Monday, July 7, 2014

Southwest-Style Smoked Barbecue Brisket

To download a copy of the recipe for Smoked Barbecue Brisket, click HERE. 


During a recent trip to the southwest (Oklahoma and Texas), I noticed that many of the touchstone moments involved food. This was especially true for foods that were the real versions of the pale imitations we get here in the northeast. Since having the burrito served at El Chico’s in Waco, Texas, I haven’t had the New York version since, or wanted to. 


Another good example is barbecue. In the northeast, barbecue usually consists of a meat cooked in barbecue sauce, then covered with more sauce. The sauce is the star of the show, and the meat is a supporting player. My first real barbecue (the brisket sandwich at Rudy’s) showed me that the meat needs to be able to stand on its own flavor; if it’s not independently delicious smoked meat with just a little bit of sauce for support, it’s not barbecue. The brisket was the hero of the story; the sauce was its trusty sidekick.

If the thought of smoking meat conjures images of food television shows featuring smokers the size of tractor trailers being operated by people whose days and nights are devoted to finding the perfect wood combination, fear not. Small, stove-top smokers make this wonderful cooking method available to home cooks like us. And while stove-top smokers aren’t complete substitutes for the full size ones, they do a pretty good job if you use them right. (See Cook’s Notes below for some comments on using the stove-top smoker.)

Some Cook’s Notes before we begin to make our smoked barbecue brisket:

  • Portions of this recipe are adapted from Emeril Lagasse's “Texas-Style Smoked Brisket”.

  • These instructions are based on a Camerons stove top smoker. Method for using other models may vary. Check the instructions. (If necessary, you can even use a search engine to find instructions on how to make your own.)
  • Since smoking time in a stove-top smoker is usually less than for a full-size smoker, wood chips that work well in full size smokers may not work as well on the stove-top. Hickory and Mesquite are both good choices for a stove top smoker.
  • Since the brisket requires very little attention while coming to room temperature, while smoking, and even while in the oven, this time can be used to prepare side your side dishes. (I served mine on fresh baked herbed rolls and with honey slaw on the side. You’ll find the herbed roll here and the honey slaw recipe here. (If you have any trouble downloading or copying the recipes, just send me a note and I’ll be happy to e-mail you a cookbook-style copy of either or both.)

This recipe makes about 4 servings.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • For the wet rub: 2 Tbsp brown sugar; 2 Tbsp paprika; 2 Tbsp salt; 1 Tbsp garlic powder; 1 Tbsp onion powder; 1 Tbsp black pepper; 1 Tbsp horseradish (prepared is ok, fresh-made is better); 1 Tbsp hot sauce; 1 Tbsp Worcestershire; and 2 tsp ground cumin.
  • 2 lb beef brisket
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Other equipment needed: stove top smoker; 1-1/2 Tbsp wood chips (hickory or mesquite is recommended); cooking spray; meat thermometer.

First, we’ll make the rub and marinate the brisket:

In a bowl, thoroughly combine the rub ingredients.

Set the brisket on a sheet of plastic wrap and rub the mixture onto the brisket.

Wrap the brisket tightly in the plastic wrap. Place on a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator to marinate 6 to 8 hours.

When the brisket has finished marinating and you’re ready to start smoking, prepare the stove-top smoker as follows. (Also see Cook's Notes above.)

Place 1-1/2 Tbsp of wood chips in a small pile in the center of the smoker base.

Cover the drip tray with foil, and place it on top of the wood chips inside the smoker base. Spray the wire rack with cooking spray, and place it on top of the drip tray. After the brisket has finished marinating, remove it from the refrigerator and, after letting it come to room temperature, place it on the wire rack.

With the lid slightly open, place the smoker on one burner of the stove over medium heat. When the first bit of smoke appears, close the lid and let the brisket smoke for 90 minutes.

When the smoking time is almost done, begin preheating the oven to 275 degrees F.

After the smoking is complete, it’s time to complete the cooking process.

