How To Trim A Texas-Style Brisket
Texas-style smoked beef brisket is delicious, when properly cooked. But before you can enjoy this delicious piece of meat with crispy bark and a moist, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth texture – the beef brisket must be properly trimmed and seasoned.
The key step to amazing Texas-style smoked brisket happens right on the cutting board before the meat ever touches the smoker/grill. You’ve got to know how to trim a Texas-style brisket & season this glorious piece of meat in just the right way to ensure you get a nice flavorful bark and the brisket stays juicy and tender throughout the cook.
The Anatomy of Brisket
First, let’s make sure we cover some of the basics of a beef brisket (also known as whole packer brisket).
There are 2 muscles in a brisket – the lean flat and the more marbled deckle (or point). The point typically sits on top of the lean flat area and there is a band of hard fat that runs in between the 2 muscle groups.
Prep The Brisket Before You Trim
Chill your brisket in the fridge for at least an hour, so that the cold temperature helps solidify the meat and fat. This makes it much easier to trim your brisket.
Then, make sure you have a nice / sharp carving knife – we’re going to do a good deal of trimming, so having a well crafted knife is essential.
Begin by removing your brisket out of the vacuum-sealed plastic and positioning it lengthwise, with the deckle side towards you, on the cutting board.
Trim The Brisket
Start by evening out the thickness of the brisket overall, by cutting off some of the thinner flat muscle edges of the brisket. Having a brisket that has even thickness across the board, helps to make sure it cooks evenly – and avoids burnt portions where the meat is slimmest.
This trimming technique will naturally develop a rounder, contoured end to the flat muscle of your brisket, which makes the meat more aerodynamic.
Pro Tip: Don’t discard the meat that you carve out of the flat portion to even out the brisket. It’s good quality meat that you can use in stews, as burnt ends or grind up to make nice hamburger patties.
Then, look around your brisket and find any rough, discolored or hard pieces of fat around the edge of the brisket – you’ll want to trim all of that off to get to a nice, clean and uniform shape to the brisket.
Then, locate the hard, inner fat layer at the point section of the brisket.
Here, you can carve out this inner fat portion so that the point of the brisket sits more evenly and doesn’t protrude upward. Then also trim the fatty flap of the deckle that we identified earlier so that you get to more even thickness across the whole brisket.
Shaving The Top Fat Cap
Across the top fat cap – start shaving the fat layer so that approximately 1/2 inch of the fat remains. You want enough fat so that it renders during the smoking process and keeps the meat moist, but if you leave too much fat on, then as you eat the brisket, you may wanna cut off the fat, as it’s too oily to consume.
Lastly, flip the brisket over and trim away a good portion of the hard band of fat that sits on the underside of the point of the brisket.
Then, scan the bottom and remove any unwanted silver skin that exists on this side as well.
Pro Tip: Unless you are entering a bbq competition, the trimming of a brisket does not have to be perfect. If you have to err one way or another, err on the side of leaving more fat on, than trimming too much. You can always remove fat after the cook as you are eating, but if you trim too much to begin with, you might end up with a drier brisket.
And that’s it – you are now ready to season your Texas-style smoked brisket.
Meat Trimmings (right): At the end of all of this trimming, you should be left with a good portion of quality brisket meat, which you can grind into hamburger meat, or turn into some delicious burnt ends, by following my Smoked Brisket Burnt Ends recipe.
Fat Trimmings (left): Also, the fat trimmings can be melted down into pure beef tallow, by following my Wagyu Beef Tallow recipe – and used to replace oil or butter in any dish to add a depth of beef umami whenever you are cooking.
Seasoning Your Texas-Style Smoked Brisket
This step is fairly simple. You only need a binder (like mustard) and a good quality rub, like this Salt Lick Dry Rub that I use in most of my brisket recipes.
Simply coat the top and bottom of the brisket with the mustard and apply a generous dusting of the dry rub on both sides.
Let sit in the fridge overnight, or for at least 3 hours to let the flavor from the rub infuse into the meat.