Post oak; indirect-heat pit
Tue-Sun, 11 till meat runs out.
Waiting in the long line can be fun; even more fun is ordering ahead of time. The minimum is five pounds, but best of all is getting a whole brisket (around $100; try your luck at least two weeks in advance). Pick it up at ten-thirty and waltz through the impatient masses with your bounty.
Just before the Gettin’ Sauced event, I stopped in again at Franklin Barbecue to try the ribs and pulled pork. I knew the brisket was stellar from previous visits (I stole a bite or two from the Patron Saint on this trip too), so I wanted to check on the other meats.
The ribs were just as good as the first visit. A well-formed bark was covered with a rub heavy in black pepper. The meat came easily from the bone with just a little tooth tug, and the flavor was incredible. The pulled pork equaled the ribs in flavor. The mixture of moist fat, smoky bark, and tender meat came together for a taste explosion. This was some of the best pork I’ve eaten. It seems there’s nothing Aaron Franklin hasn’t mastered.
01/2010: I stopped in at Franklin Barbecue on my way back from San Antonio one Sunday morning about a month ago. I’m just now getting to write about it, but the flavor of that brisket lingers in my mind still. It was 10:45 when I stepped up to the locked chain link gate and Aaron, the owner, was arranging picnic tables in the front, getting ready for his eleven o’clock opening bell. I sat there like a sad puppy dog until he unlocked the gate and happily invited me in for a few slices off the brisket he was just pulling from the pit.
We chatted for a bit as he unwrapped and sliced the meat, but I cut the conversation short knowing he had to get back to work, and I had to have some alone time with this beautiful beef in my front seat (too cold for picnic tables). I took a few bites, and the flavor was incredible. I had ordered the fatty cut on my previous visit, but lean cuts are more suited for brunch. The heavy black-pepper rub helped create a crispy crust on the meat that also packed a wallop of smoke. Although this was lean brisket, the meat was incredibly moist and perfectly tender. After a few luxurious slices, I wrapped it back up and headed out onto Interstate 35 back to Dallas.
As the radio played, I contemplated if this was the finest brisket that I’ve ever eaten as it called to me beneath the thin, greasy, and now transparent yellow paper. As I eyed the interstate with one eye, the other was watching as I carefully unwrapped the meat for another go. As the salty flesh passed my lips, I realized how an appropriate song can add so much to a special moment.
Now there are songs with a manufactured timeliness, like playing Brad Paisley’s “Alcohol” during an all-night kegger. Of course it fits when everyone’s already consuming the item in the title. But then there’s the true timeliness of a song that you hear as you’re driving in the car, after suffering through years of mediocre smoked beef, and a perfect sugar cookie from a perfect slice of brisket melts on your tongue, and, as it traces down your throat, you hear Eddie Money shout “I think I’m in love!” That’s timeliness.
(This review originally appeared on Full Custom Gospel BBQ.)