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Brisket for Beginners

Brisket for Beginners

The "Big Daddy" of barbeque is the brisket. Anatomically speaking the brisket is the big flabby wobbly piece of meat that hangs between the front legs of cattle. It is the pectoral muscles, or the breast essentially. I don't think there is really an equivalent cut in pork or lamb - the internet says otherwise, but when you look into it closely it seems like pork brisket is any number of parts of the pig that have been cut to somewhat resemble a beef brisket. Lamb brisket seems to be even more of a stretch. Of course, these animals have pecs, they are just a lot less meaty.

Each animal has two briskets - a right and left. Some pitmasters say the left brisket is more tender. Each brisket has two muscles - the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor - known as the flat and the point. They are relatively easy to identify - the flat is flat and the point is pointy! The point is also called the deckle by some pitmasters.

The classic sliced brisket comes from the flat, and then the point tends to be great for burnt ends or shredded beef.

Buying brisket in Ireland is still a challenge, although not nearly as bad as it was 3 or 4 years ago. The term for a full untrimmed brisket in the USA is "full packer". I believe this just means that it is as it comes from the meat packers - in other words a full piece of meat that is ready to be cut up as the butcher sees fit.

As pitmasters we want this full cut, but most butchers don't sell it. Butchers use brisket for mince, corn beef, pastrami, roast beef, etc. Some butchers will supply a whole brisket, but it will be trimmed to within an inch of its life. Ironically if you do find a brisket that has been untrimmed and with a full fat cap on it will probably cost more than one the butcher has lovingly prepared for you.

There has been a few sources of brisket online in Ireland, but right now all the online butchers seem a little vague about what they are selling you.

My only advice is to try and find a good local butcher and show them some pictures of a full packer brisket and ask them if they can get one for you.

See below for a video we did on Brisket.

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