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Texas-Monthly-Top-50-BBQ

Texas Monthly’s BBQ rankings, fair or not?

Are Texas Monthly’s barbecue rankings fair? Can you compare a joint open just one day a week to places open six and seven? And a related, but more complicated fairness question: With so much of Texas Monthly’s overall business plan — events, tours, dinners, merchandise — now tied to barbecue, can the magazine look beyond its self interest when it comes to smoked meat? After gurgling below the surface since the release of the latest Top 50 list last month, these issues erupted into full view this week when Ronnie Killen went public to the Houston media. He later elaborated…
 - 06/23/2017
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Food, music at Opie’s BBQ make the Posse happy

Our lunch of brisket, ribs, sausage, pork loin & turkey at Opie’s BBQ in Spicewood, with tater tot casserole and butterbeans. The last time Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins visited Opie’s BBQ, on an Easter Sunday four years ago, he was too late for the brisket. In the world of Texas barbecue, that’s called disappointment. So Wilkins was very happy on a recent return visit to the Spicewood joint when we ordered a full platter of brisket, ribs, sausage, pork loin and turkey. The meats are terrific at Opie’s BBQ, but don’t miss the homemade banana pudding either. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas…
 - 06/20/2017
Hot-Luck-Austin

Going forward, a delicate balance for Austin’s Hot Luck Festival

Prime rib galore roasting on spits at the Hot Luck Festival in Austin. Austin’s inaugural Hot Luck Festival of food and music in May attracted 6,500 “patrons,” according to a recent release from the organizers. “Patrons” is an interesting term. In broad form, it includes paying customers as well as those who don’t pay admission, such as guests, clients, sponsors and friends. At Hot Luck’s food events, based on my observations, there were a lot of non-paying attendees. In a follow up email, I asked Courtney Knittel, handling Hot Luck’s public relations, for a breakdown of attendance between the music…
 - 06/18/2017
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Ronnie Killen says he’s selling brisket for no profit

Snake River Gold brisket at Killen’s Barbecue in Houston, which goes for $30 a pound. Seeking to improve quality, barbecue maestro Ronnie Killen recently changed brisket suppliers and is now paying so much for raw brisket that he doesn’t make any money on the final, smoked product. “If it means selling brisket for no profit, then that’s what it means,” Killen said on the Houston Chronicle’s BBQ State of Mind podcast Wednesday. “I don’t care.” Killen operates the popular Killen’s Barbecue in suburban Houston. He said on the podcast that he now pays $9.35 a pound for brisket supplied by…
 - 06/15/2017
Truth-BBQ-ribs

Tug or no tug on pork ribs? A Posse dialogue

The pork ribs at Truth BBQ in Brenham were excellent, taking no tug to get off the bone. One of the great things about weekend-long barbecue tours is the drive time between stops when Posse members can discuss some of the big philosophical issues regarding smoked meat. We had one of those experiences Saturday on the road to Houston after visiting Truth BBQ in Brenham. We’ll post the full tour story later, but first, the big issue: tug or no tug on pork ribs? There was almost no tug on Truth’s ribs and they were excellent. In texture, they reminded…
 - 06/13/2017
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The secret to great BBQ Chicken — brining!

The whole bird with rub applied from Bryan Gooding’s award-winning recipe for brining and smoking BBQ chicken. Our brining and smoking BBQ chicken recipe earned the Posse its first category win at the Blues, Bandits festival in Oak Cliff, Tx. The key to any good chicken — from fried to smoked– is brining. We all have endured a tough, stringy, dry piece of chicken and making it juicy is an easy fix. Ingredients for Bryan Gooding’s BBQ chicken recipe. (Photo ©Bryan Gooding) Just take a little extra time to brine. Ingredients: 1 small whole chicken ¼ cup Dijon mustard Brine:…
 - 06/08/2017
Winners BBQ_01

Impressive return to Winners BBQ in Cedar Hill

Selection of smoked meats at Winners BBQ in Cedar Hill, sliced brisket, sausage, baby back ribs & chopped brisket. The Posse gathered recently at Winners BBQ in Cedar Hill, anxious to see if my impressions from a visit a few weeks earlier would hold. Owners De’Andre and Maegan Jackson had just opened their second location three weeks earlier when I dropped in the first time in late April. Posse pitmaster Marshall Cooper & I visited their Plano location in early April. We were very impressed. That led to my visit to Cedar Hill and then our gathering of 10 Posse members several weeks…
 - 06/06/2017
Texas-Monthly-Top-50-BBQ

The making of Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ list

Without a doubt, it’s the most anticipated and influential list of its kind in Texas and beyond: Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ joints. It boosts business for those places that make it, and generates endless discussion among barbecue fans everywhere. If you have any doubt about the appeal of the list, just Google Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ, or check your Facebook and Twitter feeds over the past couple weeks. Or, view all the coverage the Posse has devoted to the list over the same span. Or, look at the longer lines at many of the top-ranked joints. A new…
 - 06/04/2017
Louie-Mueller-BBQ

