Smoked brisket has been a part of American culture since the 17th century when they were traded by the local ranchers. In the modern world, briskets are commercially sold in different professional cuts, and the incredibly flavorful and delicious cooked meat is a must-have dish at every BBQ party.
Brisket is a cut of beef obtained from the breast region of the cow, located right above the front legs and below the chuck area. It is usually 1-2 feet long, and a full brisket can weigh around 8-20 pounds. The two main types of cuts of brisket are the ‘flat cut’ and the ‘point,’ with the latter being more succulent, fattier, and juicier.
Brisket is one of the most popular choices of meat for Texas-style barbeque, pastrami, and corned beef. In fact, slow smoking of Texas-style brisket is considered the ‘National Dish of Texas’. Whether you braise or slow smoke brisket, the choice of cut plays an important role in enhancing the flavors of the meat. To find out the answer to where the brisket is located on a cow and how to perfectly cook them, continue reading.
Where Does Brisket Come From On A Cow
Brisket is a tough cut of meat obtained from the deep pectoral muscles or breast of a cow. It is located below the chuck area and supports about two-thirds of the cow’s body weight. The brisket can be found at the place where you would normally expect a collar bone. In simple words, if you are wondering where the brisket is located on a cow, then it is located right above the front leg of the cow.
The brisket has two parts: the fattier and thicker part is called the ‘deckle point,’ while the thinner part is called the ‘flat’ or the first cut.
What Are The Different Cuts Of A Brisket?
Brisket can be cleaned and cut in three different ways: the ‘Full Packer’, the ‘Point,’ and the ‘Flat’ cut. The meat is cut boneless, and a whole packer can weigh up to 20 pounds.
- Full Packer Cut – This is the whole pack of brisket having the two layers of muscles separated by a layer of fat. The full packer typically weighs around 8-20 pounds.
- The Flat Cut – Also known as the first or deep pectoral cut, this is the main part of the brisket that lies against the ribs or towards the inside of the cow. The meat is lean, fibrous, and low in fat content and is a popular cut for dishes like corned beef and pastrami. The cost of a flat-cut brisket can be moderate to expensive.
- The Point – This part lies on the outside of the brisket or just above the leg and is technically called the superficial pectoral. The point is also called the second cut or the triangular cut. The meat is well-marbled, and the high-fat content makes it suitable for smoking. Brisket points are inexpensive and an economical choice for a large party. The point is often used to make hamburgers or beef burnt ends.
To have a better idea about brisket, what part of the cow, and what are some barbeque basics of smoking briskets, watch this video.
What Is The Average Weight Of A Brisket?
A full brisket is typically a large cut of meat and can weigh about 8 to 20 pounds. On average, ½ pound of the raw brisket equals one serving.
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What Kind Of Meat Is The Brisket?
Brisket comes from both beef that is aged 2 years and above or veal/ beef calves that are aged 2 to 4 months. Since Briskets support most of the cow’s body weight, it is made of tough and dense muscles and consists mostly of connective tissues. This is why briskets are chewy and meaty to eat. When smoked to perfection, the brisket tastes robust, savory, crispy, and fragrant.
Briskets that have naturally rich marbling are known to have exceptional flavor. A good quality brisket should have evenly distributed fat and is white in color.
How To Professional Trim Briskets
While trimming the meat, make sure you get rid of the silver skin since the latter is difficult to chew. To obtain more tender pieces, the brisket slices should be cut along the grain. Ideally, ¼ inch pieces of briskets are easier to work with, and it makes sure that your guests receive equal servings.
When purchasing brisket, make sure that the fat layer is trimmed professionally. Never completely remove the fat as it helps in preventing the meat from drying out. For brisket, trimming of ½ to 1 inch of fat is recommended. A good thumb rule is to leave around 1/8th inch of fat along with some excess skin to preserve both the texture and flavor of the meat. A professionally trimmed brisket will weigh around 9 to 13 pounds.
While a small layer of fat adds flavor to the food, try to remove excess fat; or otherwise, your recipe will become too fatty and unhealthy to eat. You can also brush some butter or olive oil to add healthy fats to the meat. The choice of cut will depend upon what recipe you are cooking.
How To Store Raw Brisket?
If you want to store brisket in the refrigerator, then wrap it in an aluminum foil or airtight container, which will help in stopping the fat from liquifying in the presence of oxygen. A fresh brisket can stay in the fridge for up to 5 days at 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooked brisket can stay up to 4 days in the refrigerator. However, if the cooked brisket was kept at room temperature for more than 2 hours before refrigeration, it is not considered safe for consumption. Raw brisket can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months when kept in airtight condition.
How Is Brisket Cooked?
There are many different ways of cooking brisket, including smoking or roasting, boiling, and baking. Braised brisket is usually cooked in broth, juice, or beer. While smoked-styled Briskets are preferred in the USA, braised or stewed beef is preferred in Britain. In Germany, briskets are braised in dark beer with different vegetables and spices. Sweet or hot-flavored marinades also give flavor to briskets. If you want a simple yet flavorful brisket, use a combination of salt, pepper, sugar, and garlic powder to season the brisket. Sweet marinades made with demerara sugar or brown sugar with cayenne or chili pepper bring a unique flavor to the brisket. Oakwood, Hickory, and Applewood are good choices for smoking brisket.
As recommended by professionals, briskets are best cooked low and slow in a smoker. This is because the meat has an abundance of tough collagen and elastin proteins, and the slow cooking method allows the connective tissues to relax and break down with long exposure to heat. This process makes the brisket taste flavorful, tender, and juicy.
It is recommended to smoke the meat at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 to 1 ½ hour per pound of brisket. An internal temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit should be measured before serving the cooked meat. Larger cuts will cook slower at low temperatures.
So now that you know where the brisket is located on a cow and what are the different types of cuts for brisket, it will be easier for you to prepare briskets for your guests with perfection every time. The meat may take several hours to get properly cooked, and patience is the secret to preparing briskets that are tender, juicy, and full of flavors.
Scot has loved smoking food in his free time for the last few years. Each major holiday or off-weekend, Scot spends days testing and prepping new recipes for perfection.