With a delicious interaction between flavor and texture, it’s no wonder beef brisket is such as popular cut of beef.
Nevertheless, even the most seasoned BBQ experts can overlook the genesis of this beautiful cut of meat.
What Part of the Cow Is Brisket?
Brisket is carved from steers that are at least 2 years old or older. It can also be cut from veal or milk-fed calves that are between 2-4 months old.
If you were looking at the steer from the side, the brisket sits region above the front legs. In contrast, if you were looking at the brisket head-on, the brisket would be in the region between the less.
Essentially, the brisket is the animal’s breast, lower chest, or pectoral muscles.
Brisket is a muscle that works extremely hard. Cows do not have collarbones to help support their weight.
Therefore, the pectoral muscles are all that support the front portion of an animal that weighs 1,200 to 1,400 pounds.
Supporting 60% of the animal’s weight is no easy task. It’s no wonder brisket consists of dense, tough connective tissues.
What Are Connective Tissue?
Connective tissues are similar to rubber bands. They are found in tendons, silver skin, and ligaments.
The primary job of connective tissues is to hold muscle fibers together.
In addition to this, connective tissues or cellular adhesive strengthens tissues and gives them their shape.
There are two types of connective tissues: elastin and collagen. As the name implies, elastic connective tissue is elastic.
It’s a flexible protein that can stretch and contract into its initial shape.
Moisture loss resulting from the animal aging or the cooking process, elastin may become brittle, tough, or unchewable.
For this reason, elastic connective tissue may also be called gristle.
On the other hand, collagen is one of the strongest proteins. Mammals contain copious amounts of collagen.
Collagen is like a 3 strand rope. It contains 3 braid molecule chains that hold muscle fibers and sheaths together.
These 3 strand molecule ropes are also responsible for collagen’s strength.
The legs, rear, and chest of cows and pigs contain particularly rich amounts of collagen. This collagen turns to gelatin as it cooks.
Gelatin creates moist meat with a silky texture. Additionally, collagen can also be found in bone, blood vessels, ligaments, and skin.
This combination of proteins is responsible for the lengthy cooking time of brisket.
In short, the connective tissues will relax, which allows water to dry out instead of being pressed out like pressing the liquid from a block of tofu.
What Are the Different Parts of Brisket?
Brisket is sold in 3 different parts: the full packer, flat, and point. A full or whole packer is the entire brisket.
It consists of 2 different muscles: the flat and the point.
The flat and point are divided by a cluster of fat. A whole packer can weigh between 8-20 pounds.
It is also covered in a layer of fat known as the fat cap. You must trim the brisket fat cap before placing it into your offset smoker.
The flat is the primary portion of the brisket. It may also be called deep pectoral, first, or flat cut. The flat is the inner muscle that sits against the rib.
The flat is worked the most. Therefore it is lean and barely contains any fat. The flat is usually used to fabricate pastrami or corned beef.
In contrast, the point is the lower portion of the brisket.
These outer muscles sit above the legs. This muscle is also called the superficial pectoral.
The point can also be called a triangular, second, or fat cut. The point is usually used for burnt ends.
Is Corned Beef the Same as Beef Brisket?
Corned beef is almost always produced from brisket. However, the two must never be substituted for each other.
Corned beef is a brisket that is cured in brine. This brine gives corned beef its characteristic color.
Additionally, the salt grains used to cure brisket in the past were as big as a corn kernel, where corned beef got its name.
Corned beef can be smoked in an electric smoker and cut into delicious slices of pastrami.
On the other hand, brisket is sold raw whole or cut into the point and flat.
How To Cook Brisket
There are several ways you can cook brisket. However, rubbing the brisket with a BBQ rub and smoking it in a propane smoker is hands down the best way to prepare the brisket.
You can also cook brisket in gravy or liquid. The most common braising liquids are beer, beef broth, or water.
How Long Does Brisket Take To Cook
The cooking time of brisket depends on the cut and how much it weighs. Even though the average packer brisket weighs 8-14 pounds, they can weigh up to 20 pounds.
Even though these cuts can be divided into point and flat, they still take a long time to cook.
The general equation is 1 hour per pound of brisket. This does not include marinating time.
It’s best to marinate your brisket overnight or at least a few hours before you plan to smoke it in your portable pellet smoker.
In addition to this, you should also consider that brisket will lose almost 1/3 of its weight during the smoking process.
Even though estimating how much meat per person can be a headache, you do not want to run out of brisket in the middle of your event.
Therefore, you must be careful when cooking brisket for a crowd.
Every BBQ enthusiast knows every cut of beef is exceptional. All cuts of beef, such as Denver steaks, prime rib, and bottom round roast, have a unique set of characteristics.
Brisket is no different. Understanding what part of the cow brisket comes from will help you treat it with the respect it deserves.
This is the only way to bring out brisket’s tender meat and fantastic flavor.
You might also be interested in the following:
- What Part of the Cow Is Tri Tip
- What Part of the Cow Is Barbacoa
- What Part of the Cow Is Sirloin
- What Part of the Cow Is Ground Beef
- What Part of the Cow Is Prime Rib
- What Part of the Cow Ribeye
- What Part of the Cow Is Filet Mignon
- What Part of the Cow Is Oxtail
- What Part of the Cow Is Corned Beef
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.