OK, I know this is the Texas BBQ Posse. But every now and then we discover the real deal outside of the Lone Star state and feel the need to tell you all about it. Such was the case when I visited Lonnie Ray's BBQ in Harrisburg, Missouri, earlier this year.
Introducing Podnah's Pit Barbecue in Portland, Oregon. Posse member Michael Ainsworth was vacationing in Portland recently and ended up at Podnah's. Michael was the first Posse member to try Franklin BBQ, before the super long lines and signs announcing they were sold out of BBQ by noon. He knows great BBQ when he tastes it.
Michael sent a text from the dining room, proclaiming he had found brisket on the left coast that might be close to the same level as Franklin's. I was skeptical, but then he sent the photos and explained the back story of Padnah's.
Owner and pitmaster Rodney Muirhead is from Waxahachie, Texas. He opened Podnah's in late 2006, but he'd already been smoking Texas style barbecue in Portland for almost four years on a pit-on-trailer, with hopes of opening his own place one day.
The story of naming the joint is explained on Podnah's website: "To honor his Texas roots, he named it "Podnah's Pit" after his grandfather's nickname--"podnah" being Texan for partner. There's a really simple explanation for Rodney's success: he don't mess with Texas. While many things have changed since Rodney started barbecuing back in 2003, there's one thing that will always stay the same--relying on the barbecue methods of the Lone Star state."
This is a serious Texas BBQ operation. Like Franklin BBQ, they have been recognized by Bon Appetit magazine as a great BBQ joint, no small fete. Podnah's makes these promises to their customers:
"For Rodney and the rest of the pit crew this means:
---Getting up at 5:00 every morning to fire up the pit.
---Using honest oak hardwood in the firebox.
---Using high quality, natural meats.
---Preparing the food fresh daily.
---Never precooking the meat. It's all slow smoked right there in the pit.
---Only cooking as much meat as the smoker will comfortably hold, and that's about 200 pounds a day.
---When the meat's gone, it's gone. Until tomorrow at lunch time that is.
---They love making honest, slow-smoked, Texas style barbecue for their patrons.
---And they love their patrons too. So much so that they even make Carolina style pulled-pork for them."
Podnah's Pit Barbecue, 1625 NE Killingsworth, Portland, OR, 503-281-3700. Hours: Breakfast: Sat-Sun 9am-1pm, Lunch: Mon-Fri 11am-5pm, Sat-Sun Noon-5pm, Dinner: Mon-Sun 5pm-10pm.
Photos by Michael Ainsworth