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messin’ with texas

Recipe: texas barbecue beef brisket

Having grown up in Virginia, the butt of our local jokes was usually West Virginia. When I headed to California for college, I began to hear a lot of jokes about Texas – especially after I met Jeremy, the native son of New Mexico. The one I heard most was:

Why is it so windy in New Mexico?
Because Texas sucks and Arizona blows.

I’m sure you can replace the states in that with any set of neighboring states, but it’s quite amusing to see how tickled folks from New Mexico are when they deliver the punch line… every time. The point is, it is not cool to love anything about Texas in the company I keep.

Well, I have to make an exception – two, in fact. I love Kathryn, who is a Texan transplanted to Norway, and I LOVE Texas-style barbecue beef brisket à la Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas Bar-B-Que (in Van Nuys, CA no less!). My former house president and good friend, Jack (oops! another Texan… make that three things I love about Texas), introduced me to The Doctor. It’s a hole-in-the-wall joint nestled between skanky billboards advertising gentlemen’s clubs and adult bookstores on Sepulveda Boulevard [8136 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys, CA (818) 902-9046]. The waitresses are strapping ladies, not a single one under size 14 or shorter than 5 feet 10 inches, who can haul pounds of barbecue chicken, pork ribs, beef brisket, hot links, and the most delicious and decidedly non-vegetarian baked beans. Come to think of it, I don’t think a single thing on their menu is vegetarian… except possibly the lemonade and iced tea.

The Doctor is one of our favorite go-to eats when we visit So Cal, and their beef brisket is one of our favorite items on the menu. It sells out on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, you name it. F’ing Good Stuff. A couple of weeks ago, a magazine editor contacted me asking if I had a nice photo of barbecue beef brisket. Um, I didn’t have any good ones and I usually barbecue pork because I am from Virginia where Pork is King. Ever since that email exchange, I have had barbecue beef brisket on the brain.


4.5 pounds of brisket with a healthy slab of fat on the other side



None of my barbecue books (all two of them) have Texas-style recipes. Believe it or not, I settled for a recipe on the (Pittsburgh) Post-Gazette Food section website. But hold on! It’s a recipe for Texas Beef Brisket from Celebrating Barbecue by Dotty Griffith. I had to give it a go.

a simple rub: salt, paprika, pepper, garlic powder

coat that baby well



I’ve actually done quite a bit of grilling/barbecuing the past couple of days. It’s just that time of year, you know? Good thing too, because today – Memorial Day – is cold, foggy, and drizzling outside, but my fridge is full of leftover galbi and beef brisket, and I have some pulled pork finishing in the oven (to give to our neighbors).

charring the fatty side on the grill

set in a baking pan and cover with foil



I know barbecue purists will argue for charcoal and smoke, but I can’t do that here without risking the very real danger of burning down my entire town and then some. It’s dry, it’s windy, we have a bark beetle infestation killing our pine forests, and my house is made of wood. Luckily, this recipe has a fail-safe technique which I took liberties with in using my gas grill. After charring the fatty side, it goes into the oven for 4-5 hours. I’m including both techniques in the recipe below.

prep the lone-star barbecue sauce



At this point, I usually want to mess with the recipe or swap out a different sauce. I like the Mutha sauce from Dinosaur BBQ, but I also love a sweeter Kansas City barbecue sauce recipe I got from a (tall and handsome) business school student neighbor when we were in grad school. But I was good and I stuck with the sauce in this recipe. I like that it calls for 1/4 cup of pan drippings in the end.

trimming off the layer of fat

slice the brisket against the grain



That is some good brisket. It’s not quite the same as Dr. Hogly Wogly’s, but it’s close. The sauce at The Doctor’s is spicier and I think the beef is juicier. Perhaps I should have used the wet mop? Will require more research (i.e. trip to So Cal and to see The Doctor), but for now, this recipe works for me. I hope it works for you too.

carnivores rejoice!



