May 23, 2019

Joe’s Kansas City-Style Brisket

Recipe: Steven Raichlen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 9 to 12 hours for cooking and resting

Try Joe’s Kansas City-Style Brisket recipe from the cookbook The Brisket Chronicles by Steven Raichlen.

In a city as barbecue-obsessed as Kansas City, there are many styles of brisket. None is quite as distinctive as the brisket at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, founded by Jeff Stehney, head pit master of the much-decorated Slaughterhouse Five championship barbecue team and a 2017 inductee in the Barbecue Hall of Fame. Stehney starts not with whole packers, as is the practice in Texas, but with brisket flats. He gives them the usual rub and smoke treatment, but what really sets them apart is the way they are carved — into paper-thin slices on a deli-style meat slicer. This gives you a sandwich with a shaved beef texture that may remind you of Chicago’s Italian beef. Plus, this barbecue rub is classic Kansas City, with sugar to make it sweet and mustard, chili powder and cayenne to turn up the heat.


Slaughterhouse 2.0 Champion BBQ Rub

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp dry mustard powder, such as Colman’s
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 2 tbsp granulated onion
  • 2 tbsp dried granulated lemon peel
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper


  • 1 large brisket flat (6 to 7 pounds)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Slaughterhouse 2.0 Championship BBQ Rub (see above)
  • 1 cup apple juice or apple cider, in a spray bottle, for spritzing
  • 12 hamburger buns, brushed with 3 tablespoons melted butter and grilled or toasted, for serving
  • Your favorite sweet-smoky barbecue sauce, for serving
  • Sweet pickle chips, for serving


Yield: Serves 10 to 12

Make BBQ Rub

  1. Combine the salt, sugar, chili powder, dry mustard, paprika, granulated garlic, onion, lemon peel and black and white and cayenne peppers in a bowl and stir to mix, breaking up any lumps with your fingers.
  2. Slaughterhouse 2.0 Championship BBQ Rub will keep, in a sealed container at room temperature away from heat and light, for several weeks.

Prepare Brisket

  1. Using a sharp knife, trim the brisket, leaving a layer of fat at least 1/4 inch thick. Be careful not to over-trim. It’s better to err on the side of too much fat than too little.
  2. Place the brisket fat side up in the aluminum foil pan. Sprinkle the rub to coat the brisket on all sides, rubbing it into the meat with your fingertips.
  3. Fire up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and heat to 250°F. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer. Place a metal bowl or aluminum foil pan with 1 quart of warm water in the smoker — this creates a humid environment that will help the smoke adhere to the meat and keep your brisket moist.
  4. Place the brisket in its pan fat side down in the smoker. Smoke the brisket for 1 hour, then turn it fat side up. Continue cooking the brisket until the outside is darkly browned and the internal temperature registers about 155°F on an instant-read thermometer, 5 to 6 hours, rotating the brisket 180 degrees halfway through so it cooks evenly. Spritz the brisket every hour with apple juice. Refuel your cooker as needed, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Wrap the brisket tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil, crimping the edges to make a tight seal. Insert the probe of a digital thermometer into the meat (it’s best to pierce the foil only once). Return the wrapped brisket to the smoker and cook to an internal temperature of 185°F, 2 to 3 hours more.
  6. Transfer the wrapped brisket to an insulated cooler and let it rest for 1 to 2 hours. (This allows the meat to relax and its juices to redistribute.)
  7. Unwrap the brisket, working over a rimmed sheet pan to collect the juices. Slice the brisket paper-thin on a meat slicer or transfer it to a welled cutting board and slice it with an electric knife.
  8. To serve, pile the sliced brisket onto the prepared buns. Spoon on the reserved brisket juices. Add barbecue sauce and sweet pickles.

Excerpted from The Brisket Chronicles by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Matthew Benson. Used with permission from the publisher.