Editor’s Note: The Texas Monthly BBQ Festival is almost here! Each day until then, we’ll be talking to one of the featured pitmasters, with questions from TM staffers, esteemed BBQ experts, Twitter followers and you, the readers of this blog.
Who did you learn your craft from?
To be honest, before I started working at Opie’s, I never used smoker before. I used a backyard circle grill with my dad, but when I worked at a gas station I became friend’s with the owner of Opie’s; when they had a spot open up, I jumped at the opportunity to start working there. Mike, the pitmaster who was already there, taught me how to use the smoker, and that was pretty much how I started. I’ve always loved BBQ, and I was born and raised in Austin, so I’ve just always cooked it.
What’s your signature meat?
I like everything we cook. However, I’d say our most popular meat is our sweet and spicy baby back ribs.
Sauce or no sauce?
No, I don’t use sauce. The baby back ribs are the only thing we cook with sauce. But me personally? I think if you cook meat properly, the simpler the better. I prefer to taste the meat.
Slow and low or high and fast(er)?
We usually cook at about 250 degrees.We used to cook a bit hotter than that, but now we go low and slow. We do the briskets overnight, ribs for about three hours, and the chicken usually takes a couple hours.
What non-secret ingredients are in your spice rub, if you use one.
It’s really basic: just red pepper, black pepper, and a couple other little things. Nothing crazy. If you have good quality meat I think it’ll come out perfect.
Do you start a new fire each day or do you keep the same one going?
On the brisket we keep the same fire, the other stuff I start when I get there in the morning.
Aluminum foil or butcher paper?
We use butcher paper. If a customer takes food to go, we’ll throw in foil then, but otherwise straight butcher paper.
Do you use or have you considered using a gas- or electric-fired smoker for any of your meats?
We have a couple of rotisseries, but there are no gas elements or anything like that. I’ve got a pit with coals, two electric rotisseries, and an old-school offset fire box.
Ever have any Texas barbecue outside of Texas?
No, I sure have not. I’m kind of a homebody and haven’t done much traveling in my days.
- JESSICA HUFF