Texas Beef Brisket Barbecue
[print recipe]
Celebrating Barbecue by Dotty Griffith

8-10 lbs. beef brisket, untrimmed (thick layer of fat on one side) (I used a 4.5 lb. slab)
Texas Dry Rub, or salt and black pepper to taste
Texas Wet Mop, optional
Lone Star Barbecue Sauce

texas dry rub
2 tbsps salt
2 tbsps black pepper
2 tbsps paprika
2 tbsps garlic powder

In an airtight container with a lid, combine the salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Shake to mix well. Sprinkle over the entire surface of the meat, concentrating on the fat layer. Rub or press into the fat and meat. Makes 1/2 cup.

texas wet mop
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsps paprika
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large (or 2 small) bay leaf
1 tsp red pepper sauce
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 1/4 cups beef stock

In a medium saucepan, combine the salt, dry mustard, chili powder, paprika and vegetable oil. Stir to make a paste. Add the remaining ingredients slowly, stirring all the while. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Pour into a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate until ready to use. Brush the mop on beef or ribs while barbecuing over dry (no water pan), indirect heat. Makes 1 quart.

lone star barbecue sauce
1 1/4 cups ketchup
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1/4 cup water
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or pan drippings from barbecue

Combine the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar, mustard, water and garlic in a medium saucepan. Place over very low heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. For really smoky flavor, place on the grill away from the heat source during the last hour of smoking. Stir in the butter or drippings and cook 15 minutes longer. Pour into a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate to store, up to 2 weeks. Makes about 3 cups.

Note: To obtain pan drippings, place a drip pan under the brisket during cooking or save the juices that collect while the meat rests during slicing. You can also heat some of the fat trimmings to obtain some fat drippings. If using the fail-safe technique of barbecuing brisket, as described with the accompanying recipe, the meat drippings collect in the foil and can easily be spooned up and added to the sauce.

Beef Brisket Long Technique: Generously coat all sides of the brisket, particularly the fat layer, with the rub or salt and pepper. Cover and let the meat come to room temperature, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare a fire by lighting wood or a combination of wood and charcoal in the firebox of a cooker or at the end of a barrel smoker opposite the end with the vent or chimney. Or light the coals in a water smoker. Or preheat a gas smoker/grill. When the fire has burned down to glowing embers or the coals are covered with gray ash, place the brisket on the grate but not directly over the coals. Or place a full pan of water over the coals or hot lava rocks, then add the grate and brisket. The fire should be low, 225-250°F. Cover the cooker and smoke the brisket, turning every hour or so, until it is tender and the internal temperature reaches 180 to 190 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 8 to 10 hours. Tend the fire by adding wood (or wood embers from a separate fire) or coals to keep it from going out and to keep the temperature inside the cooker between 225-300°F. If using a mop (basting is advisable only when cooking without a water pan), brush it on when turning the brisket or after tending the fire. When the brisket is charred and tender (a fork should insert easily), remove it from the cooker and allow to rest about 20 minutes. Trim off the fat layer and cut brisket in thin slices across the grain. Serve with warm barbecue sauce, if desired. Or stack several slices in a sandwich bun spread lightly with sauce. Add more sauce, as desired. Serves 10-12.

Beef Brisket Fail-Safe Technique: The following technique produces smoky, tender brisket and cuts the time almost in half. Generously coat all sides of the brisket, particularly the fat layer, with the rub or salt and pepper. Cover and let the meat come to room temperature, about 1 hour. Light a fire in a charcoal grill that is big enough to hold the brisket. Allow the coals to burn until covered with gray ash. Place the brisket on the grill, fat side down. Grill the brisket about 45 minutes or until the fat is charred, turning when necessary to stop fat from dripping into the fire. Squirt flare-ups with water to douse the flames. Remove the brisket from the grill. *Jen’s Note: I grilled over gas flame (medium) directly for 20 minutes until the fat side was charred then indirect heat for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Place the brisket on a double thickness of aluminum foil in a shallow roasting pan. Wrap it tightly and bake for 4 to 5 hours or until the meat is very tender. Remove the brisket from the oven and peel back the foil. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F. Return the brisket to the oven and roast, uncovered, for 30 minutes to crisp the top layer of fat. Allow the meat to rest for 20 minutes. Trim off the fat layer and cut across the grain into thin slices. Serve with barbecue sauce.

35 nibbles at “messin’ with texas”

  1. peabody says:

    Arizona people tend to trash Texas as well. I pretty much tolerate all the states. :)…even Puerto Rico and Guam.
    I also am accepting of all BBQ…and this is not exception. Gosh that looks good!!!

  2. Peter says:

    Jen, I’m with you…I know wood and natural smoke are best (DUH) but do not run a BBQ pit for the masses. A gas grill gives good results and your pics here are evidence of that.

