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 Post subject: Help with brisket slicing or slicer?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 3:42 pm 

Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2014 11:21 am
Posts: 165
Location: Long Island, NY
Hi could use some advice here.

For whatever reason I just can't seem to get my briskets to slice up nicely. Don't know if it's technique or my tools and I'd really appreciate any help.

I must smoke about 12 a year. Donate about half of that. I frequently end up carving them in person if I've donated to an event and it's a little embarrassing when I can't get them to slice up nicely. Just to be specific I'm talking about the flat or first cut section of the brisket. I don't mean the few that might get over cooked and are too soft (I usually just shred them anyhow) and I'm not talking about the point section. Plain and simple - not getting nice consistent thin cross cut slices on my flats.

They taste great, and people like them a lot -- had someone contribute a lot of money for an 18 pounder in an auction recently - they just have a tendency to pull apart when I cut to about 1/4" - where I feel they should be - and look a bit sloppy. I kind of feel if a person's going to pay a fair amount of money for something I'm making it needs to look as good as it eats. So I'd like to fix that.

The two knives I've been trying to use are a Victorinox granton and a Henckel carving knife. I've had each pro sharpened to 22* and to 15*. Haven't put either on my Edgepro yet but would give it a shot if I thought it would help.

I'll also add I'm not trying to slice these straight out of the smoker and I'm always doing a cross cut relative to the grain and they've always rested foiled for at least 2 hours and ideally 4. As a rule I do a touch test for doneness as well as a temp probe before I pull from the smoker and I'm in the 195* to 205* range depending on what type of firmness I'm going for from the meat.

So any thoughts here? Time for a new knife? Technique maybe? Doesn't seem like this should be so difficult but it's driving me up a tree.



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 Post subject: Re: Help with brisket slicing or slicer?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 4:07 pm 
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"I've had each pro sharpened" could be part of the problem. If you are a competent sharpener with the EP I'd do it myself and start there. Beyond that I would suggest getting a quality carbon suji and sharpening to 3 or 4k as the next route. It seems like as many as you've carved I doubt it's your technique more than it is the knives your using.
I use a Kono white#2 suji to carve briskets and it does a better job than me. I will have some pull apart on me when I get them to soft but usually does a very respectable job. I will say sometimes a slow light touch is required to get smooth even slices but for some reason I think you've already been there! :)

"I must smoke about 12 a year. Donate about half of that..." I have a lot of respect for the kindness shown such as this from people like you!

Just my 2 yen.



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 Post subject: Re: Help with brisket slicing or slicer?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:54 pm 
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Location: USA... mostly.
ROB <> If when you say carving knife - you are not meaning thin slicing knives, then I'll say right off the top, the flat grinds on Henkels carving knives suck...

Image

...and the only scalloped Forschner I've ever seen is a slicer. It's not a carving knife; it's a slicer, and I don't like them unless I'm slicing THIN slices off a roast. The flexibility they afford is not something I look for when trying to cut consistent steaks... albeit 1/4" slices ("steaks") of brisket.

Image

A Suji is a no-brainer; type will be preferential. A laser will excel affording a larger margin for error for creating clean slices. It will inherently produce little drag, and will seem sharper longer. The thin edge will, in the general sense, penetrate more easily.

In the same general sense, a heftier Suji - my preference - will have a more cutting power from its heft which if paired with concise & committed strokes will cut your slices precisely, as well.

The Anryu <--link is an awesome choice for the heftier end of the spectrum while the Richmond Laser <--link resides at the other side. Honestly, I really like the height of the quasi-laser Takeda <--link for this application as it will inherently have less tendency to steer than a shorter knife will. That added blade face will add to drag, as well, but the brisket is short enough I don't forsee it being noticeable.



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 Post subject: Re: Help with brisket slicing or slicer?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 7:10 pm 

Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2014 11:21 am
Posts: 165
Location: Long Island, NY
Thanks guys.

Mel, those are indeed the two knives. Different handle on the Forschner/Victorinox (can never remember which label I have). Henckel is a 4 Star carving knife.

