How to Trim Brisket: The Ultimate Guide

how to trim brisket

Brisket can be a bit daunting for the uninitiated, but with a little know-how, you can produce a tender and juicy brisket that will have your guests raving.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basics of trimming a brisket so that you can get started on your masterpiece.

Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal. The brisket has two parts: the flat, and the point. The flat is composed of the lean meat and fat that lies over the cow’s ribs, while the point is composed of the marbled fat and meat found between the ribs.

Brisket is a popular cut of meat for smoking and slow cooking.

Tools Needed for Trimming Brisket

There are a few basic tools you will need in order to trim a brisket:

Powder-free nitrile gloves

You will need to wear gloves when trimming the brisket, as the meat can be slippery and you don’t want the juice to get on your skin. Nitrile gloves are a good choice because they are strong and don’t tear easily.

A sharp chef’s knife

You will need a sharp knife in order to properly trim the meat. We recommend the chef’s knife which is a versatile, all-purpose knife that is perfect for this task.

Wooden cutting board

Briskets are big, bulky cuts of meat, so you will need a sturdy cutting board to help you maneuver them. A wooden cutting board is a good choice because it is durable and doesn’t retain bacteria as some other materials can. You can also use a butcher block.

Kitchen shears

In order to trim the fat off of the brisket, you will need a pair of kitchen shears. These are a handy tool to have in the kitchen and can be used for a variety of tasks, including brisket trimming.

Steps for Trimming a Brisket

Now that you have the tools you need, let’s take a look at the steps for trimming a brisket.

Step 1: Pick your Brisket

Let’s begin with selecting your brisket. You desire a large enough brisket to endure the heat, but not one so big that it would overwhelm your cooker. It’s best to get a brisket weighing between 15 and 17 pounds. Look for one with the greatest amount of marbling in the brisket flat. Don’t hesitate to examine the brisket and even ask if the meat department can bring out any other cuts for your to choose between.

Step 2: Give it a Rinse & Choose Your Knife

Once you have your brisket in hand, give it a good rinse. This will help remove any surface bacteria. Now you must determine which knife to use for trimming. You want a sharp knife so that you can make clean cuts. The chef’s knife is a great option for trimming a brisket because it is sharp and has a curved blade that is perfect for slicing meat.

Step 3: Plan Your Cuts

Now that you have your knife, it’s time to plan your cuts. The goal is to remove as how much fat as possible while still preserving the shape of the whole brisket. You will want to trim the softer fat off of the point and the flat. You can also trim some of the fat from the side of the brisket slices. Remember to leave a thin layer of fat on the raw meat, as this will help keep it moist while cooking.

Step 4: Trim the Underside of the Brisket

The fourth step in brisket trimmings is to remove the soft fat from the underside of the meat. This can be done with a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Trim the excess silverskin and fat from this side of the brisket, then discard it.

Step 5: Remove the Fat

The point of the brisket is marbled with fat, and this needs to be trimmed off in order to produce a leaner, more tender cut of meat. You can do this with a sharp knife, by cutting away the fat in thin strips. Be careful not to cut into the meat itself.

Once you have removed most of the brisket fat, you can then go over the surface of the brisket with a paper towel, to remove any remaining fat or moisture. This will help to ensure a crispier crust when it is cooked.

Step 6: Square the Brisket

The next step is to square the brisket. This can be done by trimming off the thin, pointed end of the meat. To square up your BBQ brisket, start by cutting a long thin strip off each side. Don’t go too deep, or you will cut into the meat itself.

Then, turn the brisket so that the thick layer is facing up. Trim off the excess hard fat from the top of the meat, until you have a nice, even surface. Continue working your way back to the ends once you’ve finished smoothing and matching up the sides.

Step 7: Trim the Skin and Remaining Fat

Remove any of the thick, glossy skin or remaining big fatty fragments with your knife. The goal is to have a tidy and well-shaped piece of meat that doesn’t have any excess fat or skin. You have to be careful not to cut too deep, as you can easily pierce the meat and lose moisture.

Step 8: Trim the Fat Cap

Pick it up and turn her over to expose the fat cap again. For the next portion, I like to sort of stoop over and get eye level with the subject. This is where a sharp knife and good gloves become your friend.

The fat cap is the thick, fatty membrane that covers the entire top of the brisket. In order to achieve a crispy crust, this fat needs to be trimmed off. Trim down the thick fat cap to around 1/4-1/2 inch thick using your super-duper sharp knife.

Step 9: Season the Brisket

Now that your brisket is trimmed and ready to go, it’s time to season it. Sprinkle a liberal amount of your favorite rub over the entire surface of the meat. You can use a commercial rub or make your own. Be sure to season both sides of the beef brisket.

Step 10: Let it Rest

Once your brisket is trimmed and seasoned, it’s time to let it rest. Wrap it in plastic paper and place it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. This will help the flavors to absorb into the meat.

When you’re ready to cook your brisket, remove it from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. This will help ensure that brisket cooks evenly.

Bottom Line

Now that you know how to trim brisket, you can go ahead and try your hand at this delicious and tender cut of meat. With a little practice, you’ll be able to produce a beautiful and perfectly trimmed brisket every time. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment below. we’ll be happy to help.

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Author

  • Nathan is not your typical BBQ enthusiast. When he is not experimenting on one of his six different grilling setups, he is traveling the southern U.S. attending BBQ Food events and contests. A 3-Time South Georgia Barbecue Taste-Off Champ, it's fair to say that Nathan takes BBQ seriously.

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