Feature

BBQ |
March 24, 2015

Testing the Limits of Barbecue Science

Barbecue pulls at a traditionalist’s heart strings like few other cuisines, but it is no stranger to innovation. An offset smoker filled with brisket bathed on oak smoke has only been common across the state for about fifty years, but introducing science into a cooking process so reliant on…

BBQ |
March 18, 2015

Central Texas BBQ Road Trips

There’s hardly a better way to discover a slice of Texas, so to speak, than with a barbecue road trip—especially one that takes you outside of the city borders. In Central Texas, Austin is undeniably the area’s greatest barbecue city, and its proximity to some of the state’s  greatest smoked meats make…

BBQ |
March 3, 2015

The Year of Alabama Barbecue

If you follow barbecue news (and I’m going to assume you do if you read TMBBQ.com), you’re going to hear a lot more about barbecue in Alabama in the coming months. Or at least that’s the goal of the Alabama Tourism Department, which launched its Year of Alabama…

BBQ |
February 24, 2015

A Barbecue Man in a Quiche Town

Barbecue’s reputation in the culinary world has turned a corner. Last week the nominations for the New York based James Beard Foundation’s annual awards were announced, and a pitmaster was among the names that were otherwise a roll call of haute cuisine. Under the heading “Best Chef: Southwest”…

BBQ |
February 18, 2015

The History of the Pig Stands

Brisket may dominate barbecue menus in Texas today, but nearly a century ago, a Dallas institution built its mighty restaurant empire on a simple Tennessee-style barbecued-pork sandwich: the “Pig Sandwich.” Perhaps some already know that I’m referring to the signature item served at the Pig Stand, a Dallas-based chain that formed…

BBQ |
February 10, 2015

The Best Banana Pudding List

No matter how much barbecue I’ve consumed (typically five times the recommended daily allowance), it always feels like there’s room left for something sweet.  A bowl of peach cobbler or a slice of buttermilk pie offer comfort, but their recipes don’t really vary much from one end of the state…

BBQ |
February 3, 2015

Highway BBQ: Part Four

If you’ve spent any time on the interstates of Texas, you’ve probably seen barbecue restaurants advertised on numerous billboards, blue service signs, or obnoxiously huge structures situated along the access road. Who among hasn’t seen one of those logos and thought, is the food worth stopping for? If a place needs that…

BBQ |
January 27, 2015

I’d Tell You, But…

Last week, seasoned pitmasters and aspiring barbecue cooks descended on tiny Murphysboro, Illinois, for the fourth annual Whole Hog Extravaganza and Brisket Bonanza. The students had paid good money to learn the secrets of the professionals, and the teachers weren’t shy about sharing their recipes for porchetta, whole hog, beef…

BBQ |
January 20, 2015

Inauguration Barbecue

Later today, after the inauguration of Greg Abbott as the forty-eighth governor of Texas, 17,000 hungry ticket holders clamoring for food will line up for lunch on the Capitol grounds in Austin. Forty-five minutes later, they’ll all have a full plate of barbecue. At least that’s what mega-caterer Eddie Deen has…

BBQ |
January 13, 2015

Houston Wright, a Butcher

Houston Wright cut meat, made sausage, and cooked barbecue at Kreuz Market in Lockhart for sixty years. He was tying sausage there before the brick building that housed the market (and is now home to Smitty’s Market) was built in 1924. He was deaf and mute by then—former Kreuz Market…

BBQ |
January 6, 2015

The End of Cheap Beef

That beef is more expensive than it was a year ago is no surprise, and this trend doesn’t look to be easing up anytime soon. As David Anderson, a Texas A&M professor of ag economics, told a room full of barbecue joint owners last month at the university’s first-ever Barbecue Town Hall,…

BBQ |
December 16, 2014

The Hardeman Family’s Barbecue Legacy

In a Dallas city directory from 1948, there is a listing for Hardeman’s Barbecue. In fact there were two at the time, both of which were located in what was known as Freedman’s Town. It was a segregated African-American neighborhood just north of downtown in what…

