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Smoke brisket in your backyard

  Smoked brisket in your backyard is, without a doubt, one of the hardest things to cook perfectly. Despite all the articles, books and videos out there telling you how to do it, there is no magic to the process. You need tremendous patience and you need to know the specific characteristics of your pit. That takes practice and experience. The more you cook, the better you’ll be. The approach may sound simple and straightforward, but getting there is not. 10 Tips – Smoke brisket in your backyard Here are my 10 essential steps to smoking a backyard brisket on an…
 - 02/13/2012
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Pit Talk: To dunk or not to dunk, that is the question

Lately, the Posse has observed that at a few joints, including some stellar ones, meats are stored (or dipped) in a broth or juice before they’re served. Posse pitmaster Marshall Cooper says the practice, known as dunking, isn’t new. It’s something that many cooks, including those who take part in professional barbecue cookoffs, have used for years as a way to keep meats moist and juicy. But it’s no substitute for proper smoking techniques – all the dunking in the world won’t rescue a poorly cooked piece of meat. And it’s probably not something that your dietitian or cardiologist would…
 - 02/05/2012
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Pit Talk: The 7 essentials of damn good barbecue

What makes good BBQ? I consider successful barbecue to be the combination of seven basic characteristics happening at once: tenderness, juiciness, smokiness, proper fat rendering, enhanced rub, good exterior bark, all with a firm texture. Good-tasting brisket, ribs and pork butt are s-l-o-w smoked at l-o-w temperatures using a real wood fire. Most importantly, BBQ should be left undisturbed on the pit and should not be hurried at all. Be aware of smoldering fires, which produce bitter tasting creosote that destroys the natural flavors of properly cooked meats. The meat is done when it’s tender, the fat has rendered and…
 - 02/04/2012
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Do Texans need some Q-schoolin? It’s your turn to tell us what you think

Posse pitmaster Marshall Cooper is a man of conviction, especially when it comes to smoked meat. After mulling our recent Roots of Dallas BBQ Tour for several days, he was still stunned by the lack of smoke taste we found on the barbecue at the original Sonny Bryan’s, Odom’s, Dickey’s and Peggy Sue’s. Why don’t some of the most popular Dallas BBQ joints, some with real wood pits, put more smoke flavor on their meat? Is it because of the cost of wood? Do customers really prefer smokeless BBQ? Or, don’t they know the difference? “I would like to know…
 - 01/20/2012
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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
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It’s turn in time at the Smokin’ Possum Cookoff

Gary J’s famous chicken & ribs have been turned in to the judges, now it’s down to the biggie – brisket. That’s a 3 p.m. turn in time. Marshall cooked three briskets to choose between for our entry. Out of that we’ll enter just seven slices for the judges to taste test. Win or lose, we’ve had a great time last night and today. What an amazing day out here at the second annual Smokin’ Possum Cookoff.   Photos by Chris Wilkins
 - 05/21/2011
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Fear & Loathing at the Smokin’ Possum Cookoff at Possum Kingdom Lake

It’s less than 11 hours til our first check in time at the Smokin’ Possum Cookoff. This is the second year for the competition, which has been named as a Texas state championship by the I.B.C.A. We’re missing two members of our cook team, Bryan Gooding and Gary Barber, who were key members of the award winning run at last year’s Blues, Bandits & BBQ Festival in Oak Cliff. This is our first cookoff since then. We’re cooking ribs, chicken and brisket against a tough field of seasoned competitors. We’ll be live blogging during the day, for better or for…
 - 05/21/2011
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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
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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
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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
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Pit Talk: Finding the best level of BBQ smoke

Here’s a new feature on our blog, Pit Talk. Texas BBQ Posse pitmaster Marshall Cooper will share insights he’s gained in almost 30 years manning a backyard smoker. Here are a few of his thoughts on smoke and BBQ. Marshall writes: So, it seems there could be a big disparity on desired smoke levels between competition judges, BBQ restaurants and everyone else. In talking to several competition guys, “the judges just want a very subtle layer of smoke, so you can taste smoke but not enough smoke that it makes you burp” is one comment. “I always lose points if…
 - 04/15/2011
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Posse pitmaster Marshall Cooper talks butcher paper wrapped cooking with Mr. BBQ

