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Brining brisket

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Last Thanksgiving I brined my turkey prior to cooking. It was the best turkey I have ever done. I like to BBQ also and wondered if I could do the same thing with a brisket. I don't know if beef would take to it or is there some reason it wouldn't work. It may sound crazy, but it the thought just came to me the other day and I don't have the answer in my head anywhere.
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post #2 of 17
Brisket, unlike turkey, has lots of fat insterspersed throughout. Brining isn't really a beneficial technique. A good rub and attention to cooking techniques should be sufficient. Many folks use foiling as a method to assist in keeping brisket moist.

If you really do want to brine a brisket, look into corned beef and pastrami recipes :)

mjb.

ps: Wow, I just realized I've not smoked a brisket at all this past summer!
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post #3 of 17
I've never had Barbeque Corned Beef, but it sounds like it would work.
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post #4 of 17
If you buy a brisket from a butcher, you can get it fat on(it's about a half inch thick on top). Put it into the pit fat up and resist the urge to turn it. The fat will liquify about 180 F and melt throughout, keeping the meat moist while it slow cooks.
Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
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Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
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post #5 of 17
Sorry to disagree with Chef Ray and team, but my experience differs.

You can brine brisket. In fact, pastrami is usually just that: Brined, seasoned, and smoked brisket.

Second, people actually do smoke heavily brined corned beef -- more in Texas than anywhere else.

Third, the fat cap doesn't melt at 180 and move through the brisket. That's false.

The moistening effect comes from denaturing protein molecules, and the denaturing occurs inside and not outside the meat. One group of those proteins are "lipoproteins," which are the bulk of the internal fat. These are different from the fat molecules forming the fat cap. The lipoproteins are delicious, especially when melted -- the fat cap is basically unpalatable and very digestible, except in a very thin presentation.

Leaving the fat cap on will help hold some moisture in the brisket, only because no moisture is lost through the impermeable fat. A 1/4" of fat works just as well as 1/2 an inch. Also, there's no agreement among top competition and professional pitmasters whether the cap should be on the top, the bottom, or whether the brisket should be turned.

Unless you trim the cap extremely close, you cannot retain any seasoning; and it will not form any sort of bark. If you do leave the cap on, all or nearly all of the fat cap must be removed be completely removed before service. You can scrape it off with a spoon.

I'm not selling my methods as the "best," or as those you should use. But I do a 1/4" trim, and season both sides. I turn midway through, because even though my pit is well tuned I like to make sure everything cooks evenly. I put the brisket on the board, fat side up and check to make sure the fat isn't too thick. If it's more than a 1/4" in any area, I remove it completely.

BDL
post #6 of 17
In my not so expert opinion, I'm guessing a number of folks who advocate having the fat cap placed down do get juicier briskets. But not from the fat cap melting and the fat percolating upwards through the meat, but simply because the fat acts as a buffer against the dry heat coming up from the bottom. I'm guessing it depends on the style and heat distribution characteristics of the smoker used.

I usually get whole packer cut briskets and leave the cap on until it is cooked. I'm lazy, it comes off more easily that way.

And some day I hope to make some homemade pastrami.

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #7 of 17
I start fat side down and flip every 2 hours. The Klose had quite a bit of radiant heat from the tuning plates and the Traeger is about the same. Smoked corned beef is good stuff, I do it quite often.
post #8 of 17
Not being cross when I say this, but I did mention that it would basically be barbeque corn beef.

On the other note, no need to apologize. When I've mis-stated something, I like to know. I had no idea that the cap didn't melt down through the meat. Good to know.

Also to teamfat's point about the fat protecting from direct heat would be true for low heat grilling(direct heat). The method I mentioned, even though I was wrong about the reason, is for side barrel or pit smoking(indirect heat). I assume that, being from Texas, Scott was referring to this method of cooking. If I'm wrong about that, I'll watch this one from the sidelines as I've never grilled a whole brisket, only smoked.
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post #9 of 17
My Klose was an offset. The tuning plates would get quite hot so anything on the bottom row of shelves got some radiant heat along with the indirect. My Traeger pellet smoker has the burner under 2 separate heat deflector plates but there is still some radiant heat to deal with. All pits are different and learning to cook on what you have is important.
post #10 of 17
I was referring to indirect. Mary's already said her previous was and her current one are indirect. Perhaps I'm too cognizant of other folks' pits, but I believe team's referring to an indirect cooker as well.

Just trying to get everyone on the same page. Aplogies if I'm nit-picking.

Love da Q,
BDL
post #11 of 17
Not being a smoker but having cooked many a corned brisket, I can tell you that in many cases the shrinkage is close to 50%. This is because they are pumped and inected internally as well as marinated. They do this for speed, and also to be able to charge you for the salt water weight.
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #12 of 17
Well said. I always buy packers for smoking. The fat will not percolate up but even with a fairly indirect heat (BGE with plate setter) the fat cap helps protect the bottom from drying out. I leave the cap on until I pull the brisket. Then the fat cap makes killer burnt ends.
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
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post #13 of 17
It's not nit-picking. I prefer to be told when there's a better way to cook something. It makes my food better.
Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
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Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
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post #14 of 17
DuckFat, are you talk'n the point or the actual fat cap for burnt ends? I always slice the flat and chop the point into 1" cubes, then add more rub and into an alum foil pan for 3-4hrs for "burnt ends".
post #15 of 17
Whoops! :lol:
The point is what I use for burnt ends. I always slice the flat as well.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #16 of 17
:thumb: Thought I'd ask, Duck. I know I saw on some forum that someone made "burnt ends" w/either beef or pork fat. I'm pretty sure it was beef......but I've been wrong before, once...and we are still married.;):lol:
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the in depth discussion, everyone. I just now found the time to sit and visit. I always buy a untrimmed packer brisket. I trim some of the fat if it is real thick. I coat the entire thing with a sugar and spice rub. As chefray correctly assumed I cook on a pit with a heat box on the side rather than over direct heat. I cook at about 210-220 degrees and it generally takes an hour per pound. My briskets come out tasty and, if I am real watchful, juicy, unless I drink too many beers while cooking. Then anything can happen. It's worse if we crank up the margarita machine. I was just looking for new techniques. I don't like the foil method because it limits the smoking effect and essentially bakes the brisket, although it makes a really good one. I like the outside to be just slightly under crispy with a well defined smoke line and a tender center. one of these days I will put up some pictures.
I should've been a chef. Where else can you eat your work?
Searching for food nirvana!
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I should've been a chef. Where else can you eat your work?
Searching for food nirvana!
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