When it comes to BBQ, a picture is not worth a thousand bites — or even one

Posse member Tom Fox photographs a tray of BBQ at Louie Mueller in Taylor. A barbecue blogger last week weighed in on his role in assembling the latest Texas Monthly list of the Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas. Actually, the blogger, Jimmy Ho, didn’t weigh in. “I did help contribute to the list,” he wrote, but he added, “I am not going to write about any of the places I visited on my blog.” (I’m guessing that maybe his arrangement with Texas Monthly prohibited him from using his work for the magazine on his own blog, but that’s just…
 - 06/01/2017
4-T's-Bar-B-Q_02

4-T’s Bar-B-Q, a sweet spot in Forney

Lunch plate of ribs, brisket & sausage were perfectly cooked and seasoned at 4-T’s Bar-B-Q & Catering in Forney. I had a great lunch at 4-T’s Bar-B-Q and Catering in Forney, a half-hour or so East of Dallas. Newly-named to the Texas Monthly Top 50 list, it was my first trip out to Forney and it sure won’t be my last. Pitmaster Mike Thomas has been smoking meat in Forney for almost seven years and he’s really got things dialed in. I ordered the two meat plate ($11.49) with moist brisket and sausage and I added two ribs ($2 each). All three meats…
 - 05/31/2017
2M Smokehouse brisket

Top 10 brisket joints for Texas Monthly

Briskets on the smoker at 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio. With all the hullabaloo over the online release of Texas Monthly’s Top 50 barbecue joints early this week, the print edition of the magazine still contained a nice surprise when it arrived Thursday: a list of the top 10 brisket joints in Texas. While seven of them are also among TM’s overall Top 10, three are not, including 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio. Regular readers will remember that Chris Wilkins and I raved about 2M after our first visit there earlier this year. I even argued that it might be the…
 - 05/28/2017
Hays County BBQ_01

Big expansion for Hays County Bar-B-Que

The pits burn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at Hays County Bar-B-Que in San Marcos. Jessie Miranda, the general manager at Hays County Bar-B-Que & Catering in San Marcos, is old school. The joint doesn’t use temperature gauges to judge the doneness of its briskets. It’s all about how the meat looks and feels to the touch. “The only thing we probe is poultry, sausage and sometimes a pork chop,” he said. Miranda is also old school in his approach to competition: Bring it on. “We got room to go,” he said. “There’s plenty business for everybody.…
 - 05/25/2017
ThermoWorks_03

ThermoWorks Smoke performs flawlessly

The ThermoWorks Smoke dual-channel thermometer comes with two probes, one for meat and one for air. I’ll admit, I’m the Posse rookie when it comes to smoking meat. I bought a Weber Smokey Mountain cooker about two months ago and I’ve used it half a dozen times, mostly with success. I’m also a technology writer and gadget reviewer, so every time I take on a new hobby, like smoking meat, I take the opportunity to immerse myself in whatever new and exciting gadgets go along with it. I know temperature is important, so I jumped into my first cook using…
 - 05/24/2017
Snows BBQ

Snow’s BBQ, well deserved No. 1 for Texas Monthly

Early Saturday morning light hits the smoker area as pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz works at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington. So we missed — widely — when we predicted last month that Killen’s Barbecue in suburban Houston would be No. 1 on Texas Monthly’s list of the Top 50 joints in Texas. But we applaud — loudly — the magazine’s decision this week to put Snow’s BBQ on top. In all the years the Posse has been touring, breakfast at the Lexington place on a Saturday morning remains our favorite trip. “It’s the ultimate Texas BBQ experience: great food, great people and the…
 - 05/22/2017
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2M Smokehouse video: Living the BBQ dream

2M Smokehouse video: Owners Esaul Ramos, left, and Joe Melig at the counter of their San Antonio restaurant. Esaul Ramos, co-owner and pit master at 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio, has some advice for anyone who thinks they might want to smoke meat for a living. “Don’t get into barbecue unless you really, really love it,” Ramos told the Posse recently during a visit to his joint when we also taped a short video in his smokehouse. With a mattress propped against a nearby wall, Ramos explained how he and partner, Joe Melig, literally camp out there during their long…
 - 05/21/2017
Hot Luck_01

Opening night of Hot Luck Austin at Franklin’s

BBQ Snob Daniel Vaughn served a nice steak taco at Hot Luck Austin. Hot Luck Austin, the new food festival, officially opened Thursday night at Franklin Barbecue, near downtown. With the State Capitol building visible, the joint’s “back yard” is a great spot for a party. As normal, though, when Posse member Mike Gagne and I arrived a few minutes before the 6 p.m. start, there was a line. We were 40 or so back. But it moved quickly and there was never much backup at the seven chef stations over the next three hours. The event was open only…
 - 05/19/2017
Cattleack BBQ

Why we wait in long barbecue lines

Diners stand in line as they wait to order on a recent Saturday at Cattleack BBQ in Dallas. The idea about barbecue lines started simply enough during our recent visit to Micklethwait Craft Meats in Austin. “Why would you wait in line at Franklin when you can get this so close?” Sherry Jacobson wondered as she ate some of Micklethwait’s brisket, every bit as fine as what you could get a few blocks away at world famous Franklin Barbecue. And there was almost no line at Micklethwait. So we assembled an email roundtable of the Posse, all line-standing veterans, to…
 - 05/17/2017
Smokey-Ds_0004_SM

