It is not uncommon that people get confused with which piece of meat they are getting. The Tri-Tip and the Brisket are two of the most sought-after cuts from beef that are almost the same.
Brisket has been known to be a very nice cut of meat to smoke. It is a lean piece of meat that has a lot of moisture in it that can benefit when it is cooked at very long periods of time.
The Tri-Tip is slowly gaining popularity because it is also a very great piece of meat. When smoked, it almost has the same outcome as the brisket and it also tastes very good.
We do not blame you if you get confused with these two because, in hindsight, these two cuts of meat are almost the same. However, it turns out that they have a lot of differences.
When you are having a barbecue, it is really hard to imagine that there is no meat from beef on the grill. In fact, studies from the USDA show that beef is the most common type of meat sold in groceries.
Aside from the shape, there are a lot of differences between brisket and tri-tip. There is the style of cooking, the part of the cattle, the fat content, and many more that we did not know before.
With this post, we will try to explain to you these differences so you can get a better picture and know the differences between the two so you will know which cut you will get next time.
Knowing the difference between these two cuts of meat will also help you in choosing the right type of meat according to your diet, budget, and price range so you do not spend too much.
Which Part Of The Cattle Do They Come From?
Okay so first, we will be talking a little bit about where these cuts of meat come from. This is important because you will know how each cut of meat gets a certain amount of fat and other nutrients.
First, the more common brisket comes from the breast part of the cattle. It is a slice of lean meat cut from the bottom chest area of the cow and it includes some pectoral muscles.
The brisket comes from the part where the upper bodyweight of the cow is being held up. This means that the brisket includes strong muscles that are found right between the front legs.
Because of this, the brisket is one of the least tender parts of the cattle. With an almost all-muscle component, the brisket is a tough meat and that is why it is perfect for slow and low cooking.
The tri-tip is a triangular cut of meat that is found at the back of the cattle. It gets its name from its shape and it is also considered as steak because of the area where it comes from.
It is also found from the same lower area of the cattle and so it also contains a lot of lean and tensor muscle which makes it tough and firm at first but becomes chewy when it is cooked.
Since the hind legs are responsible for holding up the back part of the cattle, it develops a lot of muscle. The lower sirloin of the cattle is where you will find the tri-tip which also holds up the weight.
When it comes to taste, the brisket is one of the most beefy-tasting cuts of meat. Other parts do not come close to the flavor of the brisket except for the tri-tip as they are both lean and tough.
You will be surprised at first that these two cuts of meat come from two opposite sides of the cattle. But since they are both parts of holding up the weight of the cattle, they produce a lot of muscles.
This might be the most obvious difference between the brisket and the tri-tip. When you look at them, it is highly-distinguishable that one cut is far larger than the other.
Since the back part of the cattle contains other cuts of meat and organs, the tri-tip is compressed in between. So it is relatively easy to say that it is smaller than the brisket.
A regular tri-tip cut of meat will weigh at around 3 to 4 pounds. This is a good cut since some cattle might not be able to produce this much tri-tip.
The brisket, on the other hand, weighs at an average of 15 to 20 pounds. See, it is about 5 times larger and heavier than the tri-tip because it is not surrounded by too many cuts of meat.
So when it is just a regular family dinner for 5 people, you might want to choose the tri-tip. But if you want to go big and buy the brisket, expect to have leftovers for the following days.
Aside from the size of the meats, you can also differentiate them by looking at the way that they were cut. There are the common flat cuts and the pointcut that is done by trimming the meat.
The tri-tip is made with a pointcut and it is where it got its name. The triangle-shaped cut of meat has a healthy layer of fat that runs through the muscles and is oftentimes left in there.
The flat cut, which is the common cut for the brisket, is a meatier piece. It has less fat content than the tri-tip so it means that it is a leaner and a tougher cut of meat.
You can also get the brisket in squares or rectangular shapes. It also differs in appearance when cooked as it contains a lot more char than the tri-tip with bits of fat on the meat.
This will depend on the place that you are in but the tri-tip is usually more expensive than the brisket. When you try to figure out the price of the meats, it is best to do it in a per-pound measurement.
Usually, the brisket is cheaper by almost half of the tri-tip per pound. However, if you are in the butchering business, you will still make more money with the brisket than the tri-tip.
Again, the brisket is a lot bigger than the tri-tip so even if you cut the price per pound in half, you will still make more money with it since the brisket is about 5 times bigger than the tri-tip.
Another thing to consider when you are a customer is that you will need to remove some fat from a brisket while tri-tip is sold as it is, no need for trimming and reducing the weight.
The brisket is sold in butcheries without being trimmed. Naturally, a perfect cut of brisket does not contain a lot of fats but it is surrounded by it and is commonly sold with those bits of fats.
