Sunday, January 31, 2016

Made a few changes

I have officially moved on from Wordpress to Blogger.  Blogger in my opinion is cleaner and more user friendly.  Let me know what you think!

-Mike

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Pecan Lodge Behind the Pit

I got into BBQ not long after I got married, my lifestyle went from late nights out on the town to staying home and watching Food Network and HGTV.  Nights out at the bar were often replaced with a nice dinner or lunch.  I’m not a big fan of chain restaurants and to find new dining spots around DFW, I read the Dallas Observer’s City of Ate Blog often. One place that was starting to get some pub down in the Dallas Farmers Market was Pecan Lodge.  I heard lines could get crazy so I got there a little early and was first in line at 10 AM. I pretty much had Shed 2 to myself.  I sat at one of the tables in front of the counter until about 10:30 when someone else got in line and ruined my one chance to “ring the bell”. when service started at 11:00  The food that day was fantastic and I continue to go back to their new digs in Deep Ellum.

Courtesy of www.pecanlodge.com






Since then my BBQ love has grown (obviously as I now blog about it) and Texas Monthly BBQ has been a wonderful guide to help avoid bad BBQ when searching for new places to try.  In addition to being a “BBQ Roadmap”, they provide fascinating history and stories of the restaurant and pitmasters themselves.  To expand on the story of BBQ joints they hold an event called “Behind the Pit” that is hosted by Daniel Vaughn and gives guests a guided tour of pit rooms and the history of the restaurant.  When I heard Pecan Lodge was holding one of these events, I had to get tickets!
I arrived a little before six and was greeted with a swag bag that including a Yeti hat, Yeti bottle opener and a copy of Texas Monthly Magazine.  At the time, nobody was seated yet so I proceeded to the bar for a complimentary drink.  Since it was a Tuesday night, I went solo as my wife was home watching our daughter, but within minutes I was greeted by other guests who were anxious to talk BBQ.

A little after six the night began with a preview of the menu by Daniel.  I was expecting the traditional BBQ fare of brisket, ribs and sausage, but was shocked to hear tonight’s dinner would be smoked salmon, smoked quail along with beef ribs and smoked chuck steak.  While I was looking forward to brisket and ribs, this menu can make you easily forget all about that!

After the introduction, owner and pitmaster Justin Fourton gave a brief tour of the pit room explaining the history and design of his smokers.  Justin cooks on an over and under style pit that allows the smoke to rise evenly and consistently over the meat at a temperature of 250 degrees.  With the name Pecan Lodge you would assume the wood of choice would be Pecan, but it is not.  When originally opening, Pecan Lodge used Mesquite, but not afraid to change, Justin has gone from Mesquite to a Mesquite Hickory and Oak combination and now today uses a Hickory and Oak combination.






After the tour we sat down and the first course was served.  The dinner was served family style and the first dish was smoked salmon on top of cheese grits and greens.  I’ve never really been a huge salmon fan, but this uncured piece of meat was cooked to flaky perfection with a nice sweet BBQ glaze and the grits and greens were just as delicious.  I tried to enjoy every bite as I knew this wasn’t a regular menu item and most likely, I wouldn’t be having it again.

The next course is one of my favorite game meats, quail.  The quail had a pleasant peppery rub and had a fantastic subtle smoke flavor that was almost reminiscent of being on a wood fired rotisserie.  I am not ashamed to say I ate two of those birds!!  The quail was plated on a bed of white beans which was very nostalgic for me as they tasted very close to the white beans my grandmother use to make growing up.  It’s funny how tastes and smells can take you back in time.






Before the third course came out, we were given new plates for the best cut of BBQ you can have, beef ribs.  The beef ribs came out alongside smoked chuck and a horseradish sauce.  The smoked chuck was cooked to a perfect medium rare, great smoke flavor and paired exceptionally well with the horseradish.  The beef ribs were on a whole other level with the perfect bark, perfect smoke, and perfect tenderness.  I’ve had beef ribs at Black’s and Louie Mueller, but these blew them away which is a spectacular accomplishment.  This was our third course and seven people managed to take down three plates of ribs because we just couldn’t stop ourselves.  Absolutely amazing!

Beef Ribs







The meal was finished off with a wonderful peach cobbler and ice cream.


