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What is brisket?
Brisket is a cut of meat, typically beef, that comes from the breast or lower chest of the cow. Because cows don’t have any collarbones, it’s up to that part of the cow to support its massive weight. That’s why there’s plenty of connective tissue in brisket. This portion includes the sternum and ribs of the cow.
Brisket can also be made from similar areas with lamb or even buffalo. When cooked, the gelatin in the connective tissue melts. However, this can take several hours wherein the meat may dry out, hence the frequent use of basting or marinades when cooking brisket.
Where can I buy brisket?
You can get Cape Grim brisket from their website, or from a local butcher that supplies it. Cape Grim beef is well known for producing some of Australia’s best beef, so it’s a good bet if you want a premium cut. You can also check your nearest Aldi, Coles or Woolworths to see if any fresh cuts are in stock.
Marbling determines how much fat is distributed within lean meat. If you want a well-marbled cut, turn to different kinds of beef to get proper fat distribution. Wagyu brisket is more forgiving and less likely to dry out, for example, than a leaner, lower-grade brisket.
When buying brisket, make sure you know if you’re getting the navel cut or the point cut. The navel cut doesn’t have much fat and is more expensive than the point cut. Point cuts have more fat, so depending on how much fat you want in the final dish, choose from these two brisket cuts. Buying a whole brisket means you have to account for the uneven fat distribution throughout the cooking process, but it’s the traditional cut for a proper Texas brisket BBQ.
A good rule of thumb? Use the point cut for recipes that are fine with a leaner brisket, like sandwiches or tacos. The navel cut is better for slow cooker or sous-vide recipes like this brisket in garlic and paprika, because the extra fat will keep it juicy.
Chefs who love brisket
Jamie Oliver is one famous chef who’s a huge fan of this cut. He says: “Roast beef is the ultimate treat, but brisket is your thrifty friend...it’s a forgiving, wonderful cut of beef with amazing flavour.”
Donna Hay is another brisket lover. In her cookbook Basics To Brilliance, from brisket pot pies to lasagne and pappardelle, she’s made several tasty dishes that are a far cry from your typical rolled brisket, and will definitely be a hit for a leisurely weekend meal!
How should I cook brisket?
The trick to making the most out of a beef or lamb brisket is to cook it over a low temperature for a long period of time. This ‘low and slow’ approach breaks down the connective tissue that runs through brisket, and turns the tough cut into a tender mouthful.
When cooking with the low and slow approach, it’s important to add enough moisture to keep the meat from drying out over the prolonged cook time. Brisket can be smoked or prepped for a slow roast in an oven for several hours. For those pressed for time, the pressure cooker is your best friend, and can yield a pulled beef brisket as tasty as any slow-pot stew!
If you don’t have an oven, a Weber Kettle or Kamado Joe brisket is just as tender, and perfect for making smoky brisket! All you need is some foil for your brisket, a meat thermometer, and the patience to watch your brisket cook for up to 10 hours at a low temperature.
Brisket is fantastic for slow-pot recipes like this cowboy brisket with pumpkin, but it lends itself well to lighter recipes too. Try making brisket tacos for a no-fuss dish that’s great for the summer. If you really want to go traditional though, this recipe for beef brisket barbacoa uses coals to char brisket and give it that authentic smoky flavour.
Give yourself several hours to cook your brisket
The trick to making great brisket is to be patient and give yourself several hours to let it cook. It may take a while, but the meat is so soft and juicy that it’s well worth the wait! It’s way cheaper than steak and perfect for serving a large number of people, so if you want to make a rave-worthy potluck dish, consider serving up some slow-cooked brisket!
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