How To Cut Brisket: Everything You Need To Know
A tender, slow-cooked brisket makes your mouth water. Hugely popular in restaurants, this cut of beef or veal is also the most popular piece of meat to smoke or serve on a barbecue. Once deemed inexpensive meat, brisket is now a delicacy that’s smoked, braised, or slow-cooked in commercial kitchens and by home cooks around the U.S.
However, cooking a brisket to perfection is one thing. If you slice the brisket the wrong way, it will ruin this expensive piece of meat and affect its taste. That’s why it’s essential to know how to slice prepared brisket with its dark bark, deep coloring, and tender meat.
What you need to slice a brisket
There are few simple but essential items that you will need to slice brisket. These items are:
- A sharp knife: It’s important to have a sharp knife to make clean, precise cuts. Try a slightly serrated knife for easier cutting, but avoid blades with ridge-like teeth. You can even use an electric knife, which can help you slice the brisket effortlessly. But the best tool to slice a brisket is a brisket knife.
- A meat cutting board: Use a non-slippery cutting board or one with a rough texture to stop the brisket from slipping when you are cutting. A large butcher’s block with a gully on the sides is the best, as it traps all the juices and fat while holding the weight of the meat.
- A serving plate: Once sliced, place the brisket on a serving plate.
- Paper towels: These help you wipe spills, catch any fat, or wipe down knives.
- A large fork: While most people use their hands to hold the brisket while slicing, you can use a large fork too. Make sure the fork is sharp and penetrates the meat.
How to carve a brisket
Before you start welding the knife to slice the brisket, make sure the meat is well-rested.
Resting helps redistribute the juices inside the meat. These juices thicken as the temperature falls to make the meat tender and juicy. If you cut the brisket immediately after cooking, these juices will flow right out of the brisket.
Remove the foil wrapping and set it down to rest at room temperature. You can cover it lightly to stop the juices from evaporating and keep the brisket warm and tender. However, don’t wrap the brisket when resting, or it will continue to cook and ruin the meat.
Let the brisket rest for at least 1 hour, although smaller slabs can be rested for 30-45 minutes minimum (or if you’re in a hurry). Ideally, the resting temperature should not fall below 140°F, or the meat becomes challenging to slice.
Once the brisket has rested, you are ready to slice it. Here are the steps you need to make the perfect cut through the brisket.
1. Prep the cutting area
While the meat is resting, prep your cutting area so you’re ready to slice. Ensure your knife is sharp and the cutting board is clean. If your cutting board is light, place it on a damp towel to prevent it from slipping when you cut.
Keep additional paper towels at hand and clear out any other utensils from the area.
2. Separate the flat and the point
Brisket has two main sections—the flat and the point. These sections have meat fibers running in the opposite direction. The point is the fattier section of the meat, while the flat is leaner and best served sliced.
Cut the brisket crosswise into two sections separating the point and the flat.
3. Trim excess fat
Trim any excess fat from the top of the brisket unless it was trimmed before cooking. Although fat adds flavor, excess fat makes the brisket greasy. Plus, some people dislike eating fat.
4. Cut the tip
The tip is often the smallest part of the meat and, as a result, it is often overcooked. It’s best to cut the tip and chop it up to serve as “burnt ends.”
5. Slice the flat
Now comes the exciting part. Start with slicing the flat. But remember to slice against the grain of the meat to break down the strong bonds of the muscle’s fibers. This will make the meat more tender with every slice.
Slice the flat at a 90-degree angle in long, smooth strokes, ensuring the thickness of the slices is about the width of a pencil or a little less than half an inch.
6. Cut the point section
Take the point section of the brisket and slice it in half widthwise. Then slice the point sections into slices. Remember to cut against the meat’s grain, which runs in a different direction from the flat area of the brisket.
Since the point sections contain more fat, you may need to make a deeper cut to slice. However, don’t press the meat too hard, or the juices will run off. Also, ensure each section has a bark.
7. Reserve the “burnt ends”
The first and last parts of the brisket are too small to slice like the rest of the brisket. Reserve these ends, chop them up into chunks, and toss them into a pan for a tasty treat.
Quick tips when carving brisket
There are other ways to cut a brisket, but the one described above is easy and gets the job done. The most important thing to remember when slicing brisket is to cut against the grain and use a sharp knife.
If you are not planning to eat the whole brisket, then slice only what you need and keep the rest of the brisket whole. This will keep the juices in and the brisket moist and tender.
Wrapping it up
Making a good brisket requires patience, time, and good slicing skills. Now that you know how to cut a brisket, you’re all set to wow your family and friends.
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