Gary Jacobson

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Give customers what they want, says Pit Stop BBQ boss

Award-winning pitmaster Steve Graham and his primary smoker at Pit Stop BBQ. (Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) An experienced competition cook, Steve Graham has filled his Pit Stop BBQ restaurant outside Waxahachie with trophies and plaques. He knows how to cook for a tough audience, judges, even different sets of judges. For example, he said, he always tried to get a look at the judges before he started preparing his meat. Older judges like salt, he said. “In a competition, that first taste is everything,” Graham said. So the flavor has to be bold and great. If you read our posts…
 - 03/25/2014
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In Texas, barbecued bologna is not the new turkey

Pitmaster Terry Massey slices smoked bologna at Lazy S&M BBQ in Joshua. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) A year ago, after our best of Austin tour, we wrote about how turkey breast was making a move to join the royal family of Texas barbecue: brisket, pork ribs, and sausage. We’re still not ready to give the big bird equal status, but we order it whenever we see it on menus. A lot of joints in the state are smoking great turkey. On our recent South of DFW Tour, three of the four places we visited served barbecued bologna. Different, we…
 - 03/22/2014
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A second opinion on the Posse’s South of DFW BBQ Tour

Michael Meadows, left, and the Posse dig in at Pit Stop BBQ in Waxahachie. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) Maybe there was a time, long ago, when I was surprised at how seriously people take barbecue. But certainly not anymore. Take Michael Meadows, one of the Posse’s newest members. He and his family were in Colorado skiing last week. They drove 900 miles Friday arriving back in Dallas just before midnight. And yet Meadows made the starting gate with the rest of us Saturday morning at the first stop of our South of DFW Tour. During the day, we ate at…
 - 03/21/2014
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On the barbecue trail, the Posse crosses an historic past and meets again one of its favorite dishes, the Jambo Texan

The legendary Jambo Texan sandwich was one of the highlights of our BBQ tour. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins) On the way to Lazy S&M BBQ in Joshua, the second stop of our recent South of DFW Tour, we crossed the Chisholm Trail Parkway. The 27-mile toll road, which runs from Fort Worth to Cleburne, is scheduled to open later this year. It was an interesting moment of synchronicity. Our modern barbecue trail intersected — symbolically anyway — part of the historic route that Texas cowboys used a century and a half ago to drive their cattle to the railroads. Some might…
 - 03/18/2014
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Rave reviews for BBQ on the Brazos from the Posse

Pitmaster John Sanford works the cutting board at BBQ on the Brazos. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) Too bad Posse member Bruce Tomaso didn’t make our tour last weekend. We could have renewed our recent wood-versus-gas debate when our first stop, BBQ on the Brazos in Cresson, got rave reviews from everyone present. BBQ on the Brazos uses a gas-fired Ole Hickory smoker. “How many of our tours have started off with barbecue better than this?” said Posse member Phil Lamb. Technically, it was a question. But like all good attorneys, Lamb knew the answer before he asked: Very, very…
 - 03/16/2014
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Hutchins BBQ in McKinney can hang with Austin’s best and it’s open all day

(L-R) Jim Rossman, Kathy and Steve Hunt, Gary Jacobson, Michael Landauer, Bruce Tomaso and Gary Barber at Hutchins BBQ. (Photo by Tom Fox) For quality, the barbecue benchmarks are clear for Tim Hutchins, owner of Hutchins BBQ in McKinney. “We’re shooting for those guys in Austin,” Hutchins said during the Posse’s recent visit to his joint. He said he and his crew regularly travel to the new BBQ Capital of Texas to sample the fare at places like Franklin BBQ, la Barbecue and John Mueller Meat Co. They also visit Pecan Lodge in Dallas. But Hutchins is even more ambitious.…
 - 02/28/2014
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Is the Posse going soft on gassers?

