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Save your beef brisket trimmings to make ground brisket. It has tons of flavor and will level up your burger game big time.
Why you should make ground brisket
If you love to barbecue, you’ve probably made smoked brisket a time or two. Before smoking or cooking a brisket, it’s always best to trim it. Follow my full how-to trim a brisket tutorial for details.
Once your brisket is trimmed, you’ll be left with meat and fat trimmings that can be used to make ground brisket.
Unlike a whole brisket that needs to be cooked for a long period of time to break down the connective tissue, grinding the brisket also breaks down the tissue, so you can cook the ground meat quickly.
Equipment needed to make ground brisket
Meat Grinder: I use a KitchenAid meat grinder attachment that I’ve had for years. The newer versions are now metal, instead of plastic, but they function the same.
You slide the food pusher rod into the main hopper. Then, add the cross-shaped food grinder followed by a blade. Use the coarse, medium or fine blade, depending on how you prefer your meat to be ground. I prefer a coarser grind.
Finally, twist on the ring that keeps everything in place.
To attach the grinder to your KitchenAid, lift open the metal cap at the top of the mixer. Unscrew the black nob. Insert the grinder attachment. Then, screw the black nob back in to secure the grinder.
Substitutions: If you don’t have a meat grinder, you can also use a food processor. You just have to be careful not to over process it, or you’ll turn it into meat paste.
How to select brisket trimmings
To start, you need to decide your meat-to-fat ratio. Lean ground beef is usually 97% meat to 3% fat. The next ratio level grocery stores often carry is 90/10 or 90% meat to 10% fat.
In my opinion, the best ground beef ratio is 80/20, because it yields the best flavor and juiciest results. You can also go as high as 70/30, for extremely fatty ground beef.
When looking at your brisket trimmings, you’ll have some fat, some pieces cut from the flat end and some pieces cut from the point muscle. When choosing the fat pieces, use the hard fat for amazing flavor.
You’ll only need a little of the fat for your brisket grind. Use the rest to make beef tallow.
Fat in the brisket flat
The brisket flat is leaner meat than the brisket point. Unfortunately, there’s no way for us at home to know the exact percentage of fat content in the flat. However, higher grades of brisket like prime and certain breeds like wagyu beef and Certified Angus beef will have more natural fat.
In addition to the intramuscular fat, you’ll likely have a layer of soft fat still connected to the brisket meat. You want to try to calculate that amount of fat, too.
Looking at the picture below, the fat layer makes up about 20-25% of this slice, and I would estimate that the inner fat is maybe 5%. So this piece of brisket is likely 25-30% fat.
If you want leaner ground beef, chill the meat and then remove that extra layer of fat. That will reduce your fat percentage to about 5%.
Fat in the brisket point
Now, let’s look at the trimmings from the brisket point. You can see, compared to the flat meat behind it, that there is more inner fat. I estimate 8-10%.
The meat pictured here is also a prime brisket. A choice grade brisket would likely have less fat. Whereas a wagyu brisket could have upwards of 25% intramuscular fat.
Prepare brisket for grinding
Once you decide what you want your fat ratio to be, use pieces of the flat and/or point meat. And if you want more fat, you can use some of the leftover fat your trimmed off the brisket.
Anytime your grind meat, make sure it’s very cold. Dice your pieces into 1-inch cubes and chill for about 30 minutes.
Load the hopper
Once your ratios are figured out and your meat has been chilled, it’s time to grind it. Place a bowl under the grinder. Load the cavity in the meat tray with brisket trimmings and turn the mixer on.
I like to start at low to medium speed. If you go too fast, the meat will extrude and splatter all over your kitchen.
Grind the meat
As the mixer spins, it will spin the rod within the grinder, which extrudes the meat through the blade. Use the provided meat pusher to assist the meat into the grinder.
As the hopper starts to empty, add more pieces of meat, alternating with cubes of fat for a more even blend.
How to store ground brisket
Once your meat is fully ground, either pass it through the grinder again for a finer grind or package it up. If you do decide to grind it a second time, it’s best to chill it in the fridge for another 15-30 minutes so the fat solidifies a bit.
Store ground brisket in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 3-4 months.
If you freeze it, store it in vacuum-sealed bags and be sure to label it, so you know how long it’s been in your freezer.
Bags of ground brisket make great gifts. I smoke so many briskets for BBQ competitions that I have a lot of brisket trimmings. When we can’t eat them all, I just give them away to friends and family.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
- Decide what meat-to-fat ratio you want in your ground brisket
- Look at your meat and estimate how much fat it has
- Chill your meat for 30 minutes before grinding
- Save ground brisket in vacuum-sealed bags in the freezer
Frequently Asked Questions
Brisket is made up of the point muscle and flat muscle. The point has more fat and the flat is leaner. Either are excellent choices, but a combination of both is even more flavorful.
It’s best to work in 1-2-pound small batches. You want the meat to be cold when you grind it to keep the fat from melting.
Shape the fresh ground beef brisket into brisket burger patties. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Then, cook it on the grill or on a griddle over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Flip it and continue cooking.
Feel free to add a slice of cheese and cook it for another 30 seconds, until the cheese melts.
Throw the patties on burger buns with your favorite toppings, like lettuce, bacon jam, red onions. These are such delicious burgers, you probably won’t need any other condiments.
Talk to your local butcher to see if you can buy a smaller brisket or just a brisket point of flat, instead of a whole packer brisket. Heck, if you have a great butcher, they’ll probably grind it for you.
Recipes Using Ground Brisket
Ground brisket can be used in any recipe that calls for ground beef, and it’s great mixed with other cuts of ground beef like ground chuck or ground short rib.