There isn’t actually another name for brisket. Instead, various terms are used to describe the different sections and versions of brisket.
As a professional chef, many of my friends come to me when they are confused about various cuts of meat and their different names. Thus, I have had to explain how to order brisket at the grocery store quite a few times!
In this post, I will show you what people call brisket and its various cuts. I will also tell you how to ask for this cuts from a butcher. Let’s begin!
What trips people up when shopping for brisket is that there is more than one section.
See, brisket refers to the lower breast or lower chest of the cow.
Made up of pectoral muscles that get a lot of exercise, brisket is a tough cut of meat with lots of connective tissue. The brisket is topped off by a fat cap that adds flavor to the meat.
Brisket works best when slow cooked either in a smoker or a slow cooker. This helps those tough muscle fibers to break down, resulting in a tender and delicious piece of meat.
The brisket is a rather large cut – it is one of the main primal cuts of beef.
It is possible for an entire cut of beef brisket to weigh as much as 16lbs, perhaps even more. An entire brisket is known as a full or whole packer brisket.
Now, as mentioned, a packer brisket is a larger cut of meat. This means that unless you are cooking for a very big party, this is just too much meat for most people.
Fortunately, the packer brisket is made up of two main muscles known as the flat cut and point cut.
Therefore, it can be divided into each of these smaller sections and sold independently.
The flat cut is also known as the first cut. This is the leaner portion of the brisket but it tends to be the larger piece.
It is known for its uniform shape, making it the easier option to cook as it cooks more evenly.
Then there is the second cut brisket called the point cut or the deckle. This is a fatty cut which makes it the more flavorful option. However, as it doesn’t have as much lean meat on it, the quantity that you can serve to people is smaller.
The point isn’t as easy to cook either.
Of course, what you are most concerned with is how to describe what you are looking for to your butcher.
Well, the first thing that I want to point out is that butchers tend to stock up on the flat cut more than the full packer or the point.
In many cases, if you do want to buy a full packer or the point, you will need to special order it beforehand. As such, this is something that you will need to check on ahead of time.
At the butcher, a flat is also known as a thin cut or a center cut. So, look for sections with these titles as well, if this is what you are looking for.
Now, some butchers may refer to the point as the deckle. In reality, though, the deckle is the layer of fat in between the first and second cut.
Asking for the point should get you the cut of meat that you are looking for.
While brisket has just one name, it can be turned into many different dishes. Thus, most people know this cut of meat by the dish instead of its original name.
Brisket can be used to make corned beef, pot roasts, pastrami, and much more!
The first cut or thin cut is often used to make corned beef. Here, the brisket is cured for up to 8 days in a curing solution. The solution is often made of water, salt, spices, garlic, and herbs.
Many companies will also add something known as pink curing salt. This prevents the meat from going bad while it is being cured. This ingredient is also the reason that corned beef is pink in color.
Now, technically, a pot roast refers to any cut of meat that is braised in liquid and cooked slowly, at a low temperature.
However, in many regions, brisket is almost exclusively used for pot roast. So much so that these two terms may be used interchangeably.
Pastrami starts off in a similar manner to corned beef. However, once the brining is done, the brisket is dried off and then covered in a thick layer of spices. It is then cold smoked for a day followed by steaming.
Chuck roast is just as – if not more – popular as brisket. While some people do mistake it for the same cut of beef, this isn’t the case at all!
Chuck roast comes from the shoulder portion of the steer. This muscle gets plenty of exercise, too, which is why it contains quite so many connective tissues.
Due to this, it can actually take longer to cook chuck roast until it is tender enough to eat.
The other difference is that chuck roast is much leaner – with far less fat. This means that the meat is more likely to dry out.
Despite these differences, if you are looking for a cut of beef that is similar to that of brisket, then this roast would be your best option.
The texture and taste of the two cuts are similar enough. Just remember that you will need to either bake or braise your chuck roast instead of smoking it.
I also find that plenty of people confuse flank steak and brisket. This is because they tend to be rather tough cuts.
Despite this, they are quite different from one another. For instance, the flank steak has a much more grainier texture.
As a result, it has to be cooked quickly and to an internal temperature that is no higher than medium rare.
Brisket, on the other hand, has to be cooked all the way through.
There you have it – all that you needed to know about what brisket is called. Now, it doesn’t matter what brisket cut you are choosing, you will know just what to ask for.
All that is left for you to do is to put this knowledge into practice and impress your local butcher!