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9 Things To Know About Prime Brisket

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Prime Brisket

Prime brisket is one of the best cuts of barbecue that you can buy. It has excellent marbling and is far superior to other cuts of brisket that are of the choice or select grade. On average, you can expect to purchase a whole packer style prime brisket for about $3.99 per pound.

Does Prime Brisket Cook Faster

Some may wonder if prime brisket cooks faster than other cuts of BBQ. The answer to that is yes, due to the high marbling content, you can expect the connective tissue and fat to begin rendering down a lot quicker than the leaner grades such as choice or select. This makes it very juicy inside once completely done, and can certainly save the PitMaster a lot of time throughout the overall cook.

A way you can expedite the cooking process is through two things. The first of which is to crank up the heat to very high temperatures. Specifically, to around 300°F or hotter. At this temperature range, it’s common for the brisket to cook through at a rate of about 1 to 2 lbs per hour of cook time. For lower temperature cooks, the time it takes to cook through a piece of brisket per hour is a lot longer. As you can see, higher temperature cooks are a great way to make your prime brisket cook quicker than usual.

The second way you can make a brisket cook quicker is to begin wrapping it in either butcher paper or foil. This basically just traps heat all around the brisket and makes the internal temperature rise at an exponential rate. As a matter of fact, this is a common method for getting Briskets past the stall where the internal temperature is flatlining between 150°F to 170°F.

Prime Brisket Internal Temperature

The prime brisket internal temperature is usually around 200°F in terms of when you should pull it. This is when all of the connective tissue and fat begin to render down inside of the meat and make it very juicy and moist. This is absolutely what you want.

If you’re checking out the different grades of brisket and wondering whether or not the internal temperature is technically different in terms of when you should pull it between select, choice, and prime, just know that every brisket is pretty much the same regarding the internal temperature. Basically what that means is that scientifically, every brisket will begin to render down all the connective tissue and collagen at around 200°F. 

This is a very good guideline and can certainly help the inexperienced Pitmasters along there BBQ smoking journey. As you become more custom to smoking barbecue and brisket in particular, you’ll also come to understand that pulling it off at a certain internal temperature really isn’t that important, but more so, the meat should be pulled off once it is probe tender. That is really how you know a brisket is done.

Prime Brisket Too Fatty

If you happen to have a prime grade brisket that you think is too fatty, there are a couple things you can do. The first of which is to not do anything at all, basically just let the cooking of the actual meet itself rendered down all of the fat that you see on the brisket. This is personally what I do and is a great way to shield it from a lot of the excess heat on the outside perimeter of the brisket itself. In other words, not trimming your brisket and leaving the fat on is a great way to obtain a very juicy piece of barbecue afterwards. 

Of course, there are some times when the fat is simply just too much and actually doesn’t runner down even though you smoked it for about 12 or more hours. What you can do in that case is simply just trim the brisket on the outer edge of the meat. Anywhere you say hard in casings of white fat, take a fillet knife and promptly slice it off

Prime Brisket Cook Time

Depending on the grade, the weight and thickness, and the overall marbling of your brisket, you can expect an average cook time about 1 pound of meat per hour. This is of course considering you smoked meat at around 225°F and 250°F.

If you happen to smoke the brisket hotter temperatures, then rest assured that it will be done a lot quicker. Specifically, briskets that are cooked at hotter temperatures than 250°F, I’ve seen many of them finish with an average cook rate of one and a half to 2 pounds per hour. Once you understand this, it can be very powerful because you quickly realize that smoking meat at hotter temperatures and saves you a lot of time. 

And you really don’t get any time back in life.

So, since the cook time is cut essentially in half at any temperature range above 250, I personally always recommend to anyone that wants to smoke a prime brisket, to smoke it hot and fast. There is really no difference between low and slow and hot and fast in terms of the after product, besides the amount of time it takes to reach that state.

Why is prime brisket cheaper than choice

One of the great misconceptions and selecting a piece of me, is how much each grade costs and what really is the total cost of ownership considering that. In other words, a lot of people may seem to ask why a prime brisket may be cheaper than a choice brisket. You have to ask yourself though, is it really cheaper, or is it technically more expensive on a per pound basis?

A very important thing to understand and realize is that on a per pound basis, prime will always be more expensive than choice grade. That’s just the way it is. Now, you can also get into the type of brisket you are ordering, meaning, what type of brisket cut do you want. If you happen to buy a brisket that only has the flat part available, it will certainly be a lot more expensive on a per pound basis even though it’s choice grade than the per pound basis for a prime grade packer. 

Just something to keep in mind. As you start to buy more select or tailored cuts of brisket, you will certainly be paying a premium, regardless of the grade that you were buying. But in a holistic sense, prime will generally always be more expensive per pound than choice or select grade.

Prime Brisket Done Temp

Any brisket you happen to be smoking, whether it be prime or any other type of grade, will always need to be pulled once it reaches around 200°F an internal temperature. That is simply the temperature when the collagen and counter tissue began to break down and make the brisket very tender. Now, just because it times out at that temperature, just know that you will always want to employ what is known as the probe test.

Basically, just get a toothpick and begin reinserting it all throughout the meet and test for any resistance. If there is resistance, then don’t for the brisket even though it’s temping out at around 200°F. Let it rip a little bit longer and then retest with a toothpick to see if there’s any more resistance. Keep doing this until you don’t have any resistance, that is truly indicative of when a brisket, notably a prime brisket, should be done.

Is prime brisket good

A lot of people wonder whether or not prime brisket is worth it or not and if it is even that good. I’m here to tell you that prime brisket absolutely is several steps above select and choice grade. That mainly is due to the marbling and fat content located within the meat. The more marbling that you have, the juicier and more flavorful you can expect each bite to have. In other words, prime brisket is amazing.

To make sure your prime brisket is really good, just make sure to obviously pick out a prime brisket that has the red markings on the back of the Cryovac seal, and also pick one that has even thickness all throughout. You don’t want a small little flat and a giant point. 

Final thoughts

Prime brisket is one of the most coveted pieces of barbecue ever. It has rich marbling and lots of potential to make amazing quality BBQ, more so than any other type of grade of brisket.