Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Barbecue 101: Brisket terminology

Welcome to Barbecue 101 class. Today I'd like to talk a little about brisket terminology. Here are some terms that will help you when reading recipes or discussions about this fine hunk of meat, favored by Texans.

Brisket: Perhaps we should start with what it is. The brisket is the chest meat of the cow. It is full of connective tissue, that gives it a full flavor, but that also makes it tough. For this reason, and the fact that it is inexpensive, makes it a good cut for slow and low barbecue.

Whole Packer: A brisket has two parts to it, which you will read below, a whole packer includes both parts. It weighs anywhere from 10-14 pounds.

Flat: The leaner, and er, flatter part of the brisket. It is connected by a channel of fat to the "deckle", or "point".

Deckle: One of two terms for the fattier part of the brisket that sits on top of the flat. Deckle can also just mean the fattier marblized meat of a brisket, rather than the cut.

Point: Another term for deckle. This part of the brisket has a raised point on it, hence the name.

Grain: The direction the meat runs. For brisket, we always cut against the grain. To learn how to carve a brisket and to see the two parts separated, click here.

Burnt Ends: Ah, the tasty bits on either end of a brisket. These are more heavily spiced and on the crispy side of heaven. Prized by many (including moi), there rarely are enough burnt ends to go around. On Thursday, I'll post a recipe on how to "make" burnt ends. It's a classic cheat to get more endy bits out of a brisket.

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