What is Beef Brisket?
Beef brisket is a very large cut of meat from the breast of the cow. It has traditionally been one of the top choices for slow cooking and roasting as it is tender and falls apart. In more recent times, it has become recognized as the prize cut for slow barbequing, wood fire barbeques and smoking with its amazing, traditional beef flavour and tenderness.
It can be cooked whole or cut into the Point End and Flat End.
The Point End
The Point End of the Beef Brisket is from the breast section of the cow and is attached directly to the rib cage. It is the fattier and more tender part of the brisket which makes it perfect for slow cooking and a family favourite.
The very popular Point End has many nicknames and can be referred to as the deckle, font cut, point cut, thick cut or nose cut. The Point End is considered the premium cut of brisket, for its rich flavour, tenderness and versatility.
The Flat End
The other cut of brisket is the Flat End. It has less fat running through it and because of that, it is a tougher cut and not nearly as desirable. This is usually turned into Corned Beef or used in cooking Pho.
However, the number #1 question we get asked by nervous first-timers is “How do I cook a Point End Beef Brisket?”
“Low and Slow”
We will cover all the different ways you can cook brisket. However, no matter which you choose, remember this one key piece of advice. “Low and slow” is the key.
Cooking at a low temperature for as long as possible is going to give you the best and most melt in your mouth results. Resist the urge to heat things up or speed things up. Slow and steady wins the race. It is a cut of meat, you don’t want to rush.
COOKING THE PERFECT BRISKET IN THE OVEN IN 3 EASY STEPS
Step 1. Prepare the Brisket
Remove the brisket from your fridge. To remove the moisture from it, pat it dry with paper towels, then prick it all over with a fork to allow it to absorb the seasoning.
Add salt first followed by pepper and your choice of rub or seasoning. Hand rub your choice of seasoning in, this will help it seep into the meat better as it has been pricked, which helps with absorption.
Allow it to stand for at least an hour for your seasoning to absorb into the meat before you cook it. Up to 24 hours in the fridge creates the most incredible results.
Some recipes will rub oil over the brisket at this stage. You can also rub mustard onto the brisket before adding the seasoning. This creates added flavour but surprisingly does not taste like mustard.
Step 2. Prepare the Cooking Liquid.
This next step is essential when you are cooking Brisket in the oven. You will need to add 3 cups of liquid when cooking a 1.2kg Beef Brisket. There are many ways you can create incredible flavour with the brisket liquid. They range from water mixed with beef stock, through to complex recipes. We will cover these in a later blog post.
Step 3. Bake the Brisket
Place the brisket in an oven pan or tray and pour all the cooking liquid over the meat, allowing the liquid to sit around the brisket in the pan or tray. It is optional to cover the brisket. Cook for a minimum of 4 hours but we recommend 8 hours at a lower temperature for the best results.
Here is a cooking guide for the Oven.
|4 hours||160 degrees Celsius||325 degrees Fahrenheit|
|6 hours||150 degrees Celsius||300 degrees Fahrenheit|
|8 hours||140 degrees Celsius||275 degrees Fahrenheit|
Allow an extra hour of cooking for every extra kilogram / 2lbs of weight.
Allow the brisket to stand for 30-60 minutes after cooking. Then slice across the grain before serving.
When you have cooked your brisket perfectly, it will still be tender and juicy. Test with a fork or knife that the meat falls apart and is tender.
We don’t recommend cooking your brisket overnight in the oven for this reason as it can overcook.
Can I eat brisket rare?
The easy answer to this is no.
COOKING THE PERFECT BRISKET ON THE STOVE
We won’t repeat all of the steps needed for cooking a brisket on a stove as it is basically the same as in the oven. You will need to prepare the brisket the same way plus the Cooking Liquid. The key difference is that you will need to simmer the brisket over a low heat on the stove in a very heavy cooking pan or skillet that has a tight-fitting lid. This helps retain moisture in the meat.
COOKING THE PERFECT BRISKET IN A SLOW COOKER
Once again, there are a lot of similarities to cooking in the oven. In this case, you allow the brisket to slowly simmer and cook slowly in the Brisket Liquid. This creates very tender and juicy slices of brisket. Some people also like to include vegetables at the same time in the slow cooker along with the meat, as this adds an extra layer of flavour. The cooking liquid produced in the slow cooker is delicious to serve with the brisket.
Step 1. Prepare the Brisket for the Slow Cooker.
