Show 305:
Texas and Oklahoma

Barbecue from Texas and Oklahoma is about big flavors and big cuts of meat - in this episode Raichlen tackles a whole beef brisket Smoke-lahoma-style and pairs it with baked Pinquito beans (a regional speciality) before going whole hog and spit-roasting a whole ham flavored with Bourbon and apricots. Spice-scented sweet potato casserole, grilled sweet potato pie and "drunken" steak round out the episode.

Smoklahoma Brisket printer-ready version

Place of origin: Oklahoma
Method: indirect grilling/ smoking
Serves 12 to 16.

Larry Willrath lives in Yukon (Oklahoma, not Alaska). We met through my web site, where the talk often turns to how to smoke the perfect brisket. Given Oklahoma's central location, it's not surprising that an Okie brisket would combine elements from Texas and Kansas City. The rub, for example, boasts the Tex-Mex tingle chili powder, cayenne, and cumin. In Kansas City style, the meat is basted with a sweet-sour mixture of apple cider and vinegar. Of course, Larry adds a few twists of his own, like marinating the brisket in a paste of brown sugar and mustard, then swaddling it in aluminum foil half way through the cooking to keep the meat moist and tender. What results is a brisket bursting with regional personality, with a complex layering of flavor that just won't quit.

Tips: Larry cooks his brisket in a smoker fashioned from a 500 gallon propane tank, taking the concept of "low and slow" to a whole new level. (Low? How about 190 degrees? Slow? How about 24 hours?) You simply can't cook this low and slow on a charcoal or gas grill, so I've raised the temperature and shortened the cooking time. But if you have a smoker that runs on low heat, you can certainly try Larry's method. By the way, the Oklahoma pit master starts smoking the brisket over a mixture of oak, pecan, and hickory, switching to apple wood midway through. Note: this recipe is fairly easy, but it does take time for marinating and smoking. Start first thing in the morning.
  • 1 12 pound beef brisket
for the seasoning paste:
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice or cider (or as needed)
for the rub:
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) paprika
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons celery salt
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons pure chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
for the mop sauce:
  • 1 quart apple juice or apple cider
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce
You'll also need: 4 cups oak chips or chunks, soaked in water to cover for 1 hour, then drained. (Note: if using chunks in a smoker, you'll probably need more like 8 cups.)

1. Trim the outer layer of fat on the brisket so that about 1/4 inch remains. Cut out the pocket of fat between the flat and cap. Place the brisket in a foil or ceramic roasting pan.

2. Make the seasoning paste. Place the mustard, sugar, and garlic in a mixing bowl. Stir in enough apple juice to obtain a thick paste. (How thick? Like wallpaper paste, says Larry.) Spread half this paste over the brisket on both sides with a rubber spatula or your fingers. Let sit for 15 minutes. Spread the remaining paste over the brisket on both sides and let set for another 15 minutes.

3. Combine the ingredients for the rub in a bowl and stir to mix. Sprinkle the rub over the brisket on both sides, rubbing it into the meat with your fingertips. Cover the brisket and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.

4. Make the mop sauce. Combine the apple juice, vinegar, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until the salt crystals are dissolved.

5. Set up your grill for indirect grilling. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box or a smoker pouch. Run the grill on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to low (275 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, preheat to low and toss 1 cup wood chunks on the coals. If using a smoker, fire it up according to the manufacturer's instructions.

6. Place the meat fat side up on the grill (away from the heat) or in the smoker. Cook it until handsomely browned, 3-1/2 to 4 hours. (The internal temperature will be about 165 degrees.) If using a charcoal grill, replenish the coals and wood every hour. Mop or baste the meat every hour with the mop sauce.

7. Generously brush the brisket on both sides with the barbecue sauce and tightly wrap in heavy duty aluminum foil. Continue cooking the brisket until very tender, another 3-1/2 to 4 hours, for a total of 7 to 8 hours cooking time. This will be easy in a smoker. It's a little more challenging to maintain such a low heat on a gas or charcoal grill-work at a higher heat if you have to, but shorten the cooking time. Partially unwrap the brisket to test for doneness, taking care not to spill the juices-the meat should be very dark and very tender, with an internal temperature of around 190 degrees. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and let rest for at least 20 minutes.

8. Thinly slice the meat across the grain. Spoon the reserved juices over the brisket and serve at once. You could accompany the meat with your favorite barbecue sauce, but if you do so, serve it on the side. The brisket will be so phenomenal, you shouldn't distract the first taste with sauce. Hell, Larry Willrath doesn't bother with sauce period. ("The brisket doesn't need it," he says) and I'm inclined to agree with him.

Best Barbecued Beans on the Planet
printer-ready version

Method: indirect grilling
Serves: 12 to 16

  • 1 pound smoked brisket or bacon cut into 1/4-inch slivers
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans
  • 1 can (15 ounces) dark red kidney beans
  • 3 cans (each 15 ounces) baked beans or pork and beans
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper or green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 to 6 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced (for hotter beans, leave the seeds in)
  • 2 cups sweet red barbecue sauce (your favorite commercial brand)
  • 1-1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard, or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke (optional; see Note)
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

You'll also need:
1 large (turkey-size) or 2 medium-size aluminum foil pans; 2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably pecan or hickory) soaked for 1 hour in hot water to cover, then drained.

