Thursday, November 8, 2012


Smoking beef brisket and pork butt “low & slow” is a pastime I get a big kick out of.  Although you will never see me at a BBQ competition with my Brinkmann water smoker, the challenge of getting good at smoking a meal over wood that my family looks forward to for a weekend meal really appeals to me.  But while selecting & trimming this past weekend’s brisket, I wondered if I needed to shift my thinking about bringing untrimmed brisket home from the store.

Normally, either Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club will sell me a Cryovaced side of untrimmed brisket for two to three dollars a pound.  Why I should ever pay even that much is beyond me because everyone used to all but GIVE away brisket.  But, be that as it may, on Thursday’s expedition, Star Market was the only player in the area offering a whole side of brisket on the day it had to be acquired & rubbed with spices, and they were asking $2.99/lb.  Sam’s meat counter had trimmed flats of reasonable size beef for around four & a quarter a pound.  Target wanted $5.99/lb for a wimpy 2-1/2 lb trimmed chunk of flat beef.

As I was not in the mood while standing at the counter to do the math to offset my mindset that paying for pre-trimmed food is a luxury reserved for rich people, Star Market got my business for this round of brisket.

After getting home, the side of brisket was trimmed, cut in two, and rubbed with seasonings – one half to cook the upcoming Saturday, and the other half to freeze for another weekend.

Store-bought, pre-trimmed brisket is new to me, and out of curiosity, the amount of fat trimmed off of Star Market’s good-looking, 12-lb 11-oz brisket and was collected & found to weigh in at 2-3/4 lb – That’s $8.22 worth of fat at the price paid for this particular hunk of beef.

After pointing out the sheer volume of fat destined for the garbage can to Kim, I was hoping she would feel similarly aghast & agree to render the commodity into candles or soap for the family.  After interpreting her slight grin & cackle to mean “no”, I decided to run numbers on the economics of continuing to purchase untrimmed brisket.

Adjusted for waste, Star Market’s brisket’s true cost was $4.60/lb.  This is more per pound than what Sam’s was going to sell me that day.  But, the only trimmed brisket sold by anyone around here appears to be flats, and I find the non-flat part of the brisket makes better Slider-sized sandwiches.  Extrapolating, I guess the stores must know what the best part is, and keep it for other purposes because the trimmed, selling price would be too high for most people.

Or maybe most people just like the flats.  Who knows?  My plan for now is to keep purchasing the whole brisket so I can both have the part I want, and dictate how much fat gets left on the halves.

I’m thinking strongly though of collecting the next few rounds of fat in the freezer for a future purpose.  The smell of those froofy candles Kim keeps bringing home is starting to get old, and the Internet is full of directions on how to cut the Yankee Candle Company out of the picture.

Waste not, want not!



  1. In many locals you can only find it trimmed. I HATE THAT! They have trimmed off all the flavor and even worse, they have stolen the tri tip(that triangular chunk of fatty meat going opposite direction of the main brisket. That big cap of fat was put there for a reason, it is like the self basting turkey. Leave it on. Once you reach 185 degrees for 3 hours it will all just melt away and leave your brisket tender and full of flavor. And that Tri tip will be the cut everyone wants to eat....

  2. I'm all in. Oh wait. I thought you said biscuit!! Seriously, I agree with Frank @ trailer works. Leave the fat on, rotate the meat so the fat is on top, and watch out for fires. Butt it will taste good! (do you like what I did with the "butt"! Steve