The brisket. Its arguably the most popular cut to smoke. Its delicious, tender, juicy.. and well almost the perfect cook.
Brisket has a deep ebony color, tender insides, and beautiful bark when cooked right. A smoked brisket pairs perfectly with a slaw, grilled corn, potato salad or even just by itself with a beer.
Cooking a brisket is an art form of its own, however, you can’t forget that cutting your brisket is just as important. You don’t want to wreck all your hard cooking work by butchering it on the cutting board (you also want to stay away from embarrassing yourself right?).
Below I have outlined the golden rules to follow when cutting a brisket. For those of you who have never cut a brisket before I have tried to make this step by step guide as easy to follow as possible. I have also added in the items you will need as well as the dos and don’ts when cutting a brisket.
Let’s dive right into it.
What You Need to Cut Brisket
For best results you will need a couple of things when cutting a brisket. The required tools are;
- A sharp fork or knife
- Two or three towels
- A serving platter
- A meat cutting board
A sharp knife is a must-have for this process. It will ensure that you make precise, clean cuts.
A serrated butcher knife will work just fine and make the cutting process effortless. Don’t use knives that have ridge-like teeth. They will stress your forearms’ muscles when slicing.
For a completely effortless cut, you could also use an electric knife. They are usually pointed and would glide through the brisket easily. The only drawback is some of them can be a bit loud.
Most of us use our hands to support the brisket while cutting, but you could use a fork. Just ensure that the fork you choose is sharp and penetrates the meat well.
Cutting boards are very easy to forget when picking a list of the equipment you need to cut a brisket. Don’t go for a smooth board. They would make it difficult to grip the slippery brisket.
How to Cut Brisket: Step-by-step Guide
Step 1: Prepare Your Tools and Cutting Area
Ensure that your knives are sharp and the cutting board is clean.
Put the cutting board on a dampened paper towel or a kitchen towel.
This will prevent the chopping board from moving around while you are slicing or cutting your brisket. Boards with a gully are the best to use because all the juices and fat get trapped and don’t make a mess everywhere. As you can see I don’t use one and its not the end of the world.
When preparing the cutting area, remove all other kitchen utensils close to the cutting board. If the brisket has a lot of fat in it, it is worth putting down a drip tray or additional paper towel to catch anything that may come out.
Step 2: Rest the Smoked or Cooked Brisket
The juices from a brisket are full fo flavor and is a big part of what makes the brisket so delicious. After cooking for several hours, as you would expect that the brisket becomes tender and full of juices.
Thats something you need to be aware of.
If you cut your brisket right from the oven, most of the juices will just come out and leak everywhere. So, to keep them in the meat, allow the brisket to rest for a minimum of 20 minutes.
Letting the brisket rest will ensure that the juices have time to rest and you can make nice clean cuts. I know its hard not to dive right in and get yourself a slice, however, it is always worth the wait.
Step 3: Place the Brisket on the Cutting Board
Gently place the brisket on the cutting board.
Hopefully, it shouldn’t be larger than your board. You can feel how tender it is if you place your hand gently on the brisket.
Move your hand in a circular motion over its surface to get a feel of its surface.
Step 4: Examine the Brisket
To get a perfect brisket cut, you need to examine it properly and understand its anatomy.
There are two muscles in a brisket: the point and the flat. A thick seam of fat separates these layers, and a cap lies on the top of the brisket. The point is marbled and contains more fat than the flat.
The muscles on the brisket make slicing very tricky, so you have to be precise when cutting. If you intend to shred your piece of meat, then go for a predominantly point brisket. Otherwise, a flat cut brisket would be ideal for slicing.
You can easily tell where the point and flat parts end when you feel the brisket with your support hand. But, don’t apply a lot of pressure, so the juices don’t come out.
The next thing to look at is the redness, thickness, and moisture of the brisket. It is easy to cut through a thick red brisket as extremely sharp knives are not required then.
Examining the brisket will guide you on the next action to take like getting a sharper knife or cutting only one part of the brisket.
Step 5: Remove the any Unwanted Fat
Many BBQ lovers like to cook the brisket with the fat because it makes the brisket flavorful and delicious. But not everyone likes it. If you are one of such people, then you can easily get rid of it.
There are usually two layers of fat at the side and one at the bottom. Using your long serrated knife, cut the layers off. You have got to be careful to not take a lot of the brisket along with the fat. Leave the underside’s fat until you are done cutting the entire brisket.
Step 6: Cut the Brisket into Two
Divide the brisket into two before you get down to business and get several cuts from it. You should always cut along the grain so, your knife should be placed perpendicular to the meat’s grain.
The grain is the pattern that the muscle’s strands run along the meat. And it moves in different directions on the point and flat cut. The line dividing the two parts is where you should cut the brisket into two halves.
Step 7: Cut the Flat Part into Pieces
Start with the flat part, now that you have two halves of the brisket. Use short and smooth strokes to cut it with one hand, and the other as support. The muscles on the flat part move in the same direction, so it is easy to get uniform cuts.
Aim for pieces that are about the width of a pencil. However, you can reduce the width of each piece if the brisket is tough. Make sure that each piece has the crunchy seasoned bark.
Step 8: Cut the Point Part into Pieces
Switch over to the point half when you are done cutting the flat one. The grains on this half should run at almost 90 degrees to that of the flat part. As in the flat part, use short, smooth strokes.
Since it has more fat in it, you would need to make a deep cut for each piece. Try not to hold the point part tightly, so the juices don’t runoff. Make sure that each piece has a bark.
Step 9: Use the Serving Platter to Transfer the Pieces
Switch over to the point half when you are done cutting the flat one. The grains on this half should run at almost 90 degrees to that of the flat part.
You want to use short, smooth strokes. Since this end has more fat in it, you would need to make a deep cut for each piece.
Try not to hold the point part tightly, so the juices don’t runoff. Make sure that each piece has a bark.
There are so many ways to ruin a good brisket from the time you buy to when you serve it. Smoking, braising or cooking a brisket should be the most difficult part, but you could make a mess if you don’t know how to cut it.
There are many other ways to slice and cut a brisket, but the steps we have outlined above are the most reliable to get the job done properly.
One thing you should never forget is to cut against the grains. Do not cut parallel to them even when the running of the grains changes. When you cut against the grain, you shorten the fibers which make the brisket easier to chew.
Another thing to keep in mind is always to use a sharp knife when cutting. It makes things easier and reduces the effort needed to cut a brisket.
If you follow all the steps mentioned above, cutting cooked or smoked briskets should be fun, easy, and quick for you. Enjoy your brisket!