Massive wood pile outside Smitty’s Market in downtown Lockhart. (Photo by Jeff Haynes) In the 4-year history of this blog, no topic has incited more passion than the wood-fired versus gas-fired smoker debate. The Posse has been pro-wood. All wood. Almost to an extreme. We once called out Texas Monthly for including gas-fired joints on its Top 50 list. But perhaps we have mellowed a bit as at least one of us edges ever closer to Medicare eligibility. On our recent Mid-Cities mini-tour, we liked the food at Eddie Deen Crossroads Smokehouse in Arlington even though the ribs and chicken…
 - 02/20/2014
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The food takes a back seat to the atmosphere at North Main and Hard Eight

A pitmaster tends the smoker at Hard Eight BBQ in Coppell. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) North Main BBQ has lots of fans. We know that. Ever since the very first Posse tour five years ago, readers have told us that we need to get to the Euless joint, which is only open Friday through Sunday. Tardy but determined, we finally made it during our Mid-Cities mini-tour. North Main was our second stop, sandwiched between Eddie Deen Crossroads Smokehouse in Arlington and Hard Eight BBQ in Coppell. It was nice, relaxed tour, covering 60 miles in 3 1/2 hours. After…
 - 02/17/2014
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Arlington’s Crossroads Smokehouse stands out during the Posse’s Mid-Cities mini-tour

Brisket is sliced at Eddie Deen Crossroads Smokehouse in Arlington.  (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves/Fotobia.com) It has been a few months since the Posse went on a barbecue tour. So, it was nice to get back on the trail again this past weekend, if only briefly. We ate at three joints during a 60-mile, 3 1/2-hour mini-tour through the Mid-Cities between Dallas and Fort Worth. Over the course of the tour, a couple of Posse members made cameo appearances, but our main group numbered 8, including some newcomers: Michael Meadows, president of the Dallas Zoological Society; Mark Vamos, who holds an endowed…
 - 02/13/2014
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An unusual smoker and some BBQ bling at North Main in Euless

North Main BBQ owner Ray Green and his infamous armadillo smoker. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves/Fotobia.com) Over the years, the Posse has run into some unusual smokers on the barbecue trail, such as Big Baby, used by pitmaster Jeremiah “Baby J” McKenzie. Saturday we saw another: A 2,200-pound armadillo at North Main BBQ in Euless. Logs go in the mouth and smoke comes out the tail. This smoker is anatomically correct, right down to its brass balls, says owner Ray Green. “We made him for the Texas Sesquicentennial so he’s in his 28th year,” Green said. March 2, Texas Independence Day, is…
 - 02/11/2014
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Win a free meal with the Texas BBQ Posse at DFW’s favorite joint

UPDATE:  And the winner is……….. Hutchins BBQ in McKinney. Click here to see photos of the favorite D/FW joint, as voted by Dallas Morning News readers. ORIGINAL ITEM:  The Dallas Morning News just launched a new poll for readers to pick their favorite barbecue joint in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. As a bonus, one voter and his or her guest will be treated to a meal at the winning joint by the Posse. Get all the details at The News’ Web site and don’t forget to Tweet a link to the poll with the hashtag #texasbbqposse to become eligible for…
 - 01/10/2014
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Zip Code 78702 — East Austin — the center of the Texas BBQ universe

Tom Micklethwait, pitmaster & owner of Micklethwait Craft Meats. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) Last spring we wrote that Austin had replaced Lockhart as the new barbecue capital of Texas. Now, with La Barbecue moving east of I-35, we’re prepared to be even more specific. East Austin, specifically Zip Code 78702, is the undisputed center of the Texas barbecue universe. La Barbecue, with pit boss John Lewis, opens this week in its new location at the corner of East 6th Street and Waller. According to Google, that puts La Barbecue about a half-mile (a 9-minute walk) from Franklin Barbecue on East…
 - 12/03/2013
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A Thanksgiving turkey tribute to Walt and all the grill masters and pitmasters who pass along the tradition

