Take your BBQ game to the next level with this recipe for St Louis Style Burnt Ends and Brisket!
Today, we’re visiting the second stop the Godfather and I made on our cross-country barbecue road trip last year with a recipe inspired by Saint Louis, MO! If you missed it, our first stop was in Kansas City where we fell in love with Kansas City Ribs.
The drive between Kansas City and St Louis is rather short, and was a welcome break after a *very* long driving day between Colorado Springs and Kansas City. We made it to St Louis in the late afternoon and had time to do a little sightseeing near the water front before checking in to our hotel. For dinner, we decided to drive out to Sugarfire Smoke House because it was touted as one of the best places in town for barbecue. It definitely didn’t disappoint!
We tried pulled pork, ribs, brisket, the chicken biscuit, a Big Muddy, and an assortment of sides, including the fried artichoke appetizer. Everything was wonderful, but the stand out, the recipe we knew we had to make at home (first), was brisket, hands down.
Slow smoked, fall apart with a butter knife, perfection is this brisket. While it’s amazing on its own, pair it with a drizzle of Saint Louis style barbecue sauce, or chop it up and cook it in the sauce a little longer for burnt ends and you have pure barbecue magic. You could choose to leave the brisket whole and just make brisket, or you can chop up the brisket in its entirety to make burnt ends, but we can’t choose, so we always leave most of the brisket as “brisket”, and cut up some of the edge pieces for burnt ends. The Godfather wrote out instructions for both.
The only thing is, when you make brisket, you have to plan to be smoking all day. We usually plan to make brisket on a Saturday where we don’t have major plans, which is nice. In a world of “instant this” and “minutes to that”, there’s something cathartic about the art of smoking and barbecue, where you have to be patient. It’s a chance to enjoy each other’s company and kick back for a bit, and I hope that barbecue as an art form is never lost.
I’m really glad that L is getting into it as much as he is. He’s happy being our resident pit master, and the results are delicious. It’s definitely more relaxing than golf (haha).
We do all our smoking on our charcoal grill, but L tells me that it’s very easy to make on a gas grill too, so don’t let that deter you! The only specialty piece of equipment that L uses is a cast iron sauce pan to reduce the sauce on the grill, but that’s optional. We really love ours though, it’s so convenient for basting!
I hope you enjoy this recipe for Saint Louis style brisket and our second stop on this summer’s road trip!
Tools and Equipment
- 9” x 12” aluminum pan
- Two 9” x 9” aluminum pans
- Aluminum foil
- Mesquite wood chips
- 2-quart Saucepan
- Small cast-iron saucepan (optional, but worth it!)
- 2 cups ketchup
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 3T yellow mustard
- 1T garlic powder
- 1t New Mexico chili powder
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- ~ 5 lb beef brisket, untrimmed
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Cranberry juice
- Fill one 9” x 9” aluminum pan with mesquite wood chips and soak in water for at least two hours. If you have a gas grill, use a smaller aluminum pan (bread loaf size) and soak the wood chips the night prior.
- In the two-quart saucepan, place all of the barbecue sauce ingredients and heat until it bubbles. Once it bubbles, reduce heat to low and let simmer for at least four hours.
- While heating the sauce, trim the fat on the brisket until leaving 1/8” to ¼” of fat on the meat
- Season the brisket with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder to both sides of the brisket. Treat the seasoning as you would with steak.
- Prepare the grill for the brisket. One half of the grilling surface should be the allocated surface area for the meat, with the middle quarter exposed as the heat source (no charcoal or flame should be directly under the meat), and the quarter at the end is for the aluminum pan with the soaked wood chips and the small cast-iron saucepan. If you have a gas grill, place the smaller aluminum pan between the flame sources. Ensure the initial grilling temperature is between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the brisket on the grill fat-side up and grill for five hours. Apply water to the wood chips as needed. Gradually reduce the heat on the grill every hour; by the last hour of grilling the temperature should be about 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the brisket from the grill and place inside the 9” x 12” aluminum pan. Apply additional salt, black pepper, and garlic powder as you would with steak. Fill the aluminum pan with cranberry juice until ¼” deep. Cover the aluminum pan with aluminum foil and place it back on the grill for another three hours between 200 and 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- OPTIONAL: If you have the small cast-iron saucepan, transfer as much of the barbecue sauce as possible to it and place it on the grill as well; this will further reduce the barbecue sauce to a thicker consistency. If you do not have the small cast-iron saucepan, you can keep simmering the sauce until it is time to prepare the burnt ends.
- Remove the aluminum pan from the grill and poke holes to allow ventilation; vent the brisket for 15 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and let it rest for another 20 minutes.
- Remove the brisket from the aluminum pan and place onto a cutting board. Cut about 1 inch from each side of the brisket and use the cuts to make approximately 1” chunks. Place the chunks in a 9” x 9” aluminum pan. The remaining brisket can be served or placed back to the original aluminum pan. Do not dispose of the remaining au jus.
- Pour one cup of the barbecue sauce over the brisket chunks and add three tablespoons of the au jus from the larger aluminum pan. Place the 9” x 9” aluminum pan with the brisket chunks and sauce on the grill for an additional hour at 200 to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the remaining barbecue sauce to serve with the remaining brisket.
- Remove the burnt ends from the grill and serve along with the brisket or your favorite sides if the brisket hasn’t been eaten.