If you’re curious if brisket is beef or pork, you’re not alone.
The answer, my friend, is both simple and complicated all at the same time.
In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you’ll learn:
- What beef brisket is?
- If pork brisket is really a thing
- And much more!
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Is Brisket Beef or Pork?
If someone is serving brisket it is most likely beef. That said, there is such a thing as a pork brisket, but it’s not easily found in a grocery store or on a restaurant menu.
For all intents and purposes, pork brisket is a special order item usually found from online butchers or a local butcher shop that knows its craft.
We believe this special cut of meat deserves some special attention. Perhaps we’re better off asking what a brisket is and where it comes from. Most importantly, why it’s so dadgum delicious.
Keep reading, and we’ll give you everything you need to know about the brisket.
What Is a Beef Brisket?
Let’s be honest, brisket is not the fanciest cut of beef out there. It can be dry or tough if it’s not prepared correctly.
The brisket is cut from the lower chest or pectoral muscle of a steer. And just so we’re all on the same page, a steer is a neutered bull. When the male calf is neutered at a young age, the muscle tissue grows with more fat and marbling to make it as tender and juicy as possible.
The two main parts of the brisket are the flat and the point. The flat is a long, thin section that contains less fat than the point. The point is a smaller, more triangular section that is richer and more marbled with fat. This area of the animal gets a lot of exercise, which makes the meat tough but really full of flavor.
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A full brisket weighs between 10 and 16 pounds. If a full brisket seems like too much meat or will take too long to cook, you can also get one of the smaller cuts we mentioned earlier, either the point or the flat.
The flat is the larger of the two cuts weighing between 6 and 10 pounds. The point will weigh between 5 and 7 pounds. There is a lot more fat and connective tissue in the point, which means there will be a lot more flavor, but less meat. This is why the point is sometimes saved for burnt ends, ground for hamburger meat, or shredded for sandwiches.
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Is Pork Brisket a Thing?
Surprisingly, pork brisket does exist. When it comes to pork brisket, the region of the animal is the same, but the cut is a little different. A pork brisket is the lower section of the pork shoulder and the pectoral area of the hog. The upper section of the shoulder is the Boston Butt or picnic ham which are far more popular cuts.
Pork brisket is technically part of the ham, but recently, butchers have been separating the brisket from the ham to sell it as its own cut. The pork brisket has all the flavor-filled fatty parts of the lower shoulder, including a healthy bit of the pork belly.
Like the beef brisket, the pork is fatty, marbled, and when properly prepared, will give you a juicy, tender and delicious piece of meat. It does not have the same full flavor as beef brisket, but it makes for a great meal. It also makes a good base for pork gravy because of all the fat in the cut.
Like a beef brisket, a pork brisket also has two sides. The difference is the fattiness of either end is the reverse of the beef brisket. In the pork brisket, the “flat” end is actually the portion of the belly and, therefore, quite fatty, while the point, which is the piece toward the chest — which is actually part of the picnic ham — is leaner.
A pork brisket is a much smaller cut of meat than a beef brisket. The average pork brisket will weigh between 1½ to 3½ pounds. If you order the briskets with the skin on, they can weigh as much as 4 pounds.
What is the Difference Between Beef and Pork Brisket?
The two main differences between beef and pork brisket are size and flavor.
Both cuts have the incredible feel and flavor of the animals from which they came. Both also have an intense flavor that is accented by the extra fat content and the way they need to be prepared. But the beef brisket is nearly 80% larger and will feed a lot more people.
How Do You Prepare a Brisket?
The key to any good brisket is low and slow cooking. This allows the connective tissue in the meat to break down properly, resulting in tender, juicy slices of brisket that are absolutely packed with flavor.
One of the most popular methods for cooking brisket —whether it’s beef or pork — is smoking it. A full beef brisket can take up to 14 hours at 225 degrees.
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A pork brisket can take up to 10 hours to smoke, much like a boston butt. While the amount of meat is much smaller than a butt, the time it takes for the connective tissue in the pork brisket to break down calls for a longer cook time.
Both beef and pork briskets are also perfect cuts for braising in the oven. When done correctly, the braised brisket will come out as soft, velvety meat that is fork tender and delicious. The braising liquid will also be full of spices and flavor that will act as a perfect base for gravy.
Finally, another highly used method is turning a tough brisket into corned beef. Corned beef is a salt-curing process that takes between 5 and 8 days, depending on the size of the cut. The easiest way is to take a brisket and place it in a large pot of salt water, spices, herbs, and garlic and leave it in the refrigerator for about a week.
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Is Brisket a Healthy Option?
Believe it or not, there are a lot of health benefits to beef brisket. A new research study shows that ground beef made from brisket contains high levels of oleic acid, which is one thing that increases levels of HDL in the blood. HDL is also known as “good cholesterol” because it absorbs the bad cholesterol and allows the liver to flush it from your body.
Beyond that, a 3 oz. serving of beef brisket delivers 28 grams of protein, which is 51% of the recommended daily allowance of protein for a healthy adult. It also contains essential amino acids the body needs to synthesize protein compounds.
That same serving of brisket is a solid source of vitamin B, B12, B^, riboflavin, and niacin. Your body uses all of these vitamins to generate energy and keep your metabolism moving at a healthy pace. It also contains essential minerals like zinc, iron, phosphorous, and selenium. In fact, every serving of brisket contains nearly 38% of your recommended daily allowance of iron and it improves your digestive system’s ability to absorb iron from fruits and vegetables.
All in all, beef brisket is a great choice for a healthy meal, especially if you keep your serving size reasonable, which means 3 to 4 ounces.
Where Can I Find Brisket?
Just like our first question, it’s an answer that is simple and complicated at the same time. Beef brisket is an easy find. It is an extremely popular cut of meat and you can get it at any grocery store, wholesale club, big box food retailer, your local butcher shop or a variety of online sources like Crowd Cow or Porter Road.
The thing about beef brisket is the same pricing structure that applies to all beef applies to briskets. The price and availability depend on the quality of the animal and the amount of processing. Your average grocery store will sell brisket at somewhere between $4 to $6 a pound.
The price may be a little higher these days, but then again, everything is more expensive. The price will also depend on how much work has been done to the brisket. If it is completely trimmed, the price will be higher. If you can find it untrimmed, you will save per pound., the trade-off is you will be paying the same per-pound price for the fat as you do for the meat.
If you want a better cut of meat or a better animal, you will pay significantly higher prices at specialty butchers, private farms or online. An average brisket at Sam’s Club is about $50. If you can find one and want to get a Wagyu brisket, you will be paying somewhere between $225 and $275, depending on the market.
Finding a pork brisket is going to be a lot more difficult. Your best bet is to order one online unless you have a really good butcher shop in town. You won’t see them in the grocery store or the wholesale club, and you will pay a lot more for this not-so-common cut of pig. The average price for a pork brisket is between $9 and $12 per pound. You may also have to pay shipping fees if you order it online.
Final Thoughts on Brisket
So there you have it, the long and short of it, the point and flat of all things brisket. As we look back to the original question about whether brisket is beef or pork, the answer is yes. However, if you are in your favorite BBQ joint or any restaurant the real answer is brisket is beef.
My apologies to my porcine friends, but your brisket just hasn’t made the proverbial cut, and it’s not making its way to many menus.
All that said, any way you slice it, brisket is an amazing cut of meat, and it deserves its own special attention. If you’ve never had brisket before, I highly recommend giving it a try—you won’t be disappointed!
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