Gary Jacobson

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bluesbbq0003

To shig, or not to shig, that is the barbecue question

Excuse me if I’m late to the party, but I just learned a new word: shigging. It means stealing, or attempting to steal, someone’s barbecue secrets. The term seems to have come out of the BBQ competition circuit, but also works for joints and backyard pitmasters. For example, my good friend Bryan Gooding, who won the chicken category at the Blues, Bandits & BBQ cook-off in Oak Cliff last year, won’t share his recipe. But I watched him. And there’s vinegar — and ice cubes — in his brine. And on tours, the Posse is almost always shigging. We’re constantly…
 - 09/15/2011
gettin_sauced

Hey, Drew, next year, let’s Get Sauced! in November

How hot was it at the 2nd annual Gettin’ Sauced! competition in Austin last week, organized by Drew Thornley and Man Up Texas BBQ? “If sweat was gold, my friend Steve would be a millionaire,” one Yelp reviewer wrote of the event at Independence Brewery. How hot was it? The official high was 110 degrees, just two degrees short of the all-time record for any day, any time in the Texas capital. (The record was tied the next day.) How hot was it? Texas BBQ king Aaron Franklin waved the white flag after about two and one-half hours in the…
 - 09/01/2011
BTGopen2-loHighRes-1

No, this isn’t another rant against gas-fired bbq

First off, Johnsonville’s Big Taste Grill, pictured above, uses propane. Don’t even think about wood…or charcoal. But doesn’t that machine look cool! The semi-tractor-hauled cooker weighs 53,000 pounds, is 65 feet long, 20 feet high and 6 feet in diameter, according to materials sent to us by Johnsonville, the sausage company. A dozen cooks can grill 750 brats at a time. The lid alone weighs 6,000 pounds and is operated by a hydraulic system. If you want to check out the grill, which has traveled to charity events throughout North America since 1995, it will be in Burleson July 21…
 - 07/14/2011
cookshack

We read a label on a Cookshack smoker oven — this ain’t real Texas BBQ, folks

Normally, we don’t like piling on. But some opportunities can’t be resisted, especially when it involves a topic important to us: real wood-fired barbecue. A couple months ago, we got a good debate going here about wood vs. gas, and even ran highlights of a Southern Pride recipe for Texas-style brisket that we thought supported our point of view. Now, our attention turns to commercial pellet machines. Posse pitmaster Marshall Cooper found the above photo of labels attached to a Fast Eddy’s by Cookshack Model FEC100 “smoker oven.” The company says on its Web site that the machine is “100%…
 - 06/16/2011
SMbbqback

The Pecan Lodge gets some advice from a pro on its new pulled pork sandwich

We were about to leave the Pecan Lodge during our impromptu Best-of-Dallas barbecue tour Saturday when owner Diane Fourton popped the question. “Do you guys want to sample the pulled pork?” We felt a little sheepish. BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn had raved about the dish when he stopped by our table earlier. But none of us had ordered it. We had been committed to the hard core staples of Texas barbecue. Nothing but brisket, ribs and sausage. (All right, a couple of us also got the fried chicken.) Pulled pork is a new menu item for the Pecan Lodge. Diane…
 - 06/15/2011
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Lockhart Smokehouse shrugs off review, smokes 3,000 pounds of meat a week

Lockhart Smokehouse owner Jeff Bergus was working the front of the house during the Posse’s visit to his Oak Cliff joint Saturday afternoon. When new customers arrived, he asked if they had ever been to his place before. If no, he immediately escorted them to the meat-ordering counter in the back. After a while, he sat down at the Posse’s table and chatted. We asked how business has been since his place received a one-star food review from The Dallas Morning News a few weeks ago. A framed copy of the review hangs on one wall, along with copies of…
 - 06/14/2011
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Dallas is raising its BBQ game

