4 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Brisket (But Should)

A lot more people are enjoying brisket these days. Here's what to know about this flavorful meat.

Slow-cooker brisket
Photo: Phoebe_Lapine/Getty Images

While southeastern states tend to favor pork in their BBQ dishes, Texas-style BBQ is all about brisket. And this tough but flavorful cut of beef has exploded in popularity all over the country, popping up on restaurant menus from coast to coast. (This is partly why this traditionally budget-friendly meat is no longer quite so affordable.)

Brisket is commonly cooked at a low temperature for a long time—until it's so moist and tender it falls right off your fork. Here, we offer the basics on this popular meat, plus some recipes so you can try it yourself.

01 of 07

It's a Pec Muscle…

Just like a toned bodybuilder (sort of), a cow has hefty pectoral muscles. Brisket is cut from those muscles, and it generally weighs 12 to 20 pounds.

02 of 07

…That's Exercised a Lot

This means brisket has a lot of tough connective tissue. Cook it using low heat for a long time ("low and slow") to break down that tissue for ultra-tender results.

03 of 07

It Has a Secret Deckle

Because it's so large, brisket is usually cut into two pieces. Most grocery stores carry the first cut, also called the flat. It's leaner and slices neatly. But your butcher may have the second cut, also known as the deckle point. It's marbled with fat and falls apart when you cook it.

04 of 07

The Cut Matters

Two familiar ways to cook brisket—smoking and braising—result in very different tastes. Smoked brisket is made with the second, fattier cut attached, so it doesn't dry out after hours in the smoker.

Braised brisket is ordinarily made from only the first cut, which helps the leaner meat hold moisture. If your braised brisket tends to be dry, try using the deckle point instead. It may fall apart when you slice it, but it'll be moist and succulent.

05 of 07

Red Wine Braised Brisket

Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner

Red wine and a bit of honey provide lots of flavor in this brisket recipe. Nearly any side will complement it, but we recommend something that can soak up the gravy like wild rice, couscous, polenta, or egg noodles.

06 of 07

Slow-Cooker Coffee-Braised Brisket With Potatoes and Carrots

Slow-Cooker Coffee-Braised Brisket With Potatoes and Carrots
Sang An

Here the brisket spends all day in a slow cooker soaking up a marinade made of Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, coffee, and brown sugar.

07 of 07

Gochujang Braised Brisket

Gochujang Braised Brisket
Greg DuPree

This brisket gets its spiciness from a Korean chile paste called gochujang, whose ingredients include fermented soybeans. Serve with mashed potatoes or as the filling in brisket sandwiches.

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