Well, you asked for it. Here, Smoky answers the most commonly asked questions. He is direct, honest and offers an insight into the time proven techniques to preparing great barbecue that is unavailable elsewhere. If you are unable to locate the exact answer you are seeking, feel free to contact him directly and ask!
He returns all questions . . . . . . .
Topic: "Packer's Cut" . . . . From: Pete,
Subject: Re: How to Recognize a Tender Brisket?
Hi, your site is terrific. In a e-mail newsletter or on the web page, could you discuss how to recognize a tender brisket? The owner of a Central Texas BBQ place told me to ask for a "packer's cut" at a meat market, but when I did that the person behind the counter looked at me like I was crazy. I've bought some really nasty briskets (tough, stringy). I have to buy straight from the rancher out here in West Texas to get premium quality, but there must be a way to tell visually what's a good and what's a bad brisket at the grocery meat counter.
Thanks in advance,
West of the Pecos, I see.
The only tender, and desirable, brisket I have ever seen was on a fine looking young heifer.
If you read "According to Smoky" you will find my thoughts about brisket. It is naturally a tough, coarse, stringy cut of meat.
But, if you are really hung up on the challenge of brisket, some are less tough than others. Look for the following: Bright red color; moist, but not wet, surface; white, rather than gray or yellow, fat; fine grain of meat; fine specks and webs of marbeling rather than chunks. You also want to know that the beef has been aged. Most of it is these days, but 25-30 years ago you had to know your butcher well to get aged meat.
Brisket is naturally tough and you have to cut it at an angle across the grain at about 45 degrees from perpendicular to get the max. tenderness. The slower you cook it the more tender it will be.
Sirloin tip steak or roast is much more tender, tastier and often cheaper. A good chuck has texture much like a brisket, except tastier and more tender.
Anyhow, talk to the butcher where you normally buy. Tell him when you have a good one and when you have a bad one. If he is an old head, he may even be able to help you to pick one out.