Massive wood pile outside Smitty's Market in downtown Lockhart. (Photo by Jeff Haynes)

In the 4-year history of this blog, no topic has incited more passion than the wood-fired versus gas-fired smoker debate.

The Posse has been pro-wood. All wood. Almost to an extreme. We once called out Texas Monthly for including gas-fired joints on its Top 50 list.

But perhaps we have mellowed a bit as at least one of us edges ever closer to Medicare eligibility. On our recent Mid-Cities mini-tour, we liked the food at Eddie Deen Crossroads Smokehouse in Arlington even though the ribs and chicken are cooked on gas-fired pits in Terrell and transported to Arlington. Their brisket is cooked on wood-fired Oyler pits.

"It's all about the meat," Posse veteran Jim Rossman said. "No matter how it's cooked."

Jambo Texan sandwich at Jambo's BBQ Shack.

Our trip last year to Jambo's BBQ Shack in Rendon probably started our reconsideration. Run by Jamie Geer, builder of the famous Jambo wood-fired pits, the joint used an Ole Hickory smoker fired by gas and some hickory wood.

"Got to," Geer said when asked why he was using gas.

His food was damn good.

Don't get me wrong. We still favor wood-fired smokers. A trip to La Barbecue in Austin last weekend reinforced that feeling. At the moment, no one in Texas is smoking better brisket than John Lewis. It was terrific.

But at the Posse, we're just not as militant about using wood as we once were.

Besides, there are other considerations. We stood in line two hours at La Barbecue. We walked in, ordered and got our food right away at Crossroads.


Jim Holmes

10 years ago

There's no smoke ring in the absolutely fantastic brisket at Hashknife on the Chisholm and it deservedly made the TXMO50.

It's not the how, it's the what. Good meat is good meat.

todd david

10 years ago

I feel at the end of the day those that eat great bbq enjoy it because of the experience /atmosphere in eating it and obviously the taste. They don't enjoy the meat because of the process, but the process definitely is one of the main causes of the great meat. La Barbecue is a perfect example. Smoke is one of the key ingredients of great bbq as well as it can be one of the most damaging factors of bad bbq. I have cooked on at least 10 types of devices over my years. Some are preferred over others. Wood is so key and really necessary. I love traditional wood fired smokers. I cut teeth on that. I am not debating that point.
What gets my panties in a wad is the titles your "Posse" puts on folks. Its great to have an opinion but to put all in the same group seems a little closed mind. I would never say everyone that works for DMN is the same and does the same quality of work because they are part of the same company. Saying that everyone who's smoker has a gas line connected to it is a gasser and therefor not a true bbq expert I feel is wrong. While we have a gas line to ignite our wood, does not mean we cook with gas as one of your "posse" members said. J&R now makes their number one machine with or without a gas line. Does one verses the other change the product? No because it only fire's up the wood. If Aaron Franklin lights his new smoker with a propane torch to fire it up, is he now a gasser? At the end of the day its the tools in the tool box that one uses, that makes a great product. Wood is a very important tool and having a smoker that has a gas capability may or may not change that depending on how you use the gas and how you use the wood. Great bbq can be made out of a empty trash can if you know what you are doing. An expert should be judged by what they produce. Traditional or modern.

So If you wish to continue to separate bbq based on machines (gassers and wood fired smokers), you have that choice. If you want to separate excellence on the big picture using all the facts, I don't think thats going soft. I think thats respectful. When the Profits of Smoked Meat was written I heard people that agreed on the places he liked and people who disagreed with the places he liked. DV and the other people commenting are all entitled to their opinions and I like hearing all those opinions. Thats why I read the book. But all of those evaluations and opinions were based on many factors and facts, and never put in a group or class just because of the type of machine they had. That makes for good reading.


10 years ago

Does this mean I will finally get an apology for being mocked for saying, while I believe wood is superior, I felt good bbq could be done on gas, in your article claiming Texas Monthly did not mention they use gas (even though the magazine did mention it)? But I'm glad to see you are focusing more on the quality and taste of meat then how it got there. Still we agree, La Barbecue is putting out the best beef in the state right now.

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