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Brisket question regarding flat only vs. whole packer

I believe folks when they recommend smoking a whole packer brisket rather than just the flat, but I thought I would ask a little more about it from the pros here.  From what I understand, the fattier point helps to keep the flat moist during the long cook. So here are my two questions... First, HOW does the point keep the flat moist?  I must not understand the geometry of the packer--are the two parts not more-or-less side by side?  I would understand if the point were above the flat, but the two parts only overlap a little bit, correct?  Second, why not just smoke the point by itself if it's the fattier and (after the cook) juicier part?

Thanks for humoring a newbie's questions.  For what it's worth, I have only done one brisket so far (an 11 pound packer, "Travis" style), but tragically, I didn't get to eat any of it.  After spending a restless night on the couch with frequent trips outside (I've gotten a bit better at temperature control since), a stomach virus hit me while the brisket was resting in the cooler before the party (I also made a big pan of beans and a big pan of mac & cheese).  I made my guests take every last bit of leftovers with them.  I didn't want to risk associating brisket with the malaise. 

Comments

  • I think when you see a flat that is been separated from the point is has also been trimmed of the fat cap as well.   A brisket flat can be cooked to perfection but...it is far more difficult to do-IMO.

    We cook the whole packers fat cap down and the Egg simply does a great job of keeping it moist, all you have to do is not overcook it.

    When I here new brisket cooks challenging themselves to cook a brisket flat I feel they may be taking on more then they are ready for...that's all.

     

    -SMITTY     

    from SANTA CLARA, CA

  • EggcelsiorEggcelsior Posts: 8,540
    I too wonder this. I know that in an offset smoker, having the point towards the fire box allows it to act as an insulator. This helps protect the flat from drying out. In the egg, you are getting even heat from all directions. I have done both a packer and a flat and had no difference in moistness. I suppose that the point is there to turn into "burnt ends". It is a separate muscle from the flat, so the fascias keep them separated until it can melt, and even then, there is still adipose tissue separating the two.

    Perhaps it's do to the fact that the packer is typically minimally trimmed; unlike the flat, which is usually cleaned up and sold to be braised like corned beef.
  • Thanks for the input. From what you both have said, it sounds like a flat with fat cap still on might be just as good as a whole packer?
  • LitLit Posts: 2,574
    No I have done flats with the fat cap and they are not the same as a full packer. I know they only overlap for like a third of the flat but for some reason flats are much harder. I did a flat once that I soaked in coke over night and it came out good but I have never had a packer come out anything but good and I have only had 1 flat that came out good. None of them have been bad but the flats dry out easily for some reason.
  • EggcelsiorEggcelsior Posts: 8,540
    I think so. I did a flat from Costco which was totally trimmed. I had to baby it at 225 for 12(at least I perceived so) and it turned out great. That was pre-forum days. The last one I did was a trimmed point and flat(I consider the packer untouched) that was just as good, but I Ron Popeil-ed it for about 14 hours at 275. It was just as good. I will probably stick with that for parties, but the flat when I want to challenge myself.
  • R2Egg2QR2Egg2Q Posts: 1,529
    Thirdeye has some nice packer pics with the point & flat outlined to show you how they overlap: http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/1996/03/brisket.html?m=1
    XL, Large, Small, Mini Eggs
    Bay Area, CA
  • I have never seen the advantage to separating the point from the flat before the cook. Never. Ever. The point does help with it's fat cap. And I always cook fat cap up rather than down! So now you are really confused! I personally think that brisket is one of the hardest things in the world to smoke! They aren't easy and the ARE expensive! I would point you to AmazingRibs.com and tell you to read Meatheads discourse on the perfect brisket. You simply can't go wrong following his methodology. Then, after you can consistently get a great brisket off your grate, then you can branch out and make smoking a brisket your signature item! Best of luck and inmvite me over for a plate of brisket .... I'll bring the beer!
  • Well, it's easy to get prime packers around here (Sam's always has them), and they're cheaper by the pound so that's usually what I do (and because I love the point, too). BUT the last time I just did a flat and it came out really well. Sometimes I separate the flat and point to season all over and then put it back together to cook.
    For whatever reason, though, the whoe packers seem to be the most consistent from cook to cook. I have no clue why or science to back it up, it just seems so.
    "Take yourself lightly, but what you do seriously." - M. Martin
    XL BGE - Johnston, IA
  • the lean end of a brisket is almost impossible to keep moist whether you are doing a flat or a packer. I usually chop that up and sauce it no matter what. It's the fatty (thicker end) that turns out so much better when doing a packer. The point is way fattier than the lean flat and it shields the leaner flat and I think it shares some of it's moisture with the flat. I've done them fat up and down- no difference to me but I always do them fat up as that is the traditional method. I honestly think that is a throwback to the offset smoker days. I will just say this- i would cook a select packer over a prime flat anyday. There is a huge difference in the better (fattier) part of the brisket


