I am no Aaron Franklin, that is for sure, not that hip, not that funny and not that Texan.
But, I hit several great brisket cooks last year, amongst the best I have ever done. And all but one was done with Select grade packers from Excel. The other was an CAB packer. Here is what I think.
1. Meat grade matters less than meat selection. Find a place that will let you pick up and fuss with the meat (obviously in a cryo or with gloves on) and check for how limp the packer is. Also check for flat thickness. You want a fairly thick flat, a transcendent brisket will never come from a 3/4" thick flat.
2. Always cook packers, you can make a great flat, but, it is easier with packers.
3. Never cook to internal temperature. The last hour of a cook, all that matters is feel. Whether you use a probe or just feel, you can only tell by feel when a brisket has totally relaxed. I have found that when I pick up a packer that is just at the right point, it has a relaxed, almost floppy feel in my hands.
4. It is easier to cook at 280F than 225F and get a moist brisket. Although, my best cook last year, due to issues that were completely under my control but, that I did not control (beer), went like this...
1.5 hours at 225F
4 hours at 325F
2 hours at 220F
1 hour at 300F
Pulled and it was glorious. Maybe the best brisket I ever cooked.
I also now wrap in butcher paper. I also do a very long rest, at least 2 hours. I also owe a great deal of credit to Pitmaster T and Saiko for edifying me on the high heat methods.
Whip It Off, Chambers!
"perhaps...but then again...maybe not..."