Smoked Brisket Texas Chili

The North End Barbecue & Moonshine restaurant in Indianapolis is definitely one of my favorite restaurants. They have a fantastic menu, but for me, the best dish by far is the Texas red chili. It’s simple, spicy, and oh so packed with flavor. Smoked brisket, homemade bacon and a red sauce that I could just slurp up with a (big) straw. I can’t always make it to North End BBQ, so I decided to make my own (slightly different) version of their Texas chili. I was absolutely pleased with it. Nice and spicy, with a bit of smokiness.
smoked-brisket-texas-chiliNow, you could make this smoked brisket Texas chili with just cubed chuck that has been lightly browned in the Dutch oven first. Nothing wrong with that, not one bit, but if you have smoked brisket, it really gives the chili a completely different flavor than just regular ole chili.

I roasted a few jalapenos on the grill and chopped them to use as garnish. They added even more bite and flavor to what was already a great bowl of chili.

My green chile mac and cheese chili stew is also out-of-this-world crazy good. Give it a try too!

Smoked Brisket Texas Chili

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings 8 servings


  • 8 dried chiles I used guajillo, but just about any chile will work
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 3 large cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups beef broth plus more if needed
  • 2 cups water plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons masa harina if you don't have any masa, take a handful of plain tortilla chips and grind them in a food processor or by hand using a mortar and pestle
  • 2 pounds smoked brisket cubed
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • Garnishes sour cream, roasted jalapenos, grilled lime edges, etc


  • Toast the chiles in a hot skillet over medium-high heat 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Remove to a large bowl and cover in hot water. Let sit for 30 minutes, turning once.
  • Remove chiles (do not discard the water). Cut off the stems and remove the seeds.
  • Chop lightly and transfer to a food processor.
  • Add the cumin, pepper and a few pinches of salt, along with 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid. Process until smooth. If needed add a bit more of the water.
  • Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add the broth and water. Bring to a simmer.
  • Whisk in the masa harina and add the processed chile paste.
  • Add the brisket and stir. Cover.
  • Let simmer for 2 hours or until the beef is tender, adding more broth if necessary.
  • Stir in the brown sugar and vinegar and add more salt to taste. Simmer another 10 minutes.
  • Serve with the desired garnishes.

Burnt Ends

I made some poor man’s burnt ends not long ago, which really got my mojo going. So I ran out and picked up a gorgeous Wagyu beef brisket and proceeded to make the real thing, brisket burnt ends. And suddenly, all was good in the world again. Nothing compares to these in my book. Tender as you can get. Beefy good flavor. Every bite is a treat.
Burnt EndsI could eat these all day long. As much as I love sliced smoked brisket, or chopped smoked brisket, these little morsels pack more flavor into every bite. And they’re really great served on a hoagie bun with lettuce and tomato as a po boy!

Need to feed a crowd? Try hot dog burnt ends instead.

Burnt Ends

Cuisine American
Prep Time 12 hours
Cook Time 10 hours
Total Time 22 hours
Author Mike


For the brisket

  • 3-4 pound brisket point
  • Peppery rub I used Tatonka Dust, but a mix of salt and pepper is perfect too
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce

Texas Crutch sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon more peppery rub


For the brisket

  • Rub the rub all over the brisket.
  • Transfer to a resealable container or wrap in foil and refrigerate overnight.
  • Fire up your smoker for cooking at 225 F. Use whatever wood you prefer. I wanted a little stronger smoke flavor than I usually opt for so I used Jack Daniel's whiskey barrel chunks. Burnt ends need a little more smoke than say sliced brisket, in my opinion.
  • Transfer the brisket to the smoker and cook until the internal temperature (as measured in several spots) reaches 170 F.
  • Remove the brisket and place it onto a large piece of foil.
  • Combine the crutch sauce ingredients and pour over the brisket.
  • Seal the brisket tightly in the foil and return to the smoker until the temperature reaches 195 F.
  • Remove the brisket from the foil.
  • Cut beef into 3/4" - 1" cubes and place into a large disposable pan.
  • Lightly (very lightly!) drizzle the meat with the BBQ sauce. You just want the flavor from the sauce. Toss gently to coat.
  • Sprinkle with more of the rub and return to the smoker for 1 more hour.
  • Devour.

