Texas Monthly BBQ Festival

Scott Roberts details The Salt Lick Cookbook

Aug 6, 2012 By Layne Lynch

You can’t talk about great Texas barbecue without mentioning Driftwood’s most famous barbecue joint of all time – The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que. Through the years this Central Texas haunt has gained both fame and popularity for its delicious barbecue meats – well known for their preparation…

Oh no! Barbecue Stalwart Wild Blue Is Closing.

Jan 28, 2012 By Patricia Sharpe

Little did I know when I wrote the following words nearly four years ago—“Please, patronize Wild Blue before it’s too late”—that my greatest fear would come true. One of the true stalwarts of Texas Barbecue–Wild Blue B.B.Q., located in the near-Brownsville city of Los Fresnos—will shut its doors…

TMBBQFest Photo Gallery

Oct 31, 2011 By Jason Cohen

Mouse over for captions, or click for full-size image. See ya next year (or tomorrow at your favorite joint)!…

Here’s the Beef, Pork, and Sausage–and Apricot Fried Pies

Oct 31, 2011 By Patricia Sharpe

The second annual Texas Monthly BBQ Festival was held Sunday, October 30, at the outdoor terrace of Long Center in Austin. Some 3,000 people attended to sample barbecue from 22 vendors (all of whom had been named to our Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas in 2008), listen to music (Jimmie Vaughan and Asleep at the Wheel), and vote for the people’s choice in four categories. The prizes were won this year by Franklin Barbecue of Austin (best brisket), Louie Mueller Barbecue of Taylor (best beef ribs and best sausage), and Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q of Tyler (best pork ribs). Last  year’s best brisket winner was Snow’s BBQ of Lexington. Here are some random observations from an assortment of well-fed attendees. It’s kind of like drinking from a fire hydrant. There is so much here!—Seth Dockery This is Texas, so the temperature could have been 40, it could have been 95. But today was perfect.—Jen Pencis, Stanley's Famous Pit Bar-B-Q, Tyler Cooking’s easy. The hardest part is figuring out the amount of meat. –Todd Ashmore, Opie’s Barbecue, Spicewood This event is definitely off the ground. Yesterday I was telling people I was in town for the barbecue festival and everybody knew what I was talking about. Last year they had no idea.—Daniel Vaughn, Full Custom Gospel BBQ blog

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Smitty’s Market

Oct 29, 2011 By Jessica Huff

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…

The 2nd Annual Texas Monthly BBQ Festival is almost here

Oct 28, 2011 By Jake Silverstein

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.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Country Tavern

Oct 28, 2011 By Stephanie Kuo

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.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” TC’s Ponderosa Barbeque

Oct 28, 2011 By Stephanie Kuo

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.

TMBBQFest: Dirk Fowler’s Posters

Oct 27, 2011 By Jason Cohen

While there isn’t one that features sausage, we’re still perfectly comfortable (and proud) to call these posters by Lubbock artist Dirk Fowler a Holy Trinity. A regular TEXAS MONTHLY contributor, Fowler came up with the motif when he saw the iPhone icon for our…

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Wild Blue BBQ

Oct 27, 2011 By Emily Mitchell

Editor’s Note: Just three 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 Abraham Avila, 42, of Wild Blue BBQ in…

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que

Oct 26, 2011 By Layne Lynch

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 Scott Roberts, "north of 55," of The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que in Driftwood. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. Photo courtesy of Salt Lick What is the heat source you use for your barbecue? Live oak. We only use live oak. We use live oak because the oak families are one of the indigenous and heaviest woods in Texas. It’s very heavy and dense. And when it burns, it burns very clean. Very fine ash, very fine smoke. It doesn’t float up and get on the meat and make it gritty, and the smoke gets a lot finer and penetrates the meat better. It’s not bitter. Some woods can be bitter, like green mesquite, but live oak doesn’t ever do that. It adds smoked flavor to the meat, but doesn’t overpower it. It allows both flavors to become one. Where did you learn your barbecue craft from? My family came here from the Southeast. When they came here, they were in wagons, and they barbecued when they were in wagons. That style and those recipes they had on the wagon were handed down from generation to generation to my father, and my father taught them to me. That’s where our open pit comes from. They did not have these closed smokers that you see today because, like my father said, the wagon did not have bumper hitches to haul these closed smokers around. They did all their stuff on open grills. So they would sear their meat on one end of the fire, move it away from the fire, and throw coals underneath, and slow smoke them. And if the wind blew you too much in one direction or the other, they would be burnt around the edge. So when you come into Salt Lick that’s what you see. It’s a deeper flavor that you can’t get from closed smokers. Watching your father do that when you were younger, did you know that you wanted to go into that food direction? It was very enjoyable. Having the fire and the smoke and the meat, and then it all comes together through your efforts. It was very enjoyable, but I really did not know the technicalities of what it would mean. What were the barbecue plates you would eat growing up? I started out loving the pork ribs the most. And then it was brisket, and then I got a love for sausage. So, my favorite plate is our combination plate which is pork ribs, beef brisket, and our sausage. What’s your signature meat? The signature meat to me is pork ribs, but the signature meat to a lot of other people is the brisket. We’re getting a whole lot of compliments on the turkey. The signature meat here is that we have a variety of meat. We work real hard to make sure each one of them is our interpretation of the best they can be and then people will get what they want. Honestly there’s a lot of people that love the turkey. A lot of people who love the ribs. A lot of people love the brisket.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Vincek’s Smokehouse

