5 Steps on How to Trim a Brisket: Utilizing Trimmings Effectively

Trimming brisket is essential for great results. Learn how to trim brisket, use the trimmings for cooking, health products, and make tallow.

what to do with brisket trimmings

Brisket trimmings are the fat that’s removed from the meat before cooking, and the best smoke masters know that proper trimming is one of the most crucial components of ensuring mouthwatering results.

Fortunately, there are quite a few uses for beef brisket trimmings, ranging from cooking (like burnt ends!) with them to making health and beauty products.

Don’t waste those trimmings anymore! We’ll explain how to cut and use trimmings along with a recipe for making health-boosting, versatile tallow.

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How To Trim the Fat Off a Brisket

Before we get into all the amazing things that brisket trimmings can be used for, we must discuss how to actually get them.

Of course, obtaining a brisket is the first step. The day before you’re ready to fire up the grill, get the meat out along with the following items:

With the right tools in hand, lay the brisket on the cutting board brisket fat side up. The best approach is to work from the long, flat side across to the pointed side. It’s important to take note at this time of the different kinds of fat on the meat.

Some parts will be leathery or waxy, and these types of fat will never render. (We’ll discuss that more in-depth shortly.) The softer, more delicate fatty areas are ideal for rendering. This is why having two bowls is wise, so they can be kept separate should you want to make tallow.

Now, you’re ready to learn how to master the art of brisket trimming. Hold the blade flat parallel against the large end of the meat, and then gently ease the knife into it. Start by making shallow cuts that are long enough for you to hold the fat being cut with one hand while trimming with the other.

If a thin caramelized layer of char is desired, it’s okay to leave around ¼ inch of fat on the meat. However, smoke and seasoning won’t penetrate much further than that. So, the more fat that’s trimmed, the more flavor the brisket will ultimately have (though there is a risk of making it tough).

Much like in an infomercial…But, wait! There’s more! And that’s the case here. After trimming the fat side of the brisket, there is still a need to focus on one more area: the pointed end of the brisket.

There is normally a big hunk of fat cap there, and you’ll want to remove as much of that as possible. Some vertical cuts may be required to dissect it from the brisket.

Wondering What to Do With Brisket Trimmings?

Brisket fat trimmings can be used in quite a few recipes, ranging from creating a whole other type of meat to desserts and even hygiene goodies. Even better, the trimmings can be frozen for up to three months for later use if there are lots of leftovers.

Non-rendered beef fat’s solid texture mixes well with other ground meats to create an entirely different taste and flavor. A top option is to buy a whole piece of beef chuck, add a bit of the trimmings and run them through a meat grinder.

Only add as much fat as you want, with common beef labels boasting ratios of beef to fat being 90/10, 80/20 and 70/30.

Excess beef trimmings can also be ground up and added to pork shoulder to make sausage, following the same guidelines described for ground chuck.

However, some of the most remarkable flavors hail when prepared with tallow that is rendered from fat trimmings from brisket.

Can Brisket Trimmings Make Tallow?

Brisket trimmings can easily be rendered to create liquid fat that becomes a solid lard-like substance when cooled that is known as beef tallow. This is a fantastic thing to have on hand both as an ingredient in the kitchen and beyond.

You can learn more about what rendering is here, but a brief breakdown is that this is the process of melting and clarifying animal meats into a liquid form.

Rendered beef tallow lends an unbeatable flavor to vegetables being sauteed, desserts like Yorkshire pudding, and it can even be used as a replacement for most oils for frying and baking.

Beef tallow is a also a widely popular ingredient used to make homemade soaps, and even several high-end and organic brands use it. Tallow hardens up nicely, but still creates a soft, foamy lather that other types of oils are challenged to replicate.

Tallow contains numerous nutrients that allow it to be a superior skin moisturizer for both soap and body butter. Do note, that having some essential oils on hand to add fragrance is recommended to stave off the scent of animal fat.

Tallow can also be substituted for beeswax or soy when making candles. The project’s process remains the same with tallow candles as traditional ones.

Just melt the tallow, pour it in a heatproof jar or other receptacle, and situate the wicks as you please. Again, adding essential oil will result in a scented candle that leaves rooms smelling amazing.

How Do You Make Beef Tallow from Brisket Trimmings?

Beef Tallow

Make the most of trimmings from brisket or other parts of the cow, and take advantage of all the great things you can use it for after rendering it to tallow.

It is fairly simple to make tall at home with supplies you likely already have on hand. Check out this easy recipe to make beef tallow from brisket trimmings and other beef fat.

Add the beef fat into a large stock pot and allow it to slowly simmer. If heated too fast, browning could occur and result in a funkier flavor.

As the fat slowly simmers, it starts to render and cook. Should it start boiling and bubbling excessively, reduce the heat and give the contents a brisk stir.

