Barbecue is an art form. There’s a world of difference between briskets from different chefs. Top level barbecue chefs can produce tender, succulent brisket that’s positively packed with complex, smokey flavors every time. If you’re trying to emulate these sorts of results at home, you’ve probably realized that the entire process is complex and requires lots of practice to master.
You’ll want to spend time researching and practicing every step from selecting the best cut at the store to using your brisket slicing knife on your newly cooked masterpiece.
While you can find lots of resources on most of the preceding steps, it’s easy to overlook how important the slicing process really is. Professional barbecue chefs make beautiful, even slices that make you salivate before you’ve had a chance to bite into their meat. If you’re trying to replicate this at home, here are some of the best tools for the job.
The Best Barbecue Knife
Brisket knives come in two varieties. The first kind are long, sharp knives with blunt tips and straight slicing edges. These knives often have scallops along the blade that help ensure your meat separates easily (this style of knife has what’s called a “Granton edge“).
The other kind are serrated knives that are fitted with electric motors that wriggle the knife back and forth as you cut. Both styles of knife have their advantages and disadvantages. Traditional knives require sharpening and more force from the user, but they’re well suited for every part of trimming and carving a brisket. Electric knives require a wall outlet to use and aren’t the best when it comes to trimming fat.
Traditional Brisket Knives
* Victorinox 12-inch Granton Edge Slicing Knife
Victorinox is the brand of choice for many professional chefs around the world. While their knives aren’t quite as hard or aesthetically pleasing as the blades from other brands, they’re durable, affordable, and safe to use in professional kitchens. One common design choice that you’ll find in a lot of Victorinox knives is the NSF-approved fibrox handle. Rather than using a nice looking wood handle that can harbor lots of bacteria, Victorinox uses a synthetic polymer that’s softer, more comfortable, and much easier to grip with wet hands.
This 12″ slicer features this excellent non-slip fibrox handle and a high-quality stamped Granton blade. The small Granton divots ensure that the blade is light and maneuverable. They also help the meat you’ve cut fall off of the blade more easily. This means you won’t have to alter your knife technique or use your hand to remove slices that have stuck to your blade.
Just like other knives, this Victorinox bbq knife will work best when you maintain the edge. The knife itself is made from high-carbon stainless steel, helping it stay sharp for a long time. It’s not terribly difficult to maintain: just use a honing steel at the proper angle every once in a while and take it to a local cutlery store to be sharpened if you feel like it’s too dull.
The best thing about this knife is the length. If you’ve spent more than a few minutes carving big briskets and other barbecue cuts you’ve no doubt noticed how inadequate a normal 6-8″ chef’s knife is at properly trimming and carving your meat. The extra length on this Victorinox brisket slicing knife really comes in handy when you’ve got a big hunk of pork or beef in front of you. You’ll be able to smoothly and easily trim fat, separate large chunks of flesh, and carve out beautiful, even slices.
This Victorinox slicer has been consistently rated highly by both professional chefs, consumer review agencies, and home users. It’s a top contender for the title of best brisket cutting knife. Affordable, easy to use, and high-quality, you’ll be carving world-class briskets with this blade in no time.
* Dalstrong Slicing Carving Knife
While the comfortable, grippy handle on the Victorinox blade above makes it ideal for a professional kitchen, what if you want something a bit more stylish for home use? The DALSTRONG Gladiator carving knife combines quality craftsmanship, materials, and aesthetics in a surprisingly affordable package. It’s a brilliant buy for anyone who prefers a full-tang knife with an elegant wooden handle.
The core cutting attributes of this knife are quite comparable to the Victorinox above. Just like the Victorinox blade, this Dalstrong is made from flexible high-carbon steel and has Granton divots in the blade to help you as you cut. The knife itself scores a 55 on the HRC scale, meaning it’s on the softer end. This lets you easily hone the knife back to full sharpness and ensures that you won’t damage it if you accidentally carve too close to a bone.
I personally prefer a grippier handle in a professional environment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use this Dalstrong. The stylish pakkawood is covered with a special laminate that helps the blade meet NSF criteria. This means you can take it with you to barbecue competitions or other events without worry.
If you’re after a slightly more stylish knife that’s otherwise quite comparable to the highly-rated Victorinox above, this DALSTRONG is a perfect choice. It’s every bit as excellent when it comes to balance, cutting performance, and durability. Best of all, it’s very affordable, meaning you can get a wonderful meat slicing knife without spending a fortune.
* Cuisinart Electric Knife
While traditional knives like the ones above are great, they’ve got two downsides. First, you need to hone and occasionally sharpen the blade, which takes time out of your busy schedule. Second, the actual act of carving meat takes a non-trivial amount of force. If you’re carving brisket all day, you’ll get a somewhat strenuous arm workout that you might have wanted to avoid.
