Monday, April 25, 2011

Handy Dandy Brisket Terminology and Trimming Tips

Out in the Midwest – my native land – it is quite easy to get one's hands on a cryovac-sealed "whole brisket", sometimes called the "packer's cut". This marvelous hunk of beef is also referenced by reputable butchers as IMPS/NAMP No. 118.

Despite this cut's ready availability in the heartland, it is very difficult to find it where I live on the East Coast. The brisket typically sold out here is just the "flat" section minus the "point". It is not uncommon for this subset of the whole brisket to have a sticker that says (incorrectly) "whole brisket".

Unless it looks like the picture shown below, it's not a true whole brisket.

I once asked a butcher at Safeway if he could obtain the packer's cut, and he said, "Aw, you don't want that... it's just too big of a piece of meat with way too much fat." Are you kidding me? I was completely flummoxed by this alleged meat expert whose inability to extol the virtues of a whole brisket was equaled only by the absolute conviction in which he attempted to dissuade me from its purchase. It was a total outrage.

I finally found a store out here that has whole briskets on a regular basis: Wal-Mart. What's strange is that there is a Sam's Club right next door, and you'd figure a wholesale club would sell whole briskets, but they don't... only the flats. Costco doesn't sell 'em either. Weird, eh? So, for the time being, I'll be investing my brisket dollars at Wal-Mart.

Anyway, working with a big cut like a whole brisket can be a little intimidating. Thankfully, the Virtual Brisket will help you eliminate the guesswork involved with trimming the brisket prior to seasoning it just right and smoking it to perfection.

With the Virtual Brisket, you can view this popular cut of beef thirty-two (count 'em, 32) different ways. You can easily flip between overhead view or side view, fat side up or down, and – here's the most important attribute – trimmed or untrimmed. Heck, you can even rotate the brisket to simulate whatever vantage point you want, generating still more pictorial permutations. Click and trim, y'all!

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