Wagyu Brisket – Worth the Hype?

When cooking brisket, you always need to take all precautions to prevent the meat from becoming overly dry. At the same time, you need to cook it long enough to allow for the intramuscular fat to break down and make the meat juicy and delicious.

You should take special care if you are planning on smoking Wagyu brisket because it is a cut that costs more and can become a pretty special meal when appropriately prepared.

Read on to find out more about the best way to cook Wagyu beef briskets and what makes Wagyu beef so much better than other beef.

Main characteristics of Wagyu brisket

Main-characteristics-of-Wagyu-brisket
Photo credit: ryansgrocery

Wagyu brisket is a primal beef cut from the breast or the lower chest of Wagyu beef or veal. The brisket consists of the deep and superficial muscles which support over half of the bodyweight of the animal. This means that it is tough meat with a lot of connective tissue made up of collagen, which needs to be broken down through long and slow cooking.

When the connective tissue breaks down, it renders into delicious and juicy meat. Wagyu brisket has much more marbling than regular brisket.

Wagyu is a Japanese word for “Japanese cow” and is a term that is used for one of the four main Japanese cow breeds – the Kuroge Washu (Japanese black), Kassyoku Washu (Japanese brown), Nihon Tankakushu (Japanese shorthorn), and Mukaku Washu (Japanese Polled).

In the USA and the Western world, the term Wagyu is used especially for the Kuroge Washu, or the Japanese Black cattle breed.

This famous beef breed is considered the best in the world and is renowned for the fantastic and extreme marbling of the meat, which gives it that very special umami flavor and a buttery melt-in-your-mouth texture. The most famous brand of Kuroge Washu Wagyu is Kobe beef.

But before you get overly excited, you need to keep in mind that most of the Wagyu brisket and beef you will find in the USA is actually sourced from domestic American Wagyu.

You can find some of the best American Black or Gold grade Wagyu brisket at Snake River Farms

Japanese Wagyu or American Wagyu?

It is important to understand that there are some significant differences between the Japanese and the American Wagyu brisket and beef.

Authentic Japanese Wagyu is very carefully purebred, with an astounding 99.9% of all of the breeding mother cows from the Japanese Kuroge Washu breed can be traced back to one single bull named Tajiri, which lived from 1939 to 1959. This beef is known as the Tajima beef line with the highest marbling levels. Of course, it is not only the DNA of the animals that matters but how they are raised in order to get higher grades for the beef.

There are other famous Wagyu lines, as well as luxurious beef brands in Japan, some of which are higher rated than Kobe, such as Miyazaki, Bungo, and Ohmi, which come from different regions in the country.

American Wagyu was developed when purebred Kuroge Washu cattle were imported from Japan to the USA in 1975 and was crossbred with the traditional Angus beef cattle. The purebred animals were also exported from Japan to other countries, such as Australia and Canada, in the same period.

Unlike the strict regulations for certified Japanese Wagyu in Japan, in the USA, the American Wagyu meat needs to contain just under 50% of pure Kuroge Washu blood to be certified by the USDA.

Naturally, the purebred A5 Japanese Wagyu is considered the premium product of the two and has that sweet umami flavor and signature marbling. As such, the highest quality Japanese Wagyu, such as Kobe beef, is very expensive and hard to find in the USA.

At the same time, the American Wagyu is excellent quality beef as well and is mostly graded by the USDA as Prime beef, even though it is not from purebred Kuroge Washu.

Is Wagyu brisket really so valuable?

Is-Wagyu-brisket-really-so-valuable
Photo credit: secondcityprime

If you are asking yourself whether Wagyu brisket is worth the hype and the money, the answer to this question is how serious you are about the flavor of your beef, and whether you are willing to pay a lot more for a brisket which has more marbling than the regular beef brisket.

The marbling can help prevent the drying of the brisket, which is a common issue for this traditionally tougher cut of beef.

But once again, the answer to this question is quite subjective. Some pitmasters and barbecue champions like Myron Mixon swear by Wagyu brisket, while Aaron Franklin likes using Prime brisket instead.

If you are a beginner, we recommend that you start with and practice with a less expensive brisket, and leave the Wagyu brisket for when you have accumulated the experience and are ready to prepare it for a special occasion.

How does Wagyu differ from Prime Brisket?

The main difference between Wagyu and Prime brisket is in the marbling and the finer and more luxurious intramuscular fat consistency of the Wagyu brisket.

As for the grading, while many people think that Wagyu beef has a higher grade than Prime, in actuality, the two are graded in accordance with different grading systems.

