COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Camp Brisket, a joint venture between Foodways Texas and Texas A&M Univ., has evolved since the inaugural event held in 2013, to what is now an always sold-out, dream-come-true annual opportunity for pit masters of all experience levels to immerse themselves in beef. It is a great companion to the annual Barbecue Summer Camp, which has also developed a cult-like following and has drawn hundreds of attendees from around the country to Texas A&M.
As the name implies, Camp Brisket focuses on the quintessential component of Texas-style barbecue, the brisket, which can be the most difficult and time-consuming meat item to prepare. With an all-star roster of barbecue experts leading the course, we thought a summary of what we have learned over the past five camps would be beneficial to meat industry professionals and aspiring pit masters.
- Quality matters — Based on our unscientific taste tests at the camp and the testimony of the top-tier pit masters we work with each year, briskets from Prime, Wagyu, and Top Choice (e.g., Certified Angus Beef, Chairman’s Reserve) consistently deliver higher ratings than briskets from Choice and Select. More marbling seems to make this richly flavored cut even more buttery and delicious.
- Bark is best — In the past, briskets were cooked with all the fat still attached (packer-style briskets), and after smoking, this fat was trimmed away resulting in lean-only pieces of sliced briskets to serve. What we term “21st Century briskets” are pre-trimmed so they have about a ¼-inch-fat covering. They are seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and after smoking, the exterior transforms into “bark,” a wonderful-tasting complement to the lean. With this low level of fat remaining on the brisket, it gets properly rendered during cooking so that it becomes slightly crispy (think medium-cooked bacon) and makes great tasting brisket even better.
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For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Maggie Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1542.