by Matt Hames0
Texas Hill Country Brisket with Cool as a Cucumber Salad
This southern beef brisket recipe from Chef Elizabeth Karmel was another recipe we couldn’t get enough of during our time at the 2013 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Flavored with the sweetness of post oak and the zip of beer, the Texas Hill Country Brisket is a savory and supple brisket that is easy to recreate for a number of settings.
Serves 8-20, depending on appetite
Barbecue doesn’t come any purer than what they serve in the Hill Country and central Texas. The rub is simply salt, coarse-ground black pepper and cayenne, and the meat is flavored by the sweet smoke of post oak. This is a ‘no sauce’ zone where folks savor the unadorned meat that is rich and beefy, a little bit salty and ringed a rosy pink from the smoke. At Hill Country Barbecue Market in New York City, we celebrate authentic Texas barbecue and we learned from the best. For us, the best is Lockhart’s Kreuz market where your fingers are your forks and the best way to eat the meat is with a nibble of a saltine cracker, a bite of Longhorn cheddar and some of the best sweet pickles you’ll ever put in your mouth! I wrote this brisket recipe for the home cook and it will turn out a brisket that is as close to authentic Texas barbecue as you can get outside of Texas!
1 (7-9 pound) Whole Beef Brisket, untrimmed
1/2 cup Lockhart Dry Rub (see below)
1 Bottle Beer
Post Oak or Oak Wood Chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle brisket liberally with the rub of your choice. Set-up the grill for indirect cooking on medium-low heat and place the smoker box in gas grill. Pour beer into a drip pan and place the drip pan on the charcoal grate between the two piles of briquettes. In a gas grill, pour the beer into a small drip pan and put on the far-left corner of the cooking grates.
Note: The beer is in the pan to add moisture to the cooking environment while the meat smokes. This is a good idea anytime you smoke-cook foods for a long period of time because smoke reduces the moisture in the air. Place wood chips that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes directly on the grayed briquettes, if using charcoal, or in the smoker box in your gas grill. Place brisket (fat side up) in center of the cooking grate over the drip pan. You will not turn the brisket during the cooking time at all. Grill 5-7 hours or until meat thermometer registers 180°F. When done, remove from grill and let rest 20 minutes. Slice thin and serve with assorted accoutrements including pickled okra, avocado slices, jalapenos, white onion, Longhorn cheddar cheese, and saltine crackers or sliced white bread.
NOTE: If using charcoal, be sure to add fresh briquettes each hour to keep the heat constant.
©2013 Elizabeth A. Karmel, executive chef of Hill Country Barbecue Market, recipe adapted from Taming the Flame: Secrets or Hot-and-Quick Grilling and Low-and-Slow BBQ
For the Lockhart Dry Rub:
1/2 cup Morton Kosher Salt
3 Tablespoons coarse ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix well. Store rub in an airtight container.
This simple salad beats coleslaw hands down as an accompaniment for barbecued brisket. The vinegar dressing and the fresh cucumbers cut through the richness of the beef in a sweet and savory salad that is as refreshing as the name sounds.
For the cool as a cucumber salad:
2 English (seedless) cucumbers
½ cup Granulated White Sugar
½ Tablespoon Kosher or Sea Salt
1 cup Unseasoned Rice Vinegar
Wash and dry the cucumbers. Peel alternating strips of the green skin off the cucumber with a vegetable peeler. Slice very thinly with a mandoline-style slicer or a slicing disc of a food processor. Set aside. Peel shallots and slice at the same thinness as the cucumber. Mix cucumber and shallots. The shallot slices will un-ravel into small rings which is what you want. Set aside.
Whisk sugar, salt and vinegar together until completely dissolved. Pour over cucumber and shallot slices, and mix well, separating the slices to make sure none of them are sticking together. Put vegetables and all the liquid in a non-reactive (plastic or glass) container with a tight lid and refrigerate, turning occasionally for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Keeps for five days in the refrigerator—but they’ll be gone long before that!
Note: I like to put up the “cured” pickles in Mason jars for giving away and serving.
Meet Elizabeth Karmel
North Carolina native Elizabeth Karmel was raised on barbecue—at roadside stands, neighborhood cookouts and county fairs—but it wasn’t until she moved away from home that the barbecue love affair began. When it wasn’t at her fingertips, she had to learn how to smoke it herself and a pit-mistress was born.
Karmel, a.k.a. Grill Girl is a nationally respected authority on grilling, barbecue and Southern food. She is the Executive Chef of Hill Country Barbecue Market in NYC and Washington, DC, and NYC’s Hill Country Chicken. She developed the award-winning concept, menu and flavor profiles from the meats to the sides and desserts for all three restaurants. On July 4, 2012, The New York Times awarded Hill Country Barbecue Market NYC 2 stars and a glowing review that read like a love letter to barbecue and the Hill Country concept.
As a sought after media personality, Karmel writes for, and is frequently featured in an array of national magazines from Saveur to Better Homes & Gardens, and appears regularly on all three network morning shows. She is a guest judge on Chopped and has appeared on a number of Food Network shows and has hosted her own special on The Cooking Channel.
She writes a bi-monthly column for the Associated Press called The American Table and is the author of three acclaimed cookbooks. She designs an innovative line of outdoor cooking and kitchen tools, and the founder of the decade-old, gender-breaking GirlsattheGrill.com.