  3. Bridget says:

    Ah yes, I’m from NM, and I do love that joke…although in all honestly, I don’t have anything against Arizona.

    And, I also love Dinosaur Barbecue sauce. Can you get that where you are? I never knew about it until I lived in Syracuse, and then I just assumed that it would get harder to find the farther you got from upstate NY.

  4. lori says:

    As an 8th generation Texan, I’ll share my version of the joke:

    Why doesn’t Texas fall into the Gulf of Mexico?
    Because Oklahoma sucks!

    Makes me laugh every time. Anyone who understands the brilliance of Texas barbecue over the other types is a-ok.

  5. Courtney says:

    Oh Im drooling over this. The seasonings, the sauce.Wow.

  6. Christine says:

    Jen -that last shot of the brisket coated in sauce — that’s the money shot, I reckn’.

    I didn’t even know about The Doctor – it sounds awesome. I really hope I can try it out next time, ’cause I’m a sucker for fine dining establishments :)

    Thank you for the oven variation. I think the fact that you charred it on the grill first added that desired smokiness. You guys bbq like no one else, Jen. Texas what?

  7. Mrs Ergul says:

    I’m too far away from the States and have not heard of these jokes but its good to learn! This sure looks good, but I’m not proficient in buying beef. And the guy at the nearby market doesn’t seem to get me every time I ask for a certain part of the beef… Damn

  8. Shell says:

    I know what you mean about this being the time of the year to grill. My poor stove is thinking I ran away, but I will return I promise. We have a small roadside stand here called Clems, not exactly The Doctor, but it works. We had that last week when I took a trip to a yarn shop near it, unfortunately with gas prices rising I make every trip count.
    Pennsylvanians also use West Virginia as the butt of most jokes. That one is a gem.

  9. Leslie says:

    well ya’ll, doesnt that look mighty fine?! I could take a hunk out that meat!

  10. Mollie says:

    Yum! We have a smoker and the hubs has been making noises about wanting to try a brisket. Not that I think either of us has ever even TASTED real brisket, let alone made it. But we love all things beefy fatty and spicy so what’s not to love? Will be bookmarking this one to try!

  11. Laura @ HungryAndFrozen says:

    That looks so delicious. “Wet Mop” – hee!

  12. Jesse says:

    Oh… oh no… would you believe that in all my (22 years) of living, I’ve never had Texan BBQ? I think a visit to The Doctor is in order!

    Oh, a question about your pup… when Kaweah was neutered, how long did the recovery take and how soon after that did you guys go hiking/running etc? My poor pup just got neutered in the morning and already he’s restless and begging to be taken out to play. Ahh!

  13. Kevin says:

    That looks so good!

  14. Tartelette says:

    BBQ…anyday…anytime…especially dished out by you guys and served just like that :)

  15. Patricia Scarpin says:

    If my husband sees that… I’m toast. :)

  16. Elizabeth says:

    !”a magazine editor contacted me asking if I had a nice photo of barbecue beef brisket”!
    WOW! Congratulations!We all know your photos are incredible but to have a magazine editor want one, well, it is nice to get commercial affirmation. (hope they were talking $ while they were at it) As a native Texan, I can tell you that brisket does seems like the state cut of meat, it is ubiquitous.

  17. Nicky says:

    Oh My God. I would love to eat this right now. Although I am not sure, it would be an appropriate choice for breakfast ;)

  18. manggy says:

    Here in the Philippines, when it comes to barbecues, pork is always king (hey, just like Virginia!), but I don’t think I can argue with such a beautiful hunk of beef! (Ooh, Freudian.) You can’t use the joke with California, ey! Oh yeah, the Pacific blows. Or Hawaii? By the way, lately your stories have somehow included beautiful men in it, haha!
    I definitely like my barbecue sauce more of *everything*– spice, tart, sweet, smoke… Okay, maybe just the right amount of salt. You only get to have barbecues so often (well, maybe not in this country, lol), so why even bother with barbecue sauce that’s no better than ketchup? Mustard has definitely been missing in the sauces I’ve made before (though I do love, love my Red Hots sauce)– maybe I ought to give this sauce a try :)

  19. jenyu says:

    Peabody – It’s a good thing that Texas has a tough hide, eh? :)

    Peter – thank you! If I could run a pit BBQ for the masses, I’d consider it, tee hee.

