Following in the sauce trail of barbecue’s rapid spread is an echo boom for a particular product from the smoker: brisket. The rich, juicy meat is appearing on menus of every type, in forms ranging from a mac and cheese topping to burgers, tacos and Tex-Mex mashups.
Here are a few of the recent additions that have consumers sniffing the air.
Qdoba’s new LTOs
The little sister of Jack in the Box is touting brisket slow-smoked over wood as an optional ingredient in many of the Mexican concept’s signature products, including burritos, bowls, quesadillas, nachos and salads.
The spotlight has been particularly intense on a limited-time extension of Qdoba’s new high-spiced Knockout Taco line. As with versions made with other proteins, the brisket taco—dubbed the Outlaw—is garnished with habanero salsa, ancho chile barbecue sauce, corn salsa, fresh cilantro and cotija cheese, served atop a warm corn tortilla.
Not Jason Deli’s first rodeo
Eleven years after scrapping the oddly named Deli Cowboy sandwich, Jason’s Deli is bringing back the heritage item as a celebration of the fast-casual chain’s 40th anniversary.
The limited-time item features a half-pound of smoked brisket served on New Orleans-style French bread. Cheddar cheese is melted over the meat, and the sandwich is garnished with fresh red onion.
The Cowboy Deli first appeared on Jason’s menu during the concept’s second day in operation, inspired by the chipped beef sandwich sold by the father of founder Joe Tortorice at a barbecue joint in Beaumont, Texas.
Arby’s biscuit breakfast
One of the reasons for the proliferation of brisket options is Arby’s outstanding success with the smoked meat. Many observers trace the chain’s turnaround to the promotion of a Smokehouse Brisket sandwich in late 2013. The LTO became the brand’s most successful product intro ever, but still came off the menu as planned. It was returned as a permanent option in 2015.
Now the sandwich chain is experimenting with all types of brisket riffs, including last fall’s Spicy Jalapeno sandwich and Bacon Brisket Flatbread option.
More recently, Arby’s tested a biscuit breakfast sandwich consisting of egg, cheese and brisket layered atop a Southern-style biscuit. The item was featured in the chain’s showcase store in Manhattan, the lone branch to offer early a.m. service.
Bareburger’s upscale stacking
One of Bareburger’s newer products is La Havana, a sandwich made with brisket, beer-braised bacon, cheddar cheese, spicy pickles, mayo and mustard, served on eight-grain toast. The selection sells for $12.95, according to Technomic, or $1.80 more than the all-natural chain’s now-discontinued brisket option, the Backyard Brisket Burger.
Sonny’s Brisket Mac
Among the customer lures used by the Sonny’s BBQ chain this summer is a dish marketed as a personal favorite of chain pitmaster Bryan Mroczka: macaroni and cheese topped with brisket, onion straws and barbecue sauce. Served with a piece of garlic bread, the special sells for $9.99. It’s scheduled to come off the menu on Aug. 21.