After dinner was a Q&A session with Justin and Diane Fourton, below is a small clip of that time.
It was an amazing night and one of my most enjoyable BBQ events.  If you love BBQ and a good story you should check out a Texas Monthly Event.
I also want to thank the other guests at my table for their conversation that added to the evening.  Two of them have their own business so check them out as well.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Winner's BBQ

Winner's BBQ


My weekend had started with plans for Austin, I had a Franklin preorder, Stiles Switch and Val’s on my list, but Mother Nature had other plans.  The thought of 35 between DFW and Austin is a bad one to begin with, but add torrential rain to the mix and it’s a big no thank you.  Luckily for me earlier in the week Daniel Vaughn had tweeted pics from a new place in Plano, TX by the name of Winner’s BBQ.  I went to their website and saw the following quote on their main page “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing.  Our mission is to combine an exciting, fun and motivational atmosphere with excellent Texas BBQ.”  I’m already motivated by this time.  I go into the About Me section and see “Every day of our lives we’re trying to find a different way to provide better BBQ, better ourselves and the community.  Prepare for Glory!”  Now I’m really pumped!!  As I continue to read I see Pitmaster and owner Deandre Jackson played football for Iowa State where he was Big 12 all conference.  From speaking with him it is obvious the competitive juices still flow and BBQ is his outlet.  Every day he strives to be better than the day before.  I like this, speaking with DeAndre it’s obvious failure is not an option and he will do whatever it takes to make Winner’s BBQ a success.
So with most restaurants success starts with the food so let’s talk about that.  I ordered my usual, Texas Trinity of brisket, ribs and sausage.  My wife came along on this trip and got the 2 meat plate of brisket and pulled pork.  Normally I start off with brisket, but what attracted me to Winner’s was the unique rub pictured in Daniel Vaughn’s tweet.  The rub was thick and complex and it really caught my eye so I was anxious to give it a try.  As I bit in, the flavor was intense but not overpowering and extremely savory.  I wish my palate could separate spices so I could attempt to explain what made up the rub, but I just can’t.  I can say it was one of the best tasting ribs I’ve ever had.  The texture of the rib (baby backs) gave a hard tug indicating undercooked, but as I’ve noted before I’m ok with that, but others might not be.  Either way I wouldn’t pass up on these as they are some of the best I’ve tried.  Next up was the brisket.  Winners has counter service, but the meat is cut behind closed doors and it didn’t even cross my mind to request lean or fatty.  I was given lean and the slices had an excellent bark, similar rub to the ribs and a light oak smoke flavor, but while the ribs were under cooked the brisket seems to have been overcooked.  The slices were cut thick so the meat wouldn’t fall apart, but it didn’t take much pull apart when picked up.  As for the sausage, I would compare it to what you can buy at the grocery store, nothing spectacular, but good.
Texas Trinity

I’m a fan of Winners because in a time when most places opening up are going Central Texas style Winner’s unique complex rub stands out in a good way.  I’m already craving their ribs.  I have little doubt they will overcome the doneness issue, it’s no easy task transferring from cooking perfect BBQ for friends and family to cooking for the masses.  They are in the process of installing a bar and they already have TVs covering every section of the dining room. This will make a great place to watch the game and eat some fantastic BBQ, so go give them a visit soon!
Winners BBQ
3200 14th St
Plano, TX
Twitter: @winnersBBQ
Facebook: www.facebook.com/winnersBBQ

Hutchins BBQ

Hutchin's BBQ


While traveling to eat BBQ is a ton of fun, sometimes it’s nice to hit up one of the local spots.  On a Friday night, when most folks are heading to watch local high school football, I decided to head out to one of my favorite places in Collin County, Hutchins BBQ in McKinney, TX.  Hutchins has been open since 1978 and is one of the few great BBQ places that are open for dinner.  Hutchins looks like a BBQ joint should with its red barn wood exterior.  Walking into the door, you are met with a winding line that resembles waiting for a ride at an amusement park.  Once you are up to the butcher block you have the option to order by the pound, 1 or 2 meat dinner plates or a sandwich.  Tonight I went with a two meat plate of brisket and ribs, then ordered ¼ pound of jalapeno cheddar sausage.  Once you have your meat there is a self-serve bar of sides.  Dinner plates come with 2 sides and I opted for their mac and cheese and beans.