Once the fat has been rendered down to its liquid form, use a fine strainer that will remove larger pieces. Follow up with a secondary strain to remove smaller pieces, such as a coffee filter, paper towel or cheesecloth.

Skipping the straining process will leave impurities behind, which can impact the taste and allow the tallow to spoil faster.

Tallow can be used immediately after being rendered, and it will remain a liquid until it fully cools. It’s recommended to pour any portions that won’t be used right away into lidded glass jars or storage containers.

 When cooled, tallow will solidify into the consistency of lard, but it can easily be melted down slowly to liquify once again to serve the desired purpose. Beef tallow can last 3 months in the refrigerator and just over six months when frozen.

Is Tallow Healthy?

There are many great reason why you should be cooking with tallow instead of traditional cooking oils and lards. Tallow from beef trimmings are rich in vitamins A, D, K, E and B1, and this unprocessed fat helps the body absorb more of the fat-soluble nutrients in other foods. In turn, this helps boost the immune system.

It can also reduce inflammation due the presence of iinoleic acid, which is a purported to be an  anti-inflammatory. This also allows tallow to help protect the body from infection – one of the fatty acids in beef allow – palmitoleic acid – possesses fantastic antimicrobial properties, which may help to ward off infections.

 It’s also good for the immune and nervous systems.As an added perk, tallow can helps the body burn faconsuming healthy fats stimulates the release of glucagon, the hormone that signals to your body it’s time to burn stored fat to use for energy.

More FAQs

How do you cook brisket trimmings?

To cook brisket trimmings, you can cook them alongside the brisket by adding fat trimmings to a disposable aluminum sheet pan and placing it on the smoker. Make sure to position it beside or on a shelf under the brisket, depending on the size of the smoker. Cook the trimmings for approximately 4 hours at 250F, or until the fat has rendered into tallow. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Can you make burnt ends with brisket trimmings?

Burnt ends can be made using brisket trimmings, although it is important to note that the flat portion of the brisket tends to dry out more easily compared to the well-marbled point end. This can result in less juicy and succulent bites of meat, which are typically associated with burnt ends.

What can you do with smoker drippings?

You can use smoker drippings by unwrapping the meat over a deep dish to collect the drippings. After the fluids have cooled, a layer of fat will settle on top, regardless of the amount of liquid. The fat can be skimmed off and discarded, or it can be utilized as a substitute for lard or bacon grease. Incorporating the fat into your cooking will impart a delightful smoky flavor to your dishes.

Are beef trimmings edible?

Beef trimmings are indeed edible and can be just as enjoyable as the steak itself. In fact, they may even offer a more intense flavor as they absorb all the delicious seasonings and flavors during the aging process.

Can you use beef trimmings for stock?

Beef trimmings can be used for stock, which is a valuable ingredient in the kitchen for cooks, butchers, and food enthusiasts. It is an ideal addition to create flavorful stews and provides nutritional benefits. Utilizing beef bones and any leftover meat trimmings from a roast is a convenient method to make the most of these ingredients.

How long will beef fat trimmings last in the fridge?

Beef fat trimmings can last in the fridge for approximately three days to a week, and potentially longer. However, it is important to note that the shelf life of raw fatback is influenced by factors such as storage conditions. When stored in a closed container or bag, and exposed to air and condensation, raw fatback tends to spoil more quickly.

What happens to meat trimmings?

Meat trimmings are typically handled in two ways. The trimmings removed from the exposed exterior are collected and transported to the tallow works for rendering. On the other hand, the interior trimmings are commonly utilized in the production of hamburger.

How to make burgers from brisket trimmings?

To make burgers from brisket trimmings, you can start by grinding the trimmings using a meat grinder. Begin by running them through the larger grind and then repeat the process with the smaller grinder. Next, shape the ground meat into 6 patties of equal size, approximately ⅓ pound each. If you don’t have a meat grinder, you have the option to have the meat ground by your local butcher.

How to make burnt ends from brisket trimmings?

To make burnt ends from brisket trimmings, you should start by preheating your smoker or grill. The secret to achieving delicious burnt ends lies in cooking them slowly at a low temperature. Once the trimmings are seasoned with Beef Rub or a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic powder, they should be smoked until they reach the desired tenderness. Afterward, you can wrap the brisket cubes in foil and continue cooking until they become caramelized and crispy. Lastly, generously coat the burnt ends with your favorite sauce before serving them.

Can you freeze beef fat trimmings?

Beef fat trimmings can be frozen. Tallow, which is derived from beef fat, will solidify and can be stored at room temperature in a sealed container for up to a year without going rancid. Beef tallow has even longer shelf life when kept in the refrigerator, and it can be stored indefinitely in the freezer.

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