Can you buy just the point of a brisket? And would you even want to do so in the first place? Whether the questions themselves are confusing to you or you’ve always wanted to learn the answers, read on.
Can You Buy Just The Point Of A Brisket?
Yes, but the point alone is not as easy to find as the whole packer or the brisket flat. Ask your butcher if they can sell you the brisket point without the flat. If they can’t help you, try looking into chain retailers, or seek out an online merchant.
Brisket is one of the eight primal cuts of beef. That means it’s one of the first whole pieces that the butcher removes from the steer during processing.
Primal cuts are often divided into subprimals, and from there into portions. Brisket can be sold whole–a cut that’s referred to as a whole packer–but butchers may also divide it into two subprimals known as the point and the flat.
The flat end is called the “first cut.” Long and rectangular, with a notable fat cap and a thick grain, the meat carves up beautifully when it’s cooked to the right temperature. Because the flat is so presentable, it’s a popular choice at the butcher counter.
The point, or “second cut,” isn’t as appealing on a visual level. The cut has a roughly triangular shape and a great deal of intramuscular fat. The grain runs in many different directions, making it difficult to slice.
The point may also be called the “nose” of the brisket. This term refers to the fact that it’s the front-facing portion of the cut. If you see a package labeled as a “nose off brisket,” it’s the flat cut.
Unless they decide to tackle a whole packer, most novices will gravitate toward the flat. Its uniform shape and visible grain make it easier to deal with, and it’s a great choice if you’re entertaining and want to serve up an impressive platter.
Barbecue aficionados, on the other hand, know that the point cut has a great deal to offer. The extra marbling gives the meat a rich beef flavor, ideal for pulled beef sandwiches. It’s also a must if you want to make brisket burnt ends (see separate section below).
The Point vs. The Deckle
Are the point and the deckle the same thing? This is one of those questions that may have a different answer depending on who you ask.
Strictly speaking, the answer is no. The deckle is the technical term for the strip of fat and muscle that connects the brisket flat to the rib cage. When you separate the flat from the point, you should be cutting through the deckle.
However, the terms point and deckle are sometimes used interchangeably. While this usage is technically incorrect, it’s one of those linguistic slip-ups that has made it into the common parlance.
One final note about the deckle: If you buy a whole untrimmed packer brisket, it’s best to cut away the deckle before you cook it. This hard layer of fat and muscle won’t add anything to the finished product, and removing it will help the brisket cook more evenly.
Where To Buy Just The Point Of A Brisket
It’s easy to buy a brisket flat alone, and whole packers are also a common sight. But can you procure the point end without investing in a whole packer?
The answer is yes–but you might have a hard time depending on where you live. In some parts of the country, point ends are available for sale at big-box chains like Costco and Kroger’s. Other locations might not be as well-stocked, especially in rural areas.
Fortunately, some online retailers sell the point by itself. The only downside to this approach is that you might end up paying top dollar. It can also be frustrating to buy meat online, as you can’t see exactly what you’re getting.
This is another reason why you should cultivate a good relationship with your local butcher (more than one, if possible). Ask them if they can sell you a brisket point instead of the whole packer. Chances are they’ll be happy to oblige.
About Burnt Ends
Making burnt ends is a favored pastime among pitmasters. This savory and delectable dish consists of cubed point meat that’s been slathered in barbecue sauce, then returned to the smoker until the meat is dark and crisp.
To create this delicacy, smoke the brisket point until the internal temperature reaches about 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the meat from the smoker and cut it into 1-inch cubes.
Place the cubed meat in a disposable aluminum pan and add 1/2 beef stock or broth to the pan. Cover the pan with foil, set it on the cooking grate, and let the meat cook for an additional 1 to 1.5 hours.
At this point, it’s time to remove the foil from the pan and smother the brisket cubes in about 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce. Toss well to coat, then return the pan, uncovered, to the smoker. Let cook for another hour or until the sauce has caramelized.
Let the burnt ends cool slightly before serving with toothpicks or as the filling for barbecued beef sandwiches.
The Bottom Line
The brisket point is a superb cut that’s brimming with flavor. If you love burnt ends, or if your goal is to shred the brisket to make a filling for sandwiches or nachos, it’s a good idea to buy the point alone–or even several at once.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!