Brisket is regarded as one of the best cuts for barbecue or smoking. But the main question here is: what part of a cow is a brisket?
It has tough meat that imbues it with flavor and becomes succulent immediately after you cook it slowly.
That is why it is said to be perfect for slow cooking and barbecue. The connective tissues melt and make the best meat with a beefy, rich flavor after hours of slow cooking.
What is a Brisket?
Beef brisket is categorized among the forequarter cuts—the front half of the animal.
It is a triangular cut obtained from the breast or lower chest portion of the cow. It is actually the deep pectoral muscle.
In addition, beef brisket is one of the primal cuts of beef, which means it is one of the first muscles removed when the carcass is butchered.
Normally, these primal cuts are then sold to grocery stores and butchers, where they are broken down further.
It is an extremely challenging and tough cut to cook. This part of the animal is well-exercised.
The first rule of butchering tells us that well-exercised muscles are usually tough, fatty, and packed with connective tissue. Brisket is a thick and coarse-grained meat.
The interesting part of all this is that brisket is one of the most flavorful cuts of meat on a cow.
And, in my opinion, when smoked to perfection, it is the tastiest protein on the planet.
When it is cooked using the right methods, fat and connective tissue can be transformed into meltingly succulent meat.
Keep in mind that a good brisket requires time and patience to cook just right. However, this can seem overwhelming.
A whole-packer brisket is massive (typically 12 to 16 pounds). It is a massive commitment of time and finances.
Remember that it is an all-day job when it comes to smoking a brisket.
It can take 16 hours in addition to the resting time, and if you do it right, BBQ glory awaits you.
Three Cuts of a Beef Brisket
The beef brisket is divided into three main cuts: the flat, the point, and the deckle.
The flat is the most succulent and leanest part of the brisket. It is found at the bottom of the butcher’s diagram and contains extremely little fat.
The flat is mostly used for London broil or fajitas or for slicing into thin steaks. Plus, it is the most expensive.
The point cut is tougher and has more fat compared to the flat cut. You will find it at the top of the butcher’s diagram. The point is mostly used for smoked meats or pot roasts. It is also less expensive compared to the flat cut but still has good flavor.
You will find the deckle beneath the point, which has plenty of connective tissue.
Even so, it is the fattiest and least expensive of the three cuts. Plus, it is the toughest and most flavorful cut of meat that is mostly used for soups or stews.
What Part of a Cow Is a Brisket?
The brisket is the front breast portion of the cow. There are nine primal cuts of beef, and this is one of them.
It is also one of the four major cuts for barbecue. It is a muscular part with plenty of fat, tough tissues, and collagen, so as previously mentioned, you are required to slow-cook it for hours.
The slow heat breaks down collagen and connective tissues, and you normally don’t have to be worried about overcooking it.
It will become tender and juicy when you cook it the right way; all this is thanks to the marbling and a thick fat layer on top.
As mentioned above, brisket is one of the primal beef cuts. It is a well-known choice for you to cook in a smoker along with other cuts.
It can also be the most delicious beef BBQ, thanks to all the connective tissues, fat, marbling, and meat.
It is not wrong to say that it is the best comfort food in winter and is preferred because of its slow cooking.
How to Shop for Brisket
You need to consider whether to buy the flat beef brisket, skirt steak, the point, or the entire packer cut when shopping for brisket to make ground beef and other beef-related meals.
All of these solely depend on how you plan to cook them.
Below are some points for you to remember when picking your brisket:
- When cooking the brisket because of the high level of marbling, certified Angus beef or prime-grade beef is the best option.
- Braised stew dishes and smoked brisket will profit from the point cut, given that it is richer and juicier.
- Choose a cut with good marbling. This refers to the streaks of fat in between the meat. It is crucial for a juicy and soft-cut brisket.
- Ensure that you purchase the proper cut for your planned dish. If you want to make pastrami or corned beef, you need the brisket flat-cut. Its shape makes it best suited for slicing.
- The “low and slow” cooking technique gives the fat the likelihood to slowly render out, which will yield a tender and juicy brisket.
- Ensure that you do not buy corned beef when you are planning to smoke a brisket. Even though they are visually alike, corned beef has been saturated in salty brine. Although it can be smoked, it will taste similar to pastrami and not barbecue, even with barbecue sauce.
- The brisket should have a fat cap, even with no cuts or gouges exposing the meat. The fat content should be cream or white.
Even as ground beef, the meat will shrink during the long process.
Liquid loss and the fat and sinew that are not consumable will leave the brisket just about 25–35% smaller immediately after it is cooked; ensure that you consider this when buying your brisket.
You can just estimate around half a pound per person when you are buying brisket for a crowd.
In order for you to stand in good stead, just add on an extra pound or two in case your guests are hungrier than you planned. You can always freeze the leftovers, too.
How to Serve a Beef Brisket
There are several different ways that you can serve beef brisket. Below are some popular serving ideas:
- Sliced and served with barbecue sauce
- You can serve it with sides like steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, or a salad.
- It can be chopped and used as a filling for burritos or tacos.
- It can be sliced and served on its own.
- It can be diced and used in chili or stews.
- Sliced and served on a sandwich with coleslaw
- It can be sliced and served with a horseradish cream sauce.
Why Is Brisket Popular?
Thanks to its rich, meaty, and beefy flavor, brisket is a popular piece of cow meat.
It is filled with flavor, and it is ideal for slow cooking and barbecue because of its ratio of fat, meat, and tough tissues.
The cut is also affordable, particularly if we compare it to other grill-worthy portions.
It is actually easy to find brisket in butcher stores, and it is enough to feed a crowd, thanks to its large size.
As previously said, the brisket is the lower breast part of the cow found between the shoulder and chuck.
It is also one of the most popular cuts for barbecue and BBQ lovers; they prefer it thanks to its blend of marbling, fat, and connective tissues.
Grill chefs cook the meat for several hours, which makes it moist and succulent.
As a consequence, it has a rich, meaty, and beefy flavor. In addition, brisket is affordable and available in subprimal cuts too.
It is essential that you are aware of the different parts of the brisket and the layers of fat; that way, you can reach the utmost cooking time and temperature.
Pitmasters love to rub brisket with salt and pepper. And you also have the option of using your favorite seasoning with plenty of spices and herbs.
This concludes this guide, as you now have the detailed answer to the question, “What part of a cow is a brisket?”