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You’ve spent hours smoking the perfect brisket, it’s done resting, and you are looking forward to trying it. The last thing you want to do is ruin it at the very end of the process. Knowing how to slice brisket the right way is critical to ensuring you get a tender and juicy bite every time.
In this article, we’ve put together everything you need to know about slicing beef brisket like a pro pitmaster.
Before you bring out your knife, it’s important to be sure you know the two parts of the brisket. A full packer brisket is made up of two different muscles that overlap. They are known as the point and the flat. These two muscles are separated by a white “seam” of fat. There is also a fat layer, known as the fat cap, that sits on the bottom of the whole brisket.
The point, sometimes also referred to as the deckle, is the fattiest part of the brisket. You’ll notice a much more marbled look in this section with a good amount of fat lines running through it.
As the name suggests, the flat section of the brisket is generally flatter than the point section. There will also be less fat in this section.
Both of these sections cook at about the same rate, but when it comes to slicing the brisket, you can’t approach them the exact same way.
Source: Traeger Grills
If you only take one thing from this article, the most important thing to know when it comes to how to slice brisket is to slice it across the grain of the meat. You don’t ever want to slice a brisket in the same direction that the grain is running. Doing so will give you very stringy and tough slices of meat.
By cutting across the grain of the meat, you cut those muscle fibers into much smaller pieces, helping ensure your slices of brisket stay tender and moist.
As mentioned above, you have to approach the two parts of the brisket differently because the grain actually runs in two different directions between the point and the flat.
So, how can you tell which way the grain is running? How do you know what the grain of the brisket looks like?
If you’re not really familiar with a brisket, take a look at the whole smoked brisket on your cutting board. The grain is the thin strands of muscle that run through the meat. These lines are almost like a series of long rubber bands.
You want to make sure you can tell which direction the grain is running in each part of your brisket before you start slicing.
The timing of when you start slicing your brisket is very important. You don’t want to start slicing until it’s time to eat it. Sliced brisket starts to deteriorate quickly after it is cut.
Making sure you are properly prepared to slice your brisket will also help ensure success. One of the things this means is having the right kind of knife.
Ideally, you want to use one that has a good weight in your hand and has a long, serrated, and very sharp blade. A good option is a 14-inch slicer. This type of knife will help you easily cut through tough parts of the brisket and cut it into the thin slices that you want.
Source: Zwilling J.A. Henckels
If you are new to slicing a brisket, it is recommended that you separate the point from the flat so you have two separate parts to slice. This will ensure you are properly cutting against the grain for each section since the grain runs in different directions between the two parts.
So, place your hand gently on the point of the brisket and move it in a small, circular motion. You should be able to feel where the fat layer separates the point and the flat. With this insight, find where the point comes down to meet the flat and make your first slice to separate the two pieces.
You want to start with the flat section. Again, you want to make sure you are cutting against the grain of the meat and aim for thin slices. The slices should be just under a half-inch wide or roughly the size of a #2 pencil.
Start slicing back and forth firmly but gently at a 90-degree angle, from the top to the bottom. You should be gently sawing through the brisket while slicing down, very similar to how you would slice a loaf of bread.
Once you’ve sliced the flat, then move onto the point section. Make sure you know which way the grain is running in this part and, again, cut against the grain of the point. Slice the point into the thin slices just like you did with the flat.
As we mentioned above, if you haven’t sliced a brisket before or have only done it a few times, separating the point from the flat is the safest way to start with. But, there are a couple of other alternative methods of slicing the brisket that you may come across and could try once you feel more comfortable:
The first and last cuts of your smoked brisket, known as the burnt ends, are going to be too small to slice like the rest. But you definitely don’t want to throw these delicious pieces out. Even though it’ll be hard to slice against the grain in these pieces, they’ll still be very tender. Just cut them into chunks and serve them with the rest of your brisket or save them for a special treat later.
If you follow the tips and steps we’ve covered above, you’ll know exactly how to slice brisket the right way and end up with those deliciously tender thin strips of beef you are craving. You’ll have a perfectly sliced brisket that is ready to show off.
Again, just make sure you can easily pinpoint the two parts of the brisket, be prepared with everything you need (knife, cutting board, serving plate) before you start slicing, and don’t start slicing until you are ready to eat it!
Have more tips for how to slice brisket? Did you recently slice brisket for the first time? Leave a comment below, we want to hear all about it!
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