Perfect Pecs Promote Best Fork Tender Beef Brisket

Back in the day, there were very few beef brisket recipes. Brisket was one of the least popular cuts of beef and was usually discarded – often considered too tough to be of any real contribution to a meal.

By chance it was discovered that preparing beef brisket in a long slow cooking process produced a quite flavorful and tender piece of beef.

So what does a good set of pecs have to do with brisket? Beef brisket actually comes from the pectoral muscles in the chest area of a cow.

Where many of us love to eat chicken breasts, the beef brisket cut is also known as the breast meat of the cow. This is the same cut used for stew meat and corned beef.

Beef Brisket LocationHow to Make Beef Brisket Recipes Work

The brisket cut used in beef brisket recipes is pretty tough so you might think that a brisket is just a tough hunk of meat and there’s nothing you should consider when buying one. These next tips will help you buy the right one and make the most of this tough, yet great tasting cut of beef. Who said “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”?

  • When purchasing a brisket, some are more tender than others and the way to measure this is by bending it. If you’re fortunate enough to be presented with selections of brisket at your local market, not on a Styrofoam tray, then bend the brisket. The brisket that flexes most easily is the more tender piece of beef.
  • Keeping your brisket under 8 pounds reduces the low and slow cooking time and provides an easier path to that tasty, fork-tender end result.
  • indoor smoked brisketBriskets come with a fat cap. Do not remove the fat cap but rather trim it to leave about 1/4″. This fat will melt during the cooking process keeping the beef brisket moist. It also adds extra flavor to your beef brisket recipes.
  • Score the fat cap by placing slits in a diagonal pattern. This will allow any seasoning, smoke or marinades to get down to the meat.
  • Make 5 or 6 incisions across the top of the brisket about 1/2″ to 3/4″ deep. Insert a peeled garlic clove into each incision which will infuse the garlic and marinade or rub flavors throughout the meat during the cooking process.
  • Beef brisket recipes, whether a rub, marinade or paste, should put on the brisket and allowed to permeate the uncooked meat in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before cooking or smoking. Keep marinading meat in an air tight container while in the refrigerator.

Brisket by Smoker, BBQ Grill or Pressure Cooker

You have multiple cooking methods at your disposal when making a tasty beef brisket and all the cooking methods will provide basically the same end result…a tender, flavorful piece of meat. The method of cooking is based solely preference and convenience and everyone will have their favorite.

Two cooking options are low and slow and fast and hot. Both work equally well but are explained in a little more detail here since it may be hard to fathom how two such different methods can produce the same end results.

Brisket Low and Slow Method of Cooking

Making a beef brisket recipe using low heat and slow cooked for a long period of time will heat the meat proteins causing the meat to change in texture and structure.

BBQ Sauced Smoked BrisketThis gradual change, usually at temperatures under 200 degrees over an extended period, makes the meat substantially less tough more tender. The extended cooking period permits the marination of flavors and/or the permeation of smoke  over a longer period which gives it that great taste.

The main benefit from cooking low and slow is the tenderizing of a tough cut. Check out our review for indoor smokers.

Hot and Fast Method for Cooking Brisket

When you use a pressure cooker or a pressure smoker you are working in a sealed environment so moisture never evaporates when cooking.

Cooking tough cuts of meat in a pressure cooker, like collagen-rich beef brisket reduces cooking time substantially while deeply tenderizing these cuts.

Where traditional braising of a tough cut like brisket requires a reduction in liquids (over time) to become tender, pressure cooking and/or smoking requires minimal liquids since virtually none will evaporate.

Is your pressure cooker/smoker at least 15 psi?

What’s key in pressure cooking is the pounds per square inch (psi) and for optimal deep flavors your pressure cooker should be no less than 15 psi. Many electric pressure cookers will only go as high as 10 psi so whatever model you choose, the psi is an important feature to consider.

Why 15 psi is important versus 10 psi is that 15 psi is the amount of pressure that brings the boiling point of water from 212°F to about 256°F. This high temperature is sufficient to quickly enhance the richness and meatiness of flavors.

Some may argue this point but the lower boiling points, as in braising, do not bring the same intensity in flavor or richness in color. The benefit in pressure cooking or pressure smoking a brisket (besides cutting cooking time by up to 70%) is not so much tenderizing this cut of beef as it is enriching the flavor; and providing deeper richer coloring in appearance.

Best Brisket Recipes in Print