I’ve been coming to Hutchins on a regular basis since early 2013. The food has always been consistent and that sadly means the lean brisket always comes out a bit dry and this trip was no exception.  Though the lean is usually dry the fatty (point) is damn near perfect.  It had great moisture, tender and not overly fatty or greasy with the right amount of smoke.  While their rub is pepper based it doesn’t have the overpowering pepper taste like Central TX BBQ does and is very pleasant.  The spare ribs have a sweet and savory rub and were cooked to BBQ perfection.  With each bite the ribs came cleanly off the bone with little tug and didn’t bring the rest of the meat with it.  I can’t imagine a better texture on a rib.  On the table, Hutchins has a nice vinegar based sauce that pairs very well with the ribs.  Finally the sausage had the perfect amount of pepper and an abundance of cheese pouring out when you sliced it up!


Now my family’s favorite part of Hutchins is the free (yes I said free) dessert!  Serving up banana pudding, peach cobbler and ice cream it’s hard to make a choice.  This time I opted for the Peach Cobbler with a little vanilla ice cream.  Very good overall and worth saving a little room for in the stomach!

Hutchins BBQ
1301 North Tennessee Street
McKinney, TX 75069
972-548-2629
www.hutchinsBBQ.com

Miller's BBQ

Interstate 35 has should be named the BBQ Highway with fantastic joints from Denton to San Antonio, but I’m always learning about new places.  I had never heard about Miller’s Smokehouse in Belton until a friend of mine flew in from Italy for a Texas BBQ crawl (future blog post on that coming soon).  Marco raved about the hospitality and fantastic food and a few weeks later, I once again heard about Miller’s from the Travel Channel’sDivaQ.    Belton is about a 2.5 hour drive for me and with the Texas heat this summer a day trip was something I could do and keep the family nice and cool.


Miller's BBQ


We left Allen a little after 8 AM and, with the obligatory stop in West for kolaches, made it to Miller’s as they were opening at 11 AM.  It was very easy to find, just a couple blocks off 35, right outside downtown Belton.  You walk into the building where the line starts to order at the counter.  Once at the counter, you are greeted with desserts!!  The red velvet cake looked so amazing I got a slice to go along with my brisket, ribs (weekends only), pulled pork, jalapeño cheddar sausage, and since the family was with me, potato salad and buttered potatoes as sides.  Once you order, you find a seat and wait for your food to be sliced and delivered to your table.
As with any BBQ meal my first taste is the brisket. While it wasn’t very appealing to the eye, it had the perfect amount of smoke, great flavor and was not dried out.  It was not really the best I’ve had, but far from the worst.  Next up were the ribs, cooked to perfection, great flavor and some of the best I’ve ever had.  The greatness continued with the jalapeño sausage made in house. With the perfect combination of pepper and cheese, I loved this stuff and wish I would have bought more to take home.  Finally I tried the pulled pork and it was average at best, so I say stick with the Texas Trinity when there.  All the meats were fine on their own, but I still like to try sauce as I do enjoy it.  Miller’s sauce is fantastic; it has a nice sweetness that goes perfect with their ribs.  They do bottle it and if you are ever in my house you will find this in my fridge as it’s my go to sauce.

Texas BBQ





Miller’s is a family run joint and even “Mom” gets involved with desserts.  Like I mentioned, when ordering, you see desserts lining the counter. If you get anything from this review, know skipping the dessert is not an option.  The red velvet cake was extremely moist and easily the best I’ve ever had.   I can’t foresee a trip to Austin not involving a stop at Miller’s whether it’s for BBQ, sauce, cake or all 3!!

Red Velvet Cake






Miller’s Smokehouse
208 N. Penelope
Belton, TX 76513
254-939-5500
www.wildmillers.com

Heim BBQ

Heim Barbecue


Before I started this blog I use to just tweet out short reviews and pictures from my twitter account.  Then, and even now, I would get suggestions on places I should try (I love it so keep them coming).  Earlier this year on Twitter I kept hearing about a BBQ stand in Fort Worth by the name of Heim BBQ.  Opened by the husband and wife team of Travis and Emma Heim who use to do backyard popups (something I would love to do) and decided to go for it with a food truck.  I reached out to them via twitter and realized they only served Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. I tried many times to make it out for Wednesday night, but with the rash of thunderstorms we had here in TX this past Spring they either didn’t open, or I didn’t want to fight the storms on the drive from Allen to Fort Worth (50 miles).  The opportunity never presented itself last spring and by the time summer came out, news had broken these folks are for real.   As much as I love BBQ waiting in line outside in the Texas heat just isn’t appealing.  The more I waited, the more popular they became, appearing on TV and numerous reviews by local publications.  With a forecast being under 95 degrees I decided I couldn’t wait any longer and planned a trip out to Fort Worth.

