The legendary Jambo Texan sandwich was one of the highlights of our BBQ tour. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins)

On the way to Lazy S&M BBQ in Joshua, the second stop of our recent South of DFW Tour, we crossed the Chisholm Trail Parkway. The 27-mile toll road, which runs from Fort Worth to Cleburne, is scheduled to open later this year.

It was an interesting moment of synchronicity. Our modern barbecue trail intersected -- symbolically anyway -- part of the historic route that Texas cowboys used a century and a half ago to drive their cattle to the railroads.

Some might find poetry in such a moment. For the rest of us, if nothing else, it helps explain why brisket is king in Texas.

At Lazy S&M, we asked pit master Terry Massey how his joint, located in a former gas station, got it's name. He said that he once raised horses. A real Texas cowboy.

"We kept the brand," the former competition barbecue cook said.

More synchronicity?

Massey, who said he opened about a year ago, cooks hot (275-325 degrees) and fast. His briskets take about 6 hours, he said, and his pork ribs about 4 hours. He uses mainly pecan wood and occasionally mixes in some oak.

Pitmaster Terry Massey opened Lazy S&M BBQ in Joshua about a year ago. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

We sampled those meats along with some sausage and bologna. Yes, bologna.

Coming immediately after our stop at BBQ on the Brazos, which set a very high standard for everything it served, comparisons were tough.

"Good but not great," Michael Meadows, one of the newest Posse members, said of Lazy S&M.

The bologna was unusual and kind of interesting. Each of our next two stops also served the same. We're still sorting through what we really think about barbecued bologna. We hope to pursue that topic in a future post.

Our sampler plate at Lazy S&M BBQ.  (Photo ©Chris Wilkins)

Until he opened Jambo's BBQ Shack last summer, owner-pit master Jamie Geer was more well known for his Jambo barbecue pits and his competition cooking.

We first ate at his joint the week it debuted. We liked it a lot then, maybe even more now.

"You're talking about one of the master cookers in my mind," Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins said of Geer.

We ordered two of Geer's giant Jambo Texan sandwiches for the eight of us on the tour. It's a Posse favorite and even at $14 a pop -- up from $12 last year --  it might just be the second-best barbecue value in the state. The $16.59 all-you-can-eat offering at Hutchins BBQ in McKinney remains No. 1.

Between two thick slices of Texas toast, the Jambo Texan is stuffed with sliced brisket, chopped brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage, pork ribs, and, yes, smoked bologna.

It's a perfect sampler for a barbecue tour.

The Posse praised everything, even the bologna.

"This is not the bologna I grew up with," said Tom Fox, who brought his father, Marty, on the tour.

The sausage received special praise. "It's on a whole different level," said Posse member Jim Rossman.

As usual, the dining room was full at Jambo's BBQ Shack in Rendon. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Definitely. I rated it on a par with the sausage at la Barbecue in Austin, which I consider best in the state.

Geer was in West, Texas, at a benefit competition, so we didn't get a chance to talk to him. Recently, Geer's team was named overall grand champion at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo World Championship Bar-B-Que Contest. The championship banner and best chicken trophy were on display in Jambo's shack.

After that competition, Geer told the Houston Chronicle:

"We're going to go back and have the biggest party that Houston's ever seen."

Sounds like Jamie.

Our last joint of the day was Pit Stop BBQ in Waxahachie, run by pit master Steve Graham.

The food didn't charm us, but the venue did.

There were horseshoe pits in the back, dart boards in a game room and a covered outdoor stage -- "Graham Ole Opry" -- for concerts. Along with barbecue, Pit Stop serves a steady menu of music.

Vanessa & Steve Graham own Pit Stop BBQ outside of Waxahachie. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

For the food, though, it was a moment of un-synchronicity with the Posse. We always order fatty brisket. It's the only way, we think, to get that perfect combination of crust, fat and tender meat that melts together in your mouth.

"The magic tingle," a friend of the Posse once described the experience.

"We don't have fat on our briskets," Graham said as he gave us a tour of his pit area. "I trim it off. I don't even put fat in the chop."

Graham said that's what his customers want.

Ditto for the pork ribs. While the Posse likes a little tug off the bone, Graham said his customers want the meat falling off the bone.

The Texas flag welcomes you to  Pit Stop BBQ. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins)

"Meat so tender you can leave your teeth at home," is the Pit Stop's motto. On that score, the joint doesn't just talk the talk, it walks the walk.

The Posse might call the ribs mushy, but, according to Graham, his customers call them perfect.

So be it.

In late April, Graham said, his place is hosting an Elvis impersonator and a Neil Diamond impersonator.

"I might just have to come back for that," Wilkins said.

And he'll probably eat some fatless brisket and falling-off-the bone ribs -- and like it.

So be it.

The South of DFW BBQ Tour

9am: Leave Dallas.
10am: BBQ on the Brazos, 9001 E Hwy 377, Cresson, TX. Open Mon-Fri 6:30am-3pm, Sat
11:45am: Lazy S&M BBQ, 2008 Conveyer Drive, Joshua, 817-475-5687. Open Tues-Wed 6am-4pm, Thurs-Fri 6am-7pm, Sat 10:30am-3pm.
1pm: Jambo's BBQ Shack, 5460 E FM 1187, Rendon, 817-478.2277. Open Tues-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat 11am-3pm.
2:30pm: Pit Stop BBQ, 3921 S Highway 287, Waxahachie, 972-923-8921. Open Mon-Tue 11am-9pm, Wed 11am-10pm, Thurs 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-9pm.
4pm: Back in Dallas.

The Graham's BBQ competition trophies line the walls at Pit Stop BBQ. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)


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