Texas Crutch Smoked Brisket

Some folks aren’t fans of the ‘Texas crutch’ method of cooking brisket. Some folks do the crutch with butcher paper. Some crutch with foil. This here is how I smoke my brisket using the Texas crutch, packed with flavor, tender and juicy. I slice it thin then pile it on buns for sandwiches or just eat it right off the plate. And yes, a good amount of it disappears while I’m slicing it.
Texas Crutch Smoked BrisketI do not sauce my brisket before slicing it, but you can if you like. Wait until it’s almost done to sauce it and don’t use too much sauce. You don’t want to hide the fantastic brisket flavor. The rub really adds fantastic flavor to the meat and you don’t want to miss out on that! You can also use my coffee rub for beef, which adds a totally different flavor profile to your brisket.

On the off-chance I have leftover smoked brisket, it often ends up in chili.

Texas Crutch Smoked Brisket

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 12 hours
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 20 hours



  • 1 4-5 pound brisket flat

For the rub

  • 2 tablespoons beef base
  • 2 tablespoons garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon Turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

Texas Crutch sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Turbinado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice


  • Optional: Cut a small piece off a corner of the brisket perpendicular to the meat grain. This will make it easier to find and cut against the grain after the brisket is done.
  • Combine the rub ingredients and rub all over the brisket.
  • Transfer to a resealable container or wrap in foil and refrigerate overnight.
  • Fire up your smoker for cooking at 225 F. Use whatever wood you prefer. I wanted a little stronger smoke flavor than I usually opt for so I used Jack Daniel's whiskey barrel chunks.
  • Transfer the brisket to the smoker and cook until the internal temperature (as measured in several spots) reaches 170 F.
  • Remove the brisket and place it onto a large piece of foil.
  • Combine the crutch sauce ingredients and pour over the brisket.
  • Seal the brisket tightly in the foil and return to the smoker until the temperature reaches 195 F.
  • Remove the brisket from the foil and return to the smoker (and brush with BBQ sauce, if desired) until the temperature reaches 200-205 F.
  • Remove from the smoker and let rest 30 minutes before slicing against the grain.

BBQ Pinwheels

Oh, I’ve made my share of pulled pork sandwiches. And I love them. Sometimes you want something a little different, but still with that great BBQ flavor. BBQ pinwheels are an excellent alternative to sandwiches. They’re easy to make, easy to eat, and very tasty. They also make for the perfect party appetizer.
BBQ PinwheelsYou can use anything from pulled or shredded pork, chopped brisket, smoked chicken, or even rotisserie chicken.  For a spicier kick, substitute pepper jack or habanero jack cheese for the cheddar and use a spicy BBQ sauce.

Also try my BBQ hot dog appetizers and my bacon cheddar pinwheels.

BBQ Pinwheels

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 12 -14 pinwheels
Author Mike


  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tube refrigerated pizza dough
  • 1/2 cup your favorite BBQ sauce plus more for serving
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded meat pulled pork, pulled chicken, rotisserie chicken, chopped brisket
  • 1/2 small red onion chopped
  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar shredded (Swiss, provolone or pepper jack also go well)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped


  • Preheat oven to 425 F.
  • Sprinkle the flour onto a flat surface.
  • Open the pizza dough and spread it over the flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle.
  • Brush the BBQ sauce all over the dough.
  • Sprinkle the dough with the meat, onion, cheese and parsley.
  • Starting with the longest edge, roll the dough up into a long cylinder.
  • Cut the cylinder into 1" wide sections and transfer, laying down flat, to a baking sheet.
  • Bake 15 minutes or until hot and the dough is crispy and done.
  • Serve with additional BBQ sauce, warmed, for dipping if desired.