Mr. BBQ Bruce Bjorkman has once again called on the Texas BBQ Posse to talk barbecue on his syndicated radio show. Texas BBQ Posse pitmaster Marshall Cooper will join Bruce this Saturday to talk about his test cooks smoking brisket and ribs with butcher paper wrap, rather than foil, during the cooking process. Posse lead writer Gary Jacobson has visited the show three times over the past year to share stories from our Texas BBQ tours, but this is Marshall’s first appearance. He’s a master backyard pitmaster, with over 25 years of experience manning the smokers. We first saw the…
 - 01/21/2011
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Pit Talk: Butcher paper wrapped brisket – Pitmaster Marshall Cooper shows you how

*We have an updated article Cooking butcher paper wrapped brisket, which includes a step-by-step video. Our recent Central Texas 5-Star Anniversary BBQ Tour yielded an unexpected discovery as we talked technique with Aaron Franklin, owner of Franklin Barbecue in Austin. Several Texas BBQ Posse members are backyard pitmasters, so we are always pestering BBQ joint pit bosses for their tricks of the trade. This one stopped us in our tracks though, when Aaron casually mentioned that he wraps his award-winning brisket in butcher paper, rather than foil, during the cooking process. What was that? Butcher paper wrapped brisket? Pitmaster Marshall Cooper…
 - 12/23/2010
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The Barbecue Chronicles: Blues, Bandits & BBQ festival, the Posse’s first cookoff

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,…
 - 09/14/2010
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Texas BBQ Posse! “Converting the vegetarian, one diner at a time!”

One of the Posse’s proudest accomplishments this weekend was converting not ONE, but TWO vegetarians at the Blues, Bandits & BBQ cook off in Oak Cliff. After a taste of Bryan Gooding’s award-winning chicken, they could not help but join the ranks of carnivores again. The photo below, shot by competition organizer Rob Shearer, shows the decisive moment as our first convert, in the center wearing a dark red jacket, bites into sample of Bryan’s chicken at the Posse’s Saturday night dinner party on Clinton Avenue. On Sunday, a second meat-free person rejoined the ranks of meat lovers after sampling…
 - 09/13/2010
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Victory in the OC: The Posse wins for chicken and brisket

What an incredible two days camped out at the corner of Clinton Ave. & Seventh St. in Oak Cliff! The Blues, Bandits & BBQ cook off was our first competition and the Posse rose to the occasion. Posse cook team member Bryan “Chicken a la KIng” Gooding, below, won first place for his chicken. He had perfected a rub and cooking technique for organic chicken and executed his plan to perfection on Sunday. Our lead cook Marshall Cooper also nailed second place with a 15-pound monster organic brisket, smoking it for a full 24 hours at 220 degrees. After five…
 - 09/13/2010
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Fear & Loathing at the Taylor International Barbeque Cookoff

We had an absolutely amazing weekend starting Friday night in Taylor, Texas. The primary purpose of the trip was to attend the Taylor International Barbeque Cookoff on Saturday, but the weekend began on Friday night with a dinner visit at Louie Mueler Barbecue followed by wine, cigars and great music on the back deck at the Talbot Street Bed & Breakfast in Taylor. Saturday morning brought the Texas BBQ bloggers round table at Louie Mueller, arranged by our friend Daniel Vaughn. Then on to the Taylor cookoff for some BBQ 101. Fellow posse member Gary Jacobson and I need all…
 - 08/23/2010
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The secret to a great brisket is in the wood

There’s a really good article on the wood and barbeque on page one of The Dallas Morning News this morning. Writer Erinn Connor takes a look at Arnold Brothers Forest Products, who supplies wood to most of the barbeque joints around the region. Texas BBQ Posse member Marshall Cooper is quoted in the article. He’s been a long-time customer of Arnold Brothers and sums up the importance of good wood in the story. “A lot of people who don’t do this don’t realize the wood is really important,” Marshall said. “The smoke gives the meat the flavor.” Click here to…
 - 07/18/2010
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Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper

Texas BBQ Posse members were treated to a special stop on the barbeque trail on Saturday afternoon. Expert backyard pitmaster Marshall Cooper invited us to join his family and friends for an incredible spread of smoked meats and sides. Marshall began following our BBQ tours through Gary Jacobson’s stories in The Dallas Morning News. He wrote Gary, “I would like nothing more than to include you and your entourage at my next backyard BBQ. I will slow smoke beef brisket, pork ribs and pork shoulder and make sure there is enough for everybody to eat until they are stuffed! Just…
 - 05/09/2010
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