If you have a BBQ party coming up, it’s vital to plan out every detail so that all your guests can go home satisfied after a delightful evening with flavorful, memorable food. If you are planning to serve brisket, your guests will be in for a treat. The old favorite has recently become fashionable again with more and more home cooks swearing by slow-cooked or smoked brisket, which can bring unbelievable flavors and aromas to the table.
Brisket is one of those tougher cuts of meat because it has tough muscle fibers and connective tissue. This makes it a judicious candidate for low and slow cooking or smoking. With a resurgence of interest in this mode of cooking, brisket has become newly popular and you cannot go wrong with a well-cooked brisket for your backyard BBQ party. We have a thorough overview of how to smoke a brisket that also details how much time you need.
What about portions, though? You need enough meat to feed everyone and not run out; but not too much. How much beef brisket per person is enough?
That is exactly what we will try to answer here.
Demystifying the Cut
The whole brisket, also known as the Packer’s cut, usually weighs 10-16 lbs. However, it is often sold in two separate cuts. The first or flat cut is usually used for braising and has a much less fat content. The second or the pointcut is much fattier and is usually the preferred cut when using a grill or smoker.
As a general rule of thumb, you might require anywhere from ¼ to ¾ lbs. of cooked brisket per person, depending on several important factors. The most crucial thing to remember while you are making your initial calculations is that the meat is going to lose 40%-50% of its total volume owing to shrinkage during cooking. Therefore, if you are aiming for ½ lbs per person, the simple calculation would be portioning 1 lb of meat per person before cooking.
Another consideration is the fact that you do not want to run out of food. When you are looking to smoke or slow cook brisket, you are looking at a possible cook time of anywhere between 12 and 20 hours. If you run out of brisket in the middle of your party, it will not be possible for you to go and make some more. On the other hand, if you have a little extra, to begin with, you can end up with some delicious leftovers that you can later use to make sandwiches, tacos, or any number of dishes.
Know Your Crowd
If you are cooking for friends and family, you will likely already know about the appetites of the people you have invited. Therefore, you would be able to adjust your portions keeping in mind people who like to eat heartily when there is meat involved. You can also make adjustments for children and vegetarians.
While portioning the meat, remember to consider half the usual portion size for children. Do not forget to include tasty vegetarian options like mushrooms or vegetable skewers for your vegetarian guests. It’s crucial to pay close attention during the cooking stages not to cause cross-contamination when you are cooking both vegetables and meat.
What Else Are You Serving?
One of the most important parts of your portion control, when you are serving brisket, is to take into account everything else that you are planning to serve. If you are serving a full meal, you would be likely to have appetizers and a salad served before the brisket, one or more side dishes and sauces along with the brisket, and a nice dessert to round things off. We always enjoy mac and cheese with out brisket. A nice coleslaw as a side also works well with brisket.
Depending on how filling these other dishes are, you would need to accordingly adjust your portions so that you do not end up with a lot of extra brisket when you are done. If it is a tailgating party where you are planning to serve alcohol, on the other hand, it’s integral to remember that people tend to eat more quantity and spread out eating over a longer period of time when there is drinking involved. Here, making room for some extra brisket will not be remiss.
Keeping these basic premises in mind, you would be able to shop for the right amount of brisket while keeping within your budget. You would also have to complete the shopping in good time to allow the brisket to cook and rest properly before you can serve. If you go with the calculation between ¼ lbs. to ¾ lbs. of brisket per person, planning your party, and getting everyone fed properly, should be something that you can easily accomplish.