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Brisket Basics

Barbecued brisket screams delicious and mouthwatering to us. And we know we’re not the only ones who crave this meat piled high on sandwich buns, served on butcher paper at a roadhouse or prepared in any variety of ways by people across the country and all over the globe. Consumers the world over enjoy this cut of meat prepared in many different ways. All of them are distinct and share a precise butchering technique for ease of preparation. Pull up a chair as we share a bit of our brisket expertise with you.

The brisket is one of nine primal cuts and comes from the lower breast of a steer. It is cut from the forequarters of the animal through the juncture of the first rib and the sternum to the 5th rib.  A packer typically removes the rib and sternum bones along with the deckle fat. The brisket muscle includes the superficial and deep pectoral and a significant portion of fat and connective tissue. This muscle can be tough and needs a long cooking method because it supports about half the body weight of the steer.

The leaner half of a whole brisket is called the first cut. The brisket point is less lean than the brisket flat, but that fat adds a succulent taste. The packer trim includes the point and flat and comes in vacuum packaging with minimal trimming. Our expert butchers can trim a commodity brisket separating the two muscles along the seam to produce a 120A brisket flat from the brisket point. They then can trim the flat and the point to whatever level of trim you desire. The fat cap can be left attached to help flavor the meat over the long cooking process.  We also custom trim the brisket leaving the point and flat attached by removing the wedge fat so it is smokehouse ready or can be further processed and made into corned beef. All of our expert knife work allows end users to do what they do best, cook the brisket.

Brisket has a very high fat melting point which is optimal for specialty grinds that are particularly popular these days. This intense marbling creates a rich, succulent mouth feel that enhances the eating experience. Custom grinds that include brisket trim are popular with high-end burger places.

Cooking processes can vary from cuisine to cuisine and from country to country. In the United States, briskets can be prepared in the oven, in slow cookers, boiled, grilled, braised or smoked. In the smoking process, the meat is cooked over indirect heat provided by wood or charcoal. Chefs can vary the wood to impart distinct flavors. This popular way of preparing the brisket is done at barbecue places or by barbecue competition teams. Once the meat is finished, the brisket points can be put back over indirect heat to make burnt ends for competitions. In traditional Jewish cooking, brisket typically is braised. This is also how corned beef can be made, if it is not boiled with vegetables. It can be cooked in the oven for many hours in sauce until the meat falls apart and is infused with the vegetables and sauce.

In Hong Kong, brisket can be cooked over low heat and sliced to serve with noodles. In Korean dishes, it can be boiled with vegetables and then preserved in soy sauce to be served in slices either as part of a hot pot, barbecue or in soups. Brisket typically is grilled in Thai dishes. In New Zealand it is boiled in water with greens and potatoes. It can be used for pho in Vietnamese cuisine. In Britain, brisket is cooked slowly and served with gray. It is used to make bolito misto in Italian cuisine. In Pakistan it is used in nihari. In Germany, brisket is braised in dark beer with vegetables.

Barbecue chefs suggest that a 10-12 pound brisket will serve 12 hungry people. In first quarter 2015, Americans ate 8.4 million pounds of brisket. In the same period one year later, that consumption grew to 13.6 million pounds. Some nutritional facts: An ounce of brisket contains 44 calories, B12, niacin, riboflavin, folate and pantothenic acid, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, potassium, selenium and flavor. However you serve it and to whom, brisket is versatile and delicious. Call 800-383-3811 and let us take the butchering out of your restaurant today.


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