If you are a beginner-level cook, you may not be familiar with all the types of meat cuts, especially beef cuts. When you are following a recipe for the first time, it may ask you to take a beef brisket. You will go to the butcher’s shop and there you will see different cuts of beef arrayed widely all across the shop.
You may get confused, and instead of beef brisket, you may end up buying a tri-tip beef cut which looks like brisket, only smaller in size.
While tri-tip is also a very delicious meat portion, however, your ideal search or your requirement was a brisket, which you mistook with something else.
So, it is quite beneficial to know the nitty-gritty details of the beef part that is loved so much all over the world and is used in the making of so many exotic beef dishes.
For starters, you must question that what part of the cow is brisket anyway?
So, let us look into the details about the beef brisket, which is often considered the national food of Texas.
What Part of the Cow Is Brisket and How to Identify It?
When a cow is butchered, the first eight portions that are cut are known as ‘primal cuts.’ Beef brisket is actually one of the primal cuts. It means that it is one of the basic most cuts that are initially separated from the carcass.
Out of these primal cuts, other portions like steaks, or roast portions are cut, and those are known as ‘sub-primal cuts.’
The beef brisket comes from the lower portion of the cow’s chest and ribs. This portion is quite muscular and since, a cow does not have clavicles, which is why this portion bears almost two-thirds of the cow’s weight.
This is the reason that the beef brisket is full of firm superficial and deep pectoral muscle with a lot of connective tissues and cartilages. This meat is not very tender and needs to be cooked slowly and for a prolonged time at lower temperatures to ensure that it reaches its maximum tenderness. Otherwise, if a beef brisket does not get enough time to cook, its meat becomes tough and very hard to eat.
The Shape of a Beef Brisket:
The beef brisket is triangular and is quite huge. It can weigh around 12-16 pounds.
Because of its triangular shape and general appearance, it is often confused with a tri-tip cut. However, both are different portions and entirely different cuts, and the tri-tip is smaller in size and more triangular than a brisket. Also, it is leaner and very tender meat that comes from the tip of the sirloin. So, it is not a primal cut, rather it is a sub-primal cut.
Beef brisket is quite rich with thick fatty layers. When you prepare your beef brisket, you cut out most of this fat, and this will decrease the weight of your beef brisket by at least thirty percent.
This is the reason why most butchers often mix some chuck beef along with beef brisket to give a rich, beefy flavored, fat enamored, succulent meat that can be used to make amazing hamburger patties.
Different Cuts From a Beef Brisket:
Generally, beef brisket is cut into two sub-primal portions which are slightly different from each other.
- Pointcut Beef brisket: This portion comes from the lower side of the beef brisket. It is heavier and quite firm with a thick layer of fat and marbling running through the beef.
While you can remove some of the fat layers, however, you must not attempt to remove the marbling too, as it adds more flavor and succulence to the beef when it is cooked.
Because of the higher fat content and a greater number of connective tissues, this portion requires slow cooking at a lower temperature over a prolonged period.
Also, because of the higher fat content, this portion of the brisket is often avoided by health-conscious people.
- Flat cut Beef brisket: This is leaner meat in comparison to the pointcut beef brisket. The fat content is also lesser, and this makes it an ideal choice for people who are fat conscious.
This portion comes from the interior parts of the brisket, and it is the meat that is present against the ribs of the animal.
This portion can be beautifully and artfully cut into neat triangular shapes because of its flatness and lean texture.
This is the cut that most commonly gets mixed up with a tri-tip cut.
The Ideal Color of a Beef Brisket:
When you buy a beef brisket, or any other portion of beef too, you must see that its color is deep red. The fat layer and the marbling must not appear yellowish or grayish. Instead, it should be pristine white.
If the color is not deep red, it most likely means that the meat is not fresh. And if the fat layer is not all white, then also it means that the meat is old and close to or has already expired.
You must avoid consuming this kind of beef.
You can buy a brisket as a whole portion and then cut it into sub-primal cuts yourself. This type of packaged whole brisket is called a ‘Whole packer cut.’
How to Prepare a Beef Brisket?
Beef brisket can be prepared in several different methods, but the most common technique is to rub a dry mix over the brisket or to prepare a delicious marinade over it and let the marinated beef brisket sit overnight for the beef to completely absorb the flavors of the marinade.
Once your beef brisket is perfectly well-marinated for several hours, you can then cook it in a regular offset smoker, a reverse flow smoker, a charcoal grill, or a wood-pellet grill.
You must ensure that whichever method you choose to prepare your beef brisket, the cooking must be slow, and the temperatures must be lower.
If you use a smoker to smoke a rich, aromatic, extremely tender beef brisket, you can add different flavors of wood, like applewood, hickory, cherry, orange, peach, etc. All these woods will help in giving rise to a rich, intense smoke that will penetrate the beef and will make it tastier and more succulent.
If you are using a charcoal grill or a wood-pellet grill, you can use different flavors of woods in that too for the added aroma and the taste of beef brisket.
Different cultures have different ways to prepare delicious dishes from beef brisket. In the UK, they prefer to cook the brisket slowly while being braised and served in a flavorful and rich gravy.
Germans also like their beef brisket with gravy, and they usually use beer to add to this gravy for the added savory taste. Both these methods ensure that the beef is juicy and full of tasty liquids running all over.
There are many other ways to prepare and cook a beef brisket. It is considered as one of the most economic portions of the cow, and the plus side is that because of its heavier portion size, it is a perfect choice for you if you are serving a lot of people at one time.