  • R2Egg2Q said:
    Thirdeye has some nice packer pics with the point & flat outlined to show you how they overlap: http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/1996/03/brisket.html?m=1
    Thanks for the link.  From the pics, it seemed like there was more overlap between the point and the flat than I had thought.
     For whatever reason, though, the whoe packers seem to be the most consistent from cook to cook. I have no clue why or science to back it up, it just seems so.
    Sounds like a delicious science experiment is in order!
    I will just say this- i would cook a select packer over a prime flat anyday. There is a huge difference in the better (fattier) part of the brisket
    Your sentiment that the point is better (if I'm understanding you correctly) was the vibe I was picking up on when I thought to post the original question.  So, have you ever cooked just a point?  Or is it just too fatty if not tempered by the leaner flat?
  • I would cook just a point if I ever saw one...
    "Take yourself lightly, but what you do seriously." - M. Martin
    XL BGE - Johnston, IA
  • Reeyahps said:

    R2Egg2Q said:
    Thirdeye has some nice packer pics with the point & flat outlined to show you how they overlap: http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/1996/03/brisket.html?m=1
    Thanks for the link.  From the pics, it seemed like there was more overlap between the point and the flat than I had thought.
     For whatever reason, though, the whoe packers seem to be the most consistent from cook to cook. I have no clue why or science to back it up, it just seems so.
    Sounds like a delicious science experiment is in order!
    I will just say this- i would cook a select packer over a prime flat anyday. There is a huge difference in the better (fattier) part of the brisket
    Your sentiment that the point is better (if I'm understanding you correctly) was the vibe I was picking up on when I thought to post the original question.  So, have you ever cooked just a point?  Or is it just too fatty if not tempered by the leaner flat?
    I have not but I would in a second. We have them here but they are usually select so I buy whole choice packers. I separate them when done, eat the point and give the flat the the children and uniformed :)

    I actually eat a lot of flat too but we fight over the point at my house. No burnt ends here

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,019
    I just opened this thread and realized I left a packer out in my shop to thaw last night...about 20 hours ago.  It's about 60F. 

    Time to fire up the egg.  I'm cookin' it. 
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 11,019
    hahahah...I wouldn't feel it until the morning :D
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • tjvtjv Posts: 3,241
    a couple thoughts from a guy living in brisket country.  

    I've cooked a bunch of flats, actually prefer them over the point.  My guess is where folks run into is they buy to small a flat.  My minimum is at least 5.5 pounds, preferably closer to 7 pounds.  If it looks good for pastrami, probably not good for smoking - trimmed to much.  I want one with as even thickness as possible.  This insures, I have some fatty part of the point/deckle on the flat.  See pic below with fatty area underneath.

    image

    With flats, I only pick choice grade meat or better.  No select grade meat.  After pulling off the egg, I'll only cooler for hour or so.  I've found long resting times are not beneficial to moistness.  Last thing I do is slice at the very last moment, cause it drys out fast.  Almost treat it like a carving station meat - last thing on the plate.   And as always, it the flat is dry or tough, the  cook (that's me) has a hankering for chopped brisket, don't care what the family or friends say about slicin'......safety net on keeping my fragile reputation.......lol

    I just did a video on my favorite brisket setup with xl egg,  has sliced flat and burnt ends from the point.  Here is the youtube link.  


    Last thing, I cook brisket just like pork butts...except more wood chunks for denser beef.....

    t
    www.ceramicgrillstore.com
    ACGP, Inc.
  • Thanks for all of the input.  It sounds like its a bit of a complicated equation that includes the amount of fat left on (packer > flat only with fat cap > trimmed flat), the expertise of the cook, and one's preference for flat vs point.  Given that my expertise with cooking brisket is near zero, I think I will stick with whole packers until a get a better handle on things.
    tjv said:
    I just did a video on my favorite brisket setup with xl egg,  has sliced flat and burnt ends from the point.  Here is the youtube link.  



    Great video.  I got hungry watching it and I just finished with dinner!  I liked how you were able to add wood chunks easily in middle of the cook.  It looks like that is only possible with the XL AR setup?
  • yzziyzzi Posts: 1,363
    Picked up a 5# brisket from Costco (the cryovaced one, not the trimmed one in the shrink wrap). I think it has a little point on there, but I haven't been able to examine it very closely yet. Anyone else know if this is a whole or just an untrimmed flat? I'm going to try travis' method, hoping to eat it for dinner. I'm trying to gauge the timing, does anyone have any experience with a similar cook? I'm thinking around 8 hours. Also, can you foil wrap this after it cooks like the pulled pork in case it finishes earlier?
    Dunedin, FL
  • yzziyzzi Posts: 1,363
    Looks like it's just an untrimmed flat. It's choice, and I chose the most tender one I could find. We'll see how it goes...
    Dunedin, FL
  • Here in NY, Costco very rarely has good size packers - mostly 5 or 6 pounds at best unfortunately.  Tom's right - not worth doing unless you can find a bigger one that's choice grade or better.
    Mamaroneck
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