Brisket is a fantastic piece of meat. It tastes delicious, whether you roast it in the oven with onions and a beef base, or you like to smoke it outside overnight with pecan wood. This cheaper cut of meat has found its glory with its admirers, who don’t mind waiting for it to slow cook to its crescendo. Properly cooking this delicate piece of meat is one part of the story. In order to fully enjoy this delicious meat, you need to know how to slice a brisket in the right way.
If you are always asking yourself if your way of slicing a brisket is the right way to do it, then I am going to finally give you an detailed answer for your question. I will tell you the proper way of doing it, based on the brisket anatomy and its cooking type.
Table of Contents
- 1 Tools You Need
- 2 Slicing the Brisket
- 3 The All-Together Method - (The Easiest Brisket Slicing Method)
- 4 Brisket Slicing Tips
- 5 Final Thoughts
Tools You Need
To properly slice a smoked brisket, your need a few tools. We suggest you to get these basic tools, assuming you have already cooked or smoked the meat the way you like it.
You will need a proper knife for slicing. We suggest you a carving knife. The length of this utensil will cover the cross cut of your brisket. A chef knife will also work but a carving knife is preferred.
If you are looking for a cheap, high quality set of knifes, I recommend The Forever Sharp Set.
The most important part of the knife when slicing your meat is making sure that the blade is sharp. You can purchase a knife sharpener at a cooking store, online, or a DIY hardware store.
Slicing the Brisket
After you get your sharp knife ready, it is time to start the slicing process.
First, prepare your cutting area by getting you cutting board and putting it on top of a wet towel. Laying the cutting board on top of the towel while slicing your brisket will keep the cutting board from moving around. You should choose a cutting board with a gully in it that will allow any juices to run off.
Then, take your cooked meat, place it on the cutting board and remove any excess fat of it.
Usually, a brisket has two functioning types of fat in it. The marbling fat that lies within the point of the brisket and the excess fat that lays across the whole brisket when it’s cooking. This fat will just slide right off with a little help from you.
Since "the fat cap" is a large layer of fat laying on the point side of the brisket, some people prefer to trim it off completely while others prefer to leave a thin layer of 1/8-1 inch on the meat.
Trimming it off completely will allow more seasoning to get to the meat while leaving a thin layer of it may provide some extra flavor.
If you want to trim it off completely, work in sections, by slipping a sharp knife under the fat and slide it back and fourth until it comes off.
If you are going to smoke the brisket, then leaving a thin layer is the best way to go. You just have to trim the top part of the fat from the most thick sections.
Slicing a Brisket Based on Its Anatomy
As you may already know, a brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal.
It is made up of two different overlapping muscles, which are called the point and the flat. These muscles are separated by a thick, white seam of fat.
The point is the fatty and juicy part of the brisket, having a more marbled look, with more fat lines on it while the flat is the lean cut of it. Usually, on most of the briskets, the point is connected over two-thirds of the flat.
These muscles make the brisket slicing process a bit tricky, so here is the manner in which part of the muscles you should slice your brisket.
1) Start by putting your support hand, for most of the people, their left hand, on top of the meat. Apply a bit of pressure, so you can feel how tender your brisket is. Also, by moving your support hand in a circular motion, you can find where the point part ends and where the flat begins. But, be careful to not apply a lot of pressure because the juices will start coming off.
You want to put your blade perpendicular to the grain of the meat, slicing at an angle, also referred to as, cutting on the bias. Basically, you need to slice against the meat's grain.
2) Begin slicing, starting with the isolated flat end, working your way back to the piece of the brisket that includes the point where both the point and flat part meet together (Usually around the middle of the piece of meat).
When you get to this part, you should have finished slicing the flat part of your meat (the lean part, as shown in the image below).
Now, you have to begin slicing the point part of the meat (the fatty and juicy part).
3) Take the point part and rotate it 90 degrees from your position and then, cut it in the middle using your knife (slice it in half in the opposite direction of your initial cut). Then, start slicing two halves of the point part again in the opposite direction of the flat part. (See the images to understand it better)
Note: It is recommended that when you are slicing on the flat part, your slices should be about a quarter inch in thickness and when slicing the point part, make your slices about a half an inch thick. You slice thickness determine the tenderest of your slices.
The Second Method for Slicing a Brisket
You can decide to leave your delicious meat in the cut slices or try another method of serving them.
I told you the first and the recommended method for slicing a cooked brisket but there is a second method for you to learn and then serve it. Usually, this method is used by those people who don't like their brisket in slices or don't know how to properly slice their meat.
For this method, separate the brisket with your knife, give it a chunky chop with your knife and then, put the pieces in a bowl with some barbecue sauce. Coat the pieces and give them a quick sear on the grill for about 7-10 minutes.
Your family and friends will enjoy the charbroiled sweetness of the burnt ends, considered a delicacy in the barbecue world.
The All-Together Method - (The Easiest Brisket Slicing Method)
This is probably the easiest way to slice your cooked brisket.
- Separate the flat from the point (See the anatomy in the upper section)
- Trim any excess fat, if needed.
- Place the point on top of the round, positioning it so the grain of both sides are in the same direction.
- Start slicing through the point and the flat altogether.
Brisket Slicing Tips
Here are some useful tips for you to have in mind when slicing your smoked brisket:
Being such a delicious meat and at the same time such delicate, can make you screw up a good brisket in so many ways from the time you buy it until the slicing and serving time.
Cooking or smoking the brisket should be the trickiest part but if you don't know how to slice a brisket in the proper way, the last step can ruin your whole work and dedication.
I know that there are different methods on how to do it, but I have included only the most used and the most recommended method.
One tip to have in mind is that no matter what method are you using, you always should slice and cut against the meat grains.
Slicing your cooked meat should be easy, fun and overall a treat for you and everyone around you, so better enjoy it!