We came up with this technique, which has now become our most signature cut, out of necessity. Before we opened the LeRoy and Lewis food truck in March of 2017, we had booked a week’s worth of SXSW catering events through friends and industry connections. They had all requested brisket on the menu and, since we had never had any problems sourcing from purveyors since starting pop-ups the fall before, we agreed and booked. When it came time to order briskets for the week, there were no briskets available from our purveyors that fit our sourcing criteria. The one thing that I wanted to separate us from other barbecue joints is that I wanted to know that all of our meat was locally and sustainably raised in Texas. Rather than go back on our stated mission at the first sign of difficulty, we got creative. We ordered beef cheeks instead of brisket and trimmed, seasoned, and smoked them similarly to how we smoked brisket. The result has landed our little blue food truck in the pages of Texas Monthly, GQ, Eater, Southern Living, and more. For a full video break down on how we prepare our beef cheeks, subscribe to our Patreon.
Smoked and Confit Beef Cheeks
1 (5lb) pack of beef cheeks
1/2 C coarse ground black pepper
1/4 C kosher salt
1 qt rendered beef tallow
The beef cheeks will come out of the package as two main muscles connected by some fascia. Separate the smaller muscle and reserve for barbacoa (that’s another recipe). Trim the substantial fat cap off the larger muscle and clean up the sides of any small stringy bits that would get too crispy during the smoking process. You’re looking for a fist-sized final shape.
Mix the salt and pepper together in a bowl and completely coat the trimmed beef cheeks in the rub on all sides.
Smoke the cheeks on an offset smoke at 250–275 for about 4 hrs. They will have shrunken slightly in size and the crust will be darkened and fully adhered to the cheeks.
Place the cheeks in a hotel pan that will fit them along with the rendered melted beef tallow and cook covered in the smoker for another 4 or so. They should be tender but not falling apart. They should not feel bouncy or any resistance when squeezed slightly. Rest the cheeks in the hot fat for at least an hour or until ready to serve. Slice into finger sized pieces and serve with kimchi, L&L Beet BBQ Sauce, and Martin’s Potato Bread.