There is no shortage of opinions on the Texas BBQ Posse. Often we differ among ourselves.
That wasn't the case when we ate lunch last week at Clyde Biggins' house.
We all agreed that the former Dallas BBQ King, trying to make a comeback after nearly 17 years in prison, can still cook.
Here are comments from Posse members there:
Took me back to a different time, when it was just a bunch of friends getting together for food and fun. It's not re-creatable. It just is.
What a great setting for a Friday afternoon BBQ picnic. Watching Clyde work that pit was like watching a great conductor lead a symphony. No thermometers, gauges or gimmicks. It was old school cooking by feel only. Low and slow, the way most joints don't take the time to cook these days.
It would be great to see Clyde get back on the Dallas BBQ scene, we need someone with his talent and legacy. Before Meshack's reopened a couple of years ago the area was devoid of good BBQ. The addition of Pecan Lodge and Lockhart Smokehouse has helped us to the next level.
Based on what we ate today, he would join the top BBQ tier in Dallas on the first day he opens.
The only thing bigger than the smile on my face while eating Clyde's
BBQ was the smile on his as he watched us doing it.
What I enjoy most is BBQ with the strong taste of smoke, tender meat
falling off the bone and never ever overcooked, and a simple rub with
a distinct crust. Clyde's was all that.
His mix of pecan and hickory wood yielded the smoke. The ribs, brisket
and sausage were perfectly cooked, juicy, and tender. His
salt/pepper/chile rub added the black crust.
As soon as we left the cool shade of his long picnic table under the
trees, I immediately told my carmates Chris Wilkins and Ahna Hubnik
that Clyde's had instantly joined my top three BBQ places in the
Dallas area, along with Pecan Lodge and Meshack's in
Not coincidentally, the latter two are staffed by single pitmasters
who appear to handle most if not all the meat duties themselves, so
there is never a loss of quality or consistency.
Based on Clyde's many years of experience and his obvious pride in
what he made for us on Friday, I would expect the same to be true of
Clyde's the real deal. The meal I had would easily rank him in the top 5 among DFW BBQ joints, plus he has a great personality. That's a winning combination.
I was really impressed. Even the lean end of the brisket was tender and juicy. The ribs had a nice crispy crust, a smoky flavor that really shined through, and that spot-on tenderness that allowed them to be eaten with one hand without the meat falling off the bone. I have to admit, I didn't know what to expect since Clyde has been out of the BBQ business for so long, but he clearly hasn't lost his touch. If Clyde can consistently produce the level of BBQ he smoked for us today, he'll easily be one of the top pitmasters in Dallas. If he were to move to Houston, he'd be their BBQ king and get a key to the city.
I enjoyed over an hour of one on one BBQ conversation with Clyde before lunch. Clyde is what I term "good people." He shared his tried and true BBQ cook tips, tricks and techniques and although I won't share them I will say he cooks "old school," is a damned fine pit master and cooks damned good BBQ.
Where we ate today was BBQ heaven - a shaded park like setting with open green grass shaded by 50-60 year trees. Clyde is a top gun Texas pit master. The brisket and ribs were both cooked to absolute perfection. Clyde had it all going on with his brisket: tender, juicy, great bark, a layer of smoke, a layer of rub, properly rendered fat and a good discernible tasting beefy flavor - all going on at once. Clyde's spare ribs were the same superb product as the brisket: tender, juicy, great bark, a layer of smoke, a layer of rub, properly rendered fat and a good discernible tasting pork flavor
His 50-60 years of BBQ experience is the reason he would out cook any of the Central Texas, Austin and Dallas young guns. I'd bet on him beating out the old timers as well. Clyde's genuine hospitality and damned good BBQ made a great day for me. My only dissapointment is he doesn't have a full-time BBQ joint in Dallas. Let's all hope for the sake of Dallas BBQ he will change his mind.
Photos by Michael Ainsworth, Ahna Hubnik & Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse