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Brisket Delivery or Pickup

The Instacart guide to brisket


About brisket

Brisket, one of the nine primal cuts of beef, comes from the lower chest area. Cattle don't have collar bones. Consequently, the brisket muscles support 60 percent of the cow's body weight while standing and moving. The high usage of the brisket muscles results in a large amount of connective tissue, making the brisket a naturally firm piece of meat. Firmness doesn't mean it's a terrible cut, only that it needs special attention when cooking.

The brisket has a strong beef flavor that works well lightly seasoned and seared or used for slow roasting and smoking. Brisket can be used for stews as well. Meat purveyors use the brisket to make corned beef and pastrami.

Fresh brisket offers excellent flavor at an affordable price. The connective tissue has a high collagen content that must be broken down in the cooking process to achieve tenderness. The collagen turns to gelatin when cooked properly. The fat cap often stays on the brisket when packaged for sale. This fat cap helps keep the meat from drying out during prolonged cooking. 

The brisket primal cut is often separated into several pieces. The lean first cut, also called the flat cut, comes from the deep pectoral region. The fattier second cut, known as the point, fat end, or triangular cut, comes from the superficial pectoral region. 

The whole brisket can weigh between three and eight pounds. Larger briskets are often cut in half simply because consumers don't need eight pounds of beef at one time. However, if you plan on using a large smoker, you can ask your grocer to sell you the whole brisket.

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FAQs About Brisket

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers eight beef quality grades. The highest-quality meats receive a prime grade and go down from there to choice, select, standard, commercial, utility, cutter, and canner. The only grades you'll find at your local grocery store will be prime, choice, and select. Some retail outlets offer standard, but only rarely. Two things impact the grading of beef, the amount of marbling or fat and the animal's age at the time of slaughter. 

Prime grade beef has the highest marbling, which may seem counterintuitive. Yet, the marbling of fat renders into the meat, adding flavor and improving tenderness. Fat should not be confused with connective tissue. For the best brisket cut, look for the highest grade. Just remember, the higher the grade, the more expensive the meat.

You can store fresh brisket in your refrigerator for up to five days, depending on how fresh it was when you purchased it. Brisket, like all beef, turns gray with age because of oxidation. If your brisket turns gray, you may want to discard it for a fresher piece, as this can be a sign of spoilage. You can put your brisket in a vacuum-sealed bag and freeze it for extended storage. In your freezer, brisket can last six to eight weeks or longer.
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