Know Your Cow: Brisket


Brisket (from the Old Norse “brjōsk”) is cut from the lower chest of the cow, which is frequently called the breast. It’s usually split into a first and second cut, for a total weight of 7 to 9 pounds. As one of the toughest parts of a cow, brisket can’t be grilled like a traditional steak. It takes careful marinating and seasoning to prepare and then has to cook for many hours. It’s especially popular in Texas (sold by the pound or by the sandwich), where rumor has it that two German brothers who owned a meat market began smoking brisket as a way to use their excess meat.

Brisket is cheap. A massive 7 pound block will run you only 30 or 40 dollars. That’s why it’s so popular for BBQ’s: because you can feed a lot of people without spending a fortune. It’s also popular because it’s effing delicious.


Real men smoke their brisket. Not by coincidence, real women also smoke their brisket. You better believe Rachel McAdams smokes her brisket. Mine, too. If you happen to be so unlucky as to not yet own a Big Green Egg (I assume by reading this site, you must be at least aspiring to own one), then you can also slow cook your brisket in an oven or a very large slow cooker. Just make sure you rub it with as much spice as humanly possible first.

To cook a whole brisket, you need to take off most of the fat, leaving just a thin layer for cooking. Your butcher will have no problem doing this for you; not so sure about asking the high school student that works at Safeway.

And don’t forget, it’s great for Hanukkah!

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