The brisket is one of the nine primal cuts of the steer. There are two briskets on the steer. They come from the breast or lower chest of the animal and are located just below the chuck (shoulder). These muscles are used a lot and carry a great deal of the animal’s weight. Briskets have a lot of connective tissue so the correct cooking method is required to make it tender.
The brisket is made up of two different muscles: the point and the flat.
The point cut is the fatty part of the brisket, which is called the deckle.
The flat cut, also known as "first cut", has the deckle removed, which makes it leaner and causes it to lay flat.
Early on the brisket was not very popular and was often discarded for stew meat or to be ground up. Its popularity increased when it was discovered that smoking the brisket on low, indirect heat makes it very tender. Today, briskets are becoming more and more popular and that’s what is driving the prices up in today’s market.
We sell a large amount of briskets at my Meat Market, so when someone walks in and wants to buy a brisket to smoke, we have a large inventory on hand for them to choose from. The customers always walk away with a smile on their face and are eager to throw the brisket on the smoker!!
When looking for a brisket for your smoker you want an untrimmed or “packer” cut. This cut has the point and the flat part together.
These briskets should have a nice even fat cap with no gouge marks exposing the meat. The fat should be a nice white color. Some stores don’t display untrimmed briskets like this, so you might have to ask.
Better yet, get to know your local butcher and he will always take care of you!! When smoking a brisket you want to leave all the fat on it so it can render down and provide a more flavorful brisket.
When planning how much brisket is enough to go around for everyone at your next BBQ, a good rule of thumb is 1/2 pound per person. A “packer” cut brisket will yield about 50-60% of its original weight depending on how it’s trimmed.