Sometimes what you think might be a mistake can end up being one of the best things that you have ever done. I ordered some pork shanks from our local butcher. My goal was to make pork wings, which are made from the shank. Well, I didn’t explain myself well and what I ended up with was a big bag of shanks that had been cut in half, which definitely weren’t going to work for pork wings. Well, a quick glance around the web and I found tons of great recipes for braising shanks, which I will do but I also found the idea of smoking them and using them in the place of smoked hocks. Now that’s an idea I can get excited about because I love hocks and beans. So I took 8 of the shanks (trust me, I have plenty more), brined them for a while and then smoked them. The end result was tender, perfectly smoky-flavored shanks that were amazing in a big pot of beans. I wouldn’t hesitate at all to get more shanks from my butcher for no other reason than to smoke them. They’ll be great this fall and winter in soups and stews. They also fit in well with my ‘no empty space on the smoker’ rule, which says if you’re going to fire up your smoker, use all available room that you have. No point in wasting smoke. Shanks are the perfect size for using up valuable smoker grate space in my opinion.
I’m not sure why I was hankerin’ for egg salad, but I was. But I figured it was time for a little twist on the ole classic, so I decided to fire up my smoker with a few charcoal briquettes and a chunk of apple wood and smoke a few eggs. I figured a little smoke flavor would really make for a special egg salad. I was right. Eggs are also a great thing to toss (er, gently of course) onto your smoker after you’ve finished smoking a pork butt, ribs, brisket or whatever, and you still have a good fire going. They take just two hours. Smoked eggs can have just a hint of smoke (use a small chunk of light wood) or a stronger smoke flavor (use hickory), but it doesn’t take much smoke so don’t overdo it.
I love smoked potatoes. Smoking them adds such a fantastic (but not overpowering) smokiness. And it’s cooler than just baking them in the oven. And since I also love sweet potatoes, why not just combine two of my favorite things? Smoked sweet potatoes are sweet (duh) and creamy, and oh so tender. To counter that sweetness just a bit I top them with a nice (also smoky) sour cream and chipotle mixture. And a little bacon for some more smokiness and a bit of crunch. Forget russet potatoes, smoked sweet potatoes are the best! Don’t have a smoker? You can use the technique for my perfect baked potato on sweet potatoes too. You won’t get all that smokiness of course, but the chipotle sour cream and bacon will help make up for that.
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. Now, 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.
There are some things were self-control just doesn’t happen for me. This smoked Chex™ mix is one of them. Put a big bowl of it in front of me and it’ll be gone soon. Specially the bagel chips. There’s something about the bagel chips in Chex™ mix, specially after they’ve been smoked. The smoke flavor is not overwhelming, but it’s there, and it’s different in a wonderful way. The smoke compliments traditional Chex ™ mix flavors perfectly. The cereal in this smoked Chex™ definitely soaks up the smoke, so do not go crazy with the wood in your smoker. Use a very small chunk, smaller than would fit in your palm, and use only a lighter wood. No mesquite or hickory here, go for the lighter fruit woods.
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt (I used some of my homemade mix, see below)
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Homemade seasoned salt (makes more than you'll need for the Chex mix)
1/2 cup Kosher salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Fire up your smoker for cooking at 250 F. Add only one small piece of light wood, such as apple or peach. If you are using a smoker that has a water pan, such as the Weber Smokey Mountain, do not fill the pan with water.
Combine the cereals, pretzels, nuts and bagel chips in a large bowl.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir.
Combine the seasoned salt, garlic powder and onion powder and slowly whisk into the melted butter.
Drizzle the butter mixture over the cereal and gently toss to coat.
Place into a disposable 9" x 13" deep aluminum pan and place on the top rack of the smoker.
Smoke for 1 hour or until the mixture turns golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes.
Remove and let cool completely before serving, or store for up to 2 weeks.
Homemade seasoned salt
Combine all ingredients. Store in an air-tight container.
I made some poor man’s burnt ends not long ago. They really got my burnt ends 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 burnt ends in my book. Tender as you can get. Beefy good flavor. Every bite is a treat. I could eat burnt ends all day long. As much as I love sliced smoked brisket, or chopped smoked brisket, to me burnt ends pack more flavor into every bite. And they’re really great served on a hoagie bun with lettuce and tomato as a burnt end po boy!
Peppery rub (I used Tataonka 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.
Some folk aren’t fans of the ‘Texas crutch’ method of cooking brisket (in this case, a brisket flat). Some folks do the crutch with butcher paper. Some crutch with foil. This here is how I smoke my brisket using the Texas crutch. The end result is 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. I 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!
I picked up a few fancy salami the other day while at Jungle Jim’s market outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. I didn’t get them by accident. Someone on an online BBQ group had recommended cutting them Hasselback-style, smoking them and glazing with an apricot glaze. The thought had my mouth watering, so I proceeded to make awesome smoked glazed salami. A little sweet, a little smokiness, and flavor-packed cured meat. Perfect. These sliced salami treats are perfect on crackers with cheese. Or even on sandwiches. Or by themselves. If you like a little spiciness, you can substitute jalapeno jelly for the apricot preserves. The heat really works well with the flavor of the salami.
Cut thin slits in the salamis, but do not cut all the way thru. Tip: I lay two wood spoons alongside the salami. Then, when I cut down thru the salami the round spoon handles keep me from cutting too far.
Fire up your smoker for cooking at 225 F. Use a light wood such as apple or peach.
Smoke the salami for 1 hour.
Combine the apricot preserves and Dijon and brush half over the tops of the salami.
Smoke another 30 minutes then brush with the remaining glaze and smoke another 30 minutes.
Remove from the smoker.
Serve as is, with a knife for slicing, as a great topping for crackers. I also sliced the salami and served it on sandwiches.