Brisket Front Half
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The Brisket Front Half, NAMP 120B, also known as the Point Cut, the Thick Cut, The Nose Cut, The Second Cut, or The Brisket Point is the fattier, smaller half of the Brisket. Because of its connective tissue and internal fat, it is considered a tougher cut and is usually cheaper than the Brisket Back Half. If cooked properly the beefy flavor of the muscle and connective tissue can be brought out, while tenderizing the cut.

Availability

Brisket Front Half is available all year long. 

Production

In the animal, the Brisket Point (the supraspinatus muscle) sits close to the skin, between the forelegs, and atop the pectoral muscle of the Brisket Back Half or Brisket Flat. Think of it as a lump or point of fattier meat and connective tissue riding on the thinner end of the rectangular Brisket Flat. The Brisket Point and the Brisket Flat are connected by a thick Seam of fat. Both are, in turn, covered by another thick layer of white fat (more yellow in Grass-Fed Beef), known as the “Fat Cap.”

The production of beef is carried about by three primary types of operations: Cow & Calf Operations, Weaner Calf & Yearling Operations, and Dry-Lot Feeding Operations (also known as “Backrounders”) which are the most expensive operations in the Beef Industry. To learn more about Beef Producers just follow the link to Smart Kitchen’s Page on Beef Producers. The Beef Producers are represented by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

American cattle production has remained almost stagnant between 1985 and 2009, growing just 6.4%, while the amount of beef imported has nearly tripled in that time, according to an analysis of USDA figures conducted by R-CALF USA, another the trade group that represents cattle producers.

Once raised, Beef is typically sold to Meat Packers who slaughter, inspect, and butcher the animals to provide Primal Cuts to butchers and portion cuts to consumers.

The Meat Packing Industry is in a period of consolidation. In 1999, the 10 largest beef-packing firms accounted for more than 90 percent of all Steer and Heifer slaughter in the U.S. In 2011, according to the Western Organization of Resources Councils three major companies controlled Beef market. Visit Smart Kitchen’s Meat Packers Resource Page to learn more.

Purchasing

The Point can be purchased de-fatted, (“Cap-Removed” or “Cap Off”) but most chefs prefer to work with it “Cap-On” to protect the meat during cooking and to add juices and flavor. Some chefs leave the full Fat Cap on and others trim it. It is one of three areas of debate about cooking Brisket.

Smart Kitchen suggests that the Fat Cap be a minimum of a ¼” to ⅛” thick (.64 cm to .32 cm). If it arrives from the Butcher much thicker it can be Trimmed down. Trimming prevents too much of the thick fat from impeding the absorption of your Rubs MarinadesLarding, Larding by Hinging and Barding are other options that can split the difference.

Underneath the Fat Cap, the Brisket Point is laced with connective tissue because it works hard. Because it works less hard than the pectoral muscle of the Brisket Flat it is well Marbled with fat.

If you find it confusing to determine which half is which, just remember that with the white fat cap, facing up, the relatively fat-free side, the Flat, will be on the bottom. The Point will be the taller lump on top of it and off to one side.

Storage

Raw Brisket Front Half should last for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Add an extra day of cold storage time if the Brisket Front Half is Marinated or oiled. Raw Brisket Front Half will keep for 2-3 months in the freezer without any appreciable deterioration in quality.

Cooked Brisket Front Half should be refrigerated for up to 1-3 days.

Culinary Uses

Brisket Front Half is a tough Portion Cut of Beef. On Smart Kitchen’s Home Plate it should be Cooked, it is Tough, it can be Thin or Thick depending on how it is cut, it is Dry, and Lean. Using the Home Plate we would call it Cooked, Tough, Thin or Thick, Dry, and Lean or noted in the home plate shorthand Brisket Front Half would be (C, T1T3-T4, D, L).

The Brisket Front Half can be Braised, Roasted and Ground for fuller, fattier, flavorful Hamburger meat. It can also be cooked as a Barbecued Brisket, or Pot Roasted for a traditional Jewish Pot Roast because it is a Kosher Meat.

Once cooked to your satisfaction, the Brisket Front Half can be sliced, across the Meat Grain but not too thin, to help Tenderize it. If cut with the grain it can be a Tough Chew. If cut too thin there is a risk that the Brisket Point meat will fall apart. In fact, the Point’s looser texture after cooking does better chopped for sandwiches or “Burnt Ends.”

Portion Size

Allow 6 to 9 ounces (170 g to 255 g) per person of Brisket Front Half as a Serving Size.

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

No

Low Calorie

No