Why Beef Brisket Is Perfect to Smoke

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Almost any type of meat can have the distinctive taste and smell of smoke, even if it’s just a burger or hotdog. But way past the humble burger, beef brisket is one of the finest cuts of meat and the premier cut for smoking. It comes from the best part of an animal, the breast section. Perhaps, like most other things, it used to be a cheap cut to purchase, maybe not as cheap now, but still relatively inexpensive for a big, juicy hefty piece of meat. For the best smoked meat, you’ll have to learn to tame your hunger pangs as it needs some time and not to mention a little bit of practice to get it smoked just right.

What is Beef Brisket?

If you think you might not have ever eaten it before, you have if you’ve ever eaten pastrami or corned beef. The brisket is smoked in pastrami before cooking it, and corned beef brisket cured in salt and water before being simmered.

A cut can weigh anywhere between 8 to 20 pounds, so that’s pretty heavy, but it also shrinks considerably. The cut, which is from the breast of an animal is below the first five ribs. It has a very pronounced grain to it and is tough and does very well with low and slow cooking. It’s a popular cut because it has a lean part, a fatty part, and slices well.  

Since not everyone wants or needs such a big cut, beef brisket can be further cut down into two main sections:

Pointcut: Shaped somewhat like a triangle, a pointcut has a lot of flavor to it but also more fat. 

Flat cut: The flat cut has less fat running through it. The fat lies more at the bottom layer. This cut is more expensive than the pointcut, usually coming in a rectangular or square shape and is easier to slice.

Getting a cut along the grain will give you a better and more tender bite as opposed to a long, stringy piece. A good cut should leave about a quarter of an inch fat or more about it. Most brisket experts will tell you, fat and brisket go hand in hand.

How to Cook Brisket

It’s not an easy piece to cook since it takes a lot of time, effort and a little bit of love will also help! There are other elements that go into making the best brisket besides the meat itself. For the best results, you can use a combination method of cooking.  Combination cooking involves using more than one method of heat transfer. In particular, it involves a mix of conduction and convection. Conduction is when the meat is in direct contact with a flame, while convection is transferring the heat to the meat using another source such as water. 

It can be easy to overcook or undercook the meat if you’re not careful.  It’s a thick and juicy piece of meat after it’s cooked, but it’s also a tough piece before cooking. The way you cook it will determine the taste. With the long and slow cook, the toughness of the meat can be countered. 

The way it’s cut is what makes it a bit tricky to cook. The point and flat cuts are thinner at one end and the meat gets double the thickness towards the other end. You want to cook both ends to perfection at the same time. 

Why It’s Perfect to Smoke

Collagen: Because it cooks best with low and slow heat, brisket can take a lot of smoke. It contains a lot of collagen, which breaks down during cooking. When heated from160 F to 205 F, collagen starts to melt and turns to gelatin. As the collagen slowly breaks down, it turns into sugars, which sweeten the meat and keep it moist during smoking. This is process is much longer than what you’re reading here and can take several hours, but much worth the patience!

Fat: The layer of fat and ample marbling of beef brisket keeps the meat moist so it doesn’t dry out.

Size: Size does matter. As a rule, you want a large and thick-cut. This gives the meat a chance to develop the smoked taste without drying out. 

 

Don’t let the burnt top of brisket beef, after it’s smoked, fool you that this wouldn’t be the best tasting meat you’ve ever had. For the millions of meat lovers of this world, brisket is the prime choice. It’s great for a barbeque since you can prepare it a day ahead, and its smoked taste is like no other meat. 

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