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Just picked up a Choice packer, about 15 lbs. It'll be my first packer in my Amerique. I'm intending an overnight smoke at 225. I wonder if folks usually trim some of the fat cap, or just leave it as it comes out of the cryovac bag? I notice Smokin's "Brisket 101" does not mention trimming as a routine step. Any thoughts/opinions would be appreciated.
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I have an FEC 100. From what I've read, the electrics have a moister environment. Both types are moister than "stick" burners. Therefore, I trim EXTENSIVELY. It allows a quicker cook, more bark, and less liquid fat to dispose of. As with anything, you should try both ways and decide what you like best. The recommendation to leave the fat on comes from the traditional smoking crowd to protect the meat from the dry heat & temperature fluctuations.
I like to leave about 1/4" of fat on the top. This will provide some protection when cooking fat side down, which I do. The reasoning for fat side down cooking is the heat source on the bottom of the smoker, be it an Americue or FEC 100.

You do want to remove the kernel fat...the oblong wedge between the flat and point. It does not render and will allow more even heat penetration to the thicker, point end.
Sounds like your getting some top notch advice here. In addition to the above strategy I also like to cut out the fat layers between the point and flat. The majority of that blob tends to protrude to one side of the brisket but sometimes is equally distributed to both side. I just dig in there with my super sharp Forschner 6" curved boner and drag it out..like incising a cancer sorta. When you hit lean meat quit cutting. That fat dont render much either and using the proedure will make it lay nice and flat..or at least flatter than it was. Still plenty of leftover fat to cook right. Here is a tutorial on how to trim one using a different approach but is still rational.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/fo...wthread.php?t=121089
quote:
Originally posted by Jay1924:
Just picked up a Choice packer, about 15 lbs. It'll be my first packer in my Amerique. I'm intending an overnight smoke at 225. I wonder if folks usually trim some of the fat cap, or just leave it as it comes out of the cryovac bag? I notice Smokin's "Brisket 101" does not mention trimming as a routine step. Any thoughts/opinions would be appreciated.


Check out the Video at the top of this section, somewhat updated 101.

If the 101 you mention is the original, I don't claim to have written that given how long ago it was... (but I did).

trim is NOT required. I've cooked 1000's (year thousands) without trimming anything and did the trimming at the end of the smoke as I slice.
Thanks Smokin. Your 101's are fantastic! I watched your video with interest. I've realized that there is a range of options for trimming. Personally, I like Cal's idea of paving the way for good bark on the point for burnt ends, and honestly, I'd like to reduce the amount of fat cleanup after the smoke. My remaining quandary is fat side up or down. In the Amerique I think it doesn't really matter, if the meat is on a middle shelf. Well, looks like tomorrow night is the test! Keep you all posted.
OK, reporting back on the results of my first packer smoke in the Amerique. Near disaster. I trimmed the brisket fairly aggressively, probably removed about 2 1/2 lbs of fat from the 15+ lb packer, mostly hard fat and also some "spongy" stuff on the top of the flat, and a lot of the fat covering the point. Then applied my own rub (paprika, salt, black, white, and red pepper, garlic and onion powders), and let rest cold for about 4 hours. Got it out to room temp at around 8:30 pm and put it in the smoker at 9:30pm, 225 degrees, 4 ounces of hickory. The initial internal temp (probe) was 47 degrees. At midnight, it was 133, and I worried abut getting done too soon. At 8:30 am, it was 179. It took until 2:00 pm to get to 189. Then I got suspicious that the probe temp was constant for another hour, so I opened up and used the Thermapen. It was 197 - 202 in the flat. Appearance coming out was a good dark bark all over.

So, two stupid mistakes: 1) poor probe placement. Apparently the tip ended up somewhere between the point and flat, not correctly registering either. 2) despite advice from some really good cooks here, I cooked it fat side up rather than down. The result was a severely overcooked brisket; the point was tender but falling apart when I tried to cut BE's (after another 2 hours at 250 after I FTC'd the flat), the flat (at least the part not under the point) was dry, dry, dry. Hard to swallow dry.

Comments. post-mortem analyses, and suggestions are welcome, after my $65 lesson in how not to cook brisket. On the plus side, although I found the meat lacked some salt and the smoke flavor could have been more pronounced, the GF declared the flavor "perfect" (trying to salve my wounds).
I'm no brisket expert by any means, the experts will show up soon, I've only cooked 4 or 5 so far. I've cooked both fat side up & fat side down, didn't seem to make much difference. Was the flat falling apart as well? How was the tenderness of the flat when you were probing it with the thermapen? Dry can also be an indication of it being undercooked.
Falling apart Burnt ends? PERFECT!

Dry flat? Could be under cooked, could be the brisket itself, lots of possibilities.

Never use temps as a means of telling doneness, too many variables for that to be a indication.

Good notes and changing one thing at a time will be the best guidelines a brisket cook can learn.

