Are the recipes for 1st and 2nd Cut Brisket interchangeable? Or are they completely different meats?
We have a bunch of recipes that call for 2nd cut brisket, like this one (see the original version in Dinner Done), this one over here and this crockpot version for a set-it-and-forget it type of main dish. Oh, wait, we’re not done. There’s also a recipe for shredded crockpot shredded brisket over here too.
So, especially before Yom Tov, we get lots of communication from readers, “Help! I bought a 1st cut brisket instead of a 2nd cut. What’s the difference? Can I still make the recipe?
While we know that 1st cut is a leaner piece of meat, and that either will work in the low and slow Crockpot recipes, we needed more information to guide you. So we asked Butch Epstein of Epstein’s Meats your question: What really is the difference between 1st and 2nd cut brisket?
“Many years ago, the 1st cut brisket was the most chashuve (prestigious) piece of meat. That’s the way the world was. First cut is a very lean piece of meat and if you make it right, it slices nicely, and it’s a beautiful piece of meat on the table. It’s bakavodike (respectable).
Second cut is much juicier, and it’s harder to cut, because once it gets soft, it falls apart when you slice it. But if you do manage to cut it perfectly, and you rewarm it with a lot of water, it’ll be a very soft piece of meat.
I want you to know this: The trick of getting meat soft is by boiling it in water. Most restaurants, chefs, and caterers take a big pot. They’re cooking French roast, for instance. They’ll boil it in water, carrots, and onions for 2 ½ hours until the meat gets soft. Then they make a heavy glaze, a beef gravy, and they let it sit and rewarm in the beef gravy. When you eat soft meat at restaurants and weddings, that’s how it was cooked.
The 2nd cut is a little fattier, it’s very grainy. It’s a great piece of meat for pulling beef because it gets very soft and it’s easy to pull.”
The bottomline? He says: “If you bought a 1st cut, you can use it in any recipe that you want. Just make sure that there’s water in the bottom of the pan when you’re cooking it to get it very soft.”