The Brisket lesson
I had an experience with brisket on saturday that I thought I'd share for advice, or feedback.
I am new to brisket. It is not common Q here on the east coast of VA. and it really isn't even that easy to find around here.
I can go to a butcher and buy a 13 lb packer, and pay 50-60 bucks, but I know it is more of a challenge than my weekend pork shoulder and too much money to practice on. So from time to time. when one is on sale or managers special, I buy what is usually packaged as a small 3lb section of a flat. but at regular 6.99 a lb for these flat sections they can get too pricey to get much opportunity to practice with.
I call them flat "sections" because they aren't even the whole flat. I imagine a flat split into 3rds vertically. either that, or a really small cow.
Recently I bought two of these pre-packaged choice, "briskets" (flat sections of course) bu these were cut a little different. they were obviously cut right were the tip meets the flat so I had a little of both pieces to work with, but not really the whole of either. This presented a new challenge to me. after trimming off the hard fat was left with just short of a 2 lb piece of meat with different textures and leanness.
I probed the larger of the two flats and cooked and at 150, foiled both, individually. when temps hit around 200 I did the "probe" test . This is where it got challenging.
now every resource I have read says to ignore temps and trust the probe test. and I was prepared to do that. but when my probe went through some sections like butter that registered a 200 temp, then other areas had probe resistance but temp at 210, I took the meat off anyway. as I felt the resistance was from being overdone
after resting it down to 170, I sliced. I started by separating the obvious flat/tip sections. interesting as it was the flats were ok, but the connective fat was still holding the grain of the tip together. It was obvious just by looking at the meat. about half of my meat was cooked properly.
I recovered by placing the slices in a casserole dish and enough stubbs beef marinade to cover the bottomof the dish. I covered with foil and braised in the oven at about 260 for another 2 hours. I determined when it was ready by checking every 20 minutes to see if the opaque mass between the meat fibers were gone.
the outcome eventually turned into the best brisket I've ever had in my life. pulling apart easily with no resistance.
The last couple briskets I've cooked were text books successes. but what I learned here is patience. 210 scared me, but tough meat is tough meat. when I sliced it and could still see the gelatin that connects all the fibers, i knew I didn't cook it long enough. I said I am new to cooking brisket but I am not new to eating it. the finishing braise I suppose was the same principle as foiling and throwing back on the grill.
1. pay attention to the structure of the meat you buy if are buying a "cut" of brisket (i've run into the same thing recently with local grocer butchered spare ribs).
2. a smaller piece of meat requires more attention, more timing precision.
3. As much as I thought i understood, I definitely do now, "It isn't done until it is done" it was educational to look at two slices and see one slice with no connective tissue and one with gelatinous tissue in between the beef.
Next time I cook brisket i will be more wise and patient in my cook
I post this here for feedback. maybe my logic isn't correct. I would love to hear from others who cook these smaller brisket sections. also, maybe it will help someone else out.