I arrived at Republic Bar (Heim’s trailer is set up outside their patio) just around 10 AM.  I walked up with a folding chair in hand to wait an hour until they opened.  As I approached the trailer I was about 8th in line which was a nice surprise as I was expecting more.  In front of the trailer window they have set up 3 pop up tents to help block the summer sun from frying those in line and that is where I set up to wait out the hour.  The shade provided a nice barrier from the sun and it felt great, and without even trying the food yet I regretted not coming out sooner.  Not more than two minutes into my wait, those in line were introducing themselves to me and started talking BBQ, my favorite subject.   There was an equal mix of regulars and first timers so it was a lot of fun to hear their love for Heim as we waited.  Those in line were going in and out of Republic often to get more beer and everyone was always generous taking turns buying rounds for new friends in line.  Conversing with others in line made the hour fly by and the window opened in no time.
When it was my time to order I got a little bit of everything, fatty and lean brisket, pulled pork, ribs, sausage and their signature bacon burnt ends.  Since I had never had bacon burnt ends and had heard so much that was my first bite.  It’s everything you would think it is; just nice thick slices of bacon nuggets!  The next bite was brisket, extremely moist with a beautiful bark and smoke ring cooked to perfection.  As far as the rub it would be my guess a good mixture of seasoned salt and black pepper.  It is not often that the lean flat cut is just as moist as the point, but Heim pulled it off and that is impressive.  The ribs were up next, again cooked perfectly and had the competition tug to them so a clean bite, but didn’t come off the bone. I didn’t get much flavor from the rub other than some sweetness, but it was still a pleasant flavor.  Next up was the jalapeno cheddar sausage, not made in house, but super flavorful with the right balance of jalapeno and cheese and should not be passed up.  The fifth and final meat was the pulled pork.  Nice salt and pepper rub and a very similar flavor profile to what I use in my cooks, but this was a little dry and probably my least favorite of the meat I had tried.  As far as smoking woods, they use oak, but today’s cook had a very mild smoke flavor than I’m used to.  Not saying it’s a bad thing as my wife loved that, but I tend to like a little more smoke to my BBQ.  As mentioned in prior posts I’m typically not a sides kinda guy, but I did order their twice baked potato salad and glad I did.  Nice flavor of a baked potato with a little bit of creaminess, well worth the $3.

Texas BBQ





I’m a fan!  This is an Austin style joint and reminds me of a combination of LaBarbecue and John Mueller Meat Company and the best part is it’s in one of my favorite cities, Fort Worth.  The atmosphere is great with so much potential, add in some corn hole and a band playing I would be in BBQ Heaven.  I also love seeing a husband and wife team succeeding in doing what they love.  I’m jealous of the courage couples like Arnis and Mallory of Evie Mae’s BBQ and Travis and Emma Heim have to spend so much time, energy and money to make their dreams come true.  I wish nothing but success and happiness for the Heim’s and as long as they keep cranking out food this good that will happen.  Now go to Fort Worth and get yourself some BBQ!
Guns Up

Heim BBQ
201 E Hatties St, Forth Worth, TX
Fri, Sat and Sun 11 AM until sold out

Bet the House BBQ

Sunday afternoon, I took my 3 yr old on a Daddy/Daughter date to Bet the House BBQ located just south of awesome Downtown Denton on Elm Street.  Located in an older shopping center that has been remodeled and is really nice making me wish more cities did this vs building new ones to only sit empty.  The counter to place your order is right inside a door with a chalk board menu for the day’s meats.  On my visit I went with a 3 meat plate of brisket, sausage and pulled pork, then added a couple of ribs.  The 3 meat plate comes with 2 sides so my daughter voted for Mac and Cheese and I went with the potato salad.  Once you place your order, you seat yourself and wait for your name to be called.  Less than 5 minutes from the time I ordered, my name was called and I was presented with, what is to date, my most liked photo on Instagram.





