There are definitely some advantages to working from home during this COVID quarantine era. This past week I decided to try my best to replicate the absolutely amazingly-delicious Smokehouse Burger from Tejas Burger Joint. Without question, this burger from Tejas is the tastiest burger I have ever enjoyed – and I have eaten it more times than I want to count. They start with their own house-ground mixture of USDA prime-grade CAB brisket and shoulder/clod to get to a 78/22-ish mix for their ground half-pound patties (yes, that is ALOT of meat on one burger). That gets smoked on their dedicated pit, affectionately-named Samwell Tarley. And then they add smoked cheddar cheese, housemade bacon, caramelized onions and a green onion aioli – and that all get stacked on a locally-made heavenly potato bun that has been lightly toasted. It is incredible. Don’t take my word – go get one yourself, here.
Here’s how I made my knock-off:
- I don’t have meat-grinding equipment, so I started with an 80/20 HEB ground chuck and formed up approximately half-pound patties. By the way, a pre-cooked weight half-pound patty is ginormous. Mine were approximately 1/2″ thick and over 5″ in diameter. Wow!
- I seasoned the patties with my standard brisket rub – 1:1 ratio of coarse sea salt and 16-mesh black pepper.
- The patties went on my Traeger Texas Elite 34 running at 250°F and using hickory (I know, I know – this is a departure already from the Tejas recipe, since they use only well-seasoned Texas post oak).
- I anticipated about a 90-minute run on the pit. At one hour in, the internal temperature had already hit ~130°F. So I flipped them and put the bacon on the grill to cook as well. I definitely cooked the bacon too long, as it got a bit dried out.
- At an hour and twenty minutes in, they had hit ~135-140°F – so I put a couple slices of my home-smoked cheddar cheese on to melt, as well as the buns to toast, and let them sit another 10 minutes or so, at which time I pulled them.
- While the burgers were smoking I focused my efforts on creating the carmelized onions. I started by slicing up a yellow onion and began low-temp cooking in a combination of butter and olive oil. I let those cook, stirring occasionally while making sure that they continued to brown more and more, but not to burn or dry out. Sadly, I definitely failed there to some degree, as the resulting onions were not nearly as moist as they should have been. They still tasted great. But the visual was not at all what I was going for.
- FWIW, I did not even try to replicate Tejas’ green onion aioli. Their amazing chef and head smoked meat wizard (and of course part-owner), Greg, is a phenom with pretty much everything he puts his mind to. So I didn’t dare try to mimic that delicious sauce. Instead I used a little ketchup, mayo, barbecue sauce mixture.
The net result of my little experiment was definitely nowhere near as good as the certifiable Smokehouse “best burger ever” from Tejas. But I will say that it tasted pretty darned good. However, as fun as it was to make this replica burger, it was a whole bunch of work. Next time I’ll just drive to the burger joint in downtown Tomball and get Greg and team to make me one. That will be MUCHO faster and a lot less work on my part.