Oct 26, 2011 By Willa Cockshutt

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 Gary Vincek, 48, of Vincek's Smokehouse in East Bernard. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. Photo by RioGailTX What is your heat source? We use pecan and oak wood. We start off with pecan and finish with oak. If you do everything with pecan it gets dark; pecan's a real heavy smoke Who did you learn your craft from? Did you work previously for another BBQ joint, learn it from family, or did you just learn it on your own? I used to work at Dozier's. It's just a meat market and barbecue joint. I learned here on my own through trial and error. There was a lot we didn't sell. What's your signature meat? Mainly brisket. Sauce or no sauce? We have it here if people want, and about 85 percent of people want it. But when we're cooking, we don't use any except the mop sauce which is vinegar, oil, and Worcestershire sauce.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Baby J’S Bar-B-Que & Fish

Oct 25, 2011 By Alana Peden

Editor’s Note: Just five 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 Jeremiah McKenzie, 39, of Baby J's Bar-B-Que & Fish in Palestine. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. Describe the scene at Baby J’s. I have a little joint where you walk in and feel at home. It’s real colorful. My board’s black; it’s got "Baby J's" on it with a homemade piece of cobbler. When you go out, it’s “Nothing Baby About It,” with two babies, a boy and a girl. What type of wood do you use? Pecan and a very little amount of hickory. Who did you learn your craft from? Did you work previously for another BBQ joint, learn it from family, or did you just learn it on your own? My brother-in-law and my dad like to barbeque a lot. I was in the oil fields workin’ and I got fired, because I’m kinda heavy-set. I said, “I’m never going to get fired again. I’m going to start my own business.” And I started barbequing and being successful. You must feel pretty good now. The same guy that fired me came back and gave me a bunch of catering. What’s your signature meat? Our customers say the ribs. We use baby back, and they’re real tender. I believe in using the old-fashioned rib. We slow cook it, we don’t boil it, and it’s tender and juicy with good seasoning. We dry rub it, and it falls off the bone. Sauce or no sauce? I don’t put sauce on mine. We make our own sauce, black Kansas City-style barbeque sauce. I don’t want sauce. Good barbeque doesn’t have to have sauce. Our ribs aren’t dry. Slow and low or high and faster? Slow and low. We cook our brisket about eighteen hours. Don’t get in a rush with it. What temperature do you try to maintain? About 175, not over 200. It’s so tender, you gotta let it cool off to cut it. What non-secret ingredients are in your spice rub? I love a lot of onion powder. I like garlic powder, those two are very healthy for you. We use a lot of black pepper, the good, restaurant kind.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Lamberts Downtown Barbecue

Oct 25, 2011 By Layne Lynch

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 Lou Lambert of Lamberts Downtown Barbecue in Austin. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. Photo by Ralph Lauer What is the heat source you use at Lamberts? Wood. Oak Wood. Where did you learn your barbecue craft from? Number one, just growing up in a barbecue culture in West Texas. Number two, just trial and error and doing a lot of cooking. I learned the basics of barbecuing just growing up around it and learning it from family and friends and then refined it by doing it as a chef. It’s something that I love to do. You grew up on a ranch. Was barbecue something you guys ate pretty much everyday? I wouldn’t say everyday, but it was a major factor in how we ate. A lot of grilling, a lot of smoking. Did you have any idea how influential it would become in your life? Not at the time. But looking back now as a chef and restaurateur, you just see how that influenced the foods that I love to cook and the way I cook because we do a lot of grilling, a lot of smoking, and a lot of wood roasting. I think it was the influence of growing up around those big, bold foods of West Texas.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days”: City Meat Market