I forgot to request which cut of brisket I wanted and was given lean cut from what appeared to be where the point meets the flat.  I was very satisfied with what I was given, the brisket was moist, cooked nicely and had a very mild smoke flavor.  After reading TMBBQ’s Review I know Bet the House had some over smoked issues, but this to me seems to have been resolved.  I really like the Oak/Pecan mix they use and will probably start using that more with my home cooks.  Ribs were moist and flavorful but maybe a little under cooked as there was some extra tug, I however personally like a little tug to my ribs so this was perfect for me.  Two meats in and I’m really liking this place so far.  My next bite is from the sausage and that’s when things took a slight turn.  The sausage had very little spice and more of a sweet almost maple flavor to them.  While this sausage is perfect for breakfast (I used my leftovers for two days’ worth of omelets) it’s not what I like with my BBQ.  Finally, onto the pulled pork, while pulled pork is more popular outside of TX it is one of my favorite meats so I often add it to my order.  Biting into the pulled pork it was mushy and overly sweet, so I was disappointed and after 2 bites was done with it.
Now I’m not a big dessert guy and hardly ever order any when out eating BBQ or any meal for that matter.  My daughter, being 3,decided she didn’t want to eat BBQ today, even though she normally loves it, and the young woman working noticed this.  A few moments later she comes by with some dessert and, with permission, told my daughter she could have it if she ate what daddy wanted her to eat.  Needless to say my daughter loved BBQ once again.  What was presented to my daughter was a chocolate chip cookie brownie with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Twix mixed into the batter.  Luckily for me my daughter was too full after a couple of bites and I got to finish it off!  Easily the 2nd best dessert I’ve had at a BBQ joint as nothing can touch the dessert at Miller’s BBQ in Belton, TX.

Amazing!!


Overall I was satisfied with my trip to Denton and would suggest anyone traveling through to venture off 35 or 380 and get some great BBQ rather than stopping at the chain restaurants that line the highway.
Bet the House BBQ
508 S Elm St, Denton, TX 76201
www.betthehousebbq.com

Ugly Drum Smokers (UDS)

My blog so far has been about BBQ joint reviews, but my passion for BBQ actually began from cooking it, not necessarily eating it.  I really never went out for BBQ, and only ate it when college friends would smoke chicken in their back yards.  I always had fun “shooting the breeze” as we downed some beers waiting for the meat to get done.  While the payoff is fantastic,  it’s the journey to get there that sparked my interest the most.  It wasn’t until a few years after graduation when I got married and bought a house that I had room for a smoker of my own.  I had casually looked online for smokers, but was too indecisive on what I wanted and honestly didn’t know anything about them.  One day my mother-in-law offered me a new Masterbuilt Electric smoker she had recently inherited and I jumped on it.  My first cook after seasoning was whole chickens just like I had back at Tech.  These came out fantastic and I thought to myself “too easy” and all I wanted to do was cook BBQ!! Feeling like a pro, I bought a big old brisket, I was in for a big surprise.  My first few briskets pretty much resembled rubber, but I would chop them down as fine as I could and made sandwiches.  Discouraged I didn’t cook much after that, but gave it another shot a few months later.  By total accident the brisket ended up being the best one I had ever had in my life, I was totally hooked!
The Masterbuilt smoker is great for beginners but it was just too small for whole packers (remember I’m a brisket pro now, ha) so I decided to start looking for bigger smokers.  BBQ Pittmasters had just started airing and I started to look at what those guys cooked on.   I had a big dose of reality when I realized the cheaper ones they were using started at $2K and went up to $30K, except for Harry Soo.   Harry cooked on a Weber Smokey Mountain and they retail for $400, my price range!!  Going back to my indecisiveness as mentioned above, I researched online for months. In my research onwww.texasBBQforum.com  I heard about Ugly Drum Smokers (UDS).  A UDS is a 55 gallon food drum made into a smoker with spare weber parts and a charcoal basket. The entire thing can be built on your own for $150.  Intrigued, I started researching designs and realized this was something I could do on my own.  When looking for drums online I came across an ad for pre-built UDS Smokers from a guy out of Cedar Park, TX.  He takes brand new drums and parts and builds them from scratch for about $100 more than for what I could build one on my own.  The main advantage of buying vs building is he had the skills to build one, and access to brand new powder coated drums.   Sold!!

