There are many questions that come to your mind when you barbecue for the first time. But you’re not alone. Even some BBQ experts secretly dread some common queries and one of them is: Should you cook brisket fat side up or fat side down?
To finally answer this question, we’re here with solid facts and supplementary information that will help you understand your brisket better.
Let’s dive in to know which brisket fat side is better.
Table of Contents_
- Should You Smoke Brisket Fat Side Up or Down?
- What’s the Brisket?
- What Does the Brisket Fat Look Like?
- Why is Brisket Fat Important?
- How to Develop a Crusty Brisket Bark?
- What Happens If You Cook Brisket Fat Side Up?
- Smoking Brisket Fat Side Up VS Fat Side Down. Who’s the Winner?
- What to Use to Smoke Brisket Fat Side Up or Down?
- Final Words – To Smoke Brisket Fat Side Up Or Down?
Should You Smoke Brisket Fat Side Up or Down?
The answer to the question: do you cook brisket fat side up or down, isn’t quite simple.
However, in case you’re ready to toss your seasoned brisket on the grill, here’s your quick answer. It’s brisket fat side down. However, read the rest of the article to find out why.
What’s the Brisket?
In case you’re wondering, the brisket comes from the lower chest area of a cow. You can cut the brisket into two parts for cooking delectable dishes.
Let’s take a quick view of what brisket is.
You can cut the brisket into two parts:
- The point
- The flat
The ‘point’ is thicker and fatter and is also called the deckle. When you cut off the deckle, you get the ‘flat’ which lies straight. Also, the flat part is leaner if you’re looking for a healthier option.
Now that you know the brisket cuts, you’re probably thinking which brisket cut is better for grilling? We have an answer to that too.
The ‘point’ part is smaller and marbled with more fat that gives a punch to the flavor. But it does not have so much meat. People usually take the point and grind it for use in heavenly recipes.
In contrast, the flat is long but thin and cooks better. Not only that but the flat slices up neatly to make a fantastic dinner for your guests.
However, to smoke the brisket, we recommend you grill the whole piece. This adds a robust flavor to your beloved brisket.
What Does the Brisket Fat Look Like?
You must get acquainted with the brisket fat so you can grill with confidence. Let’s look at the layers of the brisket.
The top part of the brisket consisting of a thick hard layer is called the fat cap. The fat cap is made up of fat while the red part of the meat contains water. Water and oil don’t mix.
Hold on to this information for a moment.
The fat cap is usually one inch thick but its thickness is distinctive to the cow. Similarly, the brisket’s quality also depends on how the butcher guy cuts the meat.
You can get a detailed view of the brisket in this video:
Why is Brisket Fat Important?
You should not remove the brisket fat for a leaner option. Learn what the brisket fat does to your meat. Only then you’ll realize your meat is worth all the goodness of brisket fat.
Boosts the Flavor
Brisket fat is the source of all the sizzling and savory flavors. When the fat melts from the fat cap, it will drip on the coals. This sends smoke into the air which infuses into the brisket to enhance the flavor.
Moistens the Meat
Fat protects the meat by acting as a shield against heat. By not allowing the water to evaporate, the fat moistens the meat and makes it juicy.
However, there’s a downside to it.
Excess fat can get in the way of a good brisket’s bark. The bark is a crusty dark texture on your brisket which forms on drying. And excess fat doesn’t let the meat dry because it retains moisture.
Also, you end up removing the fat afterward anyway. Most importantly, the excess fat increases your cooking time.
Hence, we’d recommend you trim the excess fat. Anything between one-fourth to one-half inch is fine. To trim safely and sharply, you should use the right brisket knife.
How to Develop a Crusty Brisket Bark?
Before you go to grill your brisket, it’s imperative you know the process behind a tempting bark. When spices plus the smoke combine with the meat protein, a chemical reaction occurs. This chemical reaction is called the Maillard reaction.
To develop the perfect bark, rub your favorite spices on the brisket and grill it. But wait, there’s more.
Temperature plays a pivotal role in this process. High temperature can caramelize your meat turning it bitter. Alternatively, you also won’t get the bark at a low temperature.
What Happens If You Cook Brisket Fat Side Up?
People have a big misconception about cooking the brisket fat side up. They think by doing so, the fat melts through the meat which makes it moist and juicy. But, they are wrong.
You know the drill. As mentioned before, water and oils don’t get along well. Also, the connective tissue lining acts as a barrier between the fat cap and the red meat. Consequently, making things even harder.
What is the meaning of all this? This means the myth of acquiring moist and juicy meat with brisket fat side up is false.
But there’s an exception. If you’re grilling the meat with a heat source above, you can cook the brisket fat side up.
Smoking Brisket Fat Side Up VS Fat Side Down. Who’s the Winner?
Do you cook brisket fat side up or down? If you haven’t tried yet, try cooking the brisket fat side down on our request and see it for yourself.
It not only gives a punch to the flavor but also adds a tantalizing appeal to the eyes as well. Similarly, you can enhance the smoky flavor if you have the right type of wood for smoking brisket.
On the flip side, when you cook brisket fat side up, you’re going to end up charring the bottom of your grill. That’s not what you want.
The fat cap will melt, a process called rendering, taking along the seasonings right into your grill. As a result, you will have bland unhappy meat. On top of that, it’s a waste of your spices, time, and money.
Therefore, cook the brisket fat side down to keep the seasonings right where they should be.
What to Use to Smoke Brisket Fat Side Up or Down?
Choosing which brisket fat side to cook doesn’t guarantee you quality meat. The quality also depends on the type of grill. Thus, to grill the juiciest and flavorful meat, you must have the best pellet grill.
Most importantly, you also need the skills to smoke brisket on a pellet grill.
But if you’re a rookie, you’d love an electric smoker. An electric smoker grills your meat easier, faster, and without compromising the quality.
Remember slow and steady is the key to a perfectly grilled brisket. However, we understand that you’d like to fast forward this tedious process to get delicious brisket on the plate. In that case, you can always smoke brisket in an electric smoker.
Beware, brisket loses its tenderness right after you’re done eating.
So to enjoy your leftovers just reheat the brisket to 140F. This temperature is ideal to get juicy, fresh brisket just like you made it in the first place. Any ups or downs in the temperature can turn your brisket into beef jerky.
Final Words – To Smoke Brisket Fat Side Up Or Down?
To save you from the hassle of surfing the internet, we have stated our reasons. We hope you now have a much clear idea of which brisket fat side to cook.
So, if someone asks; do you cook brisket fat side up or down? You tell them that it’s always brisket fat side down.
Now that you know the answer, start smoking your legendary brisket. However, if you are still having trouble smoking it, you can always read and learn from here on how to smoke a brisket.