This week’s National Podcast of Texas features pitmaster Aaron Franklin. His much-celebrated, oft-debated Franklin BBQ turns ten years old this year, the lines are as long as ever, and, whether or not he’s comfortable with it, it’s made Franklin the most famous pitmaster in the country—he’s published a pair of best-selling cookbooks, fed President Obama, and won a James Beard award for best chef in the region, a first for a pitmaster. On the cover of our May 2019 issue you’ll find BBQ from Loro—the ambitious Asian smokehouse Franklin created with Tyson Cole of Uchi and Uchiko. And Franklin also has a new book on the market: Franklin Steak. Meanwhile, Hot Luck Fest—which Franklin runs with James Moody, the owner of Austin’s Mohawk, and Mike Thelin, co-founder of Feast Portland—returns in its third year, Memorial Day weekend, May 23–26 in Austin. The low-key hang features chefs from around the country and performances from Lucero, Leftover Salmon, The Suffers, and Robert Ellis—each paired with bites served during the concerts.
Three takeaways from Franklin’s appearance on the National Podcast of Texas:
1. Last year, Franklin famously told Esquire, “I don’t eat barbecue.” Franklin was caught off guard by how many people found it an interesting revelation, but says it’s still essentially true.
“The reaction to it was really weird. I love the craft of barbecue. And I love cooking it—the crack of the fire. And the flavors. And I love both the art and the science behind it. But I just don’t really have a lot of time to spend eating barbecue. And I’m also around it all day. It’s like when you spend so much time cooking Thanksgiving dinner. You might say at the end of it, ‘Man, I don’t really know if I want to eat this turkey.’ I do try it daily, but it’s pretty rare for me to hunker down and just eat a whole sandwich. Maybe every six months.”
2. Franklin says it’s unlikely there will be a second location of Franklin BBQ anytime soon.
“We can hardly keep up with what we’re doing here. We cook about 120 briskets a day, cook 24 hours a day, six and a half days a week. We work a tremendous number of hours and it takes tremendous effort to pull this thing off in the first place. And if we did another one, it wouldn’t be as good. It would hurt the one that’s already not even quite as good as we want it to be.”
3. But, “coming soon, very soon”: breakfast tacos.
“I’m a coffee nerd and we’re actually opening up a coffee trailer outside Franklin BBQ here in a couple of weeks. And we’ll be doing breakfast tacos. And there will be brisket. It lets me be a little bit creative and kind of come up with some recipes for kind of fun ways to make pretty rad breakfast tacos.”