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Sep 11, 2012 11:09 AM

Brisket Without Fat

I just ordered a brisket at Whole Foods and asked if they could give me one with a layer of fat. The guys behind the counter said that no one wants fat on the brisket and they come in with very little. Customers want any remaining fat removed.

Am I the only one who thinks brisket is more tender with some fat on it? How is everyone else cooking their brisket?

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  1. Brisket Without Fat?

    What's the point

    Why buy brisket then. Get a bottom round

    I'm with you Daisy. If I'm buying brisket I want some fat in there. And If I'm smoking one I want more marbling and a good fat cap.

    1. I like it to have fat on it too, because I prefer to cook it the first day, defat it and warm it up and serve it the next day. Agree the fat adds flavor and helps the meat be more tender. I braise it, by the way.

      1. I depends (IMO) on how the cook intends to use the brisket, which comes from the front most part of the breast. There are two parts to the brisket, the inner portion is quite lean but the outer portion is usually well marbled and offers a nice layer of fat. You can tell the difference because the outer portion is shaped like a triangle and weighs less than the inner piece.
        Because brisket is usually slow cooked (corned beef) in a braising liquid the fat is commonly removed by the meat cutter. The inner layer has very little fat and hardly any marbling so if you want fat tell your meat cutter you want something from the outer portion with fat on. I assume you're wanting to smoke or BBQ this brisket?

        9 Replies
        1. re: todao

          It was interesting that they said everyone wants the brisket completely trimmed. Is this because it was Whole Foods? I'm braising the brisket and the last time I made it without a lot of fat, I thought it wasn't as tender.

          1. re: DaisyM

            In my experience over the years, butchers often tell you that you don't really want whatever it is they don't have. At WF, their brisket may be "butchered" off site and delivered to them with the fat already off, so they don't actually have the option of giving it to you untrimmed. It's also hard to find large pieces of brisket, again because it's often delivered to retail butchers already trimmed to a given size.

            1. re: jns7

              Yes, they said that it comes to them with very little fat and that's what their customers want.

              1. re: jns7

                In my experience over the years, butchers often tell you that you don't really want whatever it is they don't have.


                Go elsewhere.

              2. re: DaisyM

                If you are braising it, then you don't need a brisket with a fat cap. Plus, fat does not necessarily make your meat "tender" when you are braising it. Fat content and tenderness do not go hand-in-hand. For example, tenderloins (or filet mignons) are tender (hence the name), but they are very lean.

                A fat cap, however, is necessary in my opinion when you are smoking or barbecuing your brisket.

                1. re: DaisyM

                  The terms "tender" and "brisket" don't really go well together because brisket originates in a muscle group that gets lots of exercise (it's between the two front legs) so it's quite grainy. Tender brisket, if there is such a thing, is the result of low and slow braising so that the collagen fibres gelatinize (that begins at approx. 150 degrees internal temp.) and with the recirculation of meat juices and braising liquids develop flavor. From 150 degrees upward the brisket tends to lose moisture and as the internal temperature rises it becomes drier. Knowing when to lift it out of the braise can be tricky. Some recommend allowing it to cook until the internal temp. reaches 210 degrees. I'm not sure about that. A big part of the difficulty in ensuring that brisket as tender as possible when serving is proper carving. The brisket is made up of two opposing grains and it's important to watch when carving to be certain that each cut runs cross grain and not along or at an angle less than 90 degrees to the grain.

                  1. re: todao

                    I meant that to be able to braise it till it is tender. I only make brisket once a year and last year's had very little fat. I felt that it wasn't nearly as tender as previous briskets that had a cap of fat that was removed after cooking.

                    1. re: DaisyM

                      You don't need fat to make beef tender when braising it.

                2. re: todao

                  Flats do vary a lot in fat content or marbling

                3. do what ever you do w/ the brisket fat or no fat. when the brisket is done, trim the fat off and be done. the brisket is loaded w/ fat anyway. if one doesn't want that much fat try bison

                  1. Whole beef brisket is often butchered into 2 different cuts before it reaches a retailer.

                    The point cut of the brisket is the fatty part. I don't even have the option of ordering this through my warehouse. You see it most often as corned beef these days if it doesn't end up in commercial grind.

                    Flat cut brisket is leaner. It makes a more regular shape to the cut. People tend to buy this cut so much more often that the point fell out of favor.

                    Properly cooked the flat makes for a wonderful meal.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Brandon Nelson

                      BJ's, Sam's Club, and Walmart now only sell flats here in central Florida. I hope to get one with the point by special order from Publix once it cools down to the low eighties.