We’ve all had our moments, wanting mouth-watering BBQ grilled to perfection. And a true meat enthusiast will know that not every cut is cooked or tastes the same. But even if you’re someone whose definition of fancy is steak, you’ll still have heard of brisket.
In case you’re wondering which meat it is, brisket is beef. It’s a cut from the pectoral muscles of a cow, meaning it’s well-exercised and tough. It’s delicious and healthy as long as you cook it appropriately because the thicker tissue means it needs to be simmered.
What Cut of Meat is Brisket?
Brisket is taken from cows’ lower breast or pectoral muscles, so it’s either beef or veal. For a good reason, you can get two brisket cuts from one cow, and it’s one of the nine ‘primal’ cuts.
You can probably guess that cows use these particular muscles for a lot of heavy-lifting and carry a lot of weight. Since they’re so well-worked, brisket has a lot of connective tissue, so you need to cook it carefully to make the meat tender and juicy.
Besides the health benefits, a well-cooked brisket is a taste you won’t forget. But before getting to that, you should know that brisket is made of two muscles; the fatty point cut and the leaner flat cut.
While the brisket wasn’t always famous because of the stiff meat, as soon as people realized exactly how good it is smoked, prices started going up. A regular piece weighs around 10 to 14 pounds and is most likely available at a butcher shop.
The kind you get from a grocery shop is usually cut into the point or flat portions, with the average serving being ½ pound per person, so if you’re planning a party, keep that in mind.
Why is Brisket Expensive?
There are many reasons, but the important one is an increased demand against a limited supply. Once, the brisket wasn’t seen as something special because of how hard it was when cooked typically. People usually set it aside for things like stew or soup, and it was a relatively inexpensive cut.
But its popularity increased after it became apparent exactly how good it was when smoked. BBQ parties are pretty common with neighbours, friends, or families. They’re generally seen as relatively inexpensive, but people love the idea of grilling their meat.
Besides the regular burgers, brisket is the perfect cut to feed many people. And nothing screams barbecue like the smoky flavour a well-cooked piece has. So, as more people started buying briskets, the prices also increased.
Apart from the desirability, another problem is the fact that there’s a limited supply. There Are only two briskets in each cow, which automatically makes prices rise. That, paired with the fact that beef prices, in general, have gone up in recent years, makes brisket a pretty pricey cut.
Just one pound of average brisket costs around $8-10. A higher-grade cut and more extensive marbling mean an even heftier price tag.
Besides brisket being perfect for burgers, many restaurants also provide the cut as a dish. And one serving starts from $30 per pound.
What is the Best Way to Cook Brisket?
Most people swear that smoking a brisket makes it tender and juicy. If you’re buying an entire brisket, you’re probably thinking of having a BBQ party or something. As long as you get the cooking technique right, a brisket so good it’ll have everyone talking for weeks.
While it may seem complicated, especially since such a large piece of meat is involved, the secret to a perfect brisket lies in constant attention during a simple but long process.
After arranging the coals with medium heat and covering the cut with your favored dry rub, all you have to do is lie it on the grill with the fat side down. This step is where the waiting starts because not the meat needs to grill for four to five hours, only being flipped once halfway.
That’s why most recipes are simple: you need to pay attention to the heat. It’s even easier in a gas grill where you won’t have to adjust the coals constantly.
Once the brisket is smoked correctly, you can enjoy it with your favorite sauce at a garden party or use it in a world of recipes that’ll be leveled up because of the deliciously tender cuts.
Whether pot roast, pho, soup, pastrami, or even wraps, nothing quite transforms a dish like that perfect smoky flavour.
Can Brisket be Pork?
Technically, yes, but that would be called pork brisket. If you ask for beef, you mean the meat of a cow, and mutton means goat or lamb meat. Similarly, the brisket is the bottom half of a cow’s shoulder section.
But since the same physiology applies to a pig, a butcher will usually know what you mean by pork brisket, simply the pectoral cut of pork. Compared to other cuts like ham, pork brisket is often called too fatty and isn’t as popular as regular brisket, but it’s suitable for braising and roasting.
If a beef brisket’s best chance is smoking, then a roasted pork brisket is a new world. While roasts generally tend to get too dry, the pork brisket’s fat ensures it has plenty of juice to stay moist.
Like beef brisket, the secret is to cook the meat over medium to low heat for at least four hours to get the perfect texture. This is because the high amount of connective tissue in the pectoral muscles takes a long time to break down.
The major difference between the two briskets lies in the temperatures needed to cook them because of the varying textures and tissues (since they come from different animals).
Is Brisket Healthy to Eat?
Brisket has several health benefits, the first being that it helps increase good cholesterol. Brisket is often used to produce ground beef for burgers, and research shows it has higher levels of oleic acid. This concentration increases HDL.
It also has considerable amounts of vitamin B, which increases metabolism, and high concentrations of minerals like zinc, phosphorus, iron, and selenium. The low cholesterol, paired with the other benefits, makes it an ideal cut.
What else is a Brisket Called?
Once cooked, brisket can be called any other name according to the recipe. Apart from smoking, you can roast, brine, or cure it for dishes like pastrami or corned beef.
Most often, it’s ground to make patties for hamburgers. But in the end, the particular cut is only known as brisket, though there are other names for the different parts after its cut.
What is Healthier: Flank Steak or Brisket?
It depends on your preferred benefits, but both cuts have different health benefits.
Before brisket became popular, everyone went crazy for flank steaks, the leanest beef cut. It contains vitamin B3 and B6, calcium, and zinc, while brisket has more vitamin B12, iron, and monounsaturated fat, which is healthy.
But flank steak contains less sodium than brisket, while it has less cholesterol. So, it comes down to who’s eating to decide which is better.
Should I go With Brisket or Pulled pork for a BBQ Party?
Generally, pulled pork is easier to cook. But brisket cooked right is unrivalled.
You’ll need to consider how many people you’re feeding because brisket is much more expensive than pulled pork: generally, it costs around 3-4 times higher per pound. Then there’s a standard serving size; 1/3 pound for pulled pork instead of 1 pound of brisket.
Of course, brisket can also be trickier to cook if you’re doing it whole instead of two cuts. So consider your budget and skills before making the decision.
Why is Smoking Whole Brisket Tricky?
It’s because the two parts have different levels of fat.
As mentioned, brisket is usually sold in two cuts; the point cut and the flat cut. But if you’re smoking it whole, one side has a lot of fat while the other has a much lower concentration. Balancing it so that one size doesn’t dry out can be challenging for a beginner.
Some recipes even call for 15-16 hours of smoking before it’s ready, and you’ll have to keep an eye on it for quite a while.
Why is a More Marbled Brisket More Expensive?
It’s because of the better-distributed fat that makes it juicier and more tender.
The white fat spread in the red meat creates a marbled effect. It keeps the meat moist and makes for a more flavourful finish because the juices don’t evaporate.
This characteristic is why brisket is more expensive the higher the marbling.
Is Beef Better Than Chicken?
The answer depends on what you need. Both have different health benefits.
Beef and chicken have equal cholesterol and no carbohydrates, but beef contains more calories and fats. Chicken has more protein, making it better for low-calorie diets.
It also has more vitamins, but beef has a high mineral concentration.
We hope that cleared all your questions about brisket!