BBQ |
December 2, 2014

All About the Sauce

Conventional wisdom holds that traditional Texas barbecue doesn’t need to be sauced. That Texans have an aversion to the stuff. Case in point? A recent primer on national barbecue styles in America on Eater noted that “while the rest of the nation is busy making barbecue sauces, many…

BBQ |
November 26, 2014

Texas Treasures

The popularity of Texas barbecue—and specifically Texas-style smoked brisket—has launched a frenzy of new activity. New joints pop up all the time, and relatively new pitmasters are hailed as masters of craft. Many of these places and people are deserving of considerable attention and high praise, but we shouldn’t lose sight of what…

BBQ |
November 18, 2014

Totally Smoked in the Golden State

Texas seems to export our barbecue styles as far and wide as our natural gas. Earlier this year I noted how often the aesthetic of meat on butcher paper, a decidedly Texas design is imitated on both coasts (and a few places in between). But as anyone who has…

BBQ |
November 11, 2014

The Importance of Resting

Patience. Not only is it a virtue, it’s the key to good brisket. No meat in barbecue suffers more when it’s subjected to the foolish habits of the impatient pitmaster: cranking the heat too high in the smoker; obsessively opening and closing the lid to check on the smoker’s contents; or just taking the…

BBQ |
November 4, 2014

So, You Want To Open a BBQ Joint?

The only thing easy about the restaurant business is failure. For every five new restaurants that open in the U.S. this week, three will be gone within three years. That’s a sixty percent failure rate, and my guess is that it’s even higher with barbecue joints. In barbecue, the waste…

BBQ |
October 28, 2014

Heritage Hog BBQ

Bacon is more popular than ever; cooking with lard is no longer taboo; and lardo—cured pork back fat—is a luxury item on charcuterie plates around the country. America is slowly rediscovering its love of pork fat, and yet good, fatty pork is still hard to come by. It all started back in…

BBQ |
October 21, 2014

Limp Brisket

If you’re a Texan looking to expand your barbecue literacy with a trip to the Missouri/Kansas border, be warned that the brisket you order will not resemble the beautifully carved, thick, juicy slices of black crusted beef you’ve come to expect in Texas. Rather, an order of brisket in KC…

BBQ |
October 14, 2014

What Is Texas-German Sausage?

Last week I spent some time in West Texas eating barbecue. I’ve done a few tours through the area already, so I know not to get excited when I see “German sausage” on a menu, but I had a temporary memory lapse. The prospect of finding a coarsely ground and smoky beef…

BBQ |
October 7, 2014

Highway BBQ: Part Three

If you’ve spent any time on the interstates of Texas, you’ve probably seen barbecue restaurants advertised on numerous billboards, blue service signs, or obnoxiously huge structures situated along the access road. Who among hasn’t seen one of those logos and thought, is the food worth stopping for? If a place needs that…

BBQ |
September 30, 2014

Wendy’s Is No Home For Barbecue

Another fast food giant is dragging the good name of barbecue through the sauce. Late last week, Wendy’s announced their new line of pulled pork menu items: the predictable pulled pork sandwich with slaw; a pulled pork-topped burger; and pulled pork cheese fries—all served with your choice of three barbecue sauces.

BBQ |
September 23, 2014

Love the Lean

In a state currently obsessed with brisket, the lean side appears to be always the bridesmaid. The bride, of course, is the fatty stuff. (As the tired saying goes, “fat is where it’s at.”) Further evidence of this love for adipose was on full display in a recent article for Maxim magazine,…

BBQ |
September 16, 2014

Wet, Dry, and Rubbed All Over

“There is no one definitive way to make Memphis barbecue.” So says Craig David Meek, author of Memphis Barbecue: A Succulent History of Smoke, Sauce & Soul. After a four day tour through the River City, I must agree with him. Those…

