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The Secret To Good Sliced Brisket Defies Conventional Wisdom

Discussion in 'Beef' started by solaryellow, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    I have been meaning to post this for about 6 months but kept forgetting, something would get in the way, blah blah blah, etc. With the impending end of the world on Dec. 21st 2012 (and I am bored watching servers reboot at work) I figured I would throw it out there. My secret to great brisket is to not trim any fat off at all. There it is in all of its simplistic glory.

    I have had some back channel discussions with some other members who also believe they make a great brisket and we have all arrived at the same conclusion separately. Trimming the fat is a pointless exercise that will actually diminish the final product. I would like to challenge those of you who are struggling with brisket to give this a try.

    But what about all that fat you ask. What about it? I assume that you have a knife since you are trimming brisket to begin with. Rather than using it before you smoke the brisket, use it after the fact when you are serving the brisket. Unless you are turning your briskets into charcoal, if you don't trim the fat you will have a very moist brisket.

    For those interested in how I make brisket, here you go.

    My rub is very simple and consists of the following:

    1/3 cup kosher salt

    1/4 cup coarse ground black pepper

    1 TBS onion powder

    1 TBS granulated garlic

    1 TBS paprika

    1 1/2 TSP chipotle powder

    My process is as follows:

    While the smoker is coming up to temp I will apply rub to all surfaces of the brisket. Depending on the size of the brisket, you may need more or less rub than what I have posted above. The objective is not to use all the rub. A little bit goes a long way.


    Once the smoker has hit my desired temperature (usually 235*), I put the brisket on. I will then wait about 6 hours before putting a temp probe in the thickest part of the meat. And then I wait. When the IT hits 175* I will then check it hourly with a round toothpick. If the round toothpick slides in and out easily it is done (by easily I mean with virtually no effort). Sometimes that is 180* and other times it can be 195*. My point is that there is no perfect temperature to signal that it is done. Every brisket is different and understanding that is a crucial point.

    Once the brisket is done I will double wrap it in heavy duty foil, cooler it, and let it rest for two hours. After that I will open it up and slice it.


    I do not foil prior to completion or inject my briskets. At one time I had used both of these practices.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  2. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    I forgot to mention that I use this same process in all of my smokers.

    The 500 gal RF




    And the UDS

    JC in GB likes this.
  3. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I like the toothpick idea,  I had never thought of that. I'll give it a try next time
  4. bamafan

    bamafan Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I'm pretty close to that also Joel. But I have trimmed the fat off. Did that on my last brisket and it wasn't as good as ones before so I'm back to leaving it on. Definally will try the toothpick idea. Thanks for that one! Still lacking on my brisket! It's good but not great. Going to try your rub mix also.
  5. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Thanks for the info Joel! It's certainly worth a try!
  6. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    Very interesting Tim. It didn't hit me until Bob (desertlites) paid me a visit this past summer and he commented on how good the brisket was that we had for dinner. Then about a month later Joe (boykjo) and I were talking about not trimming brisket and the lightbulb went off about what we were doing differently than everyone else.
  7. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Thanks for the tutorial Joel!  To trim or not to trim,  bet there are a lot of different opinions about that one.  I like a quarter inch just because it makes a better final presentation IMHO
  8. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I know this is going to be a picky question, but a discussion my wife and I often have (now I didn't say 'arguement' but it has let to it closely many times... lol!): what kind of toothpick?  Round or Flat?  I like to use the round ones, she likes to use the flat ones.  Yes, sadly, we are a two toothpick family, split right down the middle on it!  She tests all her baking with flat ones, I test all mine with round ones, we've had this inequity for 40 years, lol!  And, of course, neither one will give to the other which one is right!
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
    JC in GB and grono like this.
  9. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    I can't take credit for it. I got it from Kenneth (raptor700). But it is a very simple test.

    Give it a try and let us know how it works for you Al.
  10. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    [​IMG] I would like to say my wife and I don't have those type of discussions but we do. I use a round toothpick Pops. I will edit the original post to reflect that.
  11. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    I fully expect a difference of opinion from a lot of folks who probably make great brisket. 1/4" fat cap has become the standard but when you look real hard at it you can't find the origin.

    This thread is for those who are struggling with brisket and not those who have it mastered. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2012
  12. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Do you still take them to 205° or thereabouts if you want to pull them?  And what fatcover do you leave on then?
  13. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    In the interest of full disclosure my preference is sliced brisket. I have only made pulled brisket twice and each time I took them to 210* without trimming the fatcap.
  14. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    hence the reason I am following this thread so closely  [​IMG]   always learning something new!  Just curious the flat vs round toothpick question. Assuming flat toothpicks will break easier then round touthpicks then it is flat toothpick tender vs round toothpick tender??  HeHe       I prefer leaving the entire fat cap on but wifey complains about it when I do so its easier for me to just trim it off before smoking.
  15. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    Out of curiosity, why don't you remove the fat cap after smoking? Is she looking over your shoulder every step of the way? [​IMG]
    grono likes this.
  16. I always leave fat caps on and rarley trim them off of any cut of meat, I know thats bad but I like to think it helps keep a juicy cut of meat when done.

    Pops, maybe a compromise round tooth pics for meat and flat for baked goods? [​IMG]
    BigTurtle likes this.
  17. I also leave all the fat on. If a brisket has a thicker fat cap I'll just cut some cross cuts in the "thicker" fat.
  18. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Because I like the smoked kissed rub and crisp edges on the fat.  If I trim afterwards I take all that off and a thin layer of fat remains on the meat.   I does add a bit of seasoning to the meat if you eat the meat and thin fat ring at the same time.  If you trim off all the fat as you are eating it is better to leave the fat cap on I believe.

    Look the woman can sit down and put a serious dent in a cheese cake and not take issue with the amount of fat she is eating but fat on a briket or butt is a no no.  Go figure,  life would be a lot easier if I understood all that!
    BigTurtle likes this.

  19. [​IMG] Careful Al she maybe looking over your shoulder [​IMG]
  20. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Now I have never used the toothpick trick I might try it. Now a have used the similar poke with the finger trick to check my brickets and butts. Now on the trim or not to trim question is one that could spark a really long thread I'm jummping on the untrimmed band wagon on this one.