Brisket: Point vs flat, what's the difference?

Written in 2022
by Adam

    When you go to the butcher shop and ask for beef brisket, what do they hand you? We all know that there is some variation in terms of cuts, but it can be hard to tell the difference between a flat and a pointcut. This article will help give an overview of these different types of briskets so that when it comes time to purchase one, you can make an informed decision!

    What Is A Beef Brisket?

    Beef brisket is a cut of meat from comes from the chest, from a side view, it appears like it's above the front leg, or if you are looking from the front it's between the two front legs.

    The brisket is made of two pairs of muscles, the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor, and it does a lot of work of holding up the chest, so there is a lot of connective tissue making the meat from this area very tough. 

    A whole brisket or whole packer as it is commonly known weighs a lot that is around 4.5-7 kg(10-16 pound). Cooking it as a whole can be a bit of a hassle.

    For commercial sale, most butchers cut the brisket into two halves, the point and the flat. It's also ideal if you separate the leaner meat from the fattier part, since they tend not have different textures once cooked.

    Link Article What is beef brisket?

    What Is A Point?

    It is also known as the pointcut or the deckle.

    The point is one half of the brisket. The muscle that makes up this cut is the pectoralis minor that is on the inside of the rib cage.

    The point is marbled because it contains a lot of fat and is a lot thicker and a bit smaller than the two halves.

    It has a much higher fat content than the flat, making it more flavourful as well. The deckle is very cooked either low and slow or smoked to perfection! If you love fattier cuts, then this one's for you! 

    The high-fat content makes it have lesser meat and most butchers prefer to ground it into meat for burgers. It gives a higher yield when shredded, a good portion of meat which you can use to make sandwiches.

    Portion Size Per Person

    The meat is usually sold per pound or about 450 g,. 227 grams( half a pound) per person is usually enough.

    Link How much meat person article here

    How to Cook A Point Cut

    To prepare it, apply a dry rub can be as basic as salt and pepper or as fancy as a barbecue rub. Just makes sure you don't add anything that will overpower the cut's beefy natural taste.

    If you prefer to smoke the cut then, apply your favourite wood ( hickory or apple work great) and cook low and slow for up to 12 hours until soft as jelly and the temperature has reached 93 °C (200 °F).

    You can also braise the point by adding a bottle of beer, beef stock and some root vegetables. Cook for about two to three hours until fork tender! Just make sure you season well with salt and pepper, as it will enhance the flavour tenfold!

    What Is A Flat? 

    The flat is also known as the brisket point end. It's one half of the beef brisket that lies next to the bone. It's part of the brisket that is cut from the pectoralis major muscle. This cut is very lean, does not have as much fat content compared to its counterpart. The meat here tends to be leaner, with pockets of fat throughout. This part also contains less collagen, which makes it better suited for smoking! 

    The flat needs to be cooked for long hours and can be easily be sliced into pieces after cooking without falling apart since there is very little connective tissue present unlike most cuts of beef.

    This most popular form of flat cut is the pastrami, a form of smoked meat that is brined and then smoked. It is also used to make corned beef, thinly sliced for sandwiches or cubed and cooked with vegetables.

    Portion Size Per Person 

    If buying pre-cut flat or point from your supermarket, they usually weigh around 450g (1 pound).  The recommended portion for one person for any protein is 227 grams (1/2 a pound), so a full cut should be enough to feed 2 adults.

    How to Cook A Flat Cut

    The flat can be cooked by braising, smoking or oven roasting. The best way to cook the beef brisket is slowly in a low temperature for long hours until it falls apart when you touch it with your fork!

    If you are planning on smoking your flat cut then, apply a dry rub of salt, pepper and any other spices you love, smoke it at 200 F (93 °C) for around four to six hours with an external source of heat like charcoal or pecan wood! Just make sure that there's no flame touching the cooking beef, so it's slow-cooked in indirect heat!

    You can also braise this cut, which means adding some stock along with root vegetables, but just remember not to go overboard when seasoning since it will create pockets of saltiness throughout the dish! A good way would be to add a half a teaspoon per cup of liquid!

    What Is The Difference Between A Point and Flat Cut?

    Which Can Is Best To Smoke?

    Both can be smoked, but the pointcut is best suited for smoking since it has more layers of fat on the surface. The flat, however, can be cooked by braising or smoking but not as effective since there isn't enough fat content to keep the meat moist throughout, and it takes longer to get done.

    Which One Needs A Longer Cooking Time?

    When cooking brisket beef, both cuts need long hours of low heat, which means that you will have to plan in advance and make sure your oven is ready when you are!

    The pointcut cooks faster since there's more fat present throughout, which makes this type of brisket beef very tender when cooked for enough time! The flat on the other hand takes a longer time to cook but is great in flavour. It has less collagen, so it needs to be braised or smoked slowly with indirect heat until it's fork-tender!

    Appearance After Cooking

    The flat cut is more uniform, and it is mostly sliced after cooking while the pointcut is still attached to the fat cap, so it looks different after cooking. The point cut generally has a layer of meat and two layers of fat, so it is mostly shredded and if you try to slice it the meat will fall apart.

    Which Cut Should I Grill?

    The flat cut is best suited for grilling since it's leaner and has less collagen making the meat more tender when cooked at low heat. You can also start cooking this type of beef brisket in indirect heat by slow smoking them until their internal temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit before turning up the heat on the grill to caramelize the surface of the meat while giving it some charring marks!

    When it comes to grilling the pointcut, you have to make sure that there is no fat coming in contact with your cooking grate, so it will cook evenly. Also, you need to take out some excess fat before grilling or else when it's being seared on high heat this layer of fats will melt and drip into your fire causing flare-ups which would not taste good at all !

    So better safe than sorry if you ask me. It's best suited for slow cooking methods like braising, smoking or oven roasting, though taking care not to brown it completely. 

    Tenderness and Flavour

    Both cuts are tender when cooked properly, but the point cut has layers of fat which makes it more tender and juicy during cooking. The flat cut on the other hand is leaner, so there's no excess fat to keep this beef brisket moist while its being cooked slowly.

    When talking about flavour, the point has is more flavourful naturally and doesn't need a lot of marinating or seasoning since this cut has a lot of fat and collagen which is the source of its flavour! The flat on the other hand does not have as much collagen, so it needs to be seasoned well in order for you to taste it during cooking.

    In Conclusion:

    Which one is better than the other, well the choice is yours! It all depends on your personal preferences. For instance, your cooking style and how much time you have to spend in the kitchen. Also, if you are cutting down on fatty foods, then the flat cut is your best choice.

    Overall, when they are all cooked well, they have the same potential in terms of taste and tenderness!

    Just remember that both cuts of beef are priced per pound and not as individual pieces, so choose wisely depending on what you think will work better in your kitchen. 

    Possible FAQs

    Which One Is More Tender?

    Both cuts are very tender and delicious when cooked well. However, the but the point cut has more fat, which makes it juicier!

    Does the point cook faster than the flat?

    Yes, the point cooks faster since it's fatter! Compared to other cuts, both the flat cut and point cut need longer cooking times.

    Is it better to separate the point from the flat?

    Yes, because they have different textures once cooked and the cooking temperatures vary.

    Article Written by Adam

    Adam is the creator of the SmokeGuys website, running it since 2016. Hater of coriander, lover of all things meat... Adam currently works in marketing with a dream of being able to make food his full-time 'job' in the longer term.

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