What Is Brisket?

You may have heard brisket being referred to at barbecues and cookouts, you may also have seen many articles that go into incredible detail about the right way to cook or smoke a brisket. 

However, brisket is a very common cut of beef that doesn’t require any special preparation or cooking if you don’t have the time or inclination.  In this article we will look at all of the things you need to know about what brisket is and how to buy and cook great brisket.  

What Is Brisket

What Part Of The Cow Is Brisket?

Brisket is the name of a specific part of the cow, like rump and flank are.  The brisket comes from the chest or breast area, it is made of the pectoral muscles of the cow. 

Due to the amount of movement and exercise that this area gets during the cow’s life, the resulting meat is quite tough. 

However, the toughness of this cut of meat doesn’t mean that it can’t be delicious, in fact when it is cooked low and slow, it can be tender and extremely flavorful.  

A full brisket is an extremely large cut of meat and can weigh anywhere between 10 and 14 pounds and consists of two overlapping muscles. 

The thinner part of the full brisket is often referred to as the flat and is often removed to be cooked separately due to its shorter cooking time.  The fattier, thicker part of the brisket is known as the deckle point and can be great for creating pulled beef brisket recipes. 

Cuts Of Brisket

One of the most important things that you need to consider when you are buying a cut of brisket is the way that you are planning to cook it. 

There are two types of cut that you can purchase, both of which vary significantly and are best used in different types of cooking styles and recipes. 

Flat Cut

The flat cut as mentioned above, is the thinner part of the brisket and the bit that is cut from the cow first.  It is a large cut that should have a uniform shape to it. 

There is a thin layer of fat that runs along one side of the cut and it is perfect for braising or cooking in the oven.  The flat cut slices very easily which makes it a common choice for making corned beef.

Deckle Point Cut

The deckle point cut is the thicker part of the brisket.  Again, it is a large cut of meat but the shape is a lot less uniform than that of the flat cut.  The deckle point cut is marbled with fat and produces much more tender meals. 

The high fat content of this cut makes it the perfect choice for smoking as it is not likely to become dried out and tough.  

What Is Brisket

Where To Buy Brisket

As with any cut of meat, the best place to buy brisket that ensures the quality of the cut and the meat in general is direct from a butcher. 

The reason for this is that a butcher is more likely to liaise directly with the farm and farmers that raised the beef than a large, chain grocery store is. 

When the meat is traceable, it is much more likely to be the best quality possible due to the increased accountability of the farm and the butcher. 

However, brisket that is purchased from a butcher is likely to be significantly more expensive than brisket that is purchased from a grocery store.  

If you do not have a butcher near you or it is slightly out of your budget, grocery store brisket will be absolutely fine.  Although the meat will not be as easily traceable, it is still held to the same food standards as any other meat and will be perfectly healthy to eat. 

The main bonuses of purchasing brisket from a grocery store is the convenience of being able to buy all the other ingredients that you need and the lower price.  A grocery store is also more likely to have special offers that reduce the price even more. 

How To Cook Brisket

There are many different ways that you can serve brisket and the most popular choices tend to differ depending on where you are in the country.  For example, in the south, smoked brisket is the most popular way to serve. 

The meat is often hung and smoked in homemade smokers and in some places the brisket was raised, slaughtered, butchered, and cooked on the same farm which is about as fresh and local as you can get. 

Alternatively, a popular dish throughout the USA on St Patrick’s day is corned beef and cabbage made from homemade corned beef from a flat cut of brisket.  Brisket also forms part of a popular Jewish dish that is served on Rosh Hashanah and Passover. 

The best way to make the smoked brisket that is so popular in the southwest is to cook slowly over smoke, the lower and slower you cook it the better your results will be. 

The most important step of this method though is the resting period.  Without the period where the meat is removed from the heat, the brisket can become dry and tough as all the juices and fat run out when you cut it. 

Making corned beef from brisket takes a very long time but once you have mastered the technique, the result will be incredibly flavorful corned beef that heightens all of your corned beef recipes. 

Final Thoughts

Brisket is a very flavorful cut of beef that can be used to make a variety of different dishes.  The type of cut that you purchase is the most important part of ensuring a delicious result.

Jeff Pratt
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