Practically infallible "test" for briskets?

This is a "test" that an elderly man told me about, when I was at the Kansas State Barbeque Cookoff in Lenexa a few years ago. I took it he was the father or grandfather of one of the contestants in the cookoff, and we just got to talking about one of mine and his favorite things, BBQ! I quickly realized he had probably forgotten more about real barbequing than I ever knew... he was a grizzled ole' feller, and he even smelled kinda smoky, if you know what I mean!

Anyway, here's what he suggested: On the briskets that come in the cryovac sealed bags, (which seem to be the way all the briskets come nowadays, at least in these parts...) you need to pick the brisket up in your hands and grab hold of one corner and bend it diagonally toward the apex of the brisket on the other corner. Try to see if you can make the two ends of the brisket touch.

If you encounter a lot of resistance, and the brisket does not seem to want to bend very easily, it will likely be a tough old piece of meat, indicating it probably came from a "cutter or canner" variety of beef. I worked at a meat processing plant one summer as a teenager, so I do know a little about meat. I know about that grade; all those cows are good for is hamburger! I have tried this test on at least 30 briskets I have bought in the last few years. I bought one on purpose one time that flunked this simple "test", just to see how it would turn out. I cooked it darn near 18 hours and it was still tough! I realize this is not scientific and I don't know of any real research on the topic... (University meat science departments, here you go...! Sounds like a worthy research project to me! Is there really anything to this?)

I can't make guarantees on this, and I don't say that you will get the same results, but I will tell you that this was a man who looked like he knew what he was talking about. It has worked for me! Give it a try!

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Last revised 06-20-99