Curious Facts: What Is Beef Brisket? Where Does Brisket Come From?

Deepthi Reddy
Jan 17, 2023 By Deepthi Reddy
Originally Published on Oct 27, 2021
Fact-checked by Amatullah Gulbargawala
A whole piece of raw Beef Brisket set

Brisket is a beef cut from cows aged two years and older, or at times from veal that are milk-fed calves aged 2-4 months.

Brisket comes from a muscle that bears 60% of the animals' body weight. It is located in the lower chest area of the animal and can be found above the two front legs of the cow.

Two whole briskets are produced by each animal carcass. If you are an ardent barbecue lover, then brisket would definitely be at the top of your smoked food list.

Brisket is one of those cooked meats that can be the centerpiece of a plate consisting of various other smoked meats and thus found on the menu of every barbecue joint there is. In fact, tender or smoked, brisket has become so popular that it is quite an expensive buy.

The reason is the ever-increasing demand and the availability of only two briskets per cow.

Fun fact, Jewish immigrants were the first to smoke brisket in the US, and by the 1900s, people across Texas began smoking brisket. In fact, the word brisket is enough to activate the taste buds of beef lovers.

Eating a whole brisket has several health benefits associated with it. For instance, ground beef produced from brisket contains a good amount of oleic acid that increases HDL levels or, in other words, the good cholesterol in humans.

Cooking a whole brisket is a task of patience and only patience! Beef brisket is all about cooking at slow heat and low temperature.

You could make a delicious pot roast braised with lots of onions, but remember the key element, cook at low temperature! Low temperature allows for more time to cook, ensuring a slice of tender meat on your plate.

We often don't know the journey of a dish from its source to our dining table, and so today, as you read this blog, we would like to share about not just what a beef brisket is but also its journey from its source, the cow to your barbequed dish, so let's dive right in!

There are more fun and more facts for you to read, so how about you read our other fun facts articles after this article? Where does beef come from? And where does feta cheese come from?

What is brisket, and where does brisket come from on the cow?

To be brief, brisket is a good cut of meat available from the lower chest of beef or their breast. It is the fat between the muscles of the chest or shoulder and is a lean cut of meat with a fat cap, but with venison, the meat is even leaner and an excellent source of protein.

Venison is obtained from the meat of deer or other horned animals. It forms one of the nine primal cuts of beef, and if you prefer the animal side-on, then it’s the part right above the front leg.

Pectorals are the area between the front legs from where the brisket is taken out further.

In fact, were you aware that these pectoral muscles are the reason why cattle weigh 1,200 lbs (544.31 kg) to 1,400lbs (635.02 kg)? Therefore it is a tough and dense muscle that consists mainly of connective tissues.

What exactly is connective tissue, you may ask? Well, they are tissues found on ligaments and tendons that are analogous to rubber band-like material.

It makes sense, though, since the connective tissues are found towards the sheaths and muscle fibers together. The connective tissues are also called cellular glue synonymously as they give strength and give shape to tissues. Elastin and collagen are two forms of connective tissue.

Elastin is an elastic and flexible protein that stretches and resumes its original shape. Cooking and aging make it lose moisture which makes it unchewable, tough, and brittle. 

The next and most abundant protein found in all mammals is collagen. It is a rope-like structure having three molecule chains braided together that hold sheaths and fibers together.

This structure is responsible for making collagen one of the strongest proteins as well. Legs, chest, and rump have this type of connective tissue in many numbers, and as a matter of fact, while cooking the brisket extracted from in between the legs, these tissues turn into gelatin.

This gelatin is what gives the meat a moist and silky texture. The connective tissue is also found in blood vessels, skin, bone, and ligaments.

These kinds of proteins require low and slow cooking, which allows the connective tissues to relax and evaporate the water in them, but if you are too hasty, then you'd have to squeeze out the water like a sponge! Moreover, prolonged exposure to heat allows collagen to break down into gelatin as well.

Where does the brisket cut come from?

As discussed before, brisket is one of the primal beef cuts that are red, and these cuts are further separated into roasts and steaks, something you might have enjoyed with a nice glass of wine or at your favorite BBQ recipe. But where and how are they obtained? Let's have a look!

