How to Slice Brisket
It's not just how you cook it, but also how you cut it that matters.
No matter how you slice it, making a brisket is a lot of work. Whether you braise it, smoke it, slow-cook it (pictured) or oven-roast it, a good brisket is a one-of-a-kind meal. It generally takes anywhere from four hours to an entire day to make. But there's nothing more satisfying than the tender, juicy end result. You can serve it during Hanukkah, amp up your taco night with brisket tacos or turn the slices into a sandwich on brioche, piled high with coleslaw.
However, all of that cooking time and effort can go to waste if you don't slice the brisket right. The right cut is one last key step that makes all the difference between tender and tough. If you slice it wrong, no matter how many hours you spent perfecting it, your meat will turn out chewy. We consulted a few experts — butchers, chefs and pitmasters across the country — to learn the best ways to slice a brisket.
Cook your brisket ahead of time
"The key to slicing is proper preparation the entire way," says Chef Yehuda Sichel from Philadelphia's American Jewish restaurant, Abe Fisher. His first tip: Cook your meat the day before. "This allows your brisket to cool entirely in its braising liquid," he says. "I like doing this because it gives the brisket time to really soak up the juices that would otherwise be lost if cut while warm."
Slice the cold brisket the following day
The next day Sichel removes the brisket from the jus to slice cold. Rob Levitt, head butcher and chef de cuisine at Publican Quality Meats in Chicago, also uses this method, for two reasons: "It is way easier to slice thin, uniform slices. Plus, it is easier to trim away unwanted fat after it has served its purpose." Sichel suggests also placing the meat on a cutting board and using a very sharp knife (he uses a 10-inch chef's knife) to cut the brisket into half-inch pieces.
Slice against the grain
Any chef or butcher will tell you that the key to slicing your brisket is to make sure to slice against the grain. But what does that mean? You'll most likely be getting a cut that includes both the lean "flat" and the fattier "point." "Keep in mind that a full brisket has two muscles that go in different directions," says Burt Bakman, pitmaster at the BBQ joint Slab in Los Angeles. "If you look at a full packer brisket from above, you want to cut across the flat, and along the point, to ensure slicing against the grain; otherwise, slicing the wrong way can lead to chewy bites!"
Reheat the meat in its juices
Once you've cut the brisket, you'll want to reheat it before you serve it. Sichel first reduces his braising liquid and then pours it over his cooled brisket. He then lets the slices cook in the juices for around 30 to 45 minutes at 275 degrees F or until hot.
If you follow these pro tips, you'll have a terrific brisket to share with family and friends.