Texas Monthly BBQ

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)!…

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, “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:” 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:” 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.

Photo Preview: John Mueller’s JMueller BBQ Is (Finally!) Almost (Really!) Here

Oct 6, 2011 By Jason Cohen

It's been a long time in the making (a VERY long time in the making): John Mueller, sometimes called the black sheep of the Taylor smoked meat family, is almost back in business here in Austin. Mueller, who used to have a legendary place on Manor Rd. (and famously sold his smoker to Aaron Franklin), has a new trailer at 1501 South 1st St., and the fire has been lit. Visit his web site or follow @jmuellerbbq on Twitter for upcoming details (and while you're at it, follow us). The Smoker "Burning Out" Ribs to Prepare Smoker