5 Tips For Selecting Better Briskets

Cut from the lower chest or breast section of a steer, brisket is a wonderfully flavorful piece of meat. It's delicious whether you roast and carve it into juicy slices or pull it into tender shards for shredded beef sandwiches.

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Which briskets are best for barbecuing, though? Follow along as we outline five tips for identifying and selecting a great brisket.

1. Check the Quality

Beef handled at facilities inspected by the USDA is graded based on the age of the animal at slaughter and the degree of marbling in the meat. When evaluating briskets, Prime, Choice, and Select grades are the three options you want to consider. Although the excellent marbling and tenderness of Prime make it the highest grade, it can be pricey. Choice grade brisket tends to hit the sweet spot in both price and marbling while Select has the least marbling and is often cheapest. Each of these three grades can be further divided into Upper, Middle, and Lower grades, but availability depends on your meat source.

If you can afford to spend a little extra, opt for Prime or Choice cuts. Even though many grill masters find great success with Select grade briskets that have been properly prepared and smoked at the right temperatures, higher quality meat is likely to be more succulent, tender, and tasty. If you can find them, Certified Angus Beef (CAB) briskets are also an exceptional choice.

2. Consider Weight

When it comes to weight, you need to think about two key factors: (1) the fat and collagen to muscle ratio; and (2) the number of people you'll be feeding. The problem is that briskets lose a significant amount of weight as the fat renders out and the meat shrinks during the long cooking process. In a best case scenario, you want to work out catering figures based on a 60% yield from each brisket. You should be fine if you shoot for approximately one pound of raw meat per person.

The other factor to consider is that marbling causes fatty acids to go through a complex chemical change when exposed to heat. This can influence the tenderness and flavor of the beef, which is why you should avoid briskets where areas of marbling greatly exceed muscle tissue. You don't want your beef to be overly fatty, so opt for briskets with a good amount of even marbling.

3. Look for Flexibility

Since a brisket can be unforgiving if you don't cook it correctly, you want to do what you can during the selection process to ensure you buy a good one. This includes checking for flexibility. If you're able to source briskets without foam or plastic trays, be sure to pick one with good flex. A stiff brisket usually contains hard fat and collagen that is unlikely to melt away, indicating that the meat may be tough.

4. Select a Whole, Untrimmed Cut

Although you can purchase smaller cuts of brisket flats and points separately, a whole, untrimmed brisket (also known as a "packer cut") is the way to go. The size and consistent thickness make it easier to achieve great results every time, especially if you're a novice. It may be a lot of meat, but there's no reason you can't use the leftovers in creative ways.

The reason you want an untrimmed brisket, preferably with hard, white fat, is that it gives you an opportunity to trim your meat the way you prefer and helps keep it moist while cooking. Ideally, you want to keep the fat cap between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch thick. Don't worry if you expose some of the underlying meat in the process since you'll be covering it with your preferred rub anyway.  Alternatively, grab your Beast Injector and kick it up a notch with a brisket marinade injection.  Whether you choose a rub or a brisket marinade injection, your brisket will be savored by you and your guests in every bite.

5. Make Sure the Flat Section Has an Even Thickness

Looking at the flat section of a whole brisket, you should ensure it has a relatively uniform thickness. Although the flat may taper off, make certain the edge isn't too thin, or it'll dry out and overcook. You want your meat to remain moist and perfectly done throughout, so an even flat is a must.

Achieving optimal results starts long before you chuck your hunk of beef on the grill: it starts with your selection at the store. Simply follow these five easy tips and you're half way to a brilliant barbecue.  For those that prefer your brisket topped with bbq sauce, we've added a classic bbq sauce recipe for you to see.

Have you mastered the art of selecting great briskets? Make sure your barbecue utensils are in good shape, and go fire up the grill! Help others do the same by hitting your preferred social sharing button.