Libby & Gunnar Jacobson at the cabin on Grindstone Island in 1991. With the Posse, I’ve eaten turkey at some of the best barbecue joints in Texas, including Franklin Barbecue in Austin and Stanley’s in Tyler. Their turkey breast is first rate, no question, just like their other smoked meats. But the most memorable turkey I’ve ever eaten still remains Walt Scheela’s, cooked at his cabin on Grindstone Island. The ambiance is important. One of 1,600 islands in Rainey Lake, Grindstone is located about 10 miles East of International Falls, Mn. Look one direction across the water and you see…
 - 11/21/2013
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Posse member Bruce Tomaso nominates Justin and Diane Fourton of Pecan Lodge as Texans of the Year

Diane & Justin Fourton, owners of Pecan Lodge. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) Note: The Dallas Morning News editorial department selects a Texan of the Year. Posse member Bruce Tomaso recently nominated Diane and Justin Fourton of Pecan Lodge for the honor. With permission, we are reprinting Bruce’s Viewpoints column from The News. By BRUCE TOMASO Wendy Davis can talk on her feet. Ted Cruz can talk with his foot in his mouth. But neither of them can cook a world-class smoked brisket. Neither of them helped change the public face of Texas cuisine. The people who did that are Justin…
 - 11/16/2013
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Making the most of the ‘golden hour’ at Texas Monthly’s BBQ Fest

Pitmaster Justin Fourton of Pecan Lodge in Dallas shows off his brisket at the 2013 Texas Monthly BBQ Festival. Note: Posse members Libby and Mike Gagne, who live in Austin, attended Sunday’s Texas Monthly BBQ Festival (TMBBQ Fest 2013), which brings together many of the best joints in the state. Libby and Mike were guests of Phil Winters of FoodyDirect, an Internet food site that advertises on this blog. Here is Libby’s report from the event. We queued up at about 11 a.m. and were admitted to the festival at noon, and enjoyed a “Golden Hour” of reduced lines and…
 - 11/06/2013
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After Blues, Bandits & BBQ IV, the Posse salutes its sales team and bribery on a crostini

Bryan Gooding & R.J. Hinkle set up for the Blues, Bandits & BBQ cook off.  Photo by Chris Wilkins A barbecue competition team operates pretty much like a typical manufacturing company. That comparison became clear after the Posse competed in the fourth annual Blues, Bandits and BBQ cook off in Oak Cliff this past weekend. We had our production staff, the guys who actually cooked the meat, working around the clock. We had distribution staff, the meat cutters and runners who made sure contest entries got to the judges on time and food samples got to our serving table. And we…
 - 10/31/2013
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Echoes of Pat Gee’s at Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Q in Marlin

A hand-painted sign greets you at Whup’s Boomerang Barbecue in Marlin. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) Our first view of Whup’s Boomerang Bar-B-Q in Marlin brought back some nice memories. We hadn’t seen such a genuinely classic-looking joint since our last visit to Pat Gee’s in the woods east of Tyler. While Pat’s is nestled among pine trees and pasture on a rural road, Whup’s is on a thinly settled residential street where the edge of town invades the country. A hand-painted sign – the Posse loves hand-painted BBQ signs – greets visitors to a small building that has been…
 - 08/13/2013
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The power of return customers on display at Kirby’s Barbeque in Mexia

A customer arrives at Kirby’s Barbeque in Mexia. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) Luckily, we got to Kirby’s Barbeque near Mexia about 11:30 on Friday morning. So, at noon, while the line of lunch customers was building, we were already eating some excellent brisket and some very good ribs. At one point, Posse veteran Bruce Tomaso counted 20 people waiting to order at this rural barbecue outpost about 90 miles south of Dallas. Considering that Big D is roughly 150 times larger than Mexia, population nearly 8,000, Tomaso calculated that an equivalent line at Pecan Lodge would number 3,000. That…
 - 08/07/2013
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At Miller’s Smokehouse in Belton, expansion means same great barbecue and now a bar, too

Pitmaster and owner Dirk Miller stands outside Miller’s Smokehouse in Belton. (Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) On the looks-like scale, Dirk Miller is closer to Kris Kringle than Tom Cruise. But the owner of Miller’s Smokehouse in Belton was channeling Cruise from Risky Business when we visited last week during our Heart of Texas BBQ Tour. For Miller, too, the dream is always the same: He awakes and the sun is shining through his windows, meaning it’s 8 a.m., meaning he overslept, meaning he didn’t get the pits fired by the required 2 or 3 a.m., meaning disaster for his barbecue…
 - 08/05/2013
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Growing up with Aaron Franklin and other Posse tales that deserve a second look

