Cheddar Brisket Crunch Burger

Dads, your day is here. Father’s Day, the biggest Dadfest of ‘em all has arrived. It’s all about the burgers and brews, the huge juicy steak, a grill full of brats, or whatever dad likes best. Pull out all the stops with a burger so big and delicious dad will need both hands. 

This Cheddar Brisket Crunch Burger covers all the bases. It’s a juicy burger and some tender brisket, topped with cheddar cheese, tangy barbecue sauce, homemade quick pickles, and crispy fried onions, just barely held together by the sesame seed bun. Created by Pig Beach Barbecue aficionado Matt Abdoo, it’s barbecue heaven and it’s guaranteed to do dad proud. 

My dad loved cooking over an open flame. He had no less than 3 grills in his back yard, two of them he built himself. I can still see him manning the heat, burgers lining every inch of the grill, turner in hand, and a big smile on his face. This burger would be just his thing, and if I could, I’d be making some with him. He’s been gone more than 20 years now, but I still miss him every day. 

This is a big cooking assignment. You can tackle all of it, or just pick what you want. Make just the brisket, or just the burger, or go after the barbecue sauce and let dad use it as he wants. You can make the sauce a day or two ahead, but do get a jump start on the brisket. It’s going to cook for up to 13 hours, so it’s an all-day adventure.  

The recipe makes more sauce than you will need. You can freeze some of it in mason jars (I like the 8 ounce size for this) so you’ll have some on hand for the rest of the summer. Internet sources say it will keep for 3 months, but I can honestly say I have stored it frozen longer. If you’d like to keep some in your refrigerator, it will last 2 weeks. 

I made the pickles a few hours ahead and used English seedless cucumbers. I also omitted the sugar, thinking this would give a nice contrast to the sweetness of the barbecue. This was the only alteration I made on this recipe, and they came out delicious.

Covering the brisket in yellow mustard will enhance the flavor of the meat and also helps the black pepper to adhere. If you know your way around a Traeger, you may have butcher paper. Butcher paper is permeable and lets the smoke through, but if you don’t have any, you can use aluminum foil. The brisket will have already smoked for 4 to 5 hours, and it will still have plenty of smoky flavor.

Be brave. Think big. Go whole hog and make dad’s barbecue dreams come true. Happy Father’s Day. 

Cheddar Brisket Crunch Burger

Quick Pickles 

makes 1 quart

  • 2 pounds Kirby cucumbers, washed, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick discs
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon whole yellow mustard seeds
  • 3 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar

Pig Beach Championship Classic Barbecue Sauce 

makes 1 quart

  • 1 1/4 cups organic ketchup
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste (3/4 of a 6 oz. can) 
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons tamari
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin

Salt and Pepper Brisket

  • 1  13- to 15-pound whole beef brisket
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup yellow mustard
  • 3 cups coarsely ground black pepper

Cheddar Brisket Crunch Burger

makes 6 

  • neutral oil for oiling the grill
  • 6  6-ounce burger patties
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 slices yellow cheddar cheese
  • 6 seeded rolls 
  • 3/4 cup Pig Beach Championship Classic Barbecue Sauce (recipe above)
  • 30 – 36 Quick Pickles (recipe above)
  • 1 1/2 pounds Salt and Pepper Brisket, shredded (recipe above)
  • 1 1/2 cups crispy onions

for the quick pickles:

Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive container and mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Mix before serving. 

for the barbecue sauce:

Combine all ingredients in a 4-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often. Once sauce simmers, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens and flavors develop. 

Remove from heat; cool and transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

for brisket:

Preheat your smoker or oven to 250º F. If using a smoker, use oak and hickory. Remove brisket from packaging and pat dry with sturdy paper towel that won’t disintegrate or stick to meat. Trim fat so that only 1/4-inch remains covering the meat, being careful not to cut too deep exposing the meat. 

Wedge-cut the pocket of fat between the top and and bottom layers of meat. (This will help the brisket cook more evenly as well as help remove excess fat that will not render during cooking.) Flip brisket over so that fat side is down; with your knife at an angle, cut the large overhang of hard fat to remove. 

Once brisket is trimmed, season with kosher salt and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Smear entire brisket with yellow mustard, then cover entirely with black pepper. 

Once oven or smoker is up to temp, place an oven-safe pan of water closest to where the heat source comes from (this acts as a heat diffuser and adds moisture to the smoker chamber, which will result in a juicier final product). Smoke or cook brisket for 4 to 5 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 155º F. 

Wrap in butcher paper (or foil) and continue to cook for an additional 6 to 8 hours, or until internal temperature reaches between 195º and 200º F. Remove wrapped brisket and allow it to rest in a warm place for at least 1 hour, or until the internal temperature drops to 155º F before slicing. 

for Cheddar Brisket Crunch Burger:

Clean, oil, and preheat your grill to high. Season hamburger patties with salt and pepper. Grill patties to desired doneness (USDA safe internal cooking temperature is 160º F); 3 to 4 minutes or more per side. During last minute of cooking, top each burger with 2 slices of cheddar cheese; close grill to melt cheese. Once cheese has melted, transfer burgers to a plate and let rest for 2 to 3 minutes.

While burgers are resting, split rolls and toast them on the grill for about 10 to 20 seconds. Transfer rolls to serving dish and pour 1 tablespoon of Pig Beach Championship Classic Barbecue Sauce on the bottom of each roll. Top each with 4 to 6 of the quick pickles. Place cooked and rested cheeseburger on top of pickles, then top each burger with 3 to 4 ounces of shredded brisket. Drizzle top of brisket with 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce, then top with a generous handful of crispy onions. Complete burger with top bun. Serve with your favorite side and more quick pickles. 

– recipe by Matt Abdoo

Donna Ferguson

Donna Ferguson

I love to cook, garden, and write about all the things in Vancouver and the Northwest that make life so great.

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