The brisket is a triangular cut located in the lower portion of the steer’s chest. The brisket is quite meaty in the sense that cows lack collarbones, which makes the brisket responsible for supporting nearly two-thirds of the animal's weight.

Superficial and deep pectorals are also a part of the beef cut owing to its location. As a matter of fact, the word brisket is derived from the Middle English word ‘brusket,’ which means cartilage.

Another set of sub-primal cuts include the point and the flat.

The flat cut is the leaner cut of the two and is taken from the interior portion of the brisket.

Flat is essentially the part that sits against the ribs of the steer.

A layer of fat, known as the cap, distinguishes the fat from the other meat parts; although you can trim away that layer of fat, the majority of the cap needs to be left in place while the meat cooks, a 1/4-1 in (0.635 cm-2.54 cm) is customary; moreover, as the fat renders, the drippings will be helpful to keep the meat flavorful and moist.

If you want your food to look its best, then flat is the apt choice of meat; its uniform and lean texture will allow you to carve it into beautiful slices.

The next cut of meat is the point which is also called the deckle, which is taken from the lower portion of brisket. It has more connective tissues, marbling running through the meat, and is thicker. In fact, your favorite hamburger has this portion of brisket as its meat.

Do you know why they take the point for it? The extra fat gives an irresistible beefy flavor! A pro tip, if you plan to prepare a BBQ beef sandwich anytime soon, the point should be your go-to meat type.

Packer brisket refers to a whole and full beef brisket; in other words, it is a massive chunk of meat weighing from 12-18 lbs (5.4 kg-8.16 kg). Many backyard pitmasters are working on cuts of meats and this one would be the largest they would have worked on!

In fact, slow cooking this chunk of meat as a smoked brisket on a BBQ would take half or more days to cook and is a famous item in Texas and other parts of the United States.

Nevertheless, any cut you decide to buy, ensure that the meat is red and the fat is pure white with no traces of yellow or gray.

What is corned beef brisket and where does corned beef brisket come from?

We bet you would have heard of another type of beef brisket called the corned beef brisket, and by the name, it is quite apparent that there must be corn associated with it.

The real deal is that the brine used for corned beef brisket had salt grains that were traditionally the size of a corn kernel. In fact, the brine is what gives the whole brisket a lovely pink hue. You could also try out the smoked barbecue version of corned beef, which is also known as pastrami.

Corned beef brisket comes from a cut of beef, which is then cured in a brine solution. The flavor of a good corned beef is best enjoyed when it is cooked slowly until it is tender and has a delicious dally flavor.

The slow cooking process makes it similar to a tender brisket; in fact, the corned beef brisket is also known as pickled beef due to brine usage, which is also used while making pickles.

Where does brisket come from on a pig?

Did you know pigs are also another source of brisket? If you are keen on using smoking as your cooking process, go for the pigs' brisket.

A pig brisket consists of two sides similar to a beef brisket. The pectoral muscle of the pig is nothing but the brisket.

Smoked brisket from a pig is exceptionally flavorful due to the pig's muscle that has undergone a lot of conditioning due to the forest-raised and pasture lifestyle of these animals. The cut from this meat is very tough with loads of flavor, making it ideal for the smoking type of food.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for curious facts, what is beef brisket?

Where does brisket come from? Then why not take a look at how often should I condition my hair? Hair care facts for kids, or do you know how often should you change your toothbrush?

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Written by Deepthi Reddy

Master of Business Administration

Deepthi Reddy picture

Deepthi ReddyMaster of Business Administration

With an MBA under her belt, Deepthi has discovered her true calling in content writing. Her writing repertoire is diverse, covering travel, movies, pet care, parenting, animals and birds, and more. Her joy of learning and creating has helped her craft well-written and engaging articles. When she isn't writing, Deepthi enjoys exploring new cultures, trying different foods, and spending quality time with her two children aged 7 and 12.

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Fact-checked by Amatullah Gulbargawala

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in the Language Arts

Amatullah Gulbargawala picture

Amatullah GulbargawalaBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in the Language Arts

Amatullah is a passionate student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education from Ashoka College of Education. With a keen interest in literature, she has excelled in elocution competitions and is an accomplished writer. She has completed courses like "History of English Language and Literature", "Introduction to Western Political Thought and Theory", and "Development of Soft Skills and Personality". In her free time, Amatullah enjoys reading books and writing poetry.

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