A beef brisket can be the most tender delicious meal around, but there’s nothing worse than brisket that’s dry or tough. You don’t have to have a smoker to cook a brisket. Here are four ways to cook a brisket just in time for St. Patrick’s day.
How to cook a brisket is going to depend on how much time you have and equipment you have available. In Texas, traditional brisket is smoked, but for Jewish holidays, it is more often cooked in the oven.
For St. Patrick’s day you might want to make corned beef brisket in an Instant Pot, or maybe you want to to be able to let it cook on its own without any fuss in a slow cooker and then cover it with mac & cheese or BBQ sauce.
Why you’ll love it
- A brisket is tender and juicy
- It will feed a crowd
- It makes great left overs
A brisket used to be a very inexpensive cut of meat, but in the last couple of years the price has gone up. It’s still economical but you’ll want to make sure you cook it perfectly. Here are some things to consider before you get started on a brisket.
What is Brisket
A brisket is a large tough cut of meat from the cow’s breast region. These muscles support the weight of the cow when its moving or standing which results in a substantial amount of connective tissue. It’s a very tough cut of beef made up of long muscle fibers tightly woven with connective tissue that has to be broken down while cooking.
In order to transform this cut of beef into a mouth watering dinner, it has to be cooked low and slow. This will break down the muscle fibers and as it cooks the collagen will break down melting into the meat causing it to be juicy.
Corned beef is a brisket that has been brined or cured in salt or sodium nitrate that gives it a distinct pink color. The brine is similar to what would be used to make pickles.
How To Pick A Brisket
There are two parts to a brisket the bottom half called the “flat” that does not have any fat on it and the top half called the “point” which has a layer of fat. When cooked as a whole, the fat will seep down into the bottom half. Most groceries are going to carry the bottom half. When choosing one, try to find a cut with a layer of fat called the “fat cap”. This will give it more flavor and help keep it moist.
How much does a brisket weigh
A whole brisket can weigh between 10-20 pounds but is sold in cuts of around 3 lbs at the grocery. If you have a butcher, ask him to cut one that has about ½ an inch of fat on the top.
Not sure how much meat you will need per person, I’ve created a planning guide so that no one goes hungry!
How do you know when a Brisket is done
Officially, a brisket is safe to eat at the same temperature as a steak from 135º to 150º depending on how you like your steak. However, a brisket will be tough and awful at that temperature. In order to get a tender brisket, the internal temperature needs to be 195º to 200º.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can use the fork test. When you put a fork into the edge of a brisket you should be able to twist it and pull off a piece of meat. If it doesn’t come off easily, then let it cook some more.
How to Cook a Brisket – 4 ways
1. How do you smoke a brisket
If you’re looking for Texas style brisket then you’ll want to smoke it. While smoking a brisket is the most popular method, you’ll need a smoker and a lot of time. For a whole brisket, it can take 12-18 hours. Texas style brisket is not served with barbecue sauce.
Pure and simple, melt in your mouth and packed with flavor, this beef brisket (from Salt Pepper Skillet) is seasoned with salt and pepper, then smoked low and slow with post oak and apple wood.
2. How do you make brisket in a slow cooker
This is the method that I use to cook a brisket. It’s almost completely hands off. Just put some beef broth with an onion and garlic in a crock pot along with the brisket with the fat-side up and let it cook for 6 hours. For this beef brisket recipe, a wine and tomato sauce is added to the brisket once it’s cooked and then it’s topped with Mac & Cheese.
Brisket Macaroni and Cheese
Slow cooked Brisket Macaroni and Cheese will be your new favorite comfort meal. Tender beef and the creamiest pasta, these flavors work great together. A make ahead dish that will feed a crowd.
3. How do you make brisket in an Instant Pot
An instant pot is a great resource for making a brisket when you’re short on time, it only takes 2 hours to cook and you still get fork-tender beef perfect for slicing. Before slicing, remove and cover with aluminum foil to let it rest.
Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe
Enjoy corned beef and cabbage made in the Instant Pot (from Pip and Ebby), done QUICKLY compared to traditional cooking methods and with just as much flavor! The meat turns out super juicy and tender. The cabbage, carrots and potatoes complement this delicious comforting dinner perfectly. Enjoy on Saint Patrick’s Day or any time of the year!
