Prime brisket is absolutely worth the money. Although more expensive, it can cook faster, has a higher marbling content than choice or select grades, and makes for an amazing after product.
Why is Brisket So Expensive?
Brisket in general can be a fairly expensive cut of meat simply due to its’ size.
Usually, a single brisket packer will weigh anywhere from 10-25lbs. That’s a LOT of meat.
Even though the brisket price per pound is relatively low – the sheer size of the cut is what makes the price a lot more expensive.
A lot of the actual price per pound of a particular brisket also revolves around supply and demand, like everything else.
There could be a cattle shortage, an increase in demand for beef, the list goes on.
Generally though in Texas – the Price per pound of prime grade brisket has never gone above $3.99.
For ‘lesser’ grades of brisket – it could be as low as $1.99 per pound for select and somewhere in between for choice grade brisket.
Let’s take an example of obtaining a giant, 20lb piece of brisket, and compare it against different prices for the different grades I’ve seen:
20lb X $3.99 = $79.80
$79.80 for a 20lb piece of meat may sound like a lot, but it’s 20lbs of meat! That’s a lot of meat to consume. Brisket can be great for eating throughout the week – or perhaps cooking for a large event. Imagine trying to cook 20lbs of rib eye. That would be tremendously more expensive than this.
Not only do you get a great bang for your buck – but the entire 20lbs of meat is prime grade quality. You really can’t beat that.
20lb X $2.99 = $59.80
$59.80 for a 20lb piece of meat is certainly not bad either! Choice can be another great way to accommodate a large gathering or serve as the primary food for your entire week. The marbling isn’t as good as prime – but you can still save some extra money while consuming a very tasty piece of barbecue.
20lb X $1.99 = $39.80
Can you imagine getting roughly 20lbs of meat for only $39.80? That’s what you can get with Select Grade Brisket. That being said – with Select – you really have to consider that there’s probably a reason why it is so cheap. Generally, Select Grade Brisket is a lot leaner than both choice and prime. That means it is a lot more prone to being dry, tough, and not as tender.
Still though, any grade of brisket can come out great if you are an excellent pit master.
Which is Better Flat or Point Brisket?
It depends if you like eating a fatty or lean piece of meat. For BBQ DROPOUT – point brisket is the way to go. The point of the brisket will literally melt in your mouth.
When deciding which to eat – or which is better – let’s take a look at the profile of each part of the brisket.
The flat portion of the brisket is by far the leanest. It is also the most prone to the common pitfalls of smoking and slicing a brisket – drying out. This is a very delicate part of the brisket, and it needs some special attention.
Despite the special attention it may deserve – the taste and flavor profile can still be very rewarding. Most people seem to like leaner types of meat – and the flat part of the brisket can be a great option. It has the right amount of beefy flavor, tenderness, and leanness.
The point portion of the brisket is my absolute favorite! The reasoning for this is simply because it’s like biting into the juiciest steak imaginable. The entire portion of the point part of the brisket just melts in your mouth – if it was cooked correctly.
Does a Prime Brisket Cook Faster?
I have seen prime briskets cook faster than other lesser grades such as choice and select. My theory is simply due to the fact that a prime brisket will generally have more marbling – and therefore less connective tissue to render down. This significantly speeds up the cook.
When smoking a brisket you are rendering down all of the collagen and connective tissue inside the meat. That is why you may hear a lot of people say you need to be pulling the brisket not only when the internal temperature is around 200 degrees AND it probes tender. That’s when the brisket is truly done.
Usually what happens is a prime brisket has more overall marbling and fat content and perhaps not as much muscle or connective tissue to render down. Fat is a lot easier to render down than all of those really tough connective tissues!
Brisket Cooking Too Fast?
Brisket can cook too fast if you have it wrapped, are cooking it too hot, or you are smoking with a quality grade such as prime.
If your brisket does happen to find itself cooking too fast, there are a variety of things you could consider doing:
- Decrease the smoker temps to help prolong the cook
- Unwrap the brisket if it is wrapped
- Place the brisket in a cooler or warming oven to prolong the holding and resting time
Once you have exhausted all of these options – you just have to accept your fate!
They are all different. Every brisket is not the same and you have to learn how to adjust accordingly.
Prime vs Choice Brisket?
Prime is better than choice if you want a well marbled, fattier, and more tender cut of brisket. If you want a slightly more lean type of brisket then grab a choice grade brisket.
Like everything else in life – don’t trap yourself by dogma. Basically, you don’t always have to be getting the ‘best’ grade of brisket out there. Lot’s of people will ONLY grab prime ‘just because’ and that’s not the way to do it.
As a pit master – use your head – are prime briskets REALLY all that good?
Yeah, they are really good. But sometimes people want something different – and that’s okay!
All this being said – let’s take a quick look at the differences between prime and choice brisket:
- Much more marbling
- More forgiving to cook (due to marbling)
- Not as lean as choice or select
- More expensive ($3.99/lb)
- Not as much marbling as prime
- Good balance between too fatty and too lean
- Not as forgiving as prime when cooking (lack of marbling)
- Less Expensive ($2.99lb)
As you can see – when you actually break down the data and stray away from being too abstract – there are very few differences between the two grades of brisket.
It really boils down to if you want to pay more for a more fattier type of brisket that can tolerate a little more beating in the cooking process. That’s it.
Select Brisket vs Prime?
Select brisket is more lean than prime, while prime brisket is way more marbled.
What really matters when deciding between the two is how skilled you are at maintaining consistent temperatures throughout the cooking process and if you want a leaner or fattier brisket.
Let’s break this one down:
- Not as forgiving as choice or prime brisket (lack of marbling)
- Cheaper than both choice and prime brisket ($1.99/lb)
- A lot more lean than both choice and prime brisket
- Requires more Pit Master Skill to cook properly (due to leanness)
- A lot more forgiving than select and choice grade brisket (more marbling)
- More expensive than both select and choice ($3.99/lb)
- Not as lean and is more tender than both select and choice
- Does not require as much Pit Master skill to cook properly (due to marbling)
What it boils down to regarding prime vs select brisket is the amount of skill you have in smoking a brisket. The select brisket is a lot more prone to drying out than prime brisket and therefore requires much more attention than a prime grade brisket.
Is Prime Brisket worth the Money – Final Thoughts:
Prime brisket is worth the money if you have the budget to pay a little extra for an easier to cook piece of meat. Otherwise – go with choice or select if you don’t have the budget but have the required pit master skills to properly cook a brisket.