Oct 24, 2011 By Jessica Huff

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.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days”: Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q

Oct 23, 2011 By Emily Mitchell

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.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Taylor Cafe

Oct 23, 2011 By Daniel Vaughn

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.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Franklin Barbecue

Oct 21, 2011 By Layne Lynch

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 Aaron Franklin, 33, of Franklin Barbecue in Austin. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. Photo Courtesy Franklin Barbecue Facebook/Jeff Stockton What is your heat source? Fire and post oak. We have two stacks. One stack is a year old, and the other is about two years old. We alternate between them. You’ve become popular so quickly. Does that newfound fame ever make you nervous? Yeah, it does make me really nervous. The more people know about a place, the more critical they are of it. You always wonder how to increase volume and keep the quality up when everybody is already searching for something to be wrong with it. It’s a little nerve-racking. We just hope for the best. Where did you learn your barbecue knack from? Honestly, I’d say in the backyard. Stacy and I have backyard barbecues every month, and I’d use my friends as guinea pigs. I remember you telling me your family was involved in the restaurant business? My family had a barbecue place for about three years when I was about ten. Later on when I was really getting into barbecue and getting nerdy with it, I ended up getting a job at John Mueller’s BBQ on Manor Road. I worked the register there and didn’t do a whole lot. I wanted to see if I liked it enough to pursue that kind of thing. You’re self-taught. Is good barbecue something you can be taught, or is it more of an innate thing? I don’t think you can teach someone how to do good barbecue. It takes so much experience to roll with punches and all of the different variables that come up. It’s not the kind of thing where you could work at a place for a year and all of the sudden know how to make great barbecue. It takes time to develop a sixth sense for it where it becomes something that you know exactly what’s going on.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Snow’s Barbecue

Oct 20, 2011 By RL Reeves Jr

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.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Baker’s Ribs

Oct 19, 2011 By Jessica Huff

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 Joe Duncan, 61, of Baker's Ribs in Dallas, Garland, Mesquite, Rowlett, Greenville, Canton, Houston, Weatherford, Rowlett, and even Eden Prairie, Minnesota. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. Photo courtesy Daniel Vaughn What is your heat source? Hickory wood. Who did you learn your craft from? I did an internship with Roland Lindsey but I taught myself quite a few things. I just learned some smoking techniques and what not there. What’s your signature meat? Well, obviously ribs. You know what the name of my restaurant is right?

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Hard Eight BBQ

Oct 18, 2011 By Alana Peden

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 Chad Decker, 38, of Hard Eight BBQ in Stephenville, Brady, and Coppell. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. What is your heat source? Strictly mesquite wood. We burn it down in the incinerator until we get good coals, and then we take the coals from our heat box and shovel them and spread them out underneath our meat. Mesquite always gives the barbecue a good flavor. We derive from the Hill Country area, and mesquite wood tends to be the most favored flavor of meat down there. We’ve found it to be pretty popular up here in the North Texas area as well. Who did you learn your craft from? My dad, and my family. We grew up there in Llano, and this is the way we cook. This is how everybody does for every FFA meeting, livestock show, backyard barbeque, church on Sunday; everybody does this the same way. So that’s where I learned it. Did you previously work at another BBQ joint? I worked at Cooper’s for a little bit. You know, just in the summer there in Llano. One summer, three or four weeks there, it wasn’t a long term deal. I started this place with my mother-in-law and father-in-law, Phillip and Vicki Nivens. What’s your signature meat? A lot of people really do like our ribs. Our ribs are one of our main items. Of course, being a barbeque place, brisket and sausage are the most popular. But as far as one of our signature items, I’d say our ribs, and then we have our brush poppers. A brush popper is a small piece of turkey breast, wrapped with a jalapeno onion, then wrapped in bacon, and then grilled over mesquite coals. Do you make your own sausage? We have our own sausage recipe. It’s a beef-pork mixture that we wanted to be eaten as a meal. Somebody can come in here and have it as a meal, instead of a side item like most people do. I’ve got customers now that love our sausage so much they’ll just say, “Give me half a link of that,” and that’s all they want. It’s not that big, greasy, overwhelming, when-you-bite-into-the-grease-just-shoots-down-the-back-of-your-throat, it’s not that way. We use more of a coarse grind, so you get a taste of the meat itself. You get to actually taste the texture of the meat that’s used in the grind.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Coleman’s BBQ

