The best part of running my own little site is getting to cook whatever I want, learn as much as I can about what I’m cooking, talk about the food I’m cooking, take pictures of cooking, and (my personal favorite) eating all of the cooked things! OK fine, so I guess it’s all my favorite part. HA! I’ve spent the last several years preparing meals for my family, but just the last two years have been intensely focused on what I was preparing. I used to write behind the scenes for Traeger Grills (they make pellet grills/smokers) and every week I was forced to stretch myself out of my comfort zone and explore new branches of the culinary world.
During those two years, I fell (hard) in love with BBQ. Starting with absolutely zero background in that whole world, I got to pursue whatever flavors and methods I liked best. I wasn’t limited by the staunch salt/pepper/oak Texas orthodoxy, nor was I required to cover everything in super sweet Memphis style sauces. I learned which cuts of meat cooked better over hot coals and which tenderized over a low and slow smoke. I learned to butcher and trim, grind and score. I haven’t learned even a 10th of things there are to learn in the world of BBQ, but I am willing to sacrifice my poor poor tastebuds in an attempt to gather as much information as possible. Then I want to pass that knowledge on to you!
Sure, I could just type out my recipe for Texas Style Brisket but that wouldn’t help you much if you didn’t know what a brisket was (which is exactly where I started.) So we’re going back to basics and taking you step by step through the brisket process this week. I’m declaring it #BRISKETWEEK! on Hey Grill, Hey. Let’s get started!!
What is a brisket? First and foremost, it’s a muscle that runs along the chest of the cow. This muscle does a lot of heavy lifting (literally). The animal uses it to walk, run, push itself off of the ground, etc. and it is therefore a very tough cut of meat. Purrrrrfect for the low and slow love and dedication of good bbq. The slow and steady climb in temperature and exposure to wood smoke tenderizes this stringy muscle and seals in all of the rich beefy flavor. If you’ve ever had really good brisket, you will always have a little place in the back of your mind that craves it. A great brisket is essentially meat cocaine. I’m hooked.
A brisket comes in many shapes and sizes, so make sure you know what you are getting into when you walk into your grocery store. Most of the time you will see a small brisket (3-5 lbs) that has been trimmed and wrapped in cellophane and placed in the meat section. These are great for my Drunk Brisket Recipe but not what you want for a Texas style brisket recipe. If you want to cook the entire 10-14 lb brisket, you’ll have to request one from the butcher counter or seek out a local butcher who can get you what you want. A full brisket is made up of two muscles that overlap, we call them the point (much more marbled and fatty) and the flat (fairly uniform in shape with little marbling. Costco sells large briskets, but the point has been removed (my favorite part!) These can still be cooked low and slow and produce beautiful results, but honestly I’m cooking a brisket for the fatty point. Other people like the leaner meat of the flat. I had to try several different types of brisket before I knew what I really loved. Go to your favorite BBQ place (we LOVE Bam Bam’s in Orem, UT) and ask for a slice of the lean brisket and a slice of the fatty brisket and assess what you really like!
Where do I start? At a really great butcher. If you want to cook just the flat, ask for an entire brisket flat. If you want to cook the whole shebang, I would Google a local butcher in your area and have them get one for you. I always buy a prime grade USDA brisket and they have turned out amazing. Maybe someday I will get my hands on a Kobe or Wagyu brisket (if you are a fancy pants rancher that happens to be reading this, check out my contact info and shoot me an email!) Place your order with your butcher by Wednesday to have your cut by Friday and be ready for smoking on Saturday!
So there you have it. Basic info about a brisket! Watch for the rest of the #BRISKETWEEK posts from trimming to smoking to slicing and serving. I’ve got all of the info you’ll ever need coming your way! Got a question about brisket? Leave a comment and I’ll try to include the answer in this week’s posts!!