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Old 04-25-2013, 05:23 AM   #1
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Join Date: 02-23-12
Location: Austin, TX
Default Briskets: Choice vs. Select, contradiction

I am an avid forum reader and am on a nonprofit BBQ team that smokes a lot of briskets once a month on a large smoker. We use Select brisket packers, mainly to save money and increase the profit margin.

Something has been bugging me.

I would like to hear opinions to help me better understand why a Choice packer is better than a Select. The beef is graded on the fat content and marbling of one of the ribs I believe. The briskets are not graded at the time of butchering, but inferred from this. In theory, a Choice brisket has more fat and marbling. It is not graded on collagen content.

Also, I consistently read that the flat's juiciness and tenderness is from the breakdown of collagen into gelatin, not from fat content. [The point has a higher percentage of fat, and this is what helps it maintain its moisture/texture.]

Strictly speaking of producing a quality moist and tender flat [using techniques of probe tenderness for deciding when to pull the packer], why would a Choice brisket produce a better end product?

Thank you in advance.
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:02 AM   #2
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Old 04-25-2013, 09:32 AM   #3
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In theroy, the princapal is sound. In practiace, I have no clue.
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Old 04-25-2013, 09:47 AM   #4
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Join Date: 07-20-12
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My opinion, fwiw, is that the cow itself may make more difference than select or choice. The entire carcass is graded by the amount of marbling in the ribeye.

That said, the amount of fat does help keep the meat moist and juicy. You are right that breaking down the collagen makes it tender. Try probing one before cooking and you will see how tough they are and probably not much difference in this test between select and choice.
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Old 04-25-2013, 10:04 AM   #5
somebody shut me the fark up.
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Join Date: 07-04-09
Location: Jonesboro,Tx

Here is my take on it:
I have had great success with Select grade
I have been disappointed with Choice on many occasions
You are Correct on how the carcass is graded the Fat content between the 4th & 5th rib sets the grade for the carcass in muscle groups that don't move much.The brisket is a Prime mover muscle and gets plenty of exercise the more a muscle works the less fat( marbling) it contains. If a Cow is allowed to move around to much in the feed lot wile getting finished out the grading of the carcass will be affected; leaner brisket on a choice carcass.
The difference between choice and select in a graders eye can be slim. I have had many select briskets that once out of the Cryo could pass for choice I have also seen it the other way as well.

I tend to look at the overall shape, weight, and limberness and cost per lb when choosing my meat and less at the grade. If cooked properly You can't tell one from the other, the only benefit is to the brokers bottom line. Just like CAB it is all in the marketing and what you perceive it to be.
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Old 04-25-2013, 12:39 PM   #6
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Join Date: 02-17-10
Location: San Antonio, TX

BD is right, sometimes the difference is very minor and not really noticeable in the end. I've cooked lots of choice briskets with both good and not so good results as far as moistness is considered. They've all been fairly tender if I cooked them just right. I've cooked lots of prime briskets too. About 75% of them have been noticeably juicy. The other 25%.. not too much. Pick them out based on flat thickness and marbling on the side opposite of the big fat band. Half the battle in cooking a really good brisket is the meat itself, the other half is cooking it right. Once you get a handle on both aspects, the final result will be much more consistent.
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Old 04-25-2013, 12:50 PM   #7
somebody shut me the fark up.

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Join Date: 06-26-09
Location: sAn leAnDRo, CA

If you are cooking one or two at a time, you are going to have far more success selecting each brisket, regardless of grade, my visual inspection of the meat, looking for a nice thick flat and good marbling. If you are buying case lots, while a Choice graded carcass is likely to yield a better brisket, there are no guarantees and you might be better being more cost conscious in the end.

My understanding is there is a lot that goes into what ends up being graded as Select and Choice, including steer genetics, feed types, animal age at slaughter, and overall animal health. My view, is that given all that I cannot know, do the best job cooking whatever I am given to work with. I have cooked some amazing brisket with Select grade meat.
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