UDS


My First UDS

Cooking on these is easy.  Once the drum is up to temp it’s not hard to control the temperature at 225-250 and this makes it a great smoker for the amateur pitmaster.  Now that I knew how they worked I built one myself to give me more space when cooking more than 2 briskets at a time.  I won’t go into too much detail on the build, but here is the Cliff Notes version.
Part List
55 gallon drum (can be purchased new at Dallas Steel Drum)
8 10-24 x 1” stainless steel nuts and bolts
2 22.5 inch Weber Kettle Replacement grates
3 1 inch stainless steel pipe nipples
3 1 inch pipe caps
6 stainless steel conduit nuts
1 1 in ball valve
1 2” X 6” black pipe for smoke stack
2 garage door handles

UDS


Before adding the smoke stack.


After using a torch to burn the inside of the drum, I easily drilled 3 inch air intake holes using a step bit and then installed the nipples using the conduit nuts and attached the ball valve to the front nipple.  Next, I drilled 4 holes for each grill grate (mine has 2 levels) and installed the stainless steel bolts.  The lid comes with a”bung” hole that easily allows the 2×6 pipe to screw in for the smoke stack.  The final step was to build a charcoal basket out of expanded grate.  Since I didn’t have a welder, my friend Ed Faulder (who I met viawww.texasBBQforum.com) made me one.  Contact him on Facebook and I know he’ll be happy to make you one too for a fantastic price.

UDS


Finished UDS

All in all, I’m happy with the UDS and my only complaint is condensation building on the lid from time to time.  I will probably always have one in my arsenal, but I’m ready to upgrade to something with a little more room for competitions and catering for family and friends.  The UDS will be just fine until I can get the smoker I want in a few years once the kid is out of daycare or I get a generous donation from one of my readers! Ha!
If you cook BBQ yourself leave me a comment and let me know what you cook on!

Meat Church Holy Cow

When it comes to BBQ rubs you have pretty much 3 options, experiment and make your own, make your own via someone else’s recipe or buy commercial.  More often than not I go commercial.  The reason I go commercial is there is a lot of fantastic products out at a decent price and you can use them straight out of the shaker or doctor them up a little.  If I make my own rub it’s usually for beef, not much you can do better than salt, pepper and garlic, but one company has, and that is Meat Church with their Holy Cow Rub.  I’m not a spice expert and cannot distinguish what all is included in a rub by a quick taste, but Holy Cow is an amped up version of the salt, pepper, garlic combo.  To date, I’ve tried Holy Cow on brisket, steak, hamburgers and tri tip and it is, hands down, one of my favorite rubs on the market for beef.  Holy Cow has a good strong pepper punch that reminds me of Hill Country BBQ on brisket and a steakhouse peppercorn sauce on steaks and burgers.  You can easily control the pepper intensity with the amount of rub you apply, but still get the great overall flavor regardless of how much you use.  Every time your briskets will have the beautiful bark that is highly sought after and your steaks will have a beautiful seared crust.

Meat Church can be found in select stores and always online at www.meatchurch.com

Tri Tip Recipe (In Texas we call in smoked sirloin not to be confused with Californians)
Rub tri tip with a thin layer of Olive Oil
Apply liberal amounts of Holy Cow to each side of the meat and let set for at least 30 minutes.


Smoke on your favorite wood (I like Mesquite or Oak for tri tip) at 225 until meat reaches an internal temperature of 135-140.
Let meat rest under a loose sheet of foil for 10 minutes


              

Best of 2015

My bbq blog started in August and has gotten more attention than I ever thought possible.  Thank you so much for visiting and sharing my love for BBQ.  I easily ate more smoked meat in 2015 than any other year and for the most part was extremely satisfied.  Looking forward to see what 2016 has to offer and hopefully get to go on a Houston BBQ Crawl this year.
So below is the list of my favorites in 2015.  So many wonderful places and it was extremely hard to choose.
Brisket:  Franklin
Ribs: Tie between Winners BBQ and LaBarbecue
Pulled Pork:  Evie Mae’s
Sausage:  Heim BBQ
Misc:     Louie Mueller Beef Rib
Sandwich:  LaBarbecue’s Pulled Pork El Sancho
Side Dish:  Miller’s Potato Salad
Dessert:  Bet the House BBQ’s Twix Brownie

