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In the world of barbeque and its abundance of admirers, the brisket happens to be the most popular cut of meat. That being said, there are several ways to cut a brisket, many debating what the best way would be to go about it. But in this article, we’ll let you make the best judgment.
Table of Contents
What is a Brisket?
Brisket comes from the breast section of the animal, beneath the first five ribs. It is a large cut that is sold boneless and usually weighs anywhere from 20 to 80 pounds, making it quite a large and heavy cut. There are many ways to cook brisket, some may prefer smoked, whilst others braised and flavourful. It’s entirely up to your preference.
Fat Content of brisket
A good brisket cut has visible marbling, which is where most of the juiciness and flavour come from. But it also helps to leave a one-quarter inch of fat on the outside before you cook your brisket, to bring forth a great level of tender, succulent flavour. You can trim the excess fat with a sharp slicing knife or boning knife. Ideally, you may choose to make the cut while the brisket is still cold, with the fat being more solid and easier to cut through.
Taste of Brisket
The taste of brisket relies on the way it has been prepared. A smoked brisket tastes smokey, moist and crispy, while a braised brisket has a beefy flavour and a stewed texture. The taste is also enhanced by the rub, wood, and marinade used.
What is the Grain of a Brisket?
The grain of any meat refers to the alignment of muscle fibres. When intact, the muscle fibres are strong and chewy. If you don’t cut against the grain, the muscle fibres will remain somewhat intact, and very difficult to chew. When you cut against the grain you break up the muscle fibres, so that the meat becomes more tender and chewy with every slice.
What do You Need Before Cutting the Brisket?
You’ll need a cutting board that’s large enough to fit your brisket, with enough hand room to cut your brisket. A good brisket knife, long and serrated will also be required. And finally, you should always have your brisket rest before you do anything with it.
How to Cut the Brisket?
Once your brisket has cooled down, and you can grab onto it comfortably, without having to worry about the skin peeling from your palms, then you’re all set and ready to cut your brisket, in these simple steps:
- Separate the Flat from the Point
- Trim Excess Fat
- Remove the Tip
- Slice the Fat
- Slice the Point
Separate the Flat from the Point
The key to slicing any piece of meat and retaining its tender juiciness is to slice against the grain. This cuts through the muscle fibres, shortening them and making the meat more tender by giving you less chewiness and more tenderness, therefore an easier chewing experience. The point and the flat of the brisket have fibres that run in two different directions, so the first step to slicing your brisket is cutting it in half to separate the flat from the point.
Trim Excess Fat
Fat does equal flavour, but too much fat can make your brisket appear excessively greasy. After you’ve separated the point from the flat, trim any excess fat you can see from the top of your brisket.
Remove the Tip
The tip of the brisket is the smallest part of the cut and is often slightly overcooked because of that. The best thing to do with the tip is to chop it off, slice it into little pieces and serve it as burnt ends.
Slice the Fat
Now for the important part. Begin by slicing the flat part of your brisket. Aim for long smooth strokes of the knife that are equivalent to the thickness of a pencil.
Slice the Point
Once the flat is sliced, take your brisket point section and cut it in half lengthwise. This will help you avoid the miniature slices you’d end up with if you cut width-wise. Now with the flat, you’re going to cut against the grain of the meat. The grain runs in a different direction from the flat, so take your time, find the grain and make sure to cut across it. Once that’s complete, you should be left with a beautiful mess of moist, juicy, and tender brisket, with a small section of chewy, crispy burnt ends.
How to Cook a Brisket?
Making a giant, roasted brisket for the weekend is the perfect way to reveal your love for your family and their eager bellies. It’s incredibly comforting, with its rich and juicy flavours, waiting to be explored. The important part that should not be ignored when cooking a brisket, is the seasonings. This will determine the overall flavours emanating from your tenderised meat, by the time it’s ready to dig in.
Choose the right pan to ensure even caramelisation. Always roast the fat side up, allowing the fat to drip onto the brisket, and the potatoes – if you choose to make them. Try to roast your brisket a day before you plan to serve it, then slice it against the grain and place it back into its juices. Let it sit and soak up its impeccable flavours, ready to be gushed over the next day. Here’s how to make it:
- 1 kg beef brisket
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 kg baby potatoes halved
- 720ml low sodium beef stock
Preheat the oven to 220C, then season your brisket generously with salt and pepper on either side. Place the potatoes in a large roasting pan and drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the brisket on top of the potatoes, fat side up. Roast until the brisket develops a deep golden brown crust on top and the potatoes are cooked.
