Brisket is one of the most popularly smoked meats. It has a plenty of fatty and connective tissue to break down to make a delicate and satisfyingly rich pulled pork.
However, some people are unaware that a full brisket is actually made up of two distinct portions.
The point and the flat.
Despite coming from the same cut, they are different and may require different temperatures and cooking methods.
This article explains the key distinctions between brisket flat and point.
What Is the Difference?
A brisket is made up of two different muscles, the flat and the point, which are held together by a thick layer of fat, similar to a New York strip and a ribeye.
Despite the fact that they are two portions of the same cut, they cook somewhat differently and have distinct tastes and textures.
The flat is the leanest portion of the brisket. It has the most protein but far less marbling. If it is not adequately prepared, it may become tough and chewy. It is bigger than the point with a larger surface area.
Because of its uniform shape and lean meat, a brisket flat is ideal for presenting in slices.
The other side of the flat is the point. It’s smaller in size but much thicker than the flat.
A point has less meat than a flat, but it has much more fatty and connective tissues, which contribute to its juicy texture and rich qualities.
This higher fat concentration renders and breaks down when smoking, producing a succulent and tender product, perfectly ideal for shredding for sandwiches or making pulled pork.
When Should a Brisket Flat Be Pulled?
Like most meats, brisket is technically safe for consumption once it reaches a core temperature of 145 degrees(F), although this is the absolute minimum.
When the brisket flat reaches 203 degrees, it can be pulled. However, because the flat is a much slimmer cut, pulling it at a lower temperature, such as 195 to 200 degrees(F), can be beneficial.
When Should the Point Be Pulled?
Internal temperature standards for brisket points are comparable. 200 degrees(F) is optimal for a point. The fats and connective tissues have been completely rendered down and redistributed into the meat at this temperature, making it ideal for shredding and producing pulled pork.
Does the Flat Cook Faster Than the Point?
Yes, a brisket flat takes longer to cook than a brisket point.
Remember that the meat on the flat is much thinner than that of the point, so its connective tissues take more time to fully breakdown. Furthermore, due to the lower fat content, it must be cooked at lower temperatures, so it avoids drying out.
However, brisket point has a much larger fat cap as well as more connective tissues that need to be emulsified. This indicates you should cook a point at a slightly higher temperature for a shorter period of time. The extra fat will hydrate the meat and prevent it from drying with a natural baste.
What If the Flat Is Cooking Faster Than the Point?
Before smoking, the two cuts should be separated and trimmed apart from one another.
Although they can be effectively smoked together, they are still two unique cuts that cook at different speeds and, in certain cases, different temperatures.
If someone wants to smoke multiple meats at once, they should smoke meats that have similar fat content and cook at similar speeds at the same time.
If you pull a whole brisket from the smoker after it has achieved the right temperature, the flat may not be fully cooked and become chewy, tough from being undercooked.
Which Is the Better Cut?
Choosing the “better” cut should be based on personal choice and what you want to achieve with the final product.
If you want a final result that tastes and has a texture more like a roast, the flat is for you. A flat has a very different texture and is typically served in slices.
If you want to smoke brisket that is rich, luscious, and full of mouth-watering rich tastes, a brisket point is the way to go.
What Temperature Do You Smoke Flat At?
Both the flat and the point are optimal when smoking at temps between 225 and 250 degrees(F). At these temperatures, it should take around 1 ½ hours per pound of meat to fully cook.
Any lower, and the meat may struggle to overcome the temperature stall. Any higher, and the chances of overcooking and drying out the meat increase dramatically.
While these two cuts are derived from the same brisket, they differ in flavor, texture, and cooking methods.
So, when it comes down to which is better, it all comes down to personal preference and what you’re trying to achieve.
Flats are excellent for serving in roast-style slices, whereas points are better for shredding for sandwiches and producing pulled pork.