4. How do you make brisket in the oven
You can also cook a brisket in the oven. You will cover it with a lid or foil and let it cook for about an 1 hour and 15 minutes per pound, just like Mrs. Maisel does in the first season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. You can find a great recipe at Will Cook for Smiles. A Dutch oven works great for this cooking method.
What to serve with brisket
You can never go wrong by serving brisket with potatoes, carrots, cabbage and bread or rolls. For dessert, it’s chocolate all the way for me.
1. Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
One bite and you’ll agree these are the BEST make ahead mashed potatoes. This creamy side dish is a perfect addition for busy holiday meals. Just make them in advance and reheat on the stove or in the slow cooker.
2. Super-Crunchy Roasted Potatoes
If you love your potatoes crispy, then you’re going to love Super-Crunchy Roasted Potatoes. With just one added step you get the crispiest roasted potatoes.
3. Roasted Carrots
A Roasted carrots recipe with a vinaigrette dressing is a delicious side to add to any meal. Sweet golden carrots combined with a light dressing will brighten up your holiday feast or weeknight dinner.
4. Air Fried Carrots
Air-fried carrots (from Healthier Steps) are crispy, flavorful, healthy, and super easy to make. These are a perfect snack or a side to your main dish. Either way, it is a healthy and tasteful choice.
5. Cabbage Steaks
These roasted vegan cabbage steaks ( from The Hidden Veggie) are quickly becoming my new favorite cabbage recipe. They are incredibly simple to make with just a few basic ingredients, plus they only take about 5 minutes of prep time before you pop them in the oven.
6. Lemony Savoy Cabbage Salad
Easy to make in 15 minutes, vegan Savoy Cabbage Salad (from Veggies Save The Day) is a no mayo coleslaw featuring a tangy lemon Dijon mustard vinaigrette. Enjoy it as a side dish with sandwiches, burgers, and picnic favorites.
7. Irish Soda Bread
Irish soda bread is a dense yet soft quick bread that requires no yeast. With just a few ingredients you have a hearty bread that’s simple and easy to make.
8. Pull Apart Rolls
Looking for a quicker yeast roll, you’ll love these Pull Apart Onion Rolls. No kneading required and just 11/2 hours of rising. Adding caramelized shallots make them a great addition to any meal, or leave them out for a delicious roll.
9. Irish Car Bomb Cake
This St. Patty’s Day treat is made up of four towering layers of chocolate stout cake with Bailey’s Irish Cream frosting between the layers. This Irish Car Bomb Cake (from Beth Cakes) is probably one of the richest chocolate cakes I’ve ever made.
10. Fudgy Brownies
Fudgy Brownies are my go-to brownie recipe with a fudgy center and crackly top. A no-fail easy recipe where you’ll get PERFECT brownies every time with only one bowl!
11. Chocolate Cobbler
Chocolate Cobbler may be the easiest dessert you will ever make. With just a few ingredients you probably have in your pantry you can make the best gooey chocolate pudding cake. All you need is some hot water and an oven and you have a no-fail dessert that will curb your chocolate craving.
FAQs about tips
If you’re new to cooking brisket, there are 2 ways to determine if your brisket is done.
#1 -There is no perfect number to share but you want to hit between 195-200 degrees internally. The brisket needs to have been at that temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes so that the tissues begin to break down and make it more tender and delicious to eat.
#3 – The fork test is put into a muscle and if it goes in without any resistance, then you know your brisket it done. You don’t want it to have to be forced in at all.
Yes, the connective tissues and fats will begin to break down after it reaches a minimum temperature of 195º-200º and really work to get that delicious meat you’re working for.
Yes, you can overcook brisket but it’s going to really take work to do that. One way to know if the brisket is overcooked is if it crumbles into pieces vs easily cutting into neat chunks to serve.
If you have a tough brisket, it sounds like you have undercooked it. You may have realized the brisket reached the desired temperature, but it needs to remain there for awhile, at least 30 minutes. Brisket is not a fast cooked piece of meat, so be patient.
Brisket can be shredded and can be served just like you would serve any roast of beef. Use two forks to shred it.
For a 3 lb brisket you will have about 10 servings.
Once it has rested, but while still hot, wrapt it tightly in aluminum foil and then wrap it in a towel and store it in a cooler. It will stay warm and moist for a couple of hours.
Now all you have to do is figure out how much time you have and then choose how you’ll make the most tender and mouth watering brisket. Round it out with some delicious sides and you’ll have a feast for whatever size crowd you’re serving.