Reduce the oven to 150C, then remove the potatoes. Add the stock to the pan and season the beef with salt and pepper, covering the pan tightly with foil. Return the pan to the oven for some more cooking. When the brisket is tender enough, to have a fork pierce through its flesh, with almost no resistance, let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.
What to Serve with Brisket?
The best thing about beef brisket is that you can serve it up with anything you like. How about a side of French bread and your favourite sauce? Or some steamed rice complete with sliced brisket oozing with succulent juices. Let’s take a look at these delicious side dishes to have with your well-cut brisket.
- Brussels Sprouts
- Grilled Potato Skins
- Corn on the Cob
- Steamed Asparagus
Hosting a party might become a little overwhelming, especially when you’ve prepared a magnificent brisket, cut to perfection. You’re probably stuck on what might pair well with this thick, juicy and tenderised meat. The easy answer is a crunchy creamy coleslaw side. The combination of sweet and tangy flavours, plus the crunchiness of the cabbage and carrots balances out the robust flavours emanating from the brisket. Coleslaw is such a popular side dish, that it’s almost impossible to disappoint. Prepare your coleslaw at least 4 hours before serving so that it’s nice and chilled, soaking up all the brilliant flavours in time for the main event.
Sure these little green globes have been the result of many noses wrinkling in distaste, but when paired with the right main dish, there’s no denying the welcoming bittersweet flavours these sprouts provide when cooked correctly – especially with brisket. The key to achieving the ultimate delicious brussels sprouts is timing. Overcooking them is what gives them that unpleasant, bitter taste. Depending on your desired consistency, roast your sprouts at 400F for 20-30 minutes. All you need is some olive oil, salt and ground pepper. The result, is a caramelised bowl of heaven.
Grilled Potato Skins
Other than jacket potatoes, grilled potato skins are a common favourite. It’s the perfect opportunity to have these potato skins grilled since you’ll have your grill up and ready for your brisket. Slice the potatoes in half and hollow them out with a spoon. Microwave the potatoes for 6 to 7 minutes to pre-cook them. Smother them in butter and grill them for five minutes, skin side up. Flip the spuds and cook them for another 3 minutes, then top with sour cream, onion and turkey bacon.
Corn on the Cob
Whether you boil, grill or microwave it, corn on the cob will always be a common favourite. It’s sweet, succulent and fun to eat. Corn on the cob doesn’t need much improvement, just add some layers of butter and you’re good to go!
Brisket is such a robust, and delectable cut of meat that the only thing missing is the roasted asparagus. This easy microwaved asparagus might be the easiest side you’ll need (after the corn on the cob of course). You can serve them with lemon and pepper, or topped with a thick slice of butter. The asparagus will provide the perfect depth, and contrast in flavours you’ll need to enjoy your succulent brisket.
So How to Cut a Brisket?
Cutting a brisket is fairly simple once you know the simple steps and how to handle this thick cut of meat. Once it has cooled down enough for you to touch it without getting your fingertips burnt separate the flat from the point, trim the excess fat, remove the tip, slice the fat, slice the point and you’re all done, and ready to serve!
Do You Cut a Brisket Against the Grain or With the Grain?
You want to cut with the grain, which is the alignment of muscle fibres when intact these fibres are strong and chewy.
How do You Cut a Brisket for Beginners?
Start by picking your brisket, rinse and choose your knife, plan your cuts, start trimming, remove all of the surface fat, cut out the point end fat, and then you’re all set.
How do You Properly Cut a Brisket?
Cut the brisket in half as this helps separate the flat from the point, slice your brisket flat against the grain. Turn your brisket 90 degrees and slice it in half, slice the brisket point against the grain, and then you’re ready to serve!
How do You Know the Grain of a Brisket?
The grain of the brisket is how the strands of muscle run through the meat, like a long series of rubber bands and you’ll see the lines in the meat.