Oct 17, 2011 By Elizabeth Castro

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 Wayne Coleman, 43, of Coleman's in Clarksville. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. What is your heat source? We use a fire oven and hickory. It’s the trademark that we decided to use. Hickory smoke. Who did you learn your craft from? I started at Coleman’s and have been in business 39 years. I learned at probably about 10, my dad taught me. What’s your signature meat? Beef. We smoke it and put sauce on it. Pretty much a family recipe. Sauce or no sauce? Sauce. We use a thin sauce, not thick. We prefer it. A lot people like our sauce, 'cause most of the time they prefer bread. They always want more bread and more sauce. The sauce has been around for 39 years, ever since we've been here. Do you make your own sausage? No, we buy it. Slow and low or high and faster? What temperature do you generally try to maintain? I like slow and low, it cooks it better to me and it always does. It’s the way we been doing it; We cook it for 15-16 hours.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Louie Mueller BBQ

Oct 14, 2011 By Elizabeth Castro

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 Wayne Mueller, 46, of Louie Mueller BBQ in Taylor. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. What is your heat source and what type of wood do you use? We use oak wood for all of our heat sources. It’s an abundant hard wood source here in our region. It provides a smoke that isn’t overpowering—it’s subtle but distinct. It works well for us and it’s readily available. There is plenty of it, so we don’t have to constantly change what type of wood we use, which would ultimately change how our product tastes. Who did you learn your craft from? Well, I started working in the family restaurant when my father took over from his father in 1972, when I was 8 years old. I worked in the restaurant until I left town to go to college, so about 10 or 11 years. I came back in 2007, when my father was ready to retire and we wanted to insure the restaurant stayed in the family. So I divested myself from an agency in Houston and moved back to Taylor. What’s your signature meat? Brisket is our number one entrée. I don’t want to say we have a cult following because that has a negative connotation, but we also have strong following of our beef ribs and sausages. Sauce or no sauce? No, we use a dry rub. We do offer a sauce, but it’s more of a complimentary hydration fluid. It doesn’t cover the meat. It’s not a thick, viscous sauce you would find in the south or anywhere else – like a ketchup kind of covering. Instead, it’s primarily made of the rubs. So it acts like a compliment to the meat instead of covering it up in sauce.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days:” Opie’s BBQ

Oct 13, 2011 By Jessica Huff

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 Marco Oglesby, 30, of Opie's BBQ in Spicewood. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. Photo by Daniel Vaughn Who did you learn your craft from? To be honest, before I started working at Opie’s, I never used smoker before. I used a backyard circle grill with my dad, but when I worked at a gas station I became friend’s with the owner of Opie’s; when they had a spot open up, I jumped at the opportunity to start working there. Mike, the pitmaster who was already there, taught me how to use the smoker, and that was pretty much how I started. I’ve always loved BBQ, and I was born and raised in Austin, so I’ve just always cooked it. What's your signature meat? I like everything we cook. However, I’d say our most popular meat is our sweet and spicy baby back ribs. Sauce or no sauce? No, I don’t use sauce. The baby back ribs are the only thing we cook with sauce. But me personally? I think if you cook meat properly, the simpler the better. I prefer to taste the meat. Slow and low or high and fast(er)? We usually cook at about 250 degrees.We used to cook a bit hotter than that, but now we go low and slow. We do the briskets overnight, ribs for about three hours, and the chicken usually takes a couple hours.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days”: Big Daddy’s Roadhouse BBQ

Oct 12, 2011 By Stephanie Kuo

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 Joe Arriago, 33 of Big Daddy’s Roadhouse BBQ in Lavon. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. Photograph by Daniel Vaughn. Who did you learn your craft from? We went to a school for this, and my boss paid for it. And everyday I try to learn more. We try to do the most we can here. I’ve been working here for all 16 years, and I love it. I love my job. There’s always something new every time to learn. What’s your signature meat? We got brisket, sausage, turkey, ham, ribs, chicken and pulled pork. We have all those seven different kinds of meats. My favorites are the brisket and the ribs. I think those are the best here at Big Daddy’s. Sauce or no sauce? I like the meat with no sauce. Sometimes, with the meat we cook, you don’t need the sauce. They already come in with real good flavor. But we do have a barbecue sauce here for customers. It’s Big Daddy’s own recipe. It tastes real good. It’s sweet sauce.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days”: Cousin’s Bar-B-Q

