Brisket, anyone? KLRU debuts its new web series, "BBQ with Franklin."
Live Fire!, held Thursday night at the Salt Lick Pavillion in Driftwood, proved to be the perfect meaty event to kick off this weekend's Austin Wine & Food Festival.
The barbecue bacchanal that is the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival is set to be, for the second year in row, an awe-inspiring helping of the very best barbecue in Texas (and therefore the world). Carnivorous connoisseurs of charry comestibles, a toothy group amongst whose ranks the Texanist proudly counts himself, will have their smoky dreams brought to life for this glorious once-a-year afternoon in Austin. To understate it badly, it’s going to be a very appetizing affair. In all, there will be 22 of the state’s most renowned barbecue establishments showcasing their succulent wares at the Fest. Smitty’s Market in Lockhart? Check. Snow’s BBQ in Lexington? Check. Casstevens Cash & Carry in Lillian? Check. Even already-venerable newcomer Franklin Barbecue in Austin will be there. Attending the festival will be not unlike like having the results of a months-long barbecue road trip conveniently delivered to you, where you can check nearly two dozen places off of your barbecue bucket list in one fell swoop. But wouldn’t it be a crying shame to have to be wheeled over to the emergency services tent for a light head and a heavy belly after having only visited, say, a dozen or so of the pits? Here, for the lucky attendants, are a few things to keep in mind. Not attending this year’s fest? Take note for next year. Admittedly the Texanist does not always heed his own advice, but try to exercise a little self control. In such a setting, what with all the mouthwatering aromas and glistening morsels, it will be impossible, but it never hurts to make the effort. Just remember, you are not a contestant in a competitive barbecue-eating contest.
Editor’s Note: Just one more day until the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival! As you surely know by now, we’ve been interviewing all the featured pitmasters, with questions from TM staffers, esteemed BBQ experts, Twitter followers and you, the readers of this blog. Today we’re featuring John A. Fullilove, 38 , of Smitty’s Market…
On Sunday, some 3,000 hungry carnivores will descend on the Terrace at the Long Center in Austin to devour a truly massive spread of meat at the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival. We’ll have 22 pitmasters from across the state serving up brisket, ribs, and sausage as festival-goers enjoy live music from Jimmie Vaughan and Ray Benson. Sounds like a pretty good time, doesn’t it? This will be the second annual BBQ Festival, an event that grew out of the Top 50 BBQ Joints round-up we publish in the pages of the magazine. For the festival, we invite those 50 joints to come and serve up their meat in one location. Last year 21 of them made it; this year we’ll have 22, including a new category for the best new place to open since our last list, the “Newcomer Tent,” which will be occupied this year by Austin sensation, Franklin Barbecue. BBQ is important to Texans and it’s important to Texas Monthly. In the year since the inaugural 2010 festival, we’ve also launched a BBQ smartphone app and a companion BBQ website, TMBBQ.com. The app locates nearby barbecue joints both within Texas and all over the world, as well as delivering reviews and information, connecting barbecue enthusiasts, and letting users engage in some friendly competition. It launched for iPhone on June 8, and currently has more than 15,000 active users. Today, we’re making it available on Android as well. Take a look. These digital efforts, and the festival—as well as our every-five-years Top 50 BBQ Joints story—give you a sense of how seriously we take our smoked meat here at Texas Monthly. And they also give you a sense of how seriously we take the idea of engaging with our readers in as many different ways as we can, in print, on screens and mobile devices, and at live events.
Editor’s Note: Just a couple more days until the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival! As you surely know by now, we’ve been interviewing all the featured pitmasters, with questions from TM staffers, esteemed BBQ experts, Twitter followers and you, the readers of this blog. Today we’re featuring Toby Pilgrim, 44, of Country Tavern in Kilgore. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. What is your heat source? We use a combination of oak, pine and hickory. These are the ones that work the best, and they’re just the best ones for me. We use different woods for different things. We use oak and hickory for our ribs, and we like to smoke our sausage with pecan. Who did you learn your craft from? This is a family deal. I’m the third generation in this restaurant. I learned from my dad, and my dad learned from the man before him. My family acquired it. And my grandmother owned the restaurant, and my dad took over cooking from the original cook, and I cooked after my dad. What’s your signature meat? Ribs. As I grew up with this restaurant, all we sold was ribs. We’ve always been known for ribs. We don’t even have a menu. One point as a kid, you came in and got ribs and plate of potato salad. But we’ve grown into other meats over the years. But we sell more ribs than anything else. The ribs are good. They’re better than most I’ve tried at other barbecue restaurants. I think it has a lot to do with our seasoning and how we cook them. We smoke them on the pit just like everybody else does and for the same time and at the same temperature as everybody else does. But we rub them with seasonings the night before. Do you prefer sauce or no sauce? I like them both ways, to be honest, and our customers are the same way. The ribs have so much flavor already, but the sauce is good too. The sauce is a kind of a tomato-y, vinegar-based sauce—kind of like a sweet and sour and spicy sauce. It’s not real thick. That’s the best way I can describe it.
