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. Today, it’s 29 year-old Tad Honeycutt of Buzzie’s BBQ in Kerrville — co-winner of last year’s People’s Choice award for brisket. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com.
What is your heat source? Oak wood only.
Who did you learn your craft from? My stepfather Buzzie Hughes (pictured) taught me everything he knows. Buzzie grew up cookin’ and is self-taught, with a German background. Every weekend they [Buzzie and Tad’s mom] would have big parties doing barbecue. The parties grew and grew and before we knew it we had two hundred people at the house. My mom said, “look we’re going to have to start charging people or start a restaurant.”
What’s your signature meat? Brisket – slow smoked, low temp. 275 degrees.
Sauce or no sauce? We offer a tomato-base homemade barbecue sauce on the side. We’ve tried doing marinades. We just feel like our product comes out a lot better without injecting them with anything. We’ve just never got into it.
What non-secret ingredients are in your spice rub, if you use one Fajita seasoning.
Do you start a new fire each day or do you keep the same one going? For fifteen years the fire has only gone out once: when the [original location in Comfort] burned down in 2007.
Do you use or have you considered using a gas or electric fired smoker, such as a Southern Pride, Ole Hickory, or J&R, for any of your meats? We had an Old Hickory for three weeks, a test run, and we weren’t happy. Not the same quality. Can’t beat doing it all with wood.
What should the home smoker look for when picking out a side of brisket from the market? The best brisket is between 8 and 12 lbs. You want to be able to fold it in half in the package; that’s the most tender brisket.
What’s the one other piece of advice you’d give to someone smoking a brisket at home? An hour per pound.
Favorite barbecue in Texas other than your own? Snow’s is the only other brisket in Texas that I’ve had. I did make it a point to try theirs [at last year’s festival], and it’s excellent brisket. – WILLA COCKSHUTT (Questions by Jason Cohen, Andrea Valdez, Pat Sharpe, Katy Vine, Sonia Smith, Daniel Vaughn, Jim Shahin, J.C. Reid, @stewlevine & @JoePerryinTX).