April 2011

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frank01

Report from the new Franklin Barbecue: It’s still the same ol’ amazing BBQ

Texas BBQ Posse member Phil Lamb checks in after a visit to Franklin Barbecue’s new location at 900 E. 11th in Austin. Franklin’s former home, the little blue trailer at Concordia & I-35, quickly became a Texas BBQ legend. Can pitmaster Aaron Franklin continue to produce what some call the best brisket in Texas at his new sit down restaurant? That’s the million dollar question among Texas BBQ followers. Phil writes: I had another great BBQ lunch at Franklin this afternoon. My uncle and I did 1 lb. brisket (lean), 1 lb. brisket (fatty), 2 lbs ribs and 2 sausage…
 - 04/30/2011
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
chish01

Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Q in Lockhart: Where the locals eat

Finishing our I-10 BBQ roadtrip in Lockhart was never the plan. We pulled away from our fourth stop, Family Tradition Bar-B-Q in Waelder, without a destination in mind. Jeff and I headed west on Hwy. 90 toward Luling, where we had started the day with a 10:30 am BBQ breakfast at City Market. Passing through town we saw the sign: Lockhart – 17 miles. You gotta do what you gotta do. We headed north up Hwy. 183 and were in Lockhart in no time. Carl Ellis, a former Dallas Morning News sports editor who now lives in Lockhart, had told…
 - 04/26/2011
signs01

BBQ Signs of our Times – Chapter 3

Back by popular demand, our BBQ signs series continues. A rule of thumb: The more homemade the sign, the down home the barbecue. Here are some signs from our recent East Texas II BBQ Tour and a couple of other recent BBQ roadtrips. You can click to see the first BBQ Signs of our Times post or BBQ Signs of our Times II. Thanks to new posse member Phil Lamb for his contributions to this chapter. Family Tradition Bar-B-Q, Waelder, TX Baby J’s Bar-B-Que & Fish, Palestine, TX Lonnie Ray’s BBQ, Harrisburg, MO Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Que, Tyler, TX Stacy’s…
 - 04/23/2011
wilk

If we’re the posse, he’s the sheriff

The tough part about always being the guy behind the camera is that you’re never* in the photo. Chris Wilkins, the driving force behind the Texas BBQ Posse, is a professional photographer. So are a lot of posse members. But Chris is the guy who’s always ready with his lenses and flash when we pull up to a new joint. He’s the guy who’s always walking in with at least two cameras around his neck. He’s the guy who’s always in perfect position to record the moment when a pitmaster agrees to take us around back and show us where…
 - 04/23/2011
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
TMtop50

Texas Monthly’s Pat Sharpe joins the Top 50 BBQ dialogue….

Texas Monthly executive editor and food writer Pat Sharpe graciously comments on our blog posts regarding their Top 50 BBQ rankings. We wanted to publish her comments in a seperate post to be sure everyone got a chance to read it. Hello, all. Since I am the person who heads up Texas Monthly’s top-fifty list every five years, let me respond to a couple of questions. We do, in fact (as Jacob said, above), indicate whether each place uses wood or gas/electric, but it’s in the form of a symbol (of flames or a commercial smoker) so a reader might…
 - 04/19/2011
hard2

More on Texas Monthly’s taking the gas

I don’t mean to pour charcoal lighter on the fire, but Gary is indisputably correct about gas versus wood: No one who cooks with gas belongs on a list of Texas’ best barbecue joints, any more than grape Nehi belongs on a wine list. (And the offense isn’t pardoned just because the gas cook throws on, as Marshall Cooper puts it, “a couple of sticks of wood for perfume.”) Texas Monthly, more than most, ought to realize this. Indeed, in the introduction to the magazine’s last Top 50 issue (published in June 2008), the editors described their vaunted list thusly:Our…
 - 04/19/2011
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
babyjake2

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
stanleysign

On the road again: East Texas II BBQ Tour begins tomorrow at Stanley’s

The posse returns to one of our favorite joints in the state on Saturday to begin the second East Texas BBQ tour. Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q in Tyler was the starting point for our first East Texas tour in February 2010. We’ve gotten to know owner and pitmaster Nick Pencis pretty well since then, he’s one of the “young gun” pitmasters who are leading the next generation of great Texas BBQ cooks. We can’t wait to try Stanley’s ribs, considered by many to be among the best in the state. The first time the Posse was there, a customer bought…
 - 04/15/2011
smoke1

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
halletts01

Novosad BBQ & Sausage Market: The I-10 BBQ adventure continues

After lunch at Gonzales Food Market, we headed east on Hwy. 90. The next official stop was going to be City Market in Schulenburg, but we hoped to find a joint or two on the 41 mile drive over. We talked about having a cold Shiner beer in the town of Shiner, of course. This was the first decent sized town on the route, but we came up empty. The brewery was closed and we didn’t find a bar open. Onward to Hallettsville and Novosad BBQ & Sausage Market, a joint I had heard of but didn’t know much about.…
 - 04/13/2011
MO02

Lonnie Ray’s BBQ: Texas smoke in the heartland of Missouri

I got a chance to try some “Texas-style” BBQ on a trip last week to Columbia, Missouri. I’m alway skeptical when I hear those words and I’m not in Texas. The meat is usually cooked on a gas burner and that ain’t Texas-style in my book……. Longtime friend Jim Curley, a photojournalist in Columbia, drove us north 21 miles to Harrisburg, population 184, home of Lonnie Ray’s BBQ. Mike Whiteley, owner and pit boss, has been cooking most of his life and opened Lonnie Ray’s seven years ago. Jim had heard about the Gee Wilikers sandwich, a wholly original choice…
 - 04/11/2011
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
gonzoweb01

Gonzales Food Market: Three generations of BBQ mastery

After breakfast at City Market in Luling, we headed southeast on Hwy. 183 to the old town square of Gonzales, home to another one of the best BBQ joints in Texas. Gonzales Food Market was founded 52 years ago by the Lopez family as a small grocery and meat market, with one brick pit constructed to cook sausage. Two more pits to smoke a wide array of meats followed. Second and third generations of the family still run the joint, which morphed into more of a restaurant in the mid-1970s. When we arrived at 11:30 am the line was already…
 - 04/07/2011
family01

Family Tradition Bar-B-Q: New stop on the central Texas BBQ trail

UPDATE: This joint closed in October 2011. The Fogle family hopes to open a joint near Lake McQueeney sometime in Spring 2012. An unexpected stop was awaiting us as we threaded our way on the blue highways around the Interstate 10 corridor looking for the next BBQ joint to visit. We had planned a fourth stop at Schulenburg City Market, but they were closed when we got there. We were on the prowl for a replacement. In the tiny town of Waelder, population a little over 900, we stumbled into the newly opened Family Tradition Bar-B-Q. Waelder is north of…
 - 04/05/2011
lulingweb01

City Market in Luling: First stop on the I-10 BBQ roadtrip

I was joined by an old friend last weekend on a quick five-stop BBQ roadtrip. Sports photographer extraordinaire Jeff Haynes, who was in San Antonio covering the NCAA basketball regionals for Reuters, had a down day on Saturday so we headed east on Interstate 10. The original plan was to hit three city markets and see what we found in between. All three joints were threaded together by I-10 between San Antonio and Houston. They had all received five stars from our friend Daniel Vaughn, aka the BBQ Snob, so I knew it would be a tasty journey. We planned…
 - 04/01/2011

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