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Jul 25, 2007 09:24 AM

Choice "Packer" Brisket in SF?

Anyone know where I can find Choice Grade whole briskets (still in the cryovac bag) in SF for under $3/lb? Roberts Meats on 8th and Smart & Final has them on rare occasion, but not often enough to be dependable.

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  1. Costco? All their beef is choice.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      I wish. Unfortunately they don't sell whole briskets. Thanks though.

      1. re: Civil Bear

        They used to! I've asked the Costco butchers repeatedly if they would bring them back no success. Maybe if many CH'ers chime in we can reach some kind of critical mass...

    2. I usually find mine at Albertson's. For some reason, it seems to be a regular-stock item at that particular chain. Ask the butcher if you don't see them out in the case. I don't guarantee USDA Choice though, often they'll be USDA Select. I've not noticed any difference in quality; marbling is pretty much a non-issue for brisket anyway.

      The Albertson's in Pleasant Hill/Martinez had a half-dozen Choice-grade briskets in the case at 1.99/lb the other day.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PDXpat

        Thank you for the heads up. I’ll have to check some other stores. Our neighborhood Albertson used to sell what they called "Blue Ribbon" beef, which was absolute crap (worse than select). They also sold choice (I forget what they called it) but always at a huge mark-up. After one too many dry steaks, I stopped purchasing beef at Albertsons a couple of years ago.

        Since then they have scraped that plan, and now sell Harris Ranch beef; however, the stuff they advertise in their circular is still select grade, with the choice grade still costing a couple of bucks more per pound.

        I have to respectively disagree about the non-issue with the marbling, at least for smoked brisket. After slowly dry cooking something that large to nearly 200F, that marbling is what is going to keep it moist.

      2. I have never seen Choice primal cuts in Smart & Final...only Select. Because of the size of a whole brisket, I don't think it is a big seller. I've also observed that it is grossly overpriced. I've seen it in some markets priced higher than tri-tip.

        4 Replies
        1. re: OldTimer

          It's there on occasion, and when it is is it is at the same $1.45/lb price as their select briskets. I just picked one up from the Bayshore location last Friday.

          1. re: Civil Bear

            I've made pastrami from briskets purchased at Prather Ranch, Golden Gate Meat, Costco, and Smart and Final. While there are the obvious animal husbandry issues and maybe issues with the nature of the fat molecules, at least as far as the taste and eating quality of the pastrami is concerned, the Smart and Final product works - $12/lb at Prather Ranch and less than $2/lb at Smart and Final. Although its off-topic, I use the Chef Fowke recipes in egullet.

            1. re: Civil Bear

              I stand corrected, CB. In Smart and Final the other day I saw a cryovac brisket, Choice grade, for $1.69 lb. First time I'd seen any Choice at S&F, but I never looked. Did buy a NY strip last year, Select. Dry aged...wasn't bad but cost almost as much as Costco Choice. I've had good luck with aging Costco beef in the bag...but I don't know whether it would make much difference with brisket. By the way, have you ever boiled brisket...can be delicious.

              1. re: OldTimer

                I can't say I have ever boiled brisket outright OT. I did follow a pastrami recipe once that called for boiling it after smoking it for a few hours. Other than that, I have wrapped the brisket in foil with some liquids and braising it in the oven after smoking it for 4-5 hours. I have also had good results aging them in the cryovac bag for up to three weeks.

                But my usual reason for purchasing briskets is for bbq competitions, and the problem with S&F and Roberts is that they never seem to have choice when I need it. Hopefully I will get a chance to follow Melanie's advice and hit up Stockton Street in the near future...

          2. Does anyone know of any good carnecerias or asian butchers in SF that deal in choice grade meats? Perhaps I could see about ordering a couple of briskets through them.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Civil Bear

              Here's an old discussion on buying fatty cuts of brisket at Chinese butchers. For the Chinese market it's butchered with the connective tissue still attached. They're plenty fatty (50%), but I don't what the grading might be. I would suggest taking a stroll down Stockton St. (start on the west side of the street) in SF Chinatown and see if you can find a place where they speak enough English to help you.

              I believe Yimster has also posted on having some luck at Ranch 99 when the counter's not that busy and they'll take the time to show him several pieces.

            2. Butting in from So Cal. I buy my whole slabs of brisket at Restaurant Depot. The ones here carry both Select and Choice grades. Call to verify that the SF area stores do too.

              But it is a wholesale only place. You can get access if you have a business license / resale license.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Professor Salt

                Thanks Prof. I will be sure to check them out.