Brisket with Cajun Brown Gravy

This slow-cooked brisket with Cajun brown gravy came out absolutely fantastic.Sure, it’s tender and juicy, but it’s the flavor… perfectly meaty with the sweetness from the onions and peppers and a kick from jalapeno. And there’s plenty of Cajun-flavored gravy for sopping, so bring some bread to the party. This is comfort food at its best.

Brisket with Cajun Brown GravyI really, really liked this brisket over Texas toast, topped with crispy onion rings. The crunch of the rings contrasted well with the tender beef, while the bread got all gravied up and, man, it was good. You could also use French fried onions or nice and crispy French fries.

Brisket with Cajun Brown Gravy

Course Main
Cuisine Cajun
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 10 minutes
Servings 10 -12


  • 6 pound beef brisket trimmed, cut into 2-3 pieces
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 quarts beef broth
  • 2 large white onions chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 2 jalapenos seeded, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Rice white bread, onion rings.. whatever you like for serving and sopping


  • Brown the brisket on all sides in a Dutch oven. Remove.
  • Heat 3/4 cup oil in Dutch over medium heat.
  • Gradually whisk in the flour. Keep whisking until smooth, adding more oil if needed.
  • Cook roux 15-20 minutes or until dark brown, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Do not burn.
  • Meanwhile, warm the beef broth.
  • Slowly (WARNING: Be very careful! The roux will be very hot and the broth will boil when added. Keep your hands and face away from over the pot) pour the broth into the roux while whisking vigorously to break up any clumps.
  • Bring to boil, reduce to medium low and simmer 20 minutes, skimming away any foam or fat.
  • Scrape bottom to loosen any settled roux.
  • Pour into slow cooker. Set heat on low.
  • Heat 3 additional tablespoons of oil in the Dutch oven over medium-high.
  • Add the onion. Saute 15 minutes.
  • Deglaze with 1-2 tablespoons of water if bottom of pot becomes too brown.
  • Add garlic, bell pepper, jalapenos, and Cajun seasoning. Saute 3 minutes. Pour into slow cooker with broth mix.
  • Add bay leaves, cover and simmer on low for 4-5 hours or until meat starts to fall apart
  • Remove meat to a cutting board and chop as desired. Return to cooker and keep warm until ready to serve.

Baumbach’s Pit Bar-B-Que & Grill, New Paris, Ohio

Sadly, Baumbach’s Pit Bar-B-Que is now closed. For great BBQ in the Richmond, Indiana, area visit Firehouse BBQ and Blues.

Baumbach’s Pit Bar-B-Que & Grill in New Paris, Ohio, has been on my to-eat list for a while now, but it seems that any time we are near Richmond, Indiana, it isn’t anywhere near mealtime. Baumbach’s is located just outside of Richmond and only a few miles off I-70.

Upon arriving you notice a big stack of wood and a big smoker. I was trying to not get my hopes up, but it was hard not too.

Baumbach's Pit Bar-B-Que & Grill, New Paris, OhioWhen we entered we were met by a very pleasant, enthusiastic young lady that sat us at our table. She explained the menu and took our drink order. I always enjoy when the wait staff are energetic about the food they serve. It means it is good.

Baumbach's Pit Bar-B-Que & Grill, New Paris, OhioI ordered the sliced brisket, slaw, and green beans. First, I have to say that the brisket was outstanding. Easily the best I’ve ever had. Trimmed perfectly, smoked perfectly, and spiced perfectly. It was unbelievable. Even Anita enjoyed a few bites, which says a lot because she’s not a big beef eater. The sides were also very good. I really loved the slaw.

Anita started out with a big bowl of potato soup that had… yes…. rib bits in it! Oh man was it good! For her main, Anita had the Q-Cobb salad which is topped with rib bits (rib bits are a great thing!) and smoked chicken breast. I sampled the chicken and pronounced it “danged good”.

Baumbach’s has a nice atmosphere, a big, well-stocked bar, and friendly service. I was glad to see them doing a decent amount of business while we were there. We need more places like Baumbach’s!

Baumbach's Pit Bar-B-Que & Grill, New Paris, OhioOn the Life’s A Tomato ‘Mater Rater, I give Baumbach’s 5 tomatoes across the board!

