Brisket: Cutting meat against the grain

There is nothing that screams summer louder than sitting in the backyard in a collapsible lawn chair with your flip flops on, an ice-cold beer in your hand and a plate of all of your favorite barbecued goodies on your lap. And what is the very best barbecued goodie one could ask for this summer? Most certainly a piping hot, juicy, and well-seasoned smoked brisket. 

Brisket: Cutting meat against the grain 1
My 18 hour brisket

When I am cooking for myself, be it smoking something on the grill or roasting food in the oven, the most important thing for me is that my food tastes great, I am not too bothered about how it looks as long as it is tasty. But when I am cooking for friends and family it is a whole different ball game and I am sure you feel the same. When you have the added pressure of friends and family coming over for lunch or dinner at the weekend, you want to make sure your food not only tastes fantastic but that it also looks the part.

Good presentation is key and is definitely possible, even when it comes to smoked food. When you have spent hours mixing your rub, marinating your meat and then smoking it, the last thing you want is for the presentation of your food to let you down and make it appear second best.

Also as I am sure you have noticed, the way you slice your brisket also has a massive impact on the taste of it, whether the meat is rubbery, chewy, and tough or whether it blissfully falls off of the bone. That is why this article has been created to give you a little insight into how you can slice and present your brisket so that it reflects the hard work that has gone into it when placed on your serving plate. 

Always cut beef across grain. When slicing a cut of brisket it is important to do so against the grain so that the meat will be more tender to chew. But what is ‘the grain’ and how can you slice against it? The following information is this article has been prepared to tell you all you need to know about slicing and presenting your brisket in the very best way. Check it out…

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What is beef grain?

So you have probably already heard a lot of meat slicing instructions telling you to cut against the grain. But what is the grain on meat? 

The grain of the meat or brisket grain is the direction that the muscle fibers go in. You will notice when you chop the fat off of your brisket that one side of it has the grain (or muscle fibers) exposed, it will look similar to the grain on a block of wood. If you then turn your brisket 90 degrees and begin to slice you will notice that this side does not have a grain. This is literally so important, slicing beef across the grain can make or break your 2 days of work. If you do this wrong it will ruin the texture and taste of all your hard work.

Cutting brisket against the grain

You have probably heard a lot of people say that you should always slice your meat against the grain, but why?

Muscle fibers are very strong, tough, and chewy. The muscle fibers in an animal stretch and contract so if you cut your brisket along the grain you will be cutting really tough slices of meat that your friends and family will never stop chewing.

By cutting meat against the grain you will break up the muscle fibers making them shorter and much easier for your guests to chew. Cutting against the grain will give your brisket that melt in your mouth fall of the fork texture that everyone loves

How to cut against the grain.

Now that you can locate the grain on your brisket and you know just how important it is to cut meat against the grain, it is also essential to know how to do so, in order to dice the most tender slices of brisket for the family to enjoy this weekend. Follow the steps below that will take you through everything you need to know about cutting against the grain:

  1. Place the brisket on a chopping board and allow it to cool for 10 to 15 minutes (this allows time for the brisket to reabsorb the juices and flavors).
  2. Locate the grain of the brisket and then turn the grain towards you.
  3. Use a sharp carving knife to slice against the grain (90 degrees from the grain). Cut in slices. It doesn’t matter if the meat begins to tear at the edges. Be sure to cut in relatively thin slices as they will be easier to chew.
  4. Once you have sliced your brisket, transfer it onto a serving plate slice by slice.

How to keep your brisket moist

A moist and tender brisket will definitely put a smile on all of your family’s faces. But it is not easy to keep your brisket from drying out. After all of the hard work you put into marinating and smoking it, the last thing you want to happen is for it to dry out when served. The following are a few tips that you can put into place that will keep your brisket moist and tender.

  • Avoid overly arranging your brisket slices when cut. Keep the slices close together – that will help the brisket to remain juicier for longer.
  • Prepare a brisket gravy or drizzle that will give the brisket an extra kick of life when it is ready to serve.
  • If you parboil your brisket at any point, hold onto the juices that are left behind in the broiler. You can pour them into a saucepan and put them on low heat with the lid off to reduce them and these will make a fantastic brisket sauce to drizzle over the top of your meat before serving.
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Lastly, before you even cut your brisket make sure to let it cool

  • Make sure you give your brisket time to cool before slicing it, allowing time for the delicious meat juices to be reabsorbed into the meat.

The best method is to wrap your brisket in foil and then in a towel and then place in a cooler for 1-2 hours. The slow cooling process will continue to break down connective tissue and reabsorb all those mouth-watering juices. Make sure you pull your meat out before it drops below safe food holding temperature 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Follow all of the above-mentioned tips and tricks to slice the most mouth-watering smoked brisket that you and your family have ever tasted!