We’ve commented in the past about the lack of great Texas style — real wood-fired — barbecue in Dallas. But during the Posse’s “Impromptu Best of Dallas BBQ Mini-Tour” Saturday, one conclusion was clear: Big D is raising its game. Over a period of about four hours, we ate at three joints. Each smokes with a different kind of wood. The Pecan Lodge at the Dallas Farmers’ Market uses mesquite. Meshack’s Bar-B-Que (OK, it’s in Garland but we’re counting it as Dallas) uses pecan. And Lockhart Smokehouse in Oak Cliff uses post oak. Admittedly, these three places were already our…
 - 06/13/2011
possesetupWEB

Smokin’ Possum Cookoff a character-building experience for the Posse

We’re still processing everything we learned at the Smokin’ Possum Cookoff. It will take a while. We had fun cooking just outside our cabins at Possum Hollow Resort on Possum Kingdom Lake over a nearly weather-perfect weekend. As for our results, however, the best thing we can say is that it was a character-building experience. Our first entry into the world of sanctioned barbecue competitions was a crash course in harsh reality. Cooking to maximize the impact of that one bite a judge takes of your food is not the same as cooking for friends and relatives in your backyard.…
 - 05/23/2011
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The first families of Dallas BBQ meet up at The Great Posse Smokefest

A spouse of one Posse member likened The Great Posse Smokefest this past Saturday and Sunday to a sleep-over for 10-year-old boys. Yes, I did take my pillow and, thankfully, got to use it for an hour and a half. The smoking of meat started Saturday evening, continued all night, and culminated in a party for Posse members and friends, totaling more than 50 people. The highlight, other than the fellowship around the pits, was early Sunday afternoon when the owners of the Pecan Lodge — Justin and Diane Fourton — met the owners of Lockhart Smokehouse — Jeff and…
 - 05/17/2011
mixon

Myron Mixon may conquer the world, but there’s no way it’s real Texas BBQ

Gotta love the title of Myron Mixon’s new book, Smokin’. One word that conjures a thousand pictures. And the self-proclaimed “winningest man in barbecue” even weighs in on our recent debate here about wood versus gas. “Can I smoke food on a gas grill?” Mixon asks rhetorically midway through his opening chapter. “You bet your ass you can,” he answers. Mixon’s credentials are impressive, as he lets you know in a short section called: “How Much Have I Won?” No self-esteem issues with Myron. Of course, anyone who has watched him on TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters already knows that. He cites…
 - 05/16/2011
garyMARSsm

We love the smell of hickory smoke in the morning

It’s 11 a.m. on a beautiful day for The Great Posse Smokefest in Dallas. Everyone has had a nap — some longer than others — and we feel rejuvenated after a night of fellowship around the pits. Most of the meat is done and resting. Chris’ pork butt still has some time to go. Justin’s brisket, which looks absolutely beautiful, is finishing. We just loaded the chickens on the Jambo. For now, we can relax and enjoy the smell of hickory smoke. Photos ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse
 - 05/15/2011
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Marshall Cooper explains the temperature variances of his competition-tuned Jambo

When the temperature gauge says 250 degrees, that’s the grate temp for the center third of the pit, Posse pitmaster Marshall Cooper says, based on three months of test cooks. The left third of the cooking chamber, away from the firebox, is 10 degrees cooler, and the right third, nearest the firebox, is 25 degrees warmer, perfect for chicken and pork butt. Cooper fired the pit at 6:30 p.m. with three 22-inch hickory logs and has added a log an hour. It’s 2:30 a.m. and the gauge is a steady 250. “This cook is going damn good,” Cooper said, sitting…
 - 05/15/2011
smokefest