    Bridget – we can’t actually find Dinosaur bbq sauce around here. But I have the Dinosaur BBQ cookbook and they list the recipe for Mutha sauce which I have a jar of in my fridge for “emergencies” :) So you’re right, it’s nigh impossible to find here – unless you look in my fridge *snort*

    Lori – ha ha ha! Statism is hilarious. Texas brisket is where it’s at, babe :)

    Courtney – it is a droolworthy dish, to be sure!

    Christine – hee hee, The Doctor is a great joint for greasy cue. If you and Pierre want a charming escort, let me know and I’ll introduce you to my pal Jack. I’ll warn you that he is a touchy guy. Not that he takes offense easily, no – he likes to TOUCH people as in he’ll put his hand on your shoulder, or hold your hand in the most charming and sometimes annoying way :) He’ll do this to Pierre as much as he will to you (although he loves the ladies). He’s a charmer, and a dear friend. I suppose the dear friend is why I put up with the charmer ;) He’s kissed Jeremy on the forehead before too. In fact, that may have been in the parking lot of The Doctor’s ;)

    Mrs. E – yeah, I learned about the different naming conventions for beef when I was in Sydney last year and wanted flank steak. Flank wha!?!? Brisket is the cut just above the fore-shank (foreleg) of the Moo.

    Shell – I love those kind of roadside stands. Aren’t they awesome? I found one in Washington state that served amazing raspberry short cakes or something tantalizing like that (it all sounded good, we had just been backpacking).

    Leslie – amen sistah!

    Mollie – oh, if you have a smoker then you MUST try the recipe and tell me how it is :)

    Laura – yeah, I like the terminology too!

    Jesse – you betchya, lady. Git on over thar! Kaweah got spayed when she was 6 months old (i.e. crazy and hyper). The vet said to keep her from jumping and running for a week. She jumped into the car the first day and cried out because it hurt (hey – no one said she was a bright girl). After that we kept her from being a spaz for about 24 more hours and then just let her run like a maniac. She eventually figured out what she couldn’t do… It should be easier for a boy pup than a girl pup. I’m sure he’s good to go by now.

    Kevin – okay, I expect to see this on your blog in a month’s time, hon.

    Tartelette – if you come to visit me, I will treat you to WHATEVER bbq you want, sweetie. xxoo

    Patricia – ha ha ha! You crack me up :)

    Elizabeth – well, I didn’t have the shot she needed at the time and I’m ambivalent either way. If she wants the money shot now, I’m happy to oblige, and yeah, there’s a small payment involved. But everyone knows I do it for the love and not the money, right? :) Texans know their beef, this is a fact!

    Nicky – it’s appropriate any time you feel like eating it :)

    Mark – I am an equal opportunity animal eater, as long as they are prepared well! Beautiful men, well, they are eye-catching and I am a visual girl (don’t the photos clue you in?). Hard to forget a good looking man who gives you a great recipe, no? :) What is your red hots sauce? Is that like Tabasco? I really love the bbq from most of the US regions, and I’m also a fan of many Asian style bbqs. I think I just love meat cooked over fire with good sauce – or no sauce. Mmmm, hungry…

  20. White On Rice Couple says:

    Even though I grew up on a cattle ranch I just can’t decide which I like better, brisket or pork butt. If we have enough people coming over, we get to do both. We are going to have to try your short version on the brisket, because sometimes you just don’t have half a day to stoke the Q. Lately it seems the pork has gotten the call just because we didn’t have the extra 2-3 hours to smoke it. Now the brisket may rule supreme. I’m salivating just thinking about the thinly sliced brisket with a seriously tasty sauce. Thanks for the heads up on the place in Van Nuys. Can’t wait to try their goods. Todd.

  21. Jaime says:

    mmmmm, i love some good bbq!

  22. manggy says:

    “Hard to forget a good looking man who gives you a great recipe, no?”
    Well, I should be pretty damn unfreakingforgettable, then! :D :D :D
    Oh Jen, you waltzed right into that one. I am JOKING!
    Here is a link to *my* sauce:
    http://manggy.blogspot.com/2007/12/red-hot-ribs.html

    I hope you give it a try. When spicy food is a go for you :)

  23. jenyu says:

    WoRC – I know what you mean (except about the growing up on a cattle ranch part!). I love it all. I hope the brisket is a hit for your party. Definitely make the pilgrimage to the Doctor’s, you won’t regret it! xxoo

    Jaime – who doesn’t?!? :)

    Mark – waltzed into whaaaa? ha ha ha. I will check out that sauce. Maybe we should have a virtual ‘cue off?! hee hee. Mmm, I can’t wait until spicy is a go (still cautious…)

  24. Christine says:

    Jen – Jack sounds awesome. (I had to pause after reading about the kiss he gave to Jeremy on the forehead, though….)