BBQ |
September 9, 2014

The Bryan Barbecue Empire

If you’ve eaten barbecue in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there’s a good chance you’ve eaten it at Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse. For more than a century, four generations of Bryans have operated barbecue restaurants, eventually creating a national franchise that’s now nine strong (eight in DFW and one in Utah). Their saturation in the market…

BBQ |
September 2, 2014

Getting Your Goat

You’d think finding good barbecued goat in the Texas Hill Country wouldn’t be so difficult. This area has been the U.S. epicenter of sheep and goat ranching since the nineteenth century when wool and mohair (wool from goats) production took a foothold. Herds expanded greatly in the twentieth century, and while numbers have fallen in this…

BBQ |
August 26, 2014

St. Louis Day in Castroville

This past Sunday, three tons of sausage and brisket were consumed at the 132nd St. Louis Day Celebration in Castroville, Texas. It was part of an annual event the town hosts to mark the feast of Saint Louis, a celebration that has has been dubbed “The Homecoming of the State of Texas.” The community…

BBQ |
August 19, 2014

Highway BBQ Part Two

If you’ve spent any time on the interstates of Texas, you’ve probably seen barbecue restaurants advertised on numerous billboards, blue service signs, or obnoxiously huge structures situated along the access road. Who among hasn’t seen one of those logos and thought, is the food worth stopping for? If a place needs that…

BBQ |
August 12, 2014

The Texas BBQ Aesthetic

Texas-style barbecue seems to be taking over the world, and that doesn’t just mean you can find smoked brisket on the menu in Seattle and New York. There’s an aesthetic to presentation that has permeated these places deeper than post-oak smoke has seeped into Louie Mueller’s walls. Places across the country…

BBQ |
August 5, 2014

The Lowest and Slowest, Part II

Last week we took you to Tioga, Texas, where Warren Clark developed a three-day smoked brisket recipe that is still served at Clark’s Outpost, the restaurant he founded decades ago. His method was borne from his earlier days using a traditional smokehouse in Arkansas, where cooking time was measured in days.

BBQ |
July 29, 2014

The Lowest and Slowest, Part I

Smoking brisket takes time—sixteen, eighteen, even twenty hours. These cooking times get thrown around with a little pride, but none of the braggarts can top the hours a brisket spends in the smoker at Clark’s Outpost in Tioga. I’m talking more time in the smoker than Jesus spent in the tomb. It takes…

BBQ |
July 22, 2014

Operation BBQ Relief

The formation of Operation BBQ Relief, the only nationwide barbecue charity, began with a phone call. On Monday, May 23, 2011, the day after the massive tornados in Joplin, Missouri, Stan Hays called his barbecue buddy Jeff Stith. Hays, who was walking to his office at the Farmers Insurance building near Kansas City,…

BBQ |
July 15, 2014

Commanders in Beef (and Pork)

Texas smoked brisket—especially the good stuff—can be addictive. That’s what President Obama learned last week. After eating John Mueller’s beef ribs for dinner during his stop in Dallas on Wednesday, the President took a whole brisket with him for the ride on Air Force One to Austin. I just can just imagine Obama…

BBQ |
July 8, 2014

Umami-Bomb Pork Butt

When you ask people to name the five “tastes,” the average person typically has an easy enough time naming four: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. It’s the fifth–umami–that’s a bit more elusive. The concept of umami has been around for more than a century, but it was largely unheard of until the Wall Street…

BBQ |
June 27, 2014

Chucks and Shanks

As I’ve talked about before, smoked brisket wasn’t always the cornerstone of Texas barbecue. Before the beef purveyor IBP started shipping individual cuts to meat markets, these establishments (if they smoked meats at all) were cooking the entire beef forequarter. This meant they were smoking both the cuts familiar to us…

BBQ |
June 20, 2014

Father’s Day in Millheim, Texas

Austin County has served as the cradle for German Texans since 1831 when Friedrich Ernst founded the town of Industry. It was the first permanent German settlement in Texas, and Ernst became a huge promoter of Texas through his letters back to his home country. His home also became…