The one key difference with a slow cooker preparation is you may need to cut the brisket to fit your Slow Cooker. You will also need to trim any excess fat when you use a slow cooker.
Prick the meat with a fork and season it with salt, pepper and the rub of your choice. If you use a slow cooker liner, it will make it easier to clean.
Step 2. Prepare the Cooking Liquid.
You will need to add 3 cups of liquid when cooking a 1.2kg Beef Brisket. There are many ways you can create incredible flavour with the brisket liquid.
Step 3. Slow Cook the Brisket.
After you place the brisket in the slow cooker, pour the Cooking Liquid over the brisket. Put the cover on and then start cooking.
There are options to cook on a medium heat for 4 hours, however we recommend a minimum of 6 hours on a low heat. Even better is to take advantage of the option to cook for 8 hours on the lowest heat setting.
COOKING THE PERFECT BRISKET ON A BARBEQUE
Step 1. Prepare your Brisket
Prick the brisket all over and then add a dry rub all over by hand.
Step 2. A) Preheat a Gas Barbeque
Step 2. B) Using a wood fire BBQ
Prepare your wood chips. Place 1 to 2 cups of wood chips in a container and cover them with water to soak for an hour before cooking. Drain the water. You can also soak your wood chips in beer, wine or apple juice to create a sweet, smoky flavour. Then light the BBQ.
Step 2. C) Using a Charcoal BBQ
Arrange medium to hot coals around the drip pan. Fill the pan with 2-3 cm of hot water. Add wood chunks to the coals. Then light the BBQ.
Step 3. Reduce the heat to medium and adjust the BBQ for indirect cooking.
Step 4. If your BBQ has a smoker box
Fill the pan on the attachment on your BBQ with hot water. Place the wood chips in your smoker compartment.
If your BBQ does not have the smoking attachment, place wood chips in a foil pan and cover it with foil. Then poke at least a dozen holes in the foil to release the smoky flavour.
Before you light the grill, place the pan on the bars beneath the grate in a corner of the BBQ. Make sure you check it every hour. Do not alter the wood chips as this alters the smoky flavour.
Step 5. Place the brisket fat side down on a rack on a roasting pan.
Then place the pan on a barbeque rack over a burner that is turned off.
Step 6. Add 2-3 cm or 1 inch of water in a drip pan.
Set the pan on a barbeque rack directly over heat.
Step 7. Cover and smoke the Brisket.
This can either be done with a smoker but can still be done in your BBQ if it has a lid. Cook for 4-5 hours until the Brisket reaches 85 degrees Celsius or 185 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 8. Turn the Brisket once halfway through cooking and smoking.
Step 9. Remove the Brisket from the Barbeque.
Let it sit and rest for 30-60 minutes. You have the option to cover it with foil to maintain heat. Then thinly slice along the grain before serving.
Choose your favourite Wood to smoke your Brisket.
BBQ Connoisseurs prefer different woods that have different flavours to smoke their brisket. You can have a lot of fun creating flavours from mesquite, hickory, maple, fruitwoods and many more.
What is the difference between fresh Brisket and Corned Brisket?
Fresh beef brisket is what you will be using for most cooking and smoking. Corned Beef Brisket can be the same cut but it is firmer in texture and has already been cured in a seasoned brine. This gives it the unique corned beef flavour and style.
HOW TO CUT A BRISKET AFTER COOKING IT
The most important step in slicing cooked brisket is to cut thinly across the grain. Meat has long muscle fibres and the grain of the meat is how these fibres align.
For tender brisket you will need to slice across the fibres. Slicing with the grain leads to stringy, chewy meat. Here is a 3-step guide for cutting the perfect slices.
Step 1: Let the brisket rest.
Cooling the meat slightly and letting it redistribute its juices is important. The longer you rest it the easier it will be to cut even slices. At least 30-60 minutes is good.
Step 2: Find the grain.
Look for the meat’s muscle fibres, then turn the meat 90 degrees to slice across them. A whole brisket is actually made up of two separate muscles, the thinner flat cut and the thicker point cut. These both have fibres that run in two different directions.
Step 3: Slice thinly.
As with all meat, choose a sharp slicing knife and then hold the knife at a slight angle and use a gentle sawing motion, slicing the meat across the grain.
About the Author
Steven Hines is one of the owners and co-founders of Stockman Steaks. His family has been in the meat business for over 5 decades and 3 generations. He has a passion for eating great quality meat and researching the health benefits behind it.