Feature

The Importance of Resting

Nov 11, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

So, You Want To Open a BBQ Joint?

Nov 4, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Heritage Hog BBQ

Oct 28, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Limp Brisket

Oct 21, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

What Is Texas-German Sausage?

Oct 14, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Highway BBQ: Part Three

Oct 7, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Wendy’s Is No Home For Barbecue

Sep 30, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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.

Love the Lean

Sep 23, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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,…

Wet, Dry, and Rubbed All Over

Sep 16, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

“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 who have tasted the…

The Bryan Barbecue Empire

Sep 9, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Getting Your Goat

Sep 2, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

St. Louis Day in Castroville

Aug 26, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Highway BBQ Part Two

Aug 19, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

The Texas BBQ Aesthetic

Aug 12, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

The Lowest and Slowest, Part II

Aug 5, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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.

The Lowest and Slowest, Part I

Jul 29, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Operation BBQ Relief

Jul 22, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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,…

Commanders in Beef (and Pork)

Jul 15, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Umami-Bomb Pork Butt

Jul 8, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Chucks and Shanks

Jun 27, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Father’s Day in Millheim, Texas

Jun 20, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Whole Hog

Jun 13, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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,…

In Search of Brown Gravy Sauce

Jun 6, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

The ways Texas barbecue is prepared and presented varies quite a bit across the state. Most people know that each region of the state–Central, West, the Piney Woods–has its own style, but within these broad geographical regions, you can find cooking methods and menu items that are hyper-specific to a certain area.

#BrisketIsBack

May 30, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Eatin’ on Tulsa Time

May 23, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

The Most Famous Pitmaster You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

May 16, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Texas Barbecue Monthly

May 9, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Smokin’ in the Girls’ Room

May 2, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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, Texas, churning…

Texas Barbecue Has Become One of Our Greatest Exports

Apr 25, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Brisket Ain’t Cheap

Apr 11, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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.

Barbecue Sequels

Mar 28, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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, Kreuz Market (1900) and…

Bacon in the Time of PEDv

Mar 21, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

World’s Championship Bar-B-Que

Mar 14, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

What is a Czech Sausage?

Feb 28, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

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…

Maybe We Should Celebrate the Chopped Beef Sandwich

Feb 21, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

Ah, the chopped brisket sandwich: it’s as ubiquitous to Texas barbecue joints as pump jacks are to the Permian Basin. They’re so commonplace and ordinary, I’ve even criticized them in the past as something far inferior to a thick slice of smoked brisket. But meat on a bun was once…

Texas’s Best BBQ Sandwiches

Feb 14, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

At Prause Meat Market in La Grange, there is a green paper sign right next to the barbecue counter. It reads “Sorry We Do NOT Make Sandwiches.” It’s a reminder to customers that this is a meat market where meat—smoked or raw—is sold by the pound. If you want a…

The Antebellum Chef in Texas

Feb 7, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

Michael Twitty was cold, and his pig wasn’t much warmer. He was six hours into an eight hour cook, and the February winds were whipping across the top of the hill at the French Legation in Austin. A makeshift pit about the size of a coffin had…

The Best Method for Reheating Barbecue

Jan 31, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

The barbecue you eat can’t always be fresh. Maybe grandma sent you a brisket in a care package. Sometimes you might even have some leftover ribs. So, what is the best method to reheat it? While eating around the state I know that even in the hands of a microwave…

The History of Smoked Brisket

Jan 24, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

What you know about the history of smoked brisket in Texas is probably wrong. People have been eating brisket since the first pits were dug in the earth, but only by a sort of default: it was standard practice to cook whole animals for the big community celebrations, which means…

What I Learned at Brisket Camp

Jan 17, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

The director of Foodways Texas, Marvin Bendele, asked me to come and lead a couple of panel discussions at the organization’s annual Camp Brisket, held last weekend at the Rosenthal Meat Center on Texas A&M’s campus. And even though I was presented as an expert to…

Fargo’s Pit Unveiled

Jan 10, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

Alan Caldwell, the pitmaster at Fargo’s Pit BBQ in Bryan, has been making great barbecue for fourteen years. And for all of those fourteen years, he has denied people access to his pit room. When he denied my first request to take a look at his pit, in 2010, he…

BBQ Anatomy 101: Pork Shoulder

Jan 3, 2014 By Daniel Vaughn

A quarter century ago Isaac Tigrett brought the Southern-style pulled pork sandwich to Texas. The Hard Rock Café founder from Jackson, Tennessee, opened a Dallas location in 1986, and in the following year the Dallas Morning News wrote that he “has trotted the pig into steer territory, offering the…

Where Did “BBQ” Come From?

Dec 20, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

The title may be misleading. I’m not looking to trace back the origins of when humans began cooking meat over fire, but rather when the term “BBQ” came into use. The myths about the origins of the word barbecue are many, so let’s dispense with a few of those first.

Cabrito in South Texas

Dec 13, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

For most people, cabrito, or goat meat, might not elicit great food memories. The dish is often dismissed as stringy or “gamey,” and because so few places serve it, most aren’t sure what to expect when they order it. Of course, nearly every major city around the state has a…

Brisket > Chili

Dec 9, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

That barbecue is not Texas’s state dish is a travesty. Paul Burka first made the argument decades ago in his scathing article “I Still Hate Chili” claiming that “never has the legislature so abandoned its sworn duty to enhance the public welfare as when it certified chili as the…

Breaking Down Brisket

Dec 6, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Brisket is our favorite cut for barbecue here in Texas, and it’s also pretty popular elsewhere, as evidenced by the sheer number of brisket recipes one can find on a shelf of barbecue cookbooks or can pull up using a Google search (searching “how to smoke a brisket”…

The Evolution of Fat in Barbecue

Nov 22, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

Not everyone vilifies fat.  Heritage hog varieties rich with layers of fat are gaining in popularity, leaf lard is now a chic ingredient to pie crust, and noted author Michael Ruhlman just published The Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten Fat. No longer do we value…

No Country for Old Luddites

Nov 15, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

So, you call yourself a barbecue traditionalist. You eschew modern innovations in the world of barbecue, like using charcoal to start your fires, and you certainly don’t believe there’s any room on American menus for “nouveau” barbecue, whatever the hell that means. To you, good sir or madam, I commend…

Cattle Driving for BBQ

Nov 8, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

I cursed the Dallas traffic as I tried to get out of town on a rainy Tuesday morning. Secluded fields and old river crossings were my destination, and I was eager to leave the city behind me. I wanted to find the best barbecue along North Texas’s historic cattle trails.

A New Menu Item

Oct 31, 2013 By Daniel Vaughn

In this age of barbecue’s expansion and experimentation we see cuts of meat enter the smoker that have never previously been even figments of barbecue culture. But, there’s one protein that has gone largely ignored in real life, but has a rich history in art and film – human flesh.