IMG]
     
  12. gpb11

    gpb11 Meat Mopper

    I've heard of some Costco's offering full packers, but here they just have the flats, part A.  Last I looked they were around $5.30/lb here.

    Sams club carries full packers, often in the $3.30/lb range.  Of course there's a lot more fat on a full packer.
     
  13. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    But you add say 30% cost to the Sams one for the fat, the equivalent would be $4.30 / lb, which is still way cheaper than Costcos for ~$6 / lb.  Seems like Sams could be the place to get full packers.  Interesting.  Is this a pretty standard price for the Sams cut?  Is it Prime?
     
  14. floridasteve

    floridasteve Smoking Fanatic

    My Sam's only carries flats, but walmart always has packers, usually for $2.99. But theirs are always big. But I will say, I've never trimmed anywhere near 30%. I trim the fat cap down to 1/4 inch and down to zero for the outer 43-4 inches of the point

    I recently bought one from GFS for $2.85 that was only 10 pounds, although I haven't cooked it yet.
     
  15. gpb11

    gpb11 Meat Mopper

    Can't say if it's a standard price for Sams, but it seems to be around that every time I look at them at the one Sams I tend to visit.  Both the Costco and Sams cuts above are Choice.  I don't think I've seen Prime brisket at either, but I also haven't looked for them.

    I don't know the wastage percentage of a full packer vs. flat since I've only done packers.  I'll have to try a flat by itself sometime.  The last brisket I did was 13.48# package label weight, I trimmed 42oz of fat off of it before cooking, and after cooking my yield was 47oz flat and 33oz point.  
     
  16. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    So how come the Costco brisket is so expensive?  I mean, they charge like $6 / lb, and you're talking half that at Walmart/Sams.  Even if you account for the fat, Sams/Walmart is much cheaper.  Am I missing something?  Costco normally has good deals on meats.
     
  17. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    The costco flat is a trimmed piece so they are charging for the extra labor required to trim it. 
     
  18. rabbithutch

    rabbithutch Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Jumping back into a thread I started . . . .

    I might have been a bit too aggressive in trimming the brisket I bought; therefore a greater percentage of purchased weight was lost. I think, also, that the larger the cut the likelihood of having more fat is greater. My brisket was really pretty large at 18+ pounds. After smoking it, I found that it was a bit drier than most brisket I see in the BBQ joints. That might be because I removed more fat - maybe too much - and because I took it to 206° F before I took it off heat.

    THE GOOD NEWS FOR TEXANS: I was back at HEB today and they had a good selection of whole packers at $2.37/pound for the first 2 purchased going up to $3.48/pound on all others. They are cryo pac Swift Choice briskets and look good to my less than experienced eye. I do NOT think that they are particularly fatty as they look like all the other pac'd briskets I've seen.
     
  19. gpb11

    gpb11 Meat Mopper

    Also factor in the "what the market will bear" -- pricing is seldom just about costs and far more often is about what people will willingly pay for something.

    I'd imagine there are plenty of people who aren't buying briskets to smoke and likely prefer the smaller flat-only pieces.  There's value to them in not having to mess with the point, so Costco (and everyone else who sells flats by themselves, including Sams/Walmart) will charge to that value.
     
  20. sawinredneck

    sawinredneck Meat Mopper

    I'm confused by this, why is there value in them not having the point? Sorry if it's a dumb question, but I thought the point was supposed to be the better meat?
     

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