'Mater Rater

Missouri Hick BBQ, Cuba, Missouri

Mmmmmm, good!

We were making a trip from Indy to Fayetteville, Arkansas (Go Hogs!) a while back and were on the hunt for some good BBQ on the way. We came across a sign on I-44 for Missouri Hick BBQ in Cuba, Missouri. The restaurant is located on historic Route 66, about 2-3 miles off the interstate. It’s well worth the drive, too.

The place has a nice atmosphere, with what look like handmade carved wooden chairs. All well done. It definitely has character.

And hey, with placemats like these, you know you’re in for something good!

Missouri Hick BBQ, Cuba, MissouriService was prompt and pleasant. Anita ordered the pulled pork sandwich, with German potato salad. The potato salad was served warm. It had a nice mustard flavor and was very, very good. The pulled pork was as you’d want: moist and tasty with just the right amount of smoke.

I had the brisket sandwich with poppy seed coleslaw. The brisket was very tender, moist, and very tasty. Nice smoke ring and smoke flavor. And the coleslaw was outrageously good. I love jalapeño or green bell pepper in my slaw. This slaw had red onions in it. The dressing was just sweet enough that it really went well with the kick of the onion. I’d seriously return to Missouri Hick even if all they had on the menu was the slaw.

There were 5 BBQ sauces on the table, ranging from sweet and smoky to spicy. We found them all to be good, but of course our favorite was the spicy. I even bought a bottle to bring back home.

Missouri Hick BBQ, Cuba, MissouriSo if you’re in the area, stop on by. And no matter where you are, visit your local (or not so local) BBQ joint. You’ll be glad you did!


Update: We stopped at Missouri Hick again recently on the way to Northwest Arkansas. I again ordered the large brisket sandwich and the poppy seed slaw. The brisket was tender, tasty and smoked perfectly. The slaw is addicting. Very addicting.

Missouri Hick BBQ, Cuba, MissouriMissouri Hick is a really great BBQ joint. They have a large menu, great service, and the prices are right!

On the ‘Mater Rater scale, I give this place 5 maters across the board!

'Mater Rater

I always seek out great local BBQ joints, like the one near our house, Garrett’s Smokehouse BBQ.

Garrett’s Smokehouse BBQ, Indianapolis, Indiana

I’ll eat anything that’s been cooked low and slow. As a big fan of BBQ done right, I was happy to finally make it down to Garrett’s Smokehouse BBQ, which is not too far from our house here in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Garrett's Smokehouse BBQ, Indianapolis, IndianaGarrett’s is located in a little strip mall. They have a full BBQ menu – pork, chicken, brisket and even turkey. We decided to get our meal to go.

Garrett's Smokehouse BBQ, Indianapolis, IndianaAnita ordered the pulled pork sandwich with a side of mac-and-cheese. For her sauce, she went with the mild. I had the brisket sandwich with a side of spicy slaw and sweet BBQ sauce. I was already happy since the meats weren’t pre-sauced. You just never know when someone might be trying to hide poorer quality smoked meat under a sauce. Not the case at Garrett’s, that’s for sure.

The meats were smoked perfectly. You know how sometimes you get BBQ and only the first 1/2″ or so has a smoke flavor? Garrett’s BBQ had a nice (but not overwhelming) smoke flavor throughout. Both sauces were great. Really great, actually. I’m going to pick up some extra sauce next time for my own smoked ribs.

Besides the meats, the sides were also excellent. They were both made from scratch. Anita’s mac-and-cheese was smooth and cheesy. My spicy slaw was definitely spicy. I love homemade slaw – there’s such a difference between it and store-bought. I’m looking forward to trying their other sides.

We had a good meal from Garrett’s. We’ll be returning soon! It’s great to see local restaurants turn out great food like Garrett’s. Support your local chefs and cooks. And when you’re travelling, try to find a non-chain place, like Missouri Hick BBQ for much better eats than you’ll get at the familiar restaurants along the interstate. Although I do have to say that for a chain, Famous Dave’s is mighty good too!