Smoked Brisket Bao with Creamy Chipotle BBQ Sauce and Crisp Apple Slaw

Juicy smoked brisket slices are partnered with a crisp apple slaw, stuffed in to pillowy soft steamed bao, then slathered with a double-mayo delight of zesty lemon mayonnaise and a creamy chipotle BBQ sauce, delivering a mouthwatering handful of summer deliciousness.

The slow smoking of the brisket ensures a spectacular pink smoke ring and a deliciously dark bark, with the chipotle BBQ sauce delivering a creamy richness. The sweet apple slaw and tangy lemon mayonnaise combine deliciously with the soft bao to balance out the smoke and spice.

 

Ingredients

Beef Brisket

  • 1.2 – 1.5kg beef brisket 

  • Your favorite beef rub* see notes or

    • 2 tbsp kosher salt 

    • 2 tbsp coarsely ground pepper 

  • Spray bottle filled with water

Steamed Bao

  • ¾ cup warm water

  • 1 tbsp sugar

  • 2 tsp yeast

  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil

  • ½ tbsp sesame oil

  • 2 ½ cups flour

  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder 

  • 1 tsp salt

  • Sesame oil for brushing

Crisp Apple Slaw

  • ½ savoy cabbage, thinly sliced 

  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 apple, julienned 

  • 1 carrot, julienned 

  • 100g snow pea shoots, torn in half

  • Coriander leaves to garnish 

 

Lemon Mayonnaise 

  • ½ cup Best Foods mayonnaise 

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 

  • Salt and pepper

Creamy Chipotle BBQ Sauce

  • ½ cup Best Foods mayonnaise

  • 2 tbsp BBQ sauce

  • 2 tbsp chipotle hot sauce (adjust to suit your taste) 


Method

Brisket Method

Prepare the brisket by placing it on a board, patting it dry with paper towels, and then trimming off any hard fat on the outside of the brisket, leaving any soft fats to render out during the cook.

Mix the salt and pepper together in a small bowl, then rub it all over the surface of the meat, ensuring a generous coating – a good coating of the rub is critical in ensuring a nice BBQ crust (bark) on the finished cut. 

 Set up a charcoal BBQ or smoker for a low and slow cook via your chosen method (see notes) aiming for a consistent temperature of 120°c.

Place the brisket on the grill, away from the heat source. If you have one available, insert a digital BBQ thermometer into your meat and another to measure the ambient temperature of the BBQ (see notes).

Once the brisket is in position, add your wood chunks to the coal and close the lid. 

One hour in

After the brisket has been smoking for an hour, adjust your spray bottle to a fine mist, open the BBQ and give the brisket a very light spray of water, being careful not to disturb the rub by spraying too directly or heavily. Repeat this process at two hours and three hours, topping up or adjusting your coal and wood as needed to maintain the consistent temperature of 120°c.

Four hours in

The brisket should now be forming a dark crust as it takes on the smoke and water. To avoid the meat drying out it is now important to ‘boat’ the brisket. Prepare a ‘boat’ by laying out 2-4 sheets of heavy-duty tinfoil on a large board and crumpling the sides in to form a tray slightly larger than the brisket. Remove the brisket from the grill, place it in the boat, then slide it carefully back on to the grill. This protects the meat and lets it cook in its own juices, while protecting the bark and allowing it to continue to form.

Five, six and seven hours in

Each hour spray the brisket with water, and check your coal, wood and temperatures. 

8 hours in

Depending on the size of your brisket, from 8 hours onwards, the brisket may be ready. This isn’t necessarily dictated by the internal temperature of the meat, but rather how the meat ‘feels’. Brisket may be ready anywhere from 88°c through to 102°c.

Once you are in the general internal temperature zone, check the brisket for doneness by probing it with a meat skewer. When it ‘probes like warm butter’ – i.e. the probe can be slid in to the brisket with no resistance or force required, it is almost ready. 

When you’ve reached the safe temperature zone and feel the brisket has reached the desired level of tenderness, leave the meat on for an additional 60 minutes, then remove from the grill and rest for an hour. 

Steamed Bao, Slaw and Dressings Method

While the beef is cooking, make the bao dough by mixing the water, sugar, yeast and oil together in a jug or bowl.

Add the flour, baking powder and salt in to a bowl (or food processor), add the wet ingredients and mix (or pulse) thoroughly to form a firm dough.

Tip the dough on to a board, knead briefly, then form the dough in to a smooth ball. Place it in a clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (30-40 minutes). 

Once risen, tip the dough out and divide in to 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece out in to an oblong shape, approximately 20cm by 10cm. Brush the dough with a thin layer of sesame oil, then fold the oblong in half to create the semi-circle bao shape. Set aside to rise again for 20-30 minutes until each bao has puffed and risen slightly. 

Place the bao in to lined bamboo steamer baskets (3 per basket depending on the size of your steamer) leaving room around each for them to rise. 

Steam the bao in batches, over boiling water for 10-15 minutes until puffy and dry to the touch. Remove from the steamer and set aside. 

To make the crisp apple slaw, mix the slaw ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.

For the lemon mayonnaise and creamy chipotle BBQ sauce, mix the ingredients for each dressing together in small bowls or jars, then set aside. 

When all elements are ready, slice the brisket perpendicular to the grain. If cooking a whole packer brisket, note that there are 2 muscles (point and flat) with perpendicular grain angles so be sure to rotate the cut as necessary to ensure you always slice against the grain angle. 

To serve, carefully pull open the steamed bao, smear a generous dollop of lemon mayonnaise inside, then top it with a handful of crisp apple slaw. Wedge in thick slices of brisket and drizzle the meat generously with the creamy chipotle BBQ sauce, and finally – garnish the bao with fresh coriander leaves.  

 

Notes:

To select a low and slow cook method, we recommend researching the snake method for a kettle, and the minion method for a vertical smoker.  

Try mix up some of the flavours on yoru brisket by using some of the many fantastic commercial rubs that are on the market. Lately, like on this brisket, I’m enjoying a generous serve of Hardcore Carnivore Black or its my go-to favourite local beef rub Rum and Que Bull Dust.

While you could cook this on a gas barbecue, to get truly authentic BBQ brisket, a charcoal kettle BBQ, vertical bullet or offset smoker is essential for authentic flavours.

The lid thermometers on most barbecues are of poor quality, and/or are in the wrong position to accurately measure the actual grate temperature from where the meat is sitting, so we recommend using reliable ambient thermometer like a Weber igrill or similar to ensure the meat is cooking at the optimum temperature.

 

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