Briskets: Separating the "good" from the "transcendent"
I would like to learn about what makes the difference between a smoked brisket that is just good, or even great, versus one that is melt-in-your-mouth transcendent. I have a theory that I'll get to in a minute and want to hear what everyone thinks.
I live in NYC area, which up until recently has been a BBQ wasteland. However in the last few years a handful of places have opened up that serve Texas-style brisket that has blown my mind. These places are turning out fantastic briskets rubbed with nothing but salt and pepper and producing some of the best pieces of meat I have tasted. I'm normally a pulled-pork or ribs guy, but would take these briskets over a pork cut any day.
I have smoked a brisket once or twice at home, and it came out "good". It was edible, and tasty, but was nothing like the brisket I've had at these bbq joints. I've also read a lot on these forums and others, and seen the pics that many experienced people have posted. These are mouth-watering pics that look (and I'm sure taste) amazing, but most of the time, you can just tell from the pic that it's not on the same level of these others.
So I'm wondering, what is the secret to producing that falling-apart, fatty, moist brisket that I can get at these bbq joints? I'm a total beginner at smoking but do have a lot of experience cooking other types of meats and steaks, etc. As with a good steak, my theory is that you can have the best technique, rub, equipment, etc in the world, but that the key to achieving that second level of excellence is to start with the highest quality, and most marbled (and usually most expensive) piece of meat you can find.
I'm a huge fan of Costco meats, and they are a favorite source briskets among many. I'm wondering if it's worth trying to buy a brisket from a high-end butcher that sells prime grade briskets albeit at 2x or 3x the cost? Is that what is needed to reach the highest level of brisket excllence? Or is the secret to inject juices? Or is it something else?
Please enlighten me!