Editor’s Note: Just two more days until the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival! As you surely know by now, we’ve been interviewing all the featured pitmasters, with questions from TM staffers, esteemed BBQ experts, Twitter followers and you, the readers of this blog. Today we’re featuring Tom Hale, 59, of TC's Ponderosa in Dickens. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. What is the heat source you use at TC's Ponderosa? We use a combination of wood and propane. It’s Southern Pride. I couldn’t keep up doing it old style with the wood alone, so we had to find someway to keep up with our customers. We had to go that route. Who did you learn your craft from? I learned from my family from my granddad and my dad. It’s something we used to do on weekends, and I picked up on it back in 2001 as a profession. What’s your signature meat? Brisket, I think like everybody else in Texas. Our brisket is good because of consistency and flavor. We use mesquite wood, and we make our barbecue the same everyday. We just use a dry rub on it and put it at a certain temperature everyday and put the right amount of smoke on it. Do you prefer sauce or no sauce? We don’t put sauce on the meat as we cook it. It’s on the side, and most people like the sauce. They don’t use a large amount of it or anything. We make our own sauce here. There’s nothing too special about it. We actually have a Smokin’ Hot, it’s what we call it. It’s pretty hot, and we smoke it in the pit ourselves. Do you make your own sausage? No, I buy it from a German guy about sixty miles from where I live. He’s well known all across the state, and he’s won a contest. The guy I bought this store from had been doing business with him, and I just sort of picked him up. We inherited him.
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're featuring Gerald Birkelbach, 55, of City Meat Market in Giddings. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. Photographs by Daniel Vaughn. What is your heat source? Post oak. Who did you learn your craft from? I learned it right here with on the job training starting 37-and-a-half years ago to be exact. What’s your signature meat? I think our signature meat is the pork Boston butt and the pork ribs. Sauce or no sauce? It is offered, yes. I do it both ways though to be perfectly honest. It depends on how I feel. We also make a jalapeno pepper sauce that’s on the tables and if I want sauce I’ll use that over BBQ sauce.
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 Nick Pencis of Stanley's Famous Pit Bar-B-Q in Tyler. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. Photo courtesy Daniel Vaughn. What is your heat source? We use pecan. It’s just kind of a preference thing. Stanley’s actually sits on a pecan grove. I was smelling the pecan smoke, and I thought ‘no one around here smokes with pecan. Everyone’s hickory, hickory, hickory. Or mesquite or oak, and it’s like, I’m gonna be a different guy.' It’s my personal preference, and I just decided I’m gonna be straight pecan guy. Who did you learn your craft from? I came to work here in 2005, and I bought it in 2006. That’s the crazy thing, I had never in my life barbecued before. But I just have always been a huge, huge fan of barbecue. I'm 100 percent self taught. What’s your signature meat? I’m really happy with our sausage. I don’t know if I would call it our signature meat, but I’m happy with the philosophy. I don’t like MSG or weird chemical things. The sausage is just pork and spice in a natural case. Do you make your own sausage? You know, there is a meat market a block from here that’s been here since the 1950’s and I take my recipe and they make our sausage. It’s fresh. I’m not able to actually do it here, but they do it for me there. They bring me sausage every other day or so. The first batch we ever made was for the Texas Monthly BBQ festival last year. And people liked it! So I was like, alright, let’s figure it out.
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 Scott Morales, 45 and Vencil Mares, 87, of Taylor Café in Taylor. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. As far as your heat source, I assume you guys use all wood there? Scott: Yes. And what kind of wood? Scott: Post Oak Who did you learn your craft from? Did you previously work at another barbeque joint? Scott: I learned the majority from Vencil and then a little bit on my own, just barbecuing on weekends. How about you, Vencil? Vencil: From Southside Market in Elgin, Texas. And at your place do you have a meat that you consider a signature meat? Scott: Probably our turkey sausage. The turkey sausage and pretty much everything’s to die for. The turkey sausage, you guys make that in-house. Do you have another sausage? Scott: Yes. We also make our own beef sausage also. Is that like an Elgin "hot guts" style? Scott: No it’s pretty much a signature of Vencil’s. It’s always been.