Electric blades like this Cuisinart neatly solve both problems. The knife features a serrated blade that’s propelled back and forth by an internal motor. Not only do you never have to sharpen the blade, using the knife takes virtually no force. The automated action ensures that your meat (or whatever you’re carving) neatly separates below your blade with practically no pressure from you.
This particular electric knife has a great combination of low cost and positive design features. It’s not necessarily the most durable or effective blade on the market. Instead, it’s very affordable, meaning you won’t mind replacing it should the handle break or the motor wear out. It’s a perfect way to experiment with an electric knife without spending a lot of money.
One of the nicer advantages that this particular carving knife has over the traditional brisket knives above is the inclusion of a bread blade. While you can slice a loaf of bread with the straight-edged knives above, you’d probably much rather use a serrated blade. This electric slicer will cut your freshly baked bread into perfect slices in seconds with practically no effort at all.
Normally, you’d think that an electric tool like this would be ugly on your countertop. Cuisinart has fixed this problem by including a tasteful wooden stand that holds both the mechanized handle and both cutting blades in a very stylish way. This lets you keep your slicer in an easy-to-reach place while ensuring your kitchen looks clean and tidy.
There are three small downsides to this knife. First of all, this knife won’t last forever. It’s not anywhere near as durable or long-lasting as the traditional knives above. You might have to replace this unit after a particularly stressful barbecue outing or many months (or years) of normal kitchen use. Luckily, it’s quite cheap, meaning you won’t really mind.
Second, the “on” button needs to be held down while you operate it. This is part safety feature, part design choice. It means that your finger might get tired if you spend more than a few minutes using this blade. On the plus side, it’s perfect for quick cuts and keeping your fingers safe.
Third, this corded knife must be plugged in to function. You’ll have to take steps to make sure that you don’t accidentally slice through the cord. This isn’t particularly difficult or unusual, but you may want to take a minute or two to think about where you would plug it in while you work. If there aren’t any convenient outlets, you might want a rechargeable knife.
Overall, this Cuisinart electric slicer is a top choice for anyone who wants to carve brisket, bread, or just about anything else with virtually no effort. The detachable blades are very easy to clean and the motor is more than powerful enough to slice through pretty much any food you throw at it, including bones. You’ll love how easy this tool makes slicing.
* Waring Rechargeable Electric Knife
For professional chefs and serious barbecue enthusiasts, this durable commercial tool will blow the Cuisinart above out of the water. It’s a big, heavy-duty tool that allows you to effortlessly slice through bones, bread, and more. The big battery pack holds more than enough charge to carve several briskets, giving you the freedom to move around as you work.
If you need a durable, professional quality electric carving knife, there’s no substitute to this Waring. It’s a remarkable upgrade over the Cuisinart above. The solid performance, tough design, and easy-to-use features won’t let you down.
How to Carve A Brisket
Carving a brisket is somewhat down to personal preference. Start with this method and then adjust it to your liking to get quick, easy results.
1. Set Up Your Carving Area
Carving brisket can be messy. The best thing to do is to place a bunch of newspaper or another disposable, absorbent material down and carve on top of that. Have a plate or cutting board ready to receive your prepared slices as you go.
2. Trim The Outside Fat
Place the tallest part of the brisket (the crown) towards you. Use your knife to push (not slice) the fat off of the part of the brisket that’s farthest away from you. It should easily separate with no cutting required.
3. Separate the Top and Bottom Plates
For this step, I like to turn my brisket around so that the tall part is facing away from me. Use one hand to grip the crown of the brisket and insert your knife in between the top and bottom plates. Pull up with your hand as you cut. Your knife will cut through the flesh that holds the two plates together.
4. Trim The Fat
The section of brisket in between the top and bottom plates has lots of fat on it. Place the plates fat side up and use your knife to remove this fat. You can simply run your knife across the brisket and push the fat off, slice off horizontal sections of meat that are your fatty for your taste or use any other technique you like. It’s usually easiest to work with the grain while you’re trimming fat. Be sure to properly trim both the top and the bottom plates.
Align the grain of both the top and bottom plate and place them on top of each other. This will save a lot of time since you can carve both at once! Carve against the grain, using long strokes to avoid disturbing the meat if you’re using a non-serrated knife.
Transfer your sliced brisket to your plate or cutting board and serve it. To clean your area, simply wrap up your scraps in your newspaper and throw them away.
The Best Brisket Slicing Knife
If you want to quickly trim and carve brisket and other cuts of meat, you’ll want a high-quality carving knife. Both long traditional knives with Granton edges and electric knives with serrated blades will work wonderfully for the actual carving process.
Whether you want a professional knife that you can take to work, a beautiful knife that you can show off to friends, or a mechanical tool that makes the carving process simple, you can find a knife that suits your needs. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to carve a brisket into perfect, beautiful pieces in minutes.