Oct 11, 2011 By Jessica Huff

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 Cliff Payne, 58, of Cousin's Bar-B-Q, which has six locations around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, including two nestled inside DFW Airport. Cousin's sausage and beef ribs both won People's Choice at last year's festival. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. What kind of wood do you use? Green hickoryWho did you learn your craft from? My dad started in the restaurant business in 1967 when we opened a seafood restaurant in San Antonio. My dad would work about one hundred hours a week so we’d go to the restaurant to visit him, and if we went to the restaurant we had to work. I started when I was twelve. I went from scrubbing floors and peeling potatoes to helping cook. We did that for about fifteen years, then we decided in 1982 to get into the barbecue business. Dad learned it from Walter Jetton, he was the big barbecue man, and my dad worked part time for him. In ‘83 we opened in Fort Worth and have been doing it ever since.What’s the best thing you smoke? Well, brisket is our biggest seller and everyone loves our ribs, but each one of our products has something special about it. We’ve got the best chicken in Fort Worth and we make our own sausage that won in Austin last year. So probably brisket, ribs, chicken and then sausage.Sauce or no sauce? We put sauce on the side. All the barbecue I eat there’s no sauce on it though.Do you make your own sausage? Yes, in two styles, smoked German sausage and jalapeno pepper sausage. About twenty years ago we brought over a young man from Germany—a sausage master, and he got us in the right direction with the German sausage with some trial and error. Our other kind is a hot link, with jalapeno and cheddar in it, which won at the festival last year. People were really talking about that. We make everything in small batches because it is all hands-on. We don’t have the big equipment to mass produce it.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days”: Buzzie’s Bar-B-Que

Oct 10, 2011 By Willa Cockshutt

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.

TMBBQFest, “23 Pitmasters in 23 Days”: Casstevens B-B-Q & Catering

Oct 7, 2011 By Emily Mitchell

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 (fire away in comments section). Today it's Angela Ashley, 54, of Casstevens B-B-Q & Catering, which is tucked inside a Diamond Shamrock "Cash and Carry" in the town of Lillian, just southeast of Fort Worth. For more info, visit their page on TMBBQ.com. Photograph by Daniel Vaughn What's your heat source? We use mesquite on two pits that are ancient! They are old. We’ve been cooking in those things for as long as I’ve been there and before. And we repair the ones that we have because we get much better service. When it develops a few holes, we get the welder to come out and fix it. Harold Casstevens, the founder, he had these two pits built for his specifications. He started the business in 1976, and was considered the "mayor" of Lillian. He had it up until six years ago, and he sold it to his son-in-law, and then he turned around and sold it to [current owner] Jameson Titus. Who did you learn your craft from? I’ve been here for 13 years. So either you got good at it or you weren’t there anymore! Harold Casstevens taught me everything that I need to know about the pit, and the quality of meat and everything. I worked for him for a lot of years. And he basically taught me how to build a fire, how to tell how hot the pits are, how to get them hot. Because we have one [pit] inside and one [pit] outside. We used to have both of ‘em that sat right on the street because I tell ya, that’s the best advertising that you can have. The pit sitting out front with the mesquite smell coming out… I mean, he taught me that from the very beginning. Instead of going and paying lots of money for your advertising, just keep those pits going all day with that smoke and that smell coming out all day. And he was right. But it’s been so dry, the fire chief from down the road, he said ‘Look. I’m not gonna give you a hard time about the pits…but can you please just move one of ‘em inside?’ So that’s what we did. What’s your signature meat? I will tell you, people come from miles around for our all-beef smoked bologna. I mean, I am not kidding you! You would not believe…it’s crazy. Cass [Casstevens] from the very beginning, he used nothing but all-beef bologna. And that stuff gets hard to find. And so we use all-beef bologna and we smoke it on the pit and we slice it ourselves. And it just hangs off the bun.  And these guys come in, and they will have one or two a day. We’re also very well-known for "Old Ike" hot links.* And when we don’t have ‘em, these guys get upset. And they love the black-brown crust on our brisket. And it really is the best I’ve ever had, and I’m not just sayin’ that.