Chef Stephen Bucalo’s Texas Style Brisket and Burnt Ends

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For my wife Andi and I, it has been a joy and a pleasure being a part of the cast of two seasons now of Ryan Seacrest Production, “I Love Kellie Pickler” on CMT. We have really enjoyed working on the show with our dear friends. One of the things we love about the show is that it is often is about shining a light on others and their talents, their passions and what they have to offer to the world. Kellie and Kyle have said from the beginning that they wanted the show to lift up others. It is in that spirit that I would like to use this week’s Hillbilly Supper Club blog to shine a light on my friend, Chef Stephen Bucalo.

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Stephen is the Executive  Chef at The Hub. This wonderful beach venue is a gathering place for friends and family (and dogs!), located along beautiful scenic Highway 30A in Watersound Beach, Florida. It is a multi-mix venue with several restaurants all under the direction of Chef Stephen. The space also hosts the Gulf Coast’s largest LED Jumbotron, where sporting events, movies and live-recorded concerts are shown. We love to watch college football games on the big screen and get some BBQ and cocktails on Saturdays in the Fall. There is a faux grass lawn for corn hole, lounging and screen watching. You can enjoy indoor or outdoor seating, relax by the fire pit or by the fireplaces in the screened in porch & get a drink at one of the two bars onsite. On top of all of that, my good friend, Ashley Grimes, Director of Marketing and Events at The Hub  is on her game when it comes to live music and manages to bring in some of the best national touring artists around during the vacation season 5 to 6 nights a week at no additional cost to Hub customers. Wednesday nights are reserved for family movie night and a picnic. Fun for kids and adults alike all in one place!

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One of the favorite Hub restaurants Stephen takes great pride in is called “Local Smoke”. The BBQ is pretty great. I asked Stephen to share his very popular brisket recipe with us as well as his approach to “Burnt Ends”… a very sought after delicacy in Texas and now in the Florida panhandle that you don’t find everywhere.

Chef Stephen Bucalo’s Texas Style Brisket

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Hint from Stephen: 

“So there are three main things about brisket… “

1. Time

2. Temperature

3. Slicing

Ingredients you will need:

1 – 13 to 14 lb beef brisket

1 cup of course ground black pepper

1 cup of your favorite bbq dry rub

1 pint of your favorite barbecue sauce

Sliced white sandwich bread

To make brisket:

1. Combine pepper and dry rub and mix well. Apply mixture to brisket by pouring into hands and “rubbing” in to meat until well coated all over then set aside…

2. Prepare smoker and adjust vents to set heat at 205 degrees.

Use preferred wood… mesquite, cherry, pecan or hickory are all good choices.

3. Place brisket in smoker and smoke for 12 hours* maintaining  205 degrees throughout.

4. Remove from smoker and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

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*You want to aim for about 12 hours for cooking your brisket. However, it may take as little as 6 hours or as much as 18 hours to reach an internal temperature of 180 degrees depending on the heat distribution of your smoker. Using a meat thermometer, monitor temperature while your brisket is cooking.

It should work out for you to cook your (13 to 14 lb) brisket at 205 degrees for around 12 hours… Chef Stephen says… “ Shoot for 12 hours, but no matter what, even if it’s after 6 hours, once it hits an internal temp of 180 degrees, pull it off smoker and let sit for 30 minutes to rest.” After 30 minutes, you can wrap in foil and return to a warming drawer or oven set at 160 degrees until ready to serve.

Slicing your brisket:

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Slicing your briskit is the 3rd thing to pay attention to Stephen says… “It is very important to identify the “point” of the brisket, then slice across from the end of the point. This will insure you are cutting across the grain which will allow meat to pull apart easiest and will result in the juiciest most tender end result.”

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Slicing across the grain will give you that tender, pull apart signature brisket goodness!

Serve with sauce on the side or as a sandwich with the side items you prefer. Potato salad, baked beans, collard greens, mac and cheese, squash casserole slaw, pickles etc.

Chef Stephen Bucalo’s Burnt Ends:

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First of all… what are “burnt ends”?

When you cook a brisket, some parts of the cut of meat are thinner on the outside of the cut and when done, tend to be cooked more perhaps losing all fat content. However these parts of the meat, when mixed with sauce and smoked an additional amount of time, become more tender and offer a delicious almost concentrated intense smokey flavor. Burnt ends are considered a delicacy in southern cooking circles and are excellent when chopped and added to baked beans or on sandwiches or on their own.

To make burnt ends…

Dice ends of brisket into 3 to 4″ cubes.

Toss cubes of brisket in sauce and put in oven proof container then return to smoker for about six hours at 205 degrees.

Stephen serves them on top of good ol’ fashioned white bread with extra sauce drizzled over the top. His customers seem to be pretty ok with that.

In the southeast it’s all about the pork and Stephen can do that like nobody’s business but he started out as a student of Texas BBQ which is all about the beef. That means using dry rubs during cooking and then adding sauce as a condiment. “Your bbq should speak for itself” he says. “The sauce is just a little something extra”.

Stephen Bucalo is an all around good guy and a 2002 graduate of the Western Culinary Institute in Portland Oregon. He is recognized by his peers as an expert in the “farm to table” movement and was head chef of the critically acclaimed, Fox Brothers BBQ in Atlanta Georgia before being “whoo’d” over to The Hub in early 2016.

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©Ken Johnson Hillbilly Supper Club 2016

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