Whether you love cooking meat or just eating it, it’s time you formally meet our in-house meat connoisseur, Morgan Bolling. She’s worked at a few different kitchens across the United States, gracing those who will listen with her meat knowledge. When she’s not at work developing a new meaty recipe, there’s a chance that she’s hosting a homemade sausage dinner, running a half marathon (to cancel out those sausage dinners), or planning her next pig roast.
Texans smoke it, the Irish pickle it, and Germans smother it in sauerkraut and prunes. Cooks from around the world may never see eye to eye on what to do with a beef brisket, but they all agree that it takes time. Keep reading for six helpful tips from Deputy Food Editor Morgan Bolling to ensure that the time and money you've set aside for this brisket are not wasted.
Why Brisket Is the Toughest Tough CutCook's Illustrated ran a test kitchen experiment to determine why brisket takes twice as long to turn tender as other braising cuts do.
1. How can I avoid drying it out?
At the grocery store, buy a brisket with a thick, white fat cap. Before you plan on cooking the brisket, season it overnight with salt; this will help season the interior and maintain moisture (we use 5 teaspoons of kosher salt for a 5-pound brisket). Make sure to cook it low and slow. This cut is ideal for a slow cooker or for cooking in a 325-degree (or lower) oven.
2. If a recipe calls for brisket, can I use chuck roast instead?
Brisket takes longer to become tender than chuck does, so I would not suggest swapping them out.
3. Flat cut versus point cut: What's better?
The flat is a lot leaner and is even in shape, while the point is fattier and is irregular in shape. I actually prefer eating the point, but it’s a lot harder to track down at the grocery store. As a company, we prefer the flatter, leaner flat-cut brisket. I’d suggest paying attention to what the recipe calls for and using that because it will make a difference.
TEST KITCHEN TIP: Buy a brisket roast with some fat attached—the fat will render during cooking, resulting in moister meat.
4. What's your favorite braising liquid for brisket?
In general, you can't go wrong with a combination of broth and wine. If you're looking for a great braised brisket recipe that's kosher for Passover, I'd suggest our Braised Brisket with Mushrooms. The brisket isn't dry and shred-y—like you'll find with most brisket recipes—and the mushroom flavor doesn't get lost. Really, it's a brisket hit. We also have a great recipe for Slow-Cooker Brisket and Onions.
5. Where on the cow does the brisket come from?
It’s from the chest of the cow and supports 60 percent of its weight. This is the main reason brisket needs low, slow cooking to help it become tender, not tough.
6. What are your tips for smoking brisket?
We’re going to do a "Meat Morgan" specifically about smoking brisket this summer. But in the meantime, check out one of our top recipes: Texas Barbecue Brisket. We went through more than 500 pounds of brisket to develop this recipe!