Any cut of beef can be roasted but tenderness will vary widely, depending which part of the animal the meat comes from. Some cuts are very tender and ideal for premium roasts, others are tough and best suited for pot roast, while most fall in the middle and make for good, everyday meals or sandwiches and slicing.
Most beef cuts sold for roasting come from the upper hip, shoulder and ribs. This is where you will find cuts like the sirloin, short loin, the round and prime rib roasts. These are very tender cuts of meat and can be dry roasted.
Briskets Require Long, Slow Cooking
The brisket, however, comes from the lower chest area of the cow, just behind the legs, or foreshanks. Because these muscles are used whenever the cow walks, lies down, and gets up, the muscles have lots of connective tissue. This makes for a very tough cut of meat unless it’s cooked slowly at low to medium heat (250-350 degrees Fahrenheit) for 3-4 hours. For this reason, briskets are less expensive per pound than the more tender cuts and are an affordable choice for braising, slow roasting, pit roasting, barbecue and smoking. Any technique that requires time and patience can turn this otherwise tough cut of meat into juicy, flavorful mouthfuls of beef.
Although beef brisket goes by a variety of names—boneless brisket, or brisket center cut, first cut, flat cut, nose cut and point cut—there are really only three cuts of brisket. The three main cuts are the long, the flat, and the point (also known as the deckle). The long is the whole brisket in one long piece; the flat is the most common cut and is simply the long cut into two or three pieces which are a perfect size for most families; and the point is the triangular end piece. Of the three cuts, the point contains the most marbled fat and is the tenderest.