Brisket - 16lbs - assume I should cut it into pieces? Need some advice, please

Hi,
Newbie here.

I am cooking for a crowd of 26 people and this will be my first time attempting to sous vide. I’ve bought a ~16lb beef brisket. What I’m wondering is should I cut it into pieces (assuming yes, so I can flavour and vacuum seal the bags). I just want to make sure I’m doing the right thing there. Is there an issue if I say, cut it into 3 pieces and put them into the same water bath with one Anova sous vide cooker?

Also… from what I’ve read, seems that 72 hours at 135F is ideal. Would everyone concur? I would then plunge it into an ice bath and sear on the BBQ. Have I got that right?

Sorry for so many questions. I am planning to have this on Saturday night, and am starting to panic.

Thanks so much for any input - REALLY appreciate it!

Michelle, your first assumption is correct.

You must be an extremely competent cook to select a beef brisket for your first SV cook. You likely know briskets are one of the most challenging cuts of beef to cook successfuly. Most cooks attempting a new technique start with a less challenging and smaller piece of meat. You are one brave person.

As you know briskets have a natural separation between the Point and Flat parts. Use it to guide your cuttingthe brisket in two. The you can make your choice which one will be cut in half again for your third piece.

That mass of meat will displace abou a gallon of water. Therefore you need to have a vessel with sufficient capacity for ample water circulation.

It seems to me just about evryone has a personal specific doneness preference for brisket and they vary widely. Your brisket will be tender and Medium-Rare.

Thank you, chatnoir, I sincerely appreciate your feedback!

I am a good cook, but I’m definitely a little panicky about this challenge. What makes cooking brisket such a challenge? Knowing the challenges may help me anticipate any potential issues…

Thanks again!

Michelle

Fat content is the biggest issue with brisket. The flat is much leaner than the point so it affects cooking time. I’ve only smoked brisket so I’m curious to see how it will turn out. Watching a few videos on YouTube might be a good place to start, there’s plenty of them on doing a SV brisket although I haven’t seen any that cut the brisket beforehand.

In stores briskets are often cut down and trimmed before the consumer gets them. A 16 pound whole packer is not uncommon and since it has not been additionally processed they are often less expensive. My local market sells them both ways.

Michelle, the brisket is the large well exercised pectoral muscles that supports a large amount of the animal’s weight. That means it’s tough. It also means that it contains a high level of connective tissue collegen that requires long cook times at a sufficient temperature to convert the tough collagen to tender gelatine.

I wasn’t aware that Medium-Rare Brisket was ideal. Most cooks i know do it low and slow but to a significantly higher internal temperature.

Slicing the brisket for service presents another challenge. We break down the brisket because the grain runs in different directions in its parts. Pay close attention to the grain of the meat and cut against it. This is best done with a long straight slicing knife that gives you thin smooth slices. Press slightly against the meat rather than downward as you slice to give you the best control of your blade.

Michelle - I’ve cooked brisket with my SV a number of times and it works well. Haven’t done one that large, generally 4 -6 lbs. I always cut in half, season, vacuum seal & let “marinate” overnight.

Here is a recipe from Amazing Ribs that I follow.

https://amazingribs.com/tested-recipes/beef-and-bison-recipes/smoked-sous-vide-que-bbq-brisket-recipe

Calls for 30 hours; 32 - 35 is better.

This one for St. Louis style spare ribs is killer!!