Overall Top 5 of 2015 (based on Texas Trinity of Brisket, Ribs and Sausage):
  1. Franklin BBQ, Austin, TX
  2. Evie Mae’s BBQ, Lubbock, TX
  3. LaBarbecue, Austin, TX
  4. Heim BBQ, Fort Worth, TX
  5. Snow’s BBQ, Lexington, TX

Beef Ribs

One of my favorite pieces of meat is beef ribs, but unfortunately finding plate ribs in grocery stores is a challenge.  A friend had posted a picture of them cooking beef ribs on Facebook and gave me the heads up that Market Street now sells them.  The following week I went to my local Market Street and got a 4 bone rack for $20 which is the normal price for one bone at restaurants.
I prepped the Rib with Meat Church Holy Cow rub and smoked with an oak and pecan mix.
This cut was loaded with fat and was taking a long time to render down.  After about 7 hours at 225 it wasn’t as done as I would have liked, but the family was hungry so I pulled them.  An added bonus I had found a leftover hot gut from LaBarbecue in my freezer and added it to my plate.  As with most of my cooks I had baked beans with macaroni and cheese for sides.   I like to experiment with new mac and cheese recipes that doesn’t include Velveeta which has been difficult.  I’ve yet to find one that tastes as good as my Velveeta/goat cheese one, so any recipes you might have are most welcome.
Guns Up BBQ

Great flavor, but didn’t have the tenderness I would have liked from pulling them so early, but overall satisfied with the results.  With the two leftover rib bones I chopped into them into chunks, tossed in Miller’s Smokehouse sauce and put them in the oven for 2 hours to make beef rib burnt ends.  The picture ain’t pretty but hands down one of the best bites of bbq I’ve ever had.

Guns Up!!

Austin Pre-Order



Back in December of 2014 I did a BBQ crawl in Austin hitting up Franklin, LaBarbecue and John Mueller Meat Co.  It was a fantastic trip with a lot of great BBQ, but I spent almost as much time waiting in line as I did actually driving from Allen to Austin, TX.  I started with the Franklin line, arriving just before 7 AM and was 5th in line.  I spent the time watching movies on the iPad and chatting it up with those in line around me.  It reminded me of a tailgating like atmosphere, but I knew this would probably be one of the few times I would devote this much time waiting on BBQ that I wasn’t cooking myself.  The next morning I got to John Mueller Meat Company before they opened so, luckily, I didn’t have to wait in a line longer than 15 minutes, but when I got to LaBarbecue, I spent a little over an hour waiting for food.  I always say while most men spend their lives waiting on a woman, I spend mine waiting on BBQ, but over 5 hours of waiting for 3 places is honestly ridiculous.  While I enjoyed my meal, I knew it would probably be possibly my first and last time at Franklin and LaBarbecue.






One day, a few months after I had gone to Austin, I saw a tweet from LaBarbecue that gave me hope to have them again. They take preorders and the best part, you can skip the line!!  I was celebrating more than any man should over BBQ and thought maybe; just maybe Franklin did this as well.  I immediately went to Franklin’s website and they DO take pre-orders.  The first Monday of every month you can email them at 9 AM Central with your order (5lb min) for the following month.  Email your order and what days you are available and wait to hear back to see if your order is accepted.  Four months came and went and my order was never chosen, then back in July, it happened, my order was accepted!!  I had instructions that my order was for August 30th and I had to pick it up between 10:00 AM and 10:30 AM and failure to do so would result in me losing my order.  Now all I had to do was wait almost 60 days!!  With 4 of my friends in tow we left Allen at6:30 AM and after some unexpected traffic and pit stops we made it to Franklin by 10:10 AM.  I felt like the President bypassing the endless line and went straight up to the butcher block and announced I had arrived for my preorder.  They slice your preorder upon arrival and I had my food in less than 10 minutes and was out the door.  I’ll say that again, I was in and out of Franklin with 7 lbs. of food in less than 10 minutes!!!  I couldn’t believe it!  The only rule to pre orders is it must be to go, they want to give table priority to those who waited in the line and I TOTALLY get that.  We loaded up our food and went to a nearby park to enjoy our bounty.