1. If using bacon instead of brisket, place it in a large skillet over medium heat and fry until crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Pour off all the bacon fat, saving a few tablespoons for the beans, if desired.

2. Empty the cans of black and kidney beans into a colander and drain. Rinse the beans under cold running water and drain again. Place all the beans (including the baked beans or pork and beans) in a large nonreactive mixing bowl and add the onion, bell and poblano peppers, garlic, and jalapenos and stir to mix. Add the barbecue sauce, brown sugar, mustard, liquid smoke, if using, and brisket or fried bacon and stir to mix. Taste for seasoning, adding more brown sugar and/or mustard as necessary, and salt and black pepper to taste; the beans should be very flavorful. Transfer the bean mixture to the aluminum foil pan or pans. (If you used bacon, you can drizzle a few tablespoons of bacon fat over the beans for extra flavor.)

3. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-low. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips or chunks in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium-low. If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to medium-low, then toss all of the wood chips or chunks on the coals.

4. When ready to cook, place the pan of beans in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat, and cover the grill. Cook the beans until they are thick and richly flavored, about 1 hour. If the beans start to dry out, cover them loosely with aluminum foil. Remove the beans from the grill and let them rest for 15 minutes, then serve.

Note: If you cook the beans in a gas grill, you probably won't be able to generate enough smoke for a strong wood flavor. Add the liquid smoke in this case.

Drunken Steak
printer-ready version

Method: direct grilling
Serves: 4

  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup soy sauce (preferably Kikkoman)
  • 3 tablespoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 beefsteak (1-1/4 inches thick and 1-3/4 to 2 pounds), cut from the top or bottom round
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cold salted butter

You'll also need:
1 cup wood chips or chunks (preferably oak or hickory), soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the bourbon, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and ginger. Whisk until the sugar dissolves. Place the steak in a roasting pan just large enough to hold it. Pour the marinade over it, turning the steak once or twice to coat it evenly with the marinade. Let the steak marinate for 4 hours in the refrigerator, covered, turning it once more.

2. Set up the grill for direct grilling using a 2-zone fire. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips or chunks in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke, then lower one burner to medium. If using a charcoal grill, preheat one zone to high and the other to medium, then toss all of the wood chips or chunks on the coals.

3. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Drain the marinade off the steak and discard the marinade. Place the steak on the hot grate and grill until cooked to taste, 6 to 8 minutes per side for medium-rare. Start by searing the steak over the hot zone for about 2 minutes, then move it over the medium zone. Repeat on the other side. To test for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer in the side of the beef; The internal temperature should be 140 to 150 degrees F for medium-rare. Generously season the steak with salt and pepper as it cooks.

4. Transfer the grilled steak to a cutting board. Stick the piece of butter on the end of a fork and rub it over the top of the beef. Let the steak rest for about 3 minutes.

5. Using a sharp knife, carve the beef into broad thin slices, holding the knife blade at a 45 degree angle to the top of the meat. Pour the juices over the slices and serve at once.


After half a million miles on the barbecue trail, America's "Grilling Guru" celebrates our pit masters and pit stops, backyards and back roads in BBQ USA. From Lone Star Brisket to Maryland Grilled Soft Shell Crabs to Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken, Steven Raichlen offers 425 fiery and fabulous recipes covering all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Bourbon And Apricot Spit-Roasted Ham
printer-ready version

Source: BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2003)
Method: Spit-roasting
Serves: 6 to 8

  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups apricot preserves
  • 3/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 boneless fresh shoulder ham (about 3 pounds)
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
You'll also need:
2 cups wood chips or chunks (optional), soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained

Make the rub. Place the brown sugar, dry mustard, ground ginger, and cloves in a large bowl and stir to mix. Set aside.

Make the Bourbon and Apricot Barbecue Sauce. Combine the apricot preserves, 3/4 cup mustard, the bourbon, grated ginger, and garlic in a large heavy nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking to mix. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until thick and flavorful, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside.

Set up the grill for rotisserie grilling and preheat to medium-high. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips or chunks, if desired, in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium-high. If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to medium-high, then toss 1 cup of the wood chips or chunks, if desired, on the coals.

Generously season the ham all over with salt and pepper. Put it on the spit. Brush the ham on all sides with the 1/2 cup mustard and thickly crust it with the rub, patting the rub onto the ham with your fingertips.

When ready to cook, attach the spit to the rotisserie mechanism. Spit-roast the ham until the outside is handsomely browned and the ham is cooked through, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours. To test for doneness, use an instant read meat thermometer: The internal temperature should be about 160 degrees F. After the ham has grilled for 45 minutes, baste it with some of the barbecue sauce, continuing to baste it with some of the sauce every 15 minutes. If using a charcoal grill, you'll need to add 12 fresh coals to each side and toss the remaining 1 cup of wood chips or chunks on the coals, if using.

Unspit the ham onto a platter or cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes. Thinly slice the ham, serving the remaining barbecue sauce on the side.

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