Remove the brisket from the smoker and wrap in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast until tender and an instant-read thermometer registers an internal temperature of 185 to 195 degrees F., or until the meat is tender. This will probably take about two hours, but watch the temperature and give it whatever time it needs. Cook by temperature, not by time.

Remove the meat from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes. When the brisket has finished resting, trim the surface fat from the brisket. The fat is good for cooking, but not so good for serving.

Carve the meat against the grain.



To download a copy of the recipe for Smoked Barbecue Brisket, click HERE. 

All that’s left is to add your sides and serve your brisket on a plate or as a sandwich with a good barbeque sauce. (Cowboy hat or baseball cap with a reference to something from the southwest is optional, but highly recommended.)

Please visit again for the next next great-tasting, home-cook friendly recipe post. (Spoiler alert: In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting the recipe for a cool, refreshing summer dessert you’re going to think is just peachy. Oops…have I said too much?) Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Dessert Pizza

 To download a copy of the recipe for Apple Cinnamon Streusel Dessert Pizza, click HERE.

I’m ba-a-a-a-a-a-ck

Although I “retired” from posting weekly recipes back in August, it remained my hope to continue to post recipes on an occasional basis. It took seven months, but this weekend I once again got to cook with a camera in one hand and a pen in the other.


A long time staple of pizza chain restaurants, dessert pizza is not a new concept. Made at home, by you, with the kind of attention to detail and ingredients a mass-production chain restaurant could never provide, however, it can be brought to a higher, and frankly pretty delicious, level. (Even the recipes you’ll find on-line often use canned apple pie filling for the topping. I don’t get that. Isn’t having a dessert that’s fresher and better than the one you buy from a chain restaurant the reason you’re making it yourself in the first place? But I digress…)

Of course, if your household is anything like mine, a dessert pizza will probably be used as a breakfast pizza. Dessert pizza just sounds more grown-up; in private, we know better.

Some Cook’s Notes before we begin:

  • This recipe makes a 16 inch pizza. For smaller or larger pizzas, adjust the amounts of each ingredient proportionately. 
  • For a less sweet dessert, reduce the amount of sugar in the apple-cinnamon topping.

This recipe makes one 16” pizza (approximately 12 portions).

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the pizza dough base: 1 pizza dough (purchased or home made); 1 Tbsp melted butter substitute

For the Apple-Cinnamon Topping: 4 Granny Smith apples; ¼ cup sugar; ½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed; 2 Tbsp AP flour; ¼ tsp salt; 1/4 tsp nutmeg; ½ tsp ground cinnamon; 1/8 tsp lemon zest; 2 tsp lemon juice

For the Streusel: 1-1/4 cup all purpose flour; 1/2 cup white sugar; 6 Tbsp brown sugar; 2-1/2 Tbsp firm textured butter substitute, very cold; 3 Tbsp flavor-neutral oil

For the Icing: 1-1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar; 3-1/2 Tbsp skim milk; 3/4 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Lightly coat a pizza pan with butter substitute.

Pat the dough into a pizza pan.

Coat the pizza dough with 1 Tbsp melted butter substitute.

Peel and cube the apples.

Combine the apple-cinnamon topping ingredients.

Spread the apple-cinnamon topping mixture all around buttered crust.

Combine streusel ingredients with a fork. (Avoid using your hands, since your body heat will soften the butter substitute.)

Top the pizza with the streusel mix. (You’ll probably have some streusel mix left over.)

Bake for about 13 minutes until crust is lightly browned. When done, let it cool to warm or room temperature.

While the pizza is cooling, combine icing ingredients. (The amount of milk shown is approximate. Start with a little less, and add a little more at a time until the mixture has a drizzle consistency.)

Drizzle the icing on the pizza.

Cut into slices to serve.

To download a copy of the recipe for Apple Cinnamon Streusel Dessert Pizza, click HERE.

Whether you enjoy this easy-to-make sweet treat for dessert, Sunday morning breakfast, or as a naughty midnight snack doesn’t matter. Just enjoy it!

You never know when the next great-tasting, home-cook friendly recipe will be posted, so please look in once in a while! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)