Since I can’t go to Austin and just eat at one BBQ place, I made a pre order with LaBarbecue as well. Their process is a little easier. You can email them at any time and just let them know the date and time and you will be arriving and then walk right up to the pay window bypassing the line.  Like Franklin, they cut your order upon arrival and I had my food in about 10 minutes.  Since LaBarbecue is a food truck, you can eat at one of the various picnic tables around, but they do package your order to go as well.

My trip was short and sweet as I did just a daytrip and honestly was so excited I didn’t get to take many pictures.  I’ll be back for sure now that I know pre ordering is a thing.  While this is a fantastic way of getting Franklin BBQ, I’m not totally hating on the line.  It was a nice experience that I’ll remember as a positive one as everybody was super friendly and the wait kind of went by quicker than you think.  I think every BBQ lover should do it once, but nice to have the pre order for return visits!

Guns Up!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tyler's BBQ

So for summer vacation I loaded up the family truckster and took off from Allen, TX to Red River, NM.  Now traveling 11 hours with a 3 year old is pretty much impossible so we decided to break up the drive with a stop in Amarillo, TX.  Amarillo’s culinary claim to fame is the Big Texan Steakhouse (more on that later), but in the BBQ World it is Tyler’s BBQ.  Tyler’s is easily found right off I-40 about 5 miles west of The Big Texan in an old Long John Silver’s Building.




According to TMBBQ, Tyler’s opened in 2010 by Pitmaster Tyler Frazer who cooks on Mesquite Wood.  Walking into the restaurant took us straight to the back where we could order our food directly with Frazer.

Tyler Frazer



It happened to be Texas BBQ week so they were running a special on the Texas Trinity (Brisket, Ribs and Sausage) so naturally I went with that with a side of beans and potato salad.  The brisket and ribs were cooked perfectly and the rub and smoke were not overpowering the meat.  While this was solid BBQ, it was nothing too exciting until we tried the sauce.  Most BBQ purists think meat should stand on its own without sauce, and they are partially right in my opinion.  The meat here does stand on its own but adding the sauce took it to another level.  My wife, who, bless her heart eats more BBQ than she would like, couldn’t stop talking about how great the flavors mingled with the meat and I couldn’t agree more.
Texas Trinity

Chopped Beef Basket


Tyler’s has great BBQ and you should add it to the list of places to visit in Amarillo.  Do like we did, Tyler’s for lunch, visit Palo Duro canyon (2nd largest US canyon) and head to the Big Texan for dinner.
Tyler’s BBQ
2014 Paramount
Amarillo, Texas 79109
One Block South of I-40 at the Paramount/Julian Exit!
(806) 331-BBQ1 (2271)
www.tylersbarbeque.com

Quick blurb on the Big Texan.  It’s exactly what you think it is a tourist trap.  Food is on the same level as an Outback Steakhouse, but worth a stop for the over the top Texas Themes.


Big Texan Steak and Mushroom



Ziplining over Palo Duro Canyon.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Evie Mae's Second Visit

One of my best stops in 2015 was Evie Mae’s BBQ back in July.  At the time I rated it my #2 spot of all time so I knew I had to make a second trip soon.  In the short amount of time between visits, Evie Mae’s has grown causing the need for a new, larger smoker.  Owner, and Pitmaster, Arnis is just as skillful at building smokers as he is at cooking on them, building this beast for all overnight meats.

I arrived the first week the new pit was in operation and Arnis admitted he was still learning its quirks, but for the most part it ran exactly like the original smoker, just with more capacity.  On this visit I went with a beef rib, pork ribs and brisket.  The brisket hasn’t missed a beat, perfect kiss of smoke, great rub and not a chance of being dry.  Unlike my first visit, the ribs were cooked to perfection and pulled off the bone with the perfect amount of tug with the same fantastic flavor I expected.  The beef rib was the only piece of meat I didn’t have on my first visit so I have nothing to compare it to.  I will say it was fantastic; perfect amount of smoke, fantastic tenderness and reminiscent of Louie Muller but with a lighter amount of pepper. It is worth every penny for anyone on the fence about forking over so much for a piece of meat.

Evie Mae’s is still my #2 favorite spot and is run by two of the nicest people I have ever met in BBQ.  Good news is Lubbock agrees and Evie Mae’s has announced a brick and mortar location just down the road in Early 2016.





Evie Mae’s BBQ
717 HWY 62
Wolfforth, TX
www.eviemaesbbq.com