Pitmaster Justin Fourton shows off his new smoker Big Rick at Pecan Lodge. (Photo ©Philip Lamb)

Posse member Phil Lamb checks in with Pecan Lodge pitmaster Justin Fourton at Texas Monthly’s “Behind the Pit Dinner” event on Wednesday night. 

Phil writes:

We’ve known for a while that Pecan Lodge offers some of the best smoked meats around, but its status as an elite BBQ joint was solidified when it was awarded a tie for the No. 2 spot on Texas Monthly’s “Top 50” BBQ list. Now the lines at Pecan Lodge, which were already plenty long, frequently require “Lovers of the Lodge” to wait more than two hours to get their BBQ fix. The Posse may need to start a Pecan Lodge fan-club under this name.

So what are Pecan Lodge’s owners Justin and Diane Fourton doing to keep up with this ever-increasing demand? The Posse sought the answer to this question and more at a “Behind the Pit Dinner” at Pecan Lodge last night. The dinner was hosted by Texas Monthly magazine and it’s new BBQ editor, Daniel Vaughn, as part of the magazine’s first annual Texas BBQ Week. The magazine hosted a similar dinner at Louie Mueller Barbecue earlier this week and is hosting dinners Franklin BBQ on Thursday and Snow’s BBQ on July 30.

Diners at the Pecan Lodge event were treated to brisket, pork ribs, pork sausage, and beef sausage, as well as libations provided by Shiner Beer and Deep Eddy Vodka. Justin provided a tour of Pecan Lodge’s pit shed and unveiled a new smoker, nicknamed Big Rick, which was being put into service at the restaurant for the first time.

The pit is named for Diane’s late father. She wrote on facebook, “Our biggest BBQ pit yet shall be named Rick. In honor of my dad. His dream was to open a little BBQ place and retire. Hope I’ve done him proud.”

Justin explained the steel offset smoker holds 33-percent more meat than his previous smoker and 66-percent more meat than the smoker he and Diane used when they opened Pecan Lodge. Big Rick also required an expansion of the outdoor pit shed to allow Justin enough room to load the smoker with meat and his secret formula of hardwoods, which Justin jokingly disclosed was a combination of crape myrtle and red tip photinia.

So how was the meat from the new smoker? The Posse found the brisket and ribs to be as good as we’ve come to expect at Pecan Lodge. The sausage was even better than we’d remembered. In fact, the beef sausage had a unique taste and texture that reminded of us of the Downtown Link served by pitmaster Leon O’Neal at Leon’s World Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que House in Galveston. That comparison is high praise from the Posse.

So what else are Justin and Diane doing to cut the wait times? At last night’s event, the Fourtons informed the diners that Pecan Lodge is now open Wednesday thru Sunday. We’d like to keep this information a secret in hopes of a shorter line on Wednesdays, but just couldn’t hold this information back from fellow Lovers of the Lodge.

Last but not least, the Fourton’s are still mum on whether or not they are moving from they Farmers Market. Stay tuned, that will be major breaking BBQ news when their decision is made.

Pecan Lodge owners Diane & Justin Fourton photographed in 2010. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

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