Fat is your friend when it comes to making the perfect brisket. It doesn’t hurt to practice patience, either.
One of the roughest and toughest cuts of meat on the market, brisket comes from the breast or lower chest area. Braised as a pot roast, brisket’s a staple in traditional Jewish cuisine, and most Jewish home chefs worth their weight in bagels will tell you their version of brisket is never as good as their Bubbes’ (Yiddish for “grandmothers'”).
A whole brisket typically weights 10 to 15 pounds. Generally, a butcher cuts a brisket into two parts: the front cut or point end, which is fattier and contains the top fat layer (the deckle point), and the flat or first cut, which is leaner. We prefer the fattier front cut, which adds flavor and tenderness. Whether you smoke, baste, braise, sauce, boil or roast a brisket, low and slow cooking times are key for a tender and flavorful piece of meat.
Dennis Berkowitz, owner of Max’s On the Square, a San Francisco dining fixture styled after an old-school New York delicatessen, serves brisket three ways–in traditional style with red wine gravy, as in the recipe below, with fresh vegetables and potato latkes; diced into cabbage soup; and thinly sliced in a cold brisket sandwich with creamed horseradish.