Almost any way you make it, brisket tastes delicious. Because it takes longer to cook than most meat, there is a risk that it will become too dry. But if you follow the tips provided in this article, your brisket will be juicy and full of flavor.
What Does Brisket Taste Like?
What brisket tastes like depends on how you prepare it. A smoked brisket tastes smoky, moist, and crispy while a braised brisket has a beefy flavor and a stewed texture. The taste is also enhanced by the rub, wood, and marinade that you use.
Factors That Determine the Taste of Brisket
Brisket is a large, tough, and fatty cut of meat. It is especially flavorful when cooked slow and low. The most common ways of preparing it are smoking, grilling, and braising. In general, its flavor is meaty, chewy, luscious, savory, and robust. The specific taste depends on how you cook it.
When barbecued or smoked, brisket is crispy, rich, smoky, and fragrant. It tastes like barbecued beef but with a different texture. Tender with crunchy fat and complex notes, it takes on the flavors of the smoke, rub, or marinade used.
Braised brisket is cooked in a liquid such as beer, juice, or broth. The humidity makes it cook faster than barbecued or smoked brisket. Its flavor is beefy and fatty, and the texture is juicy, chewy, and stewed. It is not as crispy and less flavorful than a smoked or barbecued brisket.
Marinades and Smoke
Brining and smoking a brisket infuses it with flavors. The right smoke can make or break your brisket. You should avoid smokes with strong or bitter flavors such as mesquite. Oak is a good choice for smoking brisket because of its mild flavor. Hickory or apple add extra taste.
Marinades also give flavor to briskets. They can be sweet or hot. Hot marinades are made with cayenne or chili pepper. Sweet marinades are made with brown sugar. The longer you marinate a brisket, the more flavor it will have.
Marinades can be wet or dry. Dry rubs are usually made with salt, garlic, spices, and herbs. You can buy them premade or make them yourself. When applied generously to all sides of the meat, they add flavor. Try keeping it simple so you don’t overwhelm the taste of the beef.
Bastes, mops, and sops also add flavor to brisket and keep it moist. We recommend keeping them thin and simple and avoiding too much acid and sugar. Mixing beer, water, vinegar, and onion juice can make for a good sop. Sauces, added after cooking, can add more flavor to the meat.
There are several common mistakes that make a brisket less tasty. Not cooking it long enough or cooking it at too high of a temperature are two errors you MUST avoid.
How to Choose the Best Tasting Brisket
When choosing your brisket, we recommend looking for one with good marbling. The streaks of white fat in marbled brisket make it juicy and delicious when cooked slow and low.
You will also want to get the best size for flavor. We recommend a 13-pound brisket if it is not trimmed yet or a trimmed 12-pounder. The most important thing to keep in mind about size is what you are comfortable cooking. Getting the same size every time means more consistent results.
For the best flavor, you might think you should get the highest grade you can find, although this is not necessarily the case. Most whole briskets in the supermarket are Choice or Select grade. While Select grade beef is higher in quality, Choice cuts are still quite marbled and are less expensive.
Wagyu brisket, from a special cow breed in Japan, has a delicate texture and good marbling. It is expensive and hard to find costing as much as 300 dollars for six pounds.
If you buy a flat or point cut, too much of the fat might have been trimmed. Buying a whole packer gives you more control over the trimming and helps maximize the flavor. After you bring it home, you can trim it and divide it yourself and freeze one of the halves in a vacuum seal.
Do Healthy Cuts Taste Different?
If you prefer healthy cuts, you might wonder how they measure up when it comes to taste. Organic hormone-free beef brisket is great for your health and for the environment, but it is expensive. Grass-fed beef brisket is a very healthy choice. It has more nutrients, fewer calories, and is high in omega 3 fatty acids.
Grass-fed beef brisket is leaner, chewier, and has less marbling so it needs more marinating, injecting, and basting to keep it from drying out. It tends to have a sweeter, meatier, and gamier taste. Although there is less fat to absorb into the beef, the nutrients do make up for some of the loss in flavor.
What About Kosher Brisket?
If you choose a kosher brisket, keep in mind that it is pre-salted, so you should cut back on added salt. Aside from this, a kosher brisket tastes the same as one that is not kosher. For meat to be kosher, the animal is slaughtered according to Jewish law. This does not affect the taste.
Tips for Preparing a Tasty Brisket
Once you have selected the best-tasting brisket for your needs, it is important to prepare it in a way that maximizes its flavor. You will want to start by trimming some of the fat but leaving on about ¼ inch. You should round off the corners and any sharp edges. Then, apply the rub, and let it marinate overnight.
Take it out about an hour before cooking. Sear or brown the meat for 10 minutes per side to caramelize it. Be careful when flipping it. A piece of meat this large takes some practice and finesse to handle.
Next, you will want to cook it with the fat layer facing up to deepen the flavor. Cook it slow and low at 225 F for an hour and 15 minutes per pound of meat. Taking it off the heat when it reaches 160 F and wrapping it in foil or butcher paper will help seal in the moisture.
When it’s done, let it rest for one to two hours before slicing it against the grain. This will shorten the fibers and make it easier to chew. To do this, put your knife perpendicular to the long lines in the cooked meat.
Letting it rest overnight is another way to enhance the flavors. Let it cool to room temperature and refrigerate it. Allowing it to stew in its cooking juices overnight richens the taste, mixes the flavors, and makes it tender. The next day, slice it and heat it at 350 for about an hour.
What Does Corned Beef Taste Like?
Corned beef is made from brisket that is cured with salt and other spices. Its flavor is very different from brisket. It is more intense, sweet, sour, and salty. The sour flavor comes from nitric acid, and the spicy and salty tastes result from the curing. Some people find it to be too salty while others love it.
As you can see, the question of what does brisket taste like has many answers. The taste depends on the piece of meat you choose, your marinade and smoke, your cooking method, and more. As long as you stick with low and slow and don’t overdo the seasoning, your brisket will come out tasting divine.
Hi there! I’m Darren Wayland, your BBQHost. My love of great barbecue inspired me to curate this site as a resource for all my like-minded fellow pitmasters out there. When I’m not researching and learning all I can about the latest tips and techniques, you can find me at the grill—that is, if you can spot me at all through the clouds of sweet-smelling smoke. And since you asked, yes, that probably is barbecue sauce on my face. Welcome to the party!