Less than 2% of all of the US beef is graded as Prime by the USDA. The Prime grading is based on the marbling or intramuscular content of the ribeye cut from between the 12th and 13th ribs and the age of the animal at the time of the slaughter.

Wagyu beef is graded by the Japanese grading system for beef, which is more complicated and includes the following sub-grades:

  • The Yield Grade is a letter grade indicating the amount of meat that can be yielded from the most prized cuts of a carcass. A is an above-average grade, B is average, and C is a grade for below average.
  • The Quality Grade is for the marbling as well as the texture and color of the meat and the quality of the fat. The Quality grade is from 1 (low) to 5 (highest quality).
  • The Beef Marbling Score is a grade for the marbling of the meat only and ranges from 1 for little or no marbling up to 12 for the most extreme marbling.

So, the highest grade Japanese Wagyu is A1 9-12, which translates to above-average yield from the most sought-after cuts, best quality meat with extreme marbling.

In other words, when it comes to grades, the Japanese Wagyu brisket and the Prime brisket are hard to be fairly compared.

American Wagyu brisket producers rely on both the Japanese best marbling score (BMS) and the USDA grading systems to grade their products.

So, Wagyu or Prime?

As a whole, a Wagyu brisket that has a BMS of 9 or above is a higher quality product than a USDA Prime brisket.

As mentioned earlier, the Wagyu brisket of this grade will have much more marbling and a higher quality of intramuscular fat than the Prime brisket.

The authentic A5 Japanese Wagyu brisket is several levels above both the American Wagyu and Prime briskets, but it is not easy to find in the USA, and if you find it, you can expect to pay at least $780 for a 13-pound brisket flat, which is pretty pricey.

Finest stores to buy Wagyu Brisket

Snake River Farms

Snake River Farms was established back in 1968 as a family-owned beef production company and has been breeding high-quality American Wagyu since the 1980s, produced from purebred Japanese Wagyu and American Angus cattle.

It is a company that supplies top-quality meat (beef and pork) to the leading restaurants in the USA and is preferred by pitmasters around the country as well.

The Company controls the entire life cycle of the cattle and the supply chain from the ranches to the table.

You can buy hand-cut and wet-aged Black Grade American Wagyu Brisket or the 9+ BMS Gold Grade American Wagyu Briskets online, and they can be shipped to you on the same day if you order them before 1 pm EST.

DeBragga

DeBragga is possibly the most famous NYC butcher shop, which has been the main supplier of Japanese Wagyu and USDA Prime dry-aged beef to the best steakhouses and restaurants in New York City and around the country ever since 1972.

The company is among the very few licensed distributors of the highly-prized Japanese Miyazaki Gyu beef in the USA, which is considered even better than Kobe beef in Japan.

You can buy top-quality American Wagyu brisket from DeBragga at much more reasonable prices than the Japanese beef offered.

The American Wagyu meat offered by the company is of the highest quality and is a result of crossbreeding purebred Japanese Wagyu with the best Angus breeds.

You can order the amazing American Wagyu brisket – Kobe style online, and it can be delivered fresh and not frozen to you if you live in the Northwest. If you live elsewhere, you may need to pay extra in order to receive the meat delivered fresh to you.

Related: The Best Places to Order Meat Online

The perfect way to cook a Wagyu Brisket

Although there are differences in the structure and texture of the two, cooking a Wagyu Brisket is really no different than low and slow cooking a regular beef brisket.

Here are some tips for getting the best results when cooking Wagyu brisket:

Allow it to cook for longer in order for all of the rich marbling to render down.

You may want to let the finishing temperature reach about 213-217 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of the cook to allow for all of the fat to break down completely.

If the Wagyu brisket has too much excess fat, you may want to trim it down to prevent it from becoming too fatty. The rule of the thumb is to trim any fat which is thicker than ¼ of an inch.

Use a thinner coat of rub so that you don’t overpower the sweet umami taste of the Wagyu beef.

Use a reliable meat thermometer to make sure that you don’t overcook the precious Wagyu brisket, and keep checking both ends of the meat to make sure that it is done to perfection.

Keep the temperature in the smoker steady.

Final thoughts

The idea of investing in Wagyu brisket may be tempting if you are planning on participating in a BBQ competition or for a very special occasion. Most backyard pitmasters prefer to stick to the excellent quality USDA Prime brisket or regular brisket.

But keep in mind that a top-grade Wagyu brisket will be beautifully marbled and, when prepared properly, will most likely turn out to be the best brisket you have tasted. Plus, you can find American Wagyu brisket at quite reasonable prices among reputable online butchers and meat stores.

Overall, if you can afford it, we strongly recommend that you cook your own Wagyu brisket.

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