Welcome to The Great Posse Smokefest

It’s 1:30 a.m. on Preston Crest Lane. The Jambo J-3 is locked in at 250 degrees. Five briskets soaking up clean hickory smoke. We’ve got a half-dozen racks of ribs in the brine, waiting to be rubbed and put on the smoker at 6 a.m. or so. A couple of chickens, and pork butt, too. Justin Fourton, pitmaster of the Pecan Lodge, plans to arrive at 4 a.m. with his pit. Later, Jeff Bergus, owner of Lockhart Smokehouse plans to arrive with some of his original Kreuz Market sausage. Welcome to The Great Posse Smokefest. We hope to have fun…
 - 05/15/2011
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The wood versus gas BBQ debate continues as we analyze a Southern Pride recipe

Southern Pride makes gas-fired commercial smokers, which burn a little wood for flavor, and offers cooking tips to its customers. For one of its larger machines, the XLR-1400, which has a capacity of 72 briskets, the recipe for “Texas style brisket” says cook 12 to 14 hours and use a total of two 4-inch by 12-inch logs. That’s for a “heavy smoke” taste, the recipe says. A couple weeks ago, we got into a good discussion on this blog about real Texas barbecue and whether it could ever be cooked with gas. We still say no and offer Southern Pride’s…
 - 05/06/2011
da13

A grim indictment of the lack of BBQ choices in Dallas

I just bought a copy of the Barbecue Lover’s Guide to Austin, by Gloria Corral. Daniel Vaughn, the BBQ Snob, reviewed it a couple weeks ago and he’s right. The 174-page paperback is skinny on critical guidance. But if you live in Dallas, like some of us in the Posse, it’s also evidence of our lack of barbecue choices.   Corral has write-ups on nearly 60 places within the city of Austin. Subtract the chains (anything with more than one outlet, which knocks out County Line, Bill Miller, Cartwright’s and PoK-e-Jo’s, among others) and there are still about 35 joints,…
 - 05/05/2011
hipbbq07

Brisket burglary! Is there a worse BBQ crime?

In our recent post about Baby J’s Bar-B-Que & Fish in Palestine, we promised to tell you why Jeremiah “Baby J” McKenzie padlocks the cooking chambers on his brisket pit.   Well, that wasn’t the only instance of brisket burglary we encountered on our recent East Texas barbecue tour. Taste and temptation must be the devil’s work. Ron Davis, who runs Stacy’s Bar-B-Q in Jacksonville, told us that “every now and then” someone breaks into the small building that houses his two big gas-fired smokers and grabs some meat. “They don’t wear gloves and the briskets are hot so they…
 - 04/29/2011
marshall2

Smoking brisket in a grocery sack

Jason Hoskins writes: First of all, I enjoy your blog. Check in on it everyday. I have one question. I am planning on smoking a brisket this weekend and I wanted to try the butcher paper method you all wrote about. The problem, I can’t find any plain brown butcher paper and I don’t have time to order it. I was wondering if you all thought a plain brown paper sack (grocery bag) would work? I figured it is basically the same as butcher paper but I’m not totally sure. Thanks for your time. Posse Pitmaster Marshall Cooper responds: Interesting…
 - 04/21/2011
smokinjsEXT

Best name ever for a barbecue joint? Smok’n J’s Butt Nekkid BBQ

Editor’s note: This just is now closed. We were driving on Highway 19 between Palestine and Athens when we spotted the smoke. No one wanted to cram an extra stop into our East Texas barbecue tour last weekend. We were stuffed after eating at three places and we wanted only to sample the Hog Wings at Cripple Creek in Athens before returning to Dallas. But the smoke on the side of the highway in Montalba was enticing. We drove past, but Posse co-found Chris Wilkins said, “We probably should turn around.” Wheelman Marshall Cooper obliged. And so we pulled into…
 - 04/20/2011
cwfirewood

‘Someone needs to call out Texas Monthly on its Top 50 BBQ joints’

