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What word can I use to accurately describe brisket of beef in French? I usually go to the butcher with a chart of US beef cuts and point to it but it neer seems to correspond to the same piece. Does anyone know the definitive translation?

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I don't know where you live, but if you are in Paris, if you go to a butcher on rue des Rosiers (in the traditionally Jewish area of Paris), they will know what a brisket is - I've gotten some there. –  JDelage Mar 15 '11 at 5:38
    
Thanks. Do you know what they call it? –  Zippy Mar 15 '11 at 20:17
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I asked for a brisket... –  JDelage Mar 24 '11 at 16:49
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9 Answers 9

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It's not that simple. Every culture cuts their beef differently (or not at all!) and therefore has different names for it

Around the Belgium, Dutch, French low lands they call what the US call brisket and flank, just flank. And what other parts of France might call brisket is not always cut separately, it is just part of the chuck

Confused, we are...

Many butchers in cities receive partially processed carcass parts, so parts like the chest (brisket) may have been removed for processed meat etc

So you need to take a cutting diagram to a butcher whom displays whole carcasses and you should be able to get what you want

As I understand it the brisket extends from in front on the fore legs, between the forelegs and a short way past them? When we have a beast killed most of that goes into the salamis, yum!

Edit: Some common words used are:

  • Flanchet
  • Plat de côte
  • Poitrine
  • Tendron

A popular brisket cut is a long thin (10mm) strip of the full width of the brisket (left to right). A serving is a single slice slowly grilled and topped with a chunky sauce

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To surmise: there may not exist a word to describe brisket to a French butcher. My German mom could never get the exact cuts she wanted in the Netherlands - and those are neighbouring countries. But try taking the charts and images to different butchers until you find one that gives you something you like. –  Erik P. Mar 15 '11 at 13:46
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@Erik : quite true; I remember watching a UK chef talk about a 'feather steak', which not only wasn't an official name, but came from the way that the primals were broken down, so just doesn't exist in the U.S. And even when you do have names, they might be only barely overlapping areas (eg, sirloin in the US vs. UK) –  Joe Mar 15 '11 at 16:52
    
The traditional cuts can also vary within countries, I remember reading (probably in Kästner's "Die verschwundene Miniatur", where the main character is a German butcher) that the traditional cuts of meat are quite different in different regions of Germany. –  Theodore Murdock Aug 5 '12 at 20:34
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The UN has a standards document that contains translations of beef cuts from English to French, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese. (To try to work around the fact that everybody has slightly different cuts of meat.)

They list:

  • (Boneless) Brisket - Poitrine sans os
  • Brisket deckle off - Morceaude poitrine sans os épluché
  • Brisket navel plate - Flanchet / tendron sans os
  • Brisket point end deckle off - Gros bout de poitrine sans os épluché
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Good spotting! Typical UN document, nothing to do with harmonising people, just harmonising large scale global trade –  TFD Aug 5 '12 at 20:30
    
excellent pointer to standards document! People may laugh at this sort of text, but it is really important that, when you send a shipload of beef from Argentina to Belgium, there is a very clear understanding of what exactly is beef, what it should look like and how it should be cut. Good trade relationship make for good international friendship. –  Walter A. Aprile Jun 9 '13 at 12:29
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The French word is le tendron, it is also known as le gros bout de poitrine.*

Sources:

Use Google Translate to translate from French to English.

*I do not speak French

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Not terribly surprised that the Canadian version is different... in your case, le tendron would be the full brisket (owing to its 10 kg weight); the other one must be the flat brisket. –  Aaronut Mar 15 '11 at 0:00
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My French is poor, but I would be cautious using the "tendron" word, while in classic french it means flesh from ribs (brisket), it more often means "young girl" :-) –  TFD Mar 15 '11 at 20:47
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If you're living in France then I apologize if my Canadian French leads you astray, but according to the (bilingual, obviously) Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the terms are:

  • Pointe de poitrine (Brisket or flat brisket)
  • Poitrine complète (Full brisket)

Here's that same page in English if you want to cross reference other cuts.

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I live in Bordeaux but used to live in Texas. Here is my "modus operandi" when I need a specific piece of meat like the brisket. I show my butcher a diagram and show him the part I need. The usual term for brisket is "poitrine" I ask him to cut a piece of 5 kilos and to leave the fat on the top of it. He knows me now and always tell me when he has a entire beef coming in, that way he is sure the brisket is still there. They usually don't sell it in France so I pay +/- 5 euro/kg. "Pointe de poitrine" seems to be the right word for brisket. Enjoy!

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Ahh ... pictures. If there's one thing I've learned from IKEA, it's to give up on words and stick with pictures. –  Joe Sep 13 '13 at 15:41
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The Canadian Beef Council has a bilingual chart of beef cuts (PDF) which might be useful.

(Although, French and Canadian cuts might not be the same, even if they're in the same language; I know US and UK aren't. But with pictures, the butcher might be able to identify the correct bits for you)

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In a fantastic French cookbook called Saveurs Américaines, Editions du Chêne, 2002 the brisket recipe calls for JUMEAU de BOEUF.

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Google translate . Pointe de poitrine de boeuf is the correct translation , I had it verified by my butcher when I asked him for the cut he knew no question asked .

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Look here, english french terms.

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/francais/fssa/labeti/mcmancv/beeboe1f.shtml

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That's Canadian French? –  TFD Oct 3 '12 at 5:30
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