There have been many meals & just as many stories to tell since our first BBQ tour in November 2009. (Photo ©Gary Barber) In the past, we’ve told you about our most popular blog posts and offered a readers’ guide to all the tours we’ve written about in our Barbecue Chronicles. Now, we’re going to give you a short guide to the other end of the Posse blog spectrum. These aren’t our least popular posts. We’ll keep those buried to protect the innocent. But for whatever reason, these posts didn’t receive the attention we thought they would. Maybe the headlines…
 - 07/18/2013
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How Daniel Vaughn, the BBQ Snob, turned himself into the hottest brand in smoked meat

Daniel Vaughn bites into a rib at the Baby Back Shak in 2009. (Photo by David Woo/The Dallas Morning News) (Note: Rebecca LaFlure is a Texas native, long-time barbecue fan and journalism graduate student at Northwestern University. Prior to attending Northwestern, she worked as a reporter for media outlets in Killeen and Austin. She currently covers national security as a fellow at the Center for Public Integrity in Washington D.C. The following article was initially written as a research paper for a 21st Century Media course at Northwestern.) By Rebecca LaFlure On March 21, Texas Monthly announced it hired someone…
 - 07/12/2013
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Stay tuned for a story about Daniel Vaughn, the BBQ Snob, and how he became the No.1 brand in barbecue. . .you will like it

Daniel Vaughn photographs his breakfast at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) We’ve got a treat for you. And since you are all — y’all — Texas barbecue fans, you are used to waiting in lines for the good stuff, right? So, wait just a little longer. Rebecca LaFlure, a Texas native, long-time barbecue fan and graduate student at Northwestern University, did a research paper recently for her  21st Century Media course on branding and how Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly barbecue editor, became the dominant brand in all of barbecue. You might call it, the making of a…
 - 07/11/2013
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Houston-area barbecue fans finally get hip and learn how to form a line at Killen’s Pop-Up BBQ in Pearland

Long line at Killen’s BBQ in Pearland last Saturday. (Photo by Bryan Norton/bbqtreasurehunt.com) “Magic tingle.” That’s how Bryan Norton, a blogger who rides a motorcycle to many of the barbecue joints he visits, describes the experience of tasting perfect brisket. “It’s that magic combination of pepper, salt, perfectly rendered fat, and of course brisket that literally travels through your body,” he explained recently on the Posse’s Facebook page. “I’ve seen it make people giggle, laugh, roll their eyes back in their head, high-five and sometimes all of those at once,” Norton wrote. The Posse can’t argue. That may be the…
 - 07/07/2013
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First Look: Work Bar & Grill in Deep Ellum, Dallas

Brisket plate with sides of cole slaw and tortellini mac & cheese at Work Bar & Grill. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse) Editors note: This joint is now closed. A philosophical question: Can a place that has more salads on its menu than smoked meats be called a barbecue joint? After sampling the brisket, pulled pork and chicken at Work Bar and Grill in Deep Ellum, the Posse answers “Yes.” We also are better able to answer a couple of other pressing Dallas barbecue questions. Where’s a good place to have a sit-down barbecue dinner with drinks? Lockhart Smokehouse used…
 - 06/28/2013
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Yes, we’re all riding the wave of this Texas barbecue phenomenon

  Lockhart Smokehouse pitmaster Will Fleischman. (Photo ©Daniel Goncalves/Fotobia.com) A while back, after the lunch rush and long before dinner, I was sipping a beer and talking to Will Fleischman, the pitmaster-philosopher at Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas. Is the Texas barbecue bubble going to burst? I asked. Will the culinary accolades from around the country and the long lines of customers here eventually go away? Fleischman acknowledged that the frenzy for Texas barbecue might someday cool. But, he said, he was going to ride the wave of popularity as far as it goes. He had been employed at Lockhart since…
 - 06/24/2013

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