Guess I'll start looking seriously for sujis. Heftier knife for this purpose makes sense to me.

Two questions:

- Under what circumstances would you want a lighter suji? Carving of the bone maybe? Filleting?

- How would I decide between a 270 or a 300?

Thanks......



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 Post subject: Re: Help with brisket slicing or slicer?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 7:28 pm 
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ROB <> Type is preferential. Laser light or heftier but still thin on the edge is a feel thing. Carving off the bone or filleting are still going to present the same variables of preference & rules of hard steel. Some like flexible knives to filet, some like stiff. Some like to be the cutting power behind a laser while some like to simply guide the cutting power a weightier blade has on its own. I can slice or filet well with a stiff knife; I can slice or filet well with a flexible knife. It's just style & preference.

300 if you have the room & want a monster... 270 if you want a knife that can basically do it all, basically anywhere. 300's are nice when you have the space, but they are limiting in the grand scheme as you will more than likely not always have said space available to you.



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 Post subject: Re: Help with brisket slicing or slicer?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 7:52 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:22 am
Posts: 733
Rob<>What are we talking in terms of crust? Does the brisket look like 'The Ham That Fell to Earth'? (A rare David Bowie pull.) Because, from personal experience, as well as the ever reliable internet comments, the two media being cut, crust and flesh, almost demand two edges. A coarse finish for crust and a fine finish for the meat. (I would love further insights from Melampus here.)

The crust is also hard on edges, making AS seem like a better bet. My 360 AS yanagiba slid through a crusty prime rib effortlessly with a purely pull cut... for the first few ribs. The crust took a toll on the edge, however, and it was noticeably duller at the last cut. Having fixed it up I will try again this Christmas. If it dulls on me so quickly again I will reserve it purely for soft proteins or keep it under my visor for carjacking medicine. (B...B...But officer... I'm a sushi aficionado!)

That Takeda might have my name on it if it only came in a 300.

Cheers,

Rick


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 Post subject: Re: Help with brisket slicing or slicer?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:47 pm 

Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2014 11:21 am
Posts: 165
Location: Long Island, NY
Good points all around. I'll need to consider the space angle on the 300 vs 270 and flexible vs stiff. Great! Was getting bored now that I have my gyutos squared away for a while.

Rick, excellent point regrding the crust. I do use these on pastrami which -- for your sake -- I hope is crustier than your prime rib.

Ah yes... the quest begins.



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 Post subject: Re: Help with brisket slicing or slicer?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:00 pm 
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RICK <> In the context of crust or bark, it's just like bread; I don't want a thin laser edge on a hard crusty surface. A crusty exterior is IMO more appropriately paired to a heavier knife with a thicker edge. That said, I hope you're not cooking your brisket to a hard crust. I did a Pastrami last week for a Kosher kitchen's Sukkot, and it was heavily crusted but quite moist and not even close to the crust I'd roast onto a Prime Rib of which ironically to this conversation I just did Friday night... though neither were hard crusts.

Shosui will make any size Suji you want.



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 Post subject: Re: Help with brisket slicing or slicer?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:34 pm 

Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2014 11:21 am
Posts: 165
Location: Long Island, NY
Well.... Now that I think about it....

When I do pastrami it has a thick crust as in the two shots below. The crust's pretty hard out of the smoker but not when I serve/ slice because I *always* steam it up to temp. BBQ'd brisket I'm going to need to double check. I'm pretty sure it stays moist / softer since I rest it in foil. Here are a few shots of recent pastramis.

The top one I tried to use an electric slicer. The bottom one, out of desperation, I took a shot at a Shun utility.

Image
Image
Image

Beginning to think I'll be ok vis-a-vis the crust and edge retention.


Last edited by Robstreperous on Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with brisket slicing or slicer?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:36 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:06 pm
Posts: 220
Seems like brisket is one of the few tasks where the extra length is especially helpful. If you're buying it exclusively for that purpose I'd probably go 300.


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