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.

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