What Makes Brisket So Good?
Brisket has become one of the most popular forms of beef in restaurants and home kitchens. It is known for its juicy, melt-in-your-mouth taste after it has been properly smoked. However, brisket hasn’t always been seen as a popular or even a quality cut of beef. What changed?
BACK TO THE BEGINNING
According to The Cold Wire website, historically brisket was a very affordable cut of meat. According to Jewish lore, it originated as a part of Jewish cuisine because it comes from the front of the animal, thus making it kosher.
Brisket is cut from the heavily muscled area of the breast. This part of the cow is responsible for supporting 60% or more of the animal’s weight. As such, the meat is laden with lean muscle, making it ridiculously tough. Because of this, brisket was always a cheap cut of beef. This made it highly appealing to people of little means.
Then came the question of: how do you make this tough, sinewy chunk of beef edible? European Jews in such places as Germany and Czechoslovakia discovered that marinating the beef and slow cooking it at low heat for many hours resulted in a juicy and delicious piece of meat. Because of this it has become a part of Jewish tradition. It has customarily been served at such Jewish celebrations as Hanukkah, Rush Hashanah, Passover, and Shabbat.
Brought to Texas by Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants in the 1800s, smoked brisket began being featured on the menu of Jewish delis in the state by the early 1900s. Smoked brisket began appearing in newspaper advertisements in Texas in 1910.
The brisket is also used to make corned beef. Although not traditional, brisket is now often used to make pastrami as well.
Since smoking brisket over a low-heat fire is the preferred method of preparing the meat, the type of hardwood used can influence the flavor. Hardwoods commonly used to smoke brisket include:
DON’T DO IT!
While there are certain woods that add a preferred flavor to smoked brisket, there are also certain woods to avoid at all costs. This is especially important to note for do-it-yourself enthusiasts who want to tackle the smoking process themselves at home. Woods to avoid using to smoke brisket are:
- Eastern Cedar
A BBQ RESTAURANT STAPLE
By the 1950s Texas BBQ chefs began adapting the Jewish form of smoking brisket to their respective restaurants. Black’s Barbecue in Lockport Texas claims to be the first BBQ restaurant to put brisket on the menu. There are now over 2,500 barbecue joints in Texas, with almost all of them offering brisket as one of the most popular menu items.
The love of brisket is no longer contained to just Texas. California boasts over 1,150 barbecue establishments. Florida has over 850 such eateries. In both cases, brisket is almost always an option, and a popular one at that.
Industry research authority IBISWorld, states that there are over 17,000 barbecue specialty restaurants in the U.S. While most BBQ aficionados prefer independent smokehouses, this figure does include chains as well. And what’s popular at chains and small independents alike? You guessed it: brisket!
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Top 10 U.S. states for barbeque are:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- New York
A HEALTHY MEAT
Adding to the appeal of brisket is its potential health benefits. Per an article on the Wide Open Country website, researchers at Texas A&M University have found that brisket is one of the healthier meats available.
The researchers argue that beef brisket contains impressive levels of oleic acid. This chemical compound is the most common monounsaturated fat in the diet of North Americans. This type of “healthy fat” is necessary for overall good health.
Oleic acid occurs naturally in both animals and plants. Colorless and odorless, this monounsaturated fat has been linked to decreasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (also known as LDL cholesterol or bad cholesterol). Instead, it can increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (also known as HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol). The FDA has ruled that oleic acid can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist Dr. Stephen Smith notes that brisket has a far higher level of oleic acid than meat from the flank or plate of a cow. These trim meats are notably tough and fatty and are used for making ground beef.
The key to creating the ideal brisket is prolonged smoking of the meat. As Dr. Smith points out, the fat found in brisket has a low melting point. This is what leads it to be incredibly juicy when properly prepared.
Currently brisket is all the rage. It can be used in a variety of recipes, both traditional and avant-garde. Some popular brisket meals include:
- Brisket BBQ
- Brisket Pot Roast
- Brisket Sandwiches
- Brisket Tacos
- Brisket Quesadillas
- Brisket Chili
- Brisket Shepherd’s Pie
- Brisket Breakfast Hash
- Brisket Stroganoff
- Brisket Baked Beans
- Brisket Nachos
- Brisket Burritos
Since bursting to popularity, brisket has gone from being a cheap cut of meat, to one in high demand. As the principles of supply and demand dictate, when there is high demand for a particular food item, such as brisket, the price goes up.
Up until a few years ago, you could pick up brisket at the grocery store for around $3 a pound. Currently the price of raw brisket is $5-8 per pound. Prime cuts of brisket may run up to $10 per pound. According to Complete Carnivore, if you order beef brisket at a restaurant, you’ll be paying $25-35 per pound for your meal.
In addition to gaining in popularity both in restaurants and in home kitchens, brisket is also in limited supply – thus adding to the price point. There are only two briskets per cow. With recent droughts and heat waves leading to the death of thousands of cattle, the number of cows available for slaughter has been diminished. All this contributes to a higher per pound cost for consumers.
BRISKET BEEF JERKY
Brisket is one of the most popular forms of beef jerky. Thanks to time-tested preparation techniques, BULK’s brisket beef jerky is soft and flavorful and just what the doctor ordered. Packed with juicy flavor, BULK’s brisket offerings are all-natural, gluten free, nitrate free, and msg free.
Consider trying one of three signature styles: All-Natural Brisket Beef Jerky, Nevada Brisket Beef Jerky, and California Brisket Beef Jerky. Each one is offered in a wide variety of flavor options including Sweet BBQ, Teriyaki, Habanero, Garlic Pepper, Carolina Reaper, and Traditional Western. In total BULK offers 31 flavor options of brisket beef jerky.
If you’ve discovered the bliss of a well-prepared brisket, you’ll love the lusty flavor and on-the-go convenience of brisket beef jerky.