  25. FJK says:

    My husband loves bbq brisket and can rarely find the real thing here, so I’m going to surprise him by making this.
    Thanks for the beautiful pix and step by step instructions.

  26. jenyu says:

    FJK – great, I hope you both enjoy the brisket!

  27. datdamwuf says:

    Why in the world would you remove the fat???? that is where the flavor is! I know I know, I’ll have a heart attack, but I’ll die happy!

  28. jenyu says:

    datdamwuf – I only remove the fat after the cooking is done. It melts and bastes the meat during the oven time and some of it goes into the drippings (which are put in the bbq sauce). But eating the only fat I willingly eat whole is on bacon!

  29. barbecue beef brisket | A Hungry Bear says:

    [...] 2 recipes I borrowed from to figure out a dry rub and mop recipe are this one on Epicurious, and this incredibly helpful write-up on the Eat Real Butter food [...]

  30. Kathleen says:

    Well, enought trashing of Texas folks!!! I am a transplant to Texas from NJ, “but I got here as fast as I could” LOL. One suggestion to “smoke” your recipe, use liquid smoke in your rub, just a tablespoon will do it, then you don’t have to put it on the grill, and it will be moister!!

  31. Texas Barbecue: An Ode to Beef | Foodily Blog says:

    [...] When In Texas Texas, however, is cow country, and so invariably in the Lone Star State barbecue means beef. Typically, the beef is a sizable brisket that’s been coated all over with a dry rub of spices and cooked in a smoker at a relatively low temperature for eight to ten hours and periodically basted with a vinegary sauce known as a “wet mop.” The final product is then sliced rather than pulled, slathered with a tangy-spicy barbecue sauce and served on white bread. (Pro tip: Try to nab one of the well-encrusted end pieces. Good eats indeed.) Wanna make your own? Jen of use real butter breaks it down for you. [...]

  32. TexaSGirlsCookingitUp says:

    I live in North GA, and I can not find a Bar-B-Que place that is worth my time. I grew up in Texas the first 23 years of my life and I really really miss the food. Good Tex-Mex is an all time favorite, that I do not get here.
    But I am very excited to find this recipe and will be attempting to cook with brilliance and passion which is what makes any dish a delight. Thank you for your time and effort in providing my family a little piece of home. God bless, and good eats.
    And BTW, I have traveled the world and Texas has my heart, I never get a door opened for me like I do in Texas, anywhere else. Ladies, a Texas country man can not be topped on hospitality, I guess that depends a lot on who you surround yourselves with.
    MMMMMMMM….Ready to cook. I’ll let you know.

  33. Melinda says:

    Hi! I made the brisket today and it was AMAZING! I prepared the meat a bit different because I don’t have a BBQ. I salted the meat on both sides and then I browned the meat on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet. I placed the meat inside a double tin foil, Scattered on top onion I cut into 1/4 inch rings and 2 tsp minced garlic. I placed the meat into the oven at 250 for 5 hours. It was delicious with The BBQ sauce – which I made as described above. My husband rarely likes sauces, let alone BBQ sauce on his meat, but he actually LOVED this sauce and said “make sure you keep that recipe!” Thank you, thank you, thank you! Btw, the cream cheese brownies are delicious. :)

  34. Melinda says:

    One more thing… I live in LA county, CA and was raised I’m the San Fernando Valley. I found Dr. Hogly Wogly by accident one day, a long time ago, and their brisket is too notch. So glad I can make a just-as-tasteful dish when I can’t make it to the Valley. Thanks again!

  35. ElizabethL says:

    I lived north of Austin for a few years. LOVED the people and LOVED the food! (sorry, but as a PNW’er, the terrain and weather left a little to be desired) I’ve been trying in vain to recreate one of the two best things about TX – the BBQ. Have come close, but I think you just got me a whole lot closer. Thanks!

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