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 we bring you Kerry Bexley, 44, of Snow’s Barbecue in Lexington, Texas [ed: while Tootsie Tomanetz is the pitmaster, Kerry gets the ball rolling on Friday night ’til Tootsie comes in at 2 a.m. on Saturdays.] For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com.
Photo courtesy Daniel Vaughn
What is your heat source? We only use oak wood and we cook our briskets on indirect heat. All other meats are slow cooked over a bed of coals. Why oak? Oak is plentiful in our area—Lee County, Texas. Who did you learn your craft from? I actually learned from Miss Tootsie who has more than 45 years in the game. What’s your signature meat? We take pride in everything we do but our brisket is the most popular item, after that would be our signature sausage, then chicken, pork and ribs, special care is taken with everything we do. Sauce or no sauce? We offer our own blend of sauce on the table but we do not put any on during cooking process. We use a dry rub on our meat. Ever use a mop? Yes, we use a little light mop Care to share what’s in it? Water, onions, vinegar, worcestershire and mustard powder. Do you make your own sausage? We used Giddings Meat Market ’til 5 months ago, then we switched to Hildebrandt right here in Lexington. Any particular reason for the switch? We wanted to use our own recipe for the sausage and Hildebrandt can do that for us. Slow and low or high and faster? We go slow and low for everything we cook, box meats, [pork ribs and chicken]. Slow and low is more forgiving, we pay a lot of attention to our meat to give the customer the perfect product. What non-secret ingredients are in your spice rub, if you use one. No secret, pure salt and pepper, mixture. Favorite BBQ in Texas other than your own? I eat very little barbecue but when I do I go to Wayne Mueller’s in Taylor or City Market in Giddings. Do you start a new fire each day or do you keep the same one going? We start a new one once a week. Aluminum foil or butcher paper? More generally, what is the secret to holding great barbecue? On all our briskets we use aluminum foil which keeps ‘em warm and tender. All other meats are sold hot off the pit. What should the home smoker look for when picking out a side of brisket from the market? Most any cut of meat can turn out good depending on the smoking process, the important part is learning the pit that you use. Look for a loose flexible brisket, for somebody who is only cooking on the weekend. Look for one that’s got a good bend in it. What’s the one other piece of advice you’d give to someone smoking a brisket at home? Don’t rush it, it’s the passion for cooking that’s where it’s all at. Learn your pit. 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? No, we stick to the old timey pits, I built all of them and we stick to what works, our new pit took the place of three of the old ones. Ever have any Texas barbecue outside of Texas? No, I don’t get out of the country too often [ed: the country being Texas ]. It’s outside my comfort zone. How many lbs. of meat do you smoke in a week? A bunch. Care to share a figure? Yeah… just a bunch. Interview conducted by RL Reeves, Jr., of the Scrumptious Chef. (Questions by Jason Cohen, Andrea Valdez, Pat Sharpe, Katy Vine, Sonia Smith, Daniel Vaughn, Jim Shahin, J.C. Reid, @stewlevine&@JoePerryinTX.)