One of the great things about full-day barbecue tours is the time it allows for important, spirited debates about important issues. Some of the topics we’ve addressed: Is it ever worth making a special stop at a joint that advertises on a highway billboard? (No.) Should you make an impromptu stop at a place that has “Soulman” in its name? (Probably not. They’re trying too hard.) Can “great” sausage ever truly compare to “great” brisket? (No. We need a new grading system for sausage.) On our East Texas tour last weekend, we got into a new hot topic. “Someone needs…
 - 04/18/2011
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Pitmaster and preacher, Baby J McKenzie wins BBQ converts in Palestine

Editor’s note: This joint is now closed. It’s the most unusual smoker any of us have seen. A giant black metal box on short stilts with a smokestack reaching 20-feet high, located just out the side door from Baby J’s Bar B Que and Fish near Palestine. With a flick of his wrist, Jeremiah “Baby J” McKenzie toggles one of the huge counterweights and a door magically lifts, exposing eight rotating cook racks filled with chicken and ribs. There is an identical cooking chamber on the opposite side. “That’s just heaven,” says Posse veteran Marshall Cooper, clearly smitten with an…
 - 04/17/2011
gagaaaron

Lady Gaga, Texas BBQ and Aaron Franklin

If you can work Lady Gaga into a conversation about Texas barbecue, then it’s probably going to be a pretty good conversation. That was true Thursday morning when I stopped by Aaron Franklin’s new place in Austin on my way back to Dallas. It was just after 9 a.m., still about two hours until he opened for business, so Franklin had a few minutes to show me around. “What are you doing in town?” he asked. I explained that I had gone to the Lady Gaga concert the night before at the Erwin Center. (Terrific show, btw.) One of her…
 - 04/08/2011
louies2

Texas BBQ wins another convert

Before Dan Sweet made his recent pilgrimage to the Central Texas barbecue holy land, he called the Posse. The Oregon resident, who works in corporate public relations, said he had won a Texas tourism essay contest and that one of the research resources he had used was this blog. Thanks, Dan. It’s always nice to get a nod. Anyway, for his essay about starting the church of Texas barbecue, Dan and his wife, Cheryl, won a five-day trip to Austin and the Central Texas barbecue trail. Last week, they went to Lockhart, Taylor and other famous barbecue towns and ate…
 - 03/28/2011
ledeoc

Texas BBQ competition season is upon us

As the Texas BBQ Posse, a small group of us from the The Dallas Morning News, and friends, have traveled much of the state in search of the best smoked meats we can find. Then we tell readers what we think of the joints we visit. Anyone can talk a good game, some readers have gently reminded us since we began our Barbecue Chronicles in late 2009. So we decided to see if we could also walk the barbecue walk. Last September, we entered our first competition, the Blues, Bandits & BBQ festival in Oak Cliff. It was an exhausting,…
 - 03/22/2011
cwblog

Wilkins tries something new – Blogging while riding shotgun on a BBQ tour

Given a choice, Chris Wilkins would prefer to do his blogging from home, a glass of red wine nearby. More and more, though, the Texas BBQ Posse co-founder has been live-blogging from the center of the action. During the Blues, Bandits & BBQ cook off in Oak Cliff in September, he regularly posted items and photographs over two days and one long night. “Can’t believe I’m still standing,” he wrote then. “It’s 3:30 am and it’s finally cooled down, after a pretty strong little thunderstorm…” On our recent “anniversary” tour to Central Texas, Wilkins tried something new: Posting from the…
 - 12/11/2010
train

It’s hard to beat BBQ and trains

A surprise from our recent anniversary tour of Central Texas barbecue joints was the discovery of all the train-watching opportunities near the places we visited. In Smithville, a few blocks from Zimmerhanzel’s Bar-B-Que, there’s a nice city park, with a big gazebo, located trackside. In Giddings, a short walk from the City Meat Market, you can watch coal trains (empty and full) pass through and visit a train museum. One of the exhibits lets you toot a train horn. Bet you can’t do it just once!! In Taylor, right outside the doors of the Taylor Cafe, there’s a switching yard…
 - 12/09/2010

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