So you see a good deal on brisket at your local grocery store and you have to take advantage of this opportunity. You make the purchase and head home destined to cook the best brisket your friends and family have ever eaten! You open your 15lb raw brisket, trim it down to 12lbs, which typically yields a 6lb cooked product. Suddenly that cheap deal on prime brisket at Costco isn’t looking so cheap anymore!

Well let’s use those expensive trimmings and feel better about our purchase. So how do you do that? There are lots of options, but I’ll focus on what we do here at Terry Black’s Barbecue. Make sausage, make tallow for the brisket cooking process, use excess tallow as a substitute and add flavoring to side dishes.

Our first option is to make high quality sausage because it is a direct revenue source. When we trim our brisket, we separate the red meat into a bus tub and the white fat into another bus tub. We then shape our pork ribs and separate any excess pork trimmings into another bus tub. Now you have some high-quality base ingredients for a homemade sausage recipe. Your friends and family will love you for not serving them cheap quality store bought stuff and if you’re in the barbecue business, your accountant will applaud you for lowering your food cost! I’ll save sausage making for another blog post or YouTube video but for now, there’s plenty of homemade sausage recipes and how to’s on the world wide web.

Our next option is to render the excess fat down and make tallow which we will use in the brisket cooking process. Cut the pure white brisket fat up as small as possible, the size of nugget ice works best, also known as “Sonic ice” for all of you slushy fanatics out there. Place the fat in a metal pan and place on the front of your smoker to render down into beef tallow, aka liquid gold! This process will take several hours depending on time and the temperature of your pit. The oven works good as well; place in a metal pan at 375 degrees, cover with foil to contain the mess and puncture a few small holes in the foil to vent steam. Once your beef tallow is rendered down into a golden liquid, strain the nuggets out and you’ve officially completed the process. You can apply tallow to your briskets when you wrap or once your brisket has finished cooking and is ready to rest in paper. This will help soften the edges, keep your brisket moist and add flavor. If you are going to save and use it at a later date, place in a container and put in the refrigerator to cool. If you choose to cool your product, it will solidify and can be reheated later.

Now that your beef tallow has cooled, it is ready to be used in side dishes to flavor or as a substitute for oil, butter or margarine. Here is where you can really amplify the taste of so many dishes. Try beef tallow as a substitute the next time you make southern cornbread, tortillas, sauté vegetables or any other dish that calls for butter or margarine. Trust me, you'll thank me later. You might even find an article or two touting the health benefits but I’ll leave the studies to someone smarter than I.

When you are in the food business, you’ve got to be creative and find ways to keep your food cost down while always putting out a high-quality product. We try not to waste anything and are always striving to get better. What are some ways you use your trimmings? Send me a message on twitter or Instagram or direct to my inbox at

-Mike Black