If you spend any time around a competition cook it won’t be long before the topic of brisket and what grade to use. Then add into that discussion what breed of cattle to shop for. You’ll get a wide variety of answers depending on who you talk to.
When we started competing I gave myself a very small budget. If it wasn’t necessary it wasn’t being purchased. This was even applied to the meats. I showed up basically with the bare minimum (1 choice brisket, 1-2 commodity butts, 2 slabs of spare ribs and 10-12 thighs). Looking back I can see this as a bit risky, one small screw up and the cook was over.
Recently the conversation of Wagyu beef came up again and is it really worth the cost. It’s a hard cost to swallow, pun intended, when compared to the price of prime and even more so, choice beef. I take in a lot of advice and sort though any bias and try to come to a reasonable decision. That decision was made a bit easier when Snake River Farms changed their pricing and shipping. It sits a bit easier when shipping is only $9.99 compared to $30 or more. So I pulled the trigger and placed an order. My plan was to cook a SNF brisket against a prime using the identical methods and flavors. This would be the only way to truly tell if there was a difference.
The wagyu arrives already wet aged for 28 days, so that matches up pretty close to the prime’s wet age time that I put it through. It did arrive frozen so a few more days in the refrigerator were need. I ordered the 11-14 lb range briskets.
I was impressed right out of the box. Both were in the 13 LB range and the marbling was amazing. The flats looked a bit on the thin side. There have been several people voice their displeasure with the thickness of the flats, but I have also heard that they tend to thicken up while cooking.
I opened up the packaging on both test briskets and again was impressed with the Wagyu. Very little excess fat on the meat side. The color was amazing. It was bright red and looked like it was freshly cut off of the cattle.
I then did the same with the Prime. (Note: this was a rejected brisket from our competition selection based on it’s size. It was an 8.71 LB and looked to be missing a good chunk of the flat.) Huge difference in the amount of fat. The color was more of a purple color.
I planned on an 8 hour cook using 1 UDS. I like to get some sleep every now and then. This would hopefully have the briskets done by lunch time. I had also been advised by a few cooks to watch the Wagyu as it likes to cook pretty fast and cook it hotter than you normally would. The temp suggestion kinda disappointed me as my UDS holds a temp of 250 without any problems. At 3 am the meat went on, with my new Thermoworks oven thermometer and it’s a good thing to.
The plan was to wake up at 7 to check on them and wrap. Leslie woke up at 6 to let the dogs out and noticed the temp on the small prime brisket was at 205.
Holy crap!!!! a 3 hour brisket how is that possible? I know the Wagyu would cook faster but not the prime. I guess the prime felt like showing off and tried to act like a Wagyu. That’s fine as long as it tastes better.
It’s possible because I am assuming with all the fat dripping off it must have spiked the temp to 325. Go thing the Wagyu was only at 170.
I went ahead and wrapped the Wagyu and planned for another few hours before worrying about it.
WRONG AGAIN!!!!! 7:30 am and the Waygu is done at 210.
Well I guess they’ll just have to rest a bit longer.
Now it comes down to the bread and butter of it all. How did they compare to each other?
Prime – The point was perfectly tender, but the flat seemed to be a bit tough. Flavor was about typical, except for the burning grease smoke flavor in the background. It wouldn’t have been an issue on the offset.
Wagyu – The point still needed about another hour or so, but the flat was perfect. Laid over the finger with a bit of separation. The flat did thicken up to about 1 1/2 – 2 inches. The flavor was outstanding. Great beef flavor without the pot roast flavor. Very moist.
Sorry I didn’t get pictures of the finished products.
So with that said would I switch to Wagyu? You betcha, as long as the budget allows it and the payout justifies it. I’ll try another one in the offset to try and get a better time on it while maintaining the temp a tad better.