For a long time, brisket was simply relegated to the soup pot, but American barbecue culture has successfully turned this often underrated cut into a real masterpiece. But real BBQ fans have long known: With the right method of preparation, brisket can hold its own against any so-called “supercut”.
The international terms
- Germany – Rinderbrust/Brustspitz
- Austria – Brustkern
- France – Gros Bout de Poitrine
- Italy – Bianco Costata
- UK – Brisket
- USA – Beef Brisket
What exactly is beef brisket?
The cut is made from the cow’s lower chest region – more specifically from the front section, below the shoulder. To keep the animal moving, various muscle groups have to do a lot of hard work – and the chest is at the forefront here. The result is a robust, moderately marbled beef with a strong flavour and very long fibres.
The brisket is subdivided into two different muscle cords that run differently – the much smaller, top-positioned flat (pectoralis muscle) and the point (supraspinatus muscle). Both are separated by a thick layer of fat that runs through the entire brisket. If all these components are present on the cut, then experts speak of a packer cut or even a full packer brisket. The “holy trinity” of barbecue includes beef brisket, pulled pork and ribs.
How is beef brisket prepared?
The secret behind achieving the meat’s desired tenderness lies in the time taken to prepare and cook it. The cooking time in the smoker can exceed 10 hours, but the effort is always worth it. Gentle cooking and a long marinating time ensure a tremendous taste experience. Our electric smoker is suitable for preparing beef brisket, while the Digital Smoker or Oklahome Joe’s are for all those who prefer to smoke their meat the traditional way with charcoal.
The typical smoker was born in Texas, where it has long been a tradition to smoke the hearty beef brisket warm in order to make it ultra-tender. The meat is massaged with a rub beforehand and then brushed repeatedly with a flavourful marinade. Experts even swear by an additional, internal preparation step for the meat – in this case, with the help of a marinade injector, where the marinade is injected directly into the meat in small amounts spread over different areas – a process known as “basting”.
How long does it take to cook a beef brisket?
Temperature plays an important role when it comes to perfect results:
- In order to tenderise what is essentially heavily stressed muscle meat, it should be cooked for several hours at the lowest possible temperature – classically in a smoker, although an amazing result can also be achieved on a gas grill.
- A constant temperature of 100°C - 120°C is optimal. In order to achieve this, the grill lid should not be opened more often than is absolutely necessary, as this can lead to significant temperature fluctuations.
- The meat should have reached a core temperature of 88°C to 94°C, at which point it is cooked.
A little practice is required to be able to correctly estimate the ideal cooking time. The transformation of the collagen and rendering of the fat create the typical brisket texture that BBQ fans adore. Incidentally, this all-year-round American favourite is related to salt beef from the East End of London and good old corned beef – both are also made from beef brisket.
What makes a perfect beef brisket?
In addition to its extraordinary tenderness and intense meat aroma, beef brisket is characterised, above all, by its juiciness. Another distinguishing feature is the typical dark crust, which develops on the meat’s surface after a longer period of time on the grill or in the smoker. The complex method of preparation, combined with the smoke and spice blends, creates a unique flavour that penetrates to the meat’s very core. When considered alongside other great BBQ dishes, beef brisket is, without a doubt, up there with the best.