Oh by the way, I'm betting 90% of the first briskets cooked will be dry....patience is a must for cooking briskets.
A little away from the opening topic, but I wanted to reference Cal's comment of Aug. 21. He says cooking to temperature is not a reliable way to judge doneness. Obviously cooking to time isn't either. So that begs the question - what signals do people who have routine success with brisket, particularly whole packers, use to tell them it's done? Smokin Okie says "It's done when it's done." But how do you tell short of removing the meat and slicing? The probe test failed me in this case, since my thermapen slid right in without resistance although the flat was very dry.
"Maybe you started probing to late?" - AndyJ

Entirely possible. As I posted, I believe a poorly placed temp probe caused me to assume the brisket was at around 190, when it (mostly) was over 200 according to the first stick with my thermapen. I have seen that some of the experienced brisket cooks here have said that when brisket is overcooked it turns to "mush" but elsewhere I've seen that the end result is a dry piece of meat. Well, practice makes perfect I guess, although an old coach once told me that only "correct" practice makes perfect. Hence my question.
Howdy,Jay.I'm no expert ,but have been the "grunt" for several over the years.
First ,the fine cooks above have touched on many of the tips for doing comps/caters,etc.I won't even try to add to them.

The cooks that tried to make me smarter always say"you wind up with what you start out with.Now,when some of these old cooks here were starting, Jimmy Carter decided to help the ranchers and made the beef triangle about 75% choice.Thus, you could get an upper choice CAB,or a bottom choice from a 20 year old dairy cow.[which should have gone into the "burger barrel" Eeker]
Since,I hated to waste $12-$15 on a 16-18 lb packer,I wanted to research it perfectly. Roll Eyes
After I researched it until I got ulcers and ask every question of the "big boys",they would finally say"why don't you go cook something.Make an adjustment and take good notes,and after about 5-6 decent packers you get one you can eat most of."[Yes,we learned that the basic CS, developed over a half century ago,would leave even our mistakes edible Cool]

You mention fat up,or down and the "big boys"always say"go cook something and worry about that later"[guess maybe it depended on the cooker?].I'd ask about how much trimmin' and I'd get the same answer.

Now,as far as temp probes,these old cooks around here never heard of them-much less one connected to the cooker.They couldn't figure out where to place one, when cookin' a couple cases of packers. Confused

Now,some say"don't open the door-or it will add 1/2 hr to the cook time". So?
Until you gain that experience/feel that is about the only way to learn.

Talking about placement of a probe,that is why some folks stick the Thermapen in several places,while they got the door open.That temp is just giving you a hint when to start paying attention.

Until you gain the experience/feel of
cooking several,you have to experiment.Since them old cooks around here didn't have a thermometer,running the skewer down thru top and out the bottom of all them flats was a good indication of"goes thru like butter".
Now,when them old cooks had a large cooker with a couple cases on and no skewer,seems like they always had a long handled two tined meat fork.When they reached across to the next packer,ran the fork thru it to lift it off and it slid off the fork,it was ready to toss in the big "holding cooler/hot box".

When all those packers set in the hot box a few hrs,until serving time,that would be what we call "foiling/holding,etc".

Sorry,I can't give you the perfect answer,but I think all the "big boys" were trying to teach me to K.I.S.S.

When I got a few under my belt,I'd know when to start using "tricks/tips".

Guess I better get off of here,before I get accused of makin' a "Smokin'Okie post". Wink

Just my $0.02.
Thanks Tom. You keep saying you're not an expert, but I definitely hear the voice of long experience! I take the lesson that you and Cal are teaching that the temp is just a hint "to start paying attention" as you put it. I also get the concept of a long learning curve - been there, done that. I just wish a decent packer didn't set me back $65...Oh well, what's money for except to spend on the thinks you like doing?
Dang your getting some good advice here. Us old Tex Mex rednecks was taught you got to make it pass the "poke test" as Tom was kind enough to articulate. Poke it with whatever you want..forks..toothpicks etc. Know one guy who pokes it with chop sticks? Even knew an old black cook who used his index finger. If it goes in nice easy and tries to come out the bottom side..its ready. Just try to remember what it felt like so if it comes out good you know how it feels for next time..lol. My preferred prober is my little instant read Wally World Chicom gauge with the big dial and slender probe. With that thing in my hand..tender briskets and butts is not an issue. Knowing the temps is nice too but that one can fool you sometimes. I used to go through a lot of Joe Ames Fab injections and one that has been shot up with that stuff can rewrite the rule book for them who tries to cook by time and or tempe. Swear some of them models refused to give up and die much under 210-215 sometimes. Kindly keep us updated on your adventures.
quote:
Originally posted by bigwheel:
Dang your getting some good advice here. Us old Tex Mex rednecks was taught you got to make it pass the "poke test" as Tom was kind enough to articulate. Poke it with whatever you want..forks..toothpicks etc. Know one guy who pokes it with chop sticks? Even knew an old black cook who used his index finger. If it goes in nice easy and tries to come out the bottom side..its ready. Just try to remember what it felt like so if it comes out good you know how it feels for next time..lol. My preferred prober is my little instant read Wally World Chicom gauge with the big dial and slender probe. With that thing in my hand..tender briskets and butts is not an issue. Knowing the temps is nice too but that one can fool you sometimes. I used to go through a lot of Joe Ames Fab injections and one that has been shot up with that stuff can rewrite the rule book for them who tries to cook by time and or tempe. Swear some of them models refused to give up and die much under 210-215 sometimes. Kindly keep us updated on your adventures.


Know a cook that won brisket this summer with a 180 score and his finial probe temp was 220*......just sayin', those dang ole steers can't read a probe and shouldn't even try. Big Grin

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