Forget Texas, go to Smokey D’s for ribs

Lunch at Smokey D’s BBQ in Des Moines, Iowa. Clockwise from top left, Texas toast, pork ribs, turkey, sausage and brisket. I’m a Texan, so it has taken me a few days to get up the courage to write this. The best pork ribs I’ve ever eaten weren’t cooked in the Lone Star State. No, they were cooked about 950 miles north of ATX in Des Moines, Iowa, at a place called Smokey D’s BBQ. Sherry Jacobson and I stopped there in the middle of a recent Monday afternoon while driving to Minnesota. “Oh, yeah,” I said after taking a…
 - 05/14/2017
Micklethwait Craft Meats_05

New look for Micklethwait Craft Meats, same great brisket

Three-meat plate with fatty brisket, a big pork rib, and knockwurst sausage & sides at Micklethwait Craft Meats. Micklethwait Craft Meats, the excellent barbecue joint near downtown Austin, had a new look when we stopped there for lunch this week. “Gussied up” was the term that immediately came to mind, though it might be a tad high brow for a trailer operation. But it sure looked nice. The space leading to and under the service windows is now covered with pea gravel and several large concrete pavers, and a new planter near the main seating was ready for some greenery. Before,…
 - 05/11/2017
snows0ne1

The birth of the Posse during a lightning tour of Central Texas’ best BBQ joints

Snow’s BBQ on a foggy Saturday morning in Nov. 2009, this was the Posse’s first of many trips to the BBQ mecca. Editors note: We thought it would be fun to republish the story from our first BBQ pilgrimage to Central Texas in November 2009. What began as a simple roadtrip for six friends became a life-changing experience for us all, giving birth to the Texas BBQ Posse. Once we tasted that Snow’s brisket for the first time, nothing related to BBQ would ever be the same. Here’s our story… By Gary Jacobson In thick fog on a Saturday morning, we…
 - 05/07/2017
Cattleack BBQ 02

At Cattleack BBQ, we go behind TV action

Cattleack BBQ owner and pitmaster Todd David points out the menu items to customers. You might have seen a news story that Cattleack BBQ is going to be featured on a new Food Network show called Incredible Edible America with the Dunhams, starring comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham and his wife Audrey, a food blogger. Each show is centered around one city and the one of the shows is about Dallas. The series premieres June 5, but we don’t know yet exactly when the Dallas episode is scheduled to air. I was asked by Cattleack owners Todd and Misty David to attend…
 - 05/06/2017
smoked pork butt

Foolproof smoked pork butt for beginners

By Bryan Gooding. In the beginning, I wanted to smoke and had no idea where to start. Just about every book on the subject suggested using a pork butt for a test flight. The reason is simple: it is almost impossible to overcook. The abundance of fat and the sheer mass of the cut gives the beginner a lot of room to hide any loss of focus. Everyone loves a pulled pork sandwich and it is a great start for the backyard BBQ. Because it is a massive muscle I find that with this much pork the meat next to…
 - 05/02/2017
Stiles-Switch_food_SM

No ghosts, just good BBQ spirit at Stiles Switch

Lunch at Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew in Austin, including sausage, pork ribs, brisket, beef rib, smoked fried chicken wings and sides. There’s a lot of history swirling around Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew in Austin. It’s located in what was the city’s first shopping center, built in 1951. And the space now occupied by the joint was the movie location for the pool hall in Dazed and Confused, the 1993 comedy that made Matthew McConaughey famous. “All right, all right, all right.” But if you’re a railroad fan, particularly one who might be partial to ghosts, there’s an even…
 - 04/30/2017
Sonny-Bryants-KC_0001_SM

Finding BBQ truth, wisdom in the land of sauce

A clock showing the legendary pitmaster hangs on the wall at Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque in Kansas City. When in Rome, the saying goes. And that’s exactly what we did recently in Kansas City. We went to Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque. While the food didn’t sync with my Texas tastes, the atmosphere was wonderful at this classic joint on the edge of downtown. Of course, when talking about Bryant’s, sooner or later, Calvin Trillin’s 1972 Playboy article gets mentioned. Trillin, from Kansas City, wrote then: “It has long been acknowledged that the single best restaurant in the world is Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque at 18th…
 - 04/28/2017
Winners-BBQ_2meat3

Winners expands its BBQ dream from Plano to Cedar Hill

Two-meat plate with brisket & baby back ribs, baked beans and mac & cheese at Winners BBQ in Plano. Two years ago Maegan and De’Andre Jackson took a leap of faith and opened Winners BBQ in east Plano. They had shared the dream of opening up a BBQ joint since college, where they met as students at Iowa State. De’Andre grew up cooking barbecue, his dad was a backyard pitmaster who cooked for the neighborhood, then got into catering and eventually opened a restaurant. Growing up in Garland, De’Andre was an All Big 12 defensive back for the Cyclones with aspirations to play…
 - 04/25/2017
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