BBQ |
June 13, 2014

Whole Hog

During the nineteenth century public barbecues in Texas, you were likely to find a whole calf, goat, or lamb roasting for the crowd. But it was more likely that you’d find a whole hog. Hogs were prevalent in the eastern part of the state, which made them easier to come by,…

BBQ |
May 30, 2014

#BrisketIsBack

In the middle of this Wednesday’s lunch hour nearly 16,000 people were watching a brisket smoke in real time on YouTube. Arby’s was re-airing their record-breaking thirteen-hour commercial that was first shown on a single television station in Duluth, Minnesota, over the Memorial Day weekend. They were promoting their…

BBQ |
May 23, 2014

Eatin’ on Tulsa Time

Last week I went searching for good barbecue in Oklahoma. I wasn’t looking just for barbecue joints in the state, but was instead trying to find a defining factor of how barbecue in Oklahoma is unique to that state. With my wife’s family still living in Oklahoma City, I’d canvassed the…

BBQ |
May 16, 2014

The Most Famous Pitmaster You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Fred Fountaine is arguably Texas barbecue’s most influential pitmaster—and you’ve probably never heard of him. For forty years he cooked the barbecue at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, and during his tenure, he helped bring national acclaim to Texas barbecue. Fountaine, who grew up in Massachussetts, lived in Rhode Island…

BBQ |
May 9, 2014

Texas Barbecue Monthly

As you read this, Texas Monthly’s editor, Jake Silverstein, is moving the last few items out of his office. He has traded his view of the Texas Capital building for that of a Duane Reade and is moving to the New York Times Magazine. We’ll miss that guy. And I personally owe…

BBQ |
May 2, 2014

Smokin’ in the Girls’ Room

Arguably the most beloved figure in Texas barbecue is Tootsie Tomanetz, a septuagenarian pitmaster who’s been tending the fires at Snow’s BBQ since it opened in 2003.  She was first discovered by Texas Monthly in 2008, stooped over the hot smoker on the outskirts of Lexington,…

BBQ |
April 25, 2014

Texas Barbecue Has Become One of Our Greatest Exports

The international food scene is seeing a trend in opening authentic, American-style barbecue joints. “We aren’t just selling food, we’re selling American culture. Eating at our restaurant is an American experience.” That’s what Craig White told CNN a few years back when the news outlet profiles his Tokyo…

BBQ |
April 11, 2014

Brisket Ain’t Cheap

Two weeks ago Cranky Frank’s Barbeque in Fredericksburg finally bit the bullet. They raised their prices for barbecue and posted a sign on the door explaining the change to their customers. Not two days later I received a question over Twitter with a photo of the sign.

BBQ |
March 28, 2014

Barbecue Sequels

If 2013 was the year of the new barbecue joint, 2014 will be the year of barbecue expansion. Some legendary Texas barbecue stalwarts who for decades were happy to be one-offs are looking to write their sequels. Southside Market (1882), in Elgin,…

BBQ |
March 21, 2014

Bacon in the Time of PEDv

This little piggy went to the market, this little piggy stayed home … and this little piggy got chronic diarrhea and died. That’s no nursery rhyme. It’s what has happened to five million piglets since April of 2013 when the nearly one-hundred-percent fatal Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) first started…

BBQ |
March 14, 2014

World’s Championship Bar-B-Que

For what is called the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que cook off, the event at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HSLR) is more spectacle than barbecue holy grail. Most of the quarter million visitors look longingly into private parties from the wrong side of the ropes. There’s a public…

BBQ |
February 28, 2014

What is a Czech Sausage?

A few months ago I was at Smolik’s Smokehouse in Mathis to buy some smoked meats, including a link of their homemade Czech-style sausage. As I waited for my change, I asked the clerk what made this particular link of sausage a Czech sausage. “A Czech made it” was her…