Beef brisket is a smokehouse classic that evokes thoughts of a classic southern barbecue. This cut comes from the breast of the cow, a muscle that the animal uses quite often, making it relatively tough. Although beef brisket is one of the tougher cuts of meat, with time and effort, it can become a tender and satisfying piece of beef with incredible flavor.
Brisket has a large fat cap. Some people, although not all, trim the fat cap before cooking. If untrimmed, keep the fat side down when cooking to prevent it from rendering (melting) and washing away seasoning. If cooked fat side down, a uniform bark can form, and the brisket will look and taste beautiful. The fat cap also acts as a shield against direct heat, keeping the brisket moist.
The is made up of two different muscles: the point and the flat. The cut is the fatty part of the brisket, which is called the deckle. The flat cut, also known as "first cut", has the deckle removed, which makes it leaner and causes it to lay flat.
You can cook beef brisket in a number of ways. The best method is to cook it low and slow. For example, try braising or smoking it at a low temperature for 8 to 12 hours. If braised in a vegetable stew, the meat should cook for at least three hours to absorb liquid from the vegetables and break down collagen fibers in the meat.