Thomas Larriviere assists during the hands-on brisket trimming and rubdown class at Camp Brisket. (Robert Jacob Lerma)

Bark: The crusty exterior formed as a result of the Maillard reaction, browning that occurs when meat is roasted or seared.

Brisket: The superficial and deep pectoral muscles from the lower chest of the steer. It is part of the forequarter, or front of the animal.

Burnt ends: Chunks of bark. Once considered scraps, they became a coveted delicacy, first associated with Kansas City, Mo., and now found nationwide. They’re like brisket concentrate: flavor bombs of crunch, tenderness and fat.

Deckle: The fat and muscle attaching the flat to the rib cage. (Also, in common parlance, another term for the point.)

Fat cap: The thick layer of fat atop the brisket.

Fat layer: The line of interior fat that runs the length of the brisket and separates the superficial and deep pectoral muscles.

Flat: The brisket’s flatter, leaner end.

Packer’s cut: A whole brisket, including the point and flat, sold typically in vacuum packaging. Also known as Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications No. 120, a nomenclature system used by the USDA to standardize the descriptions of products.

Point: The thicker, pointy, fattier end.

Stall: The point while cooking a brisket when the internal temperature stops rising, usually around 160 degrees. It eventually will rise again, but it can take up to a couple of hours. Either be patient and let it happen, or be impatient and wrap the brisket in foil. Wrapping will hasten the process of getting past the stall, which will reduce your cooking time, but it may also lessen the crunchiness of the bark and impact the interior texture of the meat.

Texas crutch: The practice of wrapping brisket in foil on the smoker, generally after four to six hours. (It’s primarily done to assure a moist and juicy brisket, but critics deride it as a method used by pitmen not good enough to get a great product without it.)

Trimmed: A brisket whose fat has been whittled about  1/8 to  1/4 inch, so there’s enough to melt into the meat but enough to create bark.


(Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

Texas Smoked Brisket