Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest. While all meat animals have a brisket, the term is most often used to describe beef and sometimes veal. The beef brisket is one of the eight beef primal cuts. According to the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, the term derives from the Middle English “brusket” which comes from the earlier Old Norse “brjósk”, meaning cartilage. The cut overlies the sternum, ribs and connecting costal cartilages.
Cows lie on this enlarged part of the sternum which carries about 60% of the body weight.
In the U.S., the whole brisket has the meat-cutting classification NAMP 120. The brisket is made up of two separate muscles (pectoralis major and pectoralis minor), which are sometimes separated for retail cutting: the lean “first cut” or “flat cut” is NAMP 120A, while the fattier “second cut”, “point”, “deckel”, “fat end”, or “triangular cut” is NAMP 120B.