We ate prime rib and smoked chicken under a historic airport hangar at a mid-week farmers market while, not far away, a singer crooned an Elvis tune. Nearby, kids and adults had their pictures taken atop a giant Longhorn, which was saddled and very much alive.
Wise men say this must be Austin.
Since moving to ATX a couple years ago, we’ve been regulars at the Sunday pop-up market on the site of the old Mueller Airport, just a few blocks from our house and a few miles from downtown. The event's official name: Texas Farmers' Market at Mueller.
However, we had never tried the barbecue at Mum Foods until the Sunday before this return visit. The tasty brisket melted in our mouths. The pastrami was wonderful. The sausage very good.
So, when Mum Foods proprietors Geo Ellis and Matti Bills said they planned to serve prime rib at the very first Wednesday Mueller pop-up market in a few days, we knew we had to return.
We made it a family affair, walking over with our son and daughter, pulling our grandkids in their wagon. Our son-in-law joined us straight from work.
Around us, people and their dogs visited the various booths, a clown entertained, kids and adults showed off their hula hoop skills, kids rode ponies. The Mueller Market can seem like a big party.
While the Posse thought the prime rib was good, the barbecue star of this particular visit — for the adults anyway — was the smoked chicken. Grandson Jake Gagne was partial to the sausage. He kept coming back for more.
“The chicken is fabulous,” Sherry Jacobson said. “It reminds me of Bryan Gooding’s.”
“That chicken is amazing,” echoed son-in-law Mike Gagne. “Flavorful and moist. Not a tangy taste like Bryan’s, but a good smoky flavor.”
Regular readers have met Bryan Gooding, aka The Chicken King of Oak Cliff. He brines his chickens in a vinegar solution before smoking.
Also, before we go any further, we have to give a shout out to Daniel Vaughn at Texas Monthly. While Mum Foods didn’t make his Top 50 list of BBQ joints, he has called Mum’s pastrami the best in the state. We concur.
Mum, which sells at a couple other markets and caters, wasn't serving pastrami or brisket on this visit. Mike did buy some frozen pastrami to take home. Best way to thaw and re-heat? Sous vide, Geo Ellis said. That brought a smile to the face of Mike, who is the sous vide expert on the Posse.
We mentioned to Ellis that the prime rib could have used more smoke flavor. He agreed and said that he had been a little rushed for this first Wednesday Mueller Market and had cooked the meat at a higher temperature than usual for three hours. Normally, he said, he would prefer lower heat and a time of four hours or so.
Also, he said, he wasn’t sure what the demand would be so he cooked just one 14-pound cut of prime rib. It sold out by 6:20 p.m., an hour and 20 minutes after opening. At $36 a pound, that’s a pretty healthy rate of revenue. The chicken was priced at $10 for a half.
“I think we did it right,” Libby Gagne said of our dinner out in the neighborhood. “Buy delicious meat and get a loaf of bread.”
The cider was mighty fine, too.