Briskets are some of the most desirable cuts of meat you can have. They are well known for being a particularly tender and flavorful cut of meat and are often also used for brining and preparing meat for things like corned beef.
Did you know that brisket was seen as a less desirable cut of meat a long time ago?
All the fat that makes the brisket more tender and flavorful was seen as a bad thing, especially for standard cooking methods at the time.
But if you’re in the store today looking for a delicious brisket, it really does matter which version of a brisket you buy. While you can get a whole brisket, which contains both the point and the flat, most grocery stores and butchers will separate them and sell them as separate cuts unless you request a whole brisket.
So if you’re looking for the right brisket for dinner, here’s what you need to know to choose the right one.
|Best Cooking Styles
|Stews, low and slow roast, crock pot cooking, and similar
|Roasted, pan-roasted, slow-cooked, etc.
|Much less fat. Lean for a brisket.
|Fatty – the fattiest portion of the brisket
|A bit drier, the flat really benefits from low and slow cooking, or cooking with other aromatic and flavorful ingredients.
|Richer flavor, but needs to be trimmed to make fat sections more manageable.
|Cooked well, the brisket flat is tender and flakes apart well. Overcooked, or dried out too much, the brisket flat can be dry and leathery with an unpleasant texture.
|Almost always tender, brisket points can be too fatty if they aren’t trimmed. Low and slow cooking helps make this cut more tender, but cooking at a higher temperature faster can leave this cut chewy.
What is the Brisket Flat
The brisket comes from the breast and lower chest area of a beef steer. It’s the cut below the chuck, and one of the important things for this cut of meat is that it’s a high work area on the cow. Muscles that are frequently used by the animal tend to be both more flavorful and tougher.
However, the brisket has an advantage in both flavor and texture thanks to the fact that a lot of fat is also stored in that area. But, there is also a lot of connective tissue in this cut as well, which can make for tougher meat despite the marbling and fat.
Connective tissue breaks down better with longer cooking times, so low and slow cooking is the way to go.
The brisket flat is the lower portion of the cut, with the fattiest portion, the point, removed. The reason it’s called the flat is because this portion of the brisket, when cut by an expert, lays flat.
The nice thing about this cut is that the flatter profile helps give you even cooking, and prevents portions of the brisket from being over or under-done. That’s important because the brisket flat is the larger portion of the brisket, and averages 6-10 pounds total weight.
Different Types of Brisket Meals
Brisket is a popular cut in a lot of Jewish cooking and for corned beef, or any braised or roasted brisket that’s meant to be sliced before serving. The flat nature of this cut is perfect for any kind of slicing.
However, since this is a leaner cut of Brisket, it’s not as suitable for smoking, BBQ, or other means of cooking.
While the brisket flat isn’t good for BBQ, that doesn't mean that this isn't a good cut of meat for adding flavor. Briskets pick up a lot of flavor from brines, salt rubs, and marinades. Pre-cooking seasoning also tends to soak through the meat better, it just takes some time for the flavors to stick.
How Do You Cook With Brisket Flats?
Brisket flats, and almost all briskets in general, need low and slow cooking if you want to get the best results.
That’s pretty much entirely because of the connective tissue. If you need to cook your brisket faster you can use enzymatic pairings, like pineapple, honey, or yogurt to speed up the cooking process. That’s because the enzymes help to break down the protein chains in the tougher parts of the meat.
Delicious Brisket Flat Pairings
Briskets work really well with root vegetables since the vegetables soak up the fats that are rendered out of the meat. The sweetness of carrots and slow-cooked onions are a particularly good pairing.
Cabbage is also often paired with brisket, where both the cabbage and the brisket soak up flavors from the other.
Of course, we’ve already mentioned enzymatic pairings, and these are a great way to enhance both the flavor and texture of the brisket. Pineapple, honey, and yogurt can all be used to bring their unique flavors to your brisket and to help ensure you have a fork-tender finish.
Great Brisket Flat Recipes You Should Try
If you want to try your hand at smoking a brisket flat, even though this isn’t necessarily the preferred cut for smoking, you’ll want to trust some expert guidance. Here’s a fantastic recipe for smoked brisket from the Food Network.
Or, for a different, but just as luscious, flavor try this onion braised brisket recipe from Once Upon A Chef.
What Is A Brisket Point?
A brisket point is the other part of a whole brisket, the upper fattier portion of the cut. It’s also called the second cut, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that the brisket is the second best or the secondary cut of the brisket.
Remember, both of these cuts were considered inferior cuts for a long time. Today though, we’ve found delicious ways to prepare both parts of the brisket and make them absolutely wonderful and decadent.
How To Cook A Brisket Point?
Low and slow cooking is key here, but it’s also important to make sure you’ve got a reasonable amount of fat on the point before cooking. That's a little different than the flat because the flat can sometimes be trimmed down so that there isn't enough fat.
For the point, it’s important to make sure you don’t have too much.
For most store-bought brisket points you won't need to trim too much. But you'll want to double-check just to be sure. You don’t want to have more than an inch to an inch and a half of fat cap on your brisket point.
How Do You Make Great Brisket Points?
Making a great brisket point is down to three things: Getting the fat-to-meat ratio right, cooking temp and time, and the seasonings you use.
One of the things to remember is that the fat in a brisket is a fantastic pairing with sweeter spice mixes or sugar. Sweet BBQ sauce is also a good pairing.
Fruit flavors are also going to pair really well, which we’ll talk about a bit in the next section.
Marinating your brisket, cooking low and slow, and making sure it’s trimmed so the fat content is under control are the three keys to a great brisket.
Brisket Point Pairings To Experiment With
So brisket points work well with a lot of the same pairings as the flat, root vegetables are a great option. But if you want something a little more adventurous, peach, pineapple, and mango will all pair well. The sugar really works if you let it caramelize as it cooks. You can use chunks of fruit in a roast or braise, or puree the fruit and add it to a sauce for roasts and other preparations.
You're also going to want at least a little acid for brisket points. The acid helps to cut through the fat and bring the umami and sweetness of the brisket forward. Lemon and lime are good sources of acid, and so is pineapple, but you might find that apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar does a better job.
For a more savory brisket, black and green peppercorns are a great addition. Or you can sous vide or braise your brisket in a red wine sauce with savory seasonings.
Top Brisket Point Recipes You’re Sure To Love
Here are a couple of great recipes for brisket points. For a sweeter finish, try this recipe for slow-cooked brisket with brown sugar and carrots from Food Network, or for savory brisket, a classic recipe for Burnt Ends from Hey Grill Hey.
Wrapping Up: What are the key differences between?
There are a ton of similarities between brisket flats and brisket points. They both have a lot of fat and connective tissue to work with, both want low and slow cooking, and both take up flavors and seasoning in a very similar way.
However, the point of the brisket is a lot fattier than the flat, and the flat is a lot more prone to drying out during cooking.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1: Which is Healthier, Brisket Point or Brisket Flat
The flat is probably the healthier of the two, pound for pound because there is less fat in the flat than the point. However, they are otherwise incredibly similar, both in taste and in caloric and nutritional content.
Q2: Which is Better, Flat Or Point?
It depends on what you want to make. If you’re feeding a lot of people, the bigger flat is probably a good option. If you want to make tasty bite-sized bits, the point is a good choice.
Q3: How do you Trim and Separate the Brisket Flat from the Point
It's much easier to watch someone do this rather than read about how to do it. Check out this wonderful instructional video from Hector's Smoke House on YouTube