So if you buy a brisket at a lower price, it often contains some fat. So you will need to trim that at home if you want to remove it or just smoke it as it is so it gets a little bit juicier.
Taste and Texture
The brisket is a very tough piece of meat from cattle. Cows do not have collarbones so the brisket develops a substantial amount of muscles along with tendons and connective tissues.
Since the brisket does not have too many fats, it is better to cook it slowly. When this is done, the tendons and free fats are marbled making the brisket a very beefy-tasting cut of meat.
When the beef brisket is cooked, most people prefer to serve it by slicing with a knife. However, when it is cooked properly and the meat just falls apart, it is better to shred and pull it apart.
Tri-tips, on the other hand, are a bit leaner and more tender than the brisket. The fat content of this cut of meat is not found in fat caps so you have all the meat that you want.
Scientifically, the tri-tips are a healthier choice since they are leaner and have lesser fat content. It is also best if it is served with slices since it can be a little tough when it is undercooked.
As for the taste, the tri-tip cut of meat has a lesser beef taste. This is because it lacks the marbled fats that the brisket has and so it is still chosen by fewer people over the brisket.
It is also easier to trim the fat off of tri-tip. Since it does not have too much fat, the tri-tip has a little sour taste when it is charred compared to brisket that has a more buttery flavor.
Preparation of the Brisket
The first step to preparing the brisket is choosing the right cut. You might want a fat cup in the beef brisket but it is better if it has a well-marbled fat on the inside to keep it moist.
Buying beef brisket with a lot of fat cap will also allow you to trim it to your own preference. The fat should not be shied away from since it gives a more tender finish to the meat.
The fats in both the tri-tip and the brisket should be white. This color indicates freshness so you should avoid cuts of meat with yellow or gray-colored fat caps.
Step 1. So start the process by trimming the fat that you do not want on the brisket. Use a boning knife and also remove the membrane called the deckle which does not tenderize when cooked.
Step 2. Rub the brisket with the herbs and seasonings of your choice. Let the brisket rest for about 30 minutes with the rub or until it has warmed down to room temperature.
Step 3. Get your smoker ready by filling up the firebox with fuel. Although charcoal and pellets are good, the best fuel for smoking meat is still wood.
Let it preheat for about 2 hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 4. Once the brisket reaches room temperature, place it in the smoker with the fat cap side up. This will let the fat melt into the meat to make it more tender.
Step 5. Let the brisket cook for a long time. Use a meat probe to determine the temperature of the brisket inside and aim for 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is the optimal temperature for a brisket so you can determine whether it is cooked or not. It is often common to serve the brisket as well done so the fats and tendons are marbled properly.
Step 6. Let the brisket rest once it is done cooking in the smoker. This is essential, so wrap the brisket with a tin foil and wrap the tin foil with a towel to prevent heat loss.
Cut or pull the meat apart and then serve!
Preparation of the Tri-tip
Since tri-tip cooks differently from a brisket, you will also need to take different steps. Leaving the fat on top of the tri-tip will not make a lot of difference so you can remove that.
It also does not shrink too much and it is naturally tender. So if you prefer it, let the fats remain or remove them and then cook them at a much higher temperature than a brisket.
Step 1. You might want to sear tri-tip rather than smoking it long. So trim off the fats that you do not want to make the searing better instead of creating steam from the fats.
Step 2. You can use the same rub that you usually use with a brisket. Apply the rub on the tri-tip and be generous enough by putting it all over the piece of meat.
Step 3. You can let the meat rest for a few hours or overnight so it absorbs more flavor from the rub. This is optional so you can just let the tri-tip sit until it reaches room temperature before cooking.
Step 4. Let the smoker preheat to a higher temperature of 275 degrees Fahrenheit. This will let the tri-tip sear perfectly while keeping the moisture in the meat.
Step 5. After searing, smoke the tri-tip at a lower temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit and leave it in the smoker until it reaches an internal temperature of 135 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 6. Let the tri-tip rest for about 20 minutes. You do not need to wrap it in foil like the brisket but if you want it to continue the cooking process, you can do that as well.
Step 7. Slice from the tip and then serve!
Beef brisket and Tri-tips are the two beefiest parts of the cattle. The beef brisket still wins in flavor but the tri-tip is the closest to producing the beefy flavor compared to the other cuts of meat.
Since the brisket has a lower fat content, it is perfect for slow and low cooking. The fat cap of the brisket is important to keep the meat moist and tenderize it a little bit when cooked.
The tri-tip also doesn’t contain too much fat. So if you want, you can leave the fat cap on the meat depending on your preference, for us, it does not make too much difference.
These two cuts of meat are the most popular and are often the first parts of the cattle to be sold out. So if you want to make a great dinner with these two, you better hurry up and buy them.
There are different types of recipes that you can cook with these two amazing cuts of meat but we have put the basics above so you can follow them and prepare the meats right away!
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