Sunday, May 30, 2010

Harlon's BBQ

603 Old Tyler Road

Nacogdoches, TX 75964


Open Tues 11-9, W-Thur 11-10, F-Sat 11-1am

This joint feels more like a sports bar than a BBQ house, but I guess that's why the word "Entertainment" is featured on the sign out front. Ordering is still done a cafeteria line, and you can watch the meat being cut in front of you. This can be a bad thing if you'd eaten as many plates of 'cue as I have since you can tell before the brisket's even been sliced that you're not going to enjoy the results.

I was asked whether or not I wanted sauce (a plus), and I asked for it on the side. Another plus about this joint is the range of soul food sides. The green beans I got were well seasoned and tasty, and the greens were also flavorful. Ribs had a nice bark and good flavor from a rub heavy in black pepper. The spare ribs were plenty tender if a bit dry, but I'd order them again. Especially given the brisket option. The slices, or rather chunks from the point end were riddled with unrendered and chewy fat globules. The bark had been trimmed from the meat which made it virtually flavorless. I stopped after two terrible bites. The ribs and sides saved this joint from a single star.

Rating **
Harlon's Bar B Que on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Barbecue House

NACOGDOCHES: The Barbecue House
704 North Stallings Drive

Nacogdoches, TX 75965


Open Sun-Thur 11-8:30,F-Sat 11-9

Originally opened in 1959, this joint moved to this location in 2004. It is owned and operated by John McClellan, a second generation pit master, and brother of Mike McClellan who runs Mike's BBQ house on the other side of town. The interior is decorated mostly with dead animal heads, none of them cow or pig. I opted for the drive thru on this Sunday morning so we didn't have to unlatch the sleeping baby in the backseat.

A pile of brisket, ribs and sausage all covered in sauce was served with beans and potato salad. The sausage was boring Eckrich-like links sliced thin with a little smoke flavor. Brisket was pure roast beef with barely a hint of smoke, and the flavor of the ribs was covered up by the tangy sauce. The meat on those ribs was tender enough, but they just had no flavor without the sauce. A chunky potato salad tasted homemade, and sweet beans with plenty of meat thrown in may have been able to make a meal on their own. Considered by some to be the best in town, I was disappointed with this plate of average 'cue

Rating **
Barbecue House on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mike's Bar-B-Q House

NACOGDOCHES: Mike's Bar-B-Q House
1622 South St

Nacogdoches, TX 75964

Open Sun-Thur 11-8:30,F-Sat 11-9

John McClellan Sr. had run the Barbecue House across town since 1962 with help from his sons John and Mike. This joint opened in 1986 when Mike decided to go off on his own. The similarities between these places hardly make them competitors since both locations seem more like a copy of the other.

Service here is friendly and quick. A total of five people had a hand in getting my order ready, and it was complete in about 30 seconds after ordering. I headed back to the car with a standard three meat plate and a stuffed jalapeno. While the jalapeno was lackluster, the creamy, almost mahed potato salad was refreshing, and the beans flecked with chunks of brisket were above average. The meat was another story. Average grocery store grade sausage could have been heated in an oven based on the lack of smoke. Brisket was falling apart tender and covered in sauce, so there was little to taste other than the sauce. Ribs were falling from the bone (not good) and had little flavor at all. I was hoping for more from this place given its history, but this just may be what folks in Nacogdoches have come to expect from their 'cue.

Rating **
Mike's Barbeque House on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Burger King Ribs

Curiosity has led me to more bad meals in my life than I care to remember. Like the brisket tacos at Taco Cabana, I heard the announcement that Burger King was offering pork ribs (real ones on the bone unlike the formed McRib), and I had to act. They've been testing this product in a few markets since last June, but they're available in most locations beginning this week. The location I tried in Dallas was caught a bit off-guard. They didn't have the promotional materials on the menu yet, so the window clerk read off the options from a cheat sheet at the window. A few minutes later I had 6 flame broiled pork ribs in the passenger seat.

There are only five in the picture because, unlike a few naysayers, I believe that ribs are a perfect food to enjoy while driving. I mean, the pigs have handles grown right into them. Convenient or not, these ribs were pretty bad. They had very little meat, and tasted more like the char from a grill than actual meat. These puppies were pretty dang small too. I grabbed a rib from Charby's BBQ (review forthcoming) out of the fridge. Yes, I often have random pieces of smoked meat stored in the fridge...actually, my fridge is rarely devoid of smoked meat. You can see that the BK rib looks like it comes from a piglet compared to the standard St. Louis style rib. At nearly $1 per rib ($5.69 for 6 ribs before tax), I was expecting a bit more.

So what's the verdict? I'll let Burger King tell you themselves "...tender pork ribs with a smokey BBQ sauce. So you get all the meaty taste of BBQ ribs without the hassle, smoky clothes and runny eyes of a real BBQ." They said it themselves. It's just not real BBQ, and it's not real good either.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q

Smithfield's is a North Carolina based chain that specializes in fried chicken and BBQ. By BBQ in North Carolina, they mean pulled pork. After finding my website, the kind folks over at Smithfield's offered to send a sample of their meat to me for my own enjoyment. It arrived this week, so I enjoyed it on some sandwiches with a few friends.

The meat lacked the bark I was expecting, but the tang of vinegar filled the air as I warmed the meat. The pork was shredded nicely, and had plenty of moisture.

The meat was good, but even better stacked onto a buttered bun with sauce and slaw. It made for a great way to begin my meal.

Given that his is NC BBQ, I can't really accurately judge it, but let's suffice it to say that I'll be stopping at a Smithfield's to try some of their freshly smoked meat on my first 'cue trip to the Carolinas. Thanks SCNB!

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

BBQ Videos

In the past few days, I've come across a variety of great BBQ videos. I thought I'd post them here for your Sunday enjoyment.

Robb Walsh explains the origins of Texas BBQ

Texas BBQ Legends talk about what BBQ means to them

Texas Monthly puts together a smoked brisket how-to with Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller's.

Then Guy Fieri visits Louie Mueller Barbecue

Finally, Robb Walsh narrates a trip to Texas A&M's slaughterhouse.

hope you enjoy these.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Backyard BBQ

DALLAS: Backyard BBQ
2234 Irving Blvd

Dallas, TX 5207


Open M-Sat 11-3

Update. This joint is CLOSED and will become The Slow Bone.

2010: The former BW's BBQ has reopened under the name Backyard BBQ. I'm not sure if the current ownership is related to the former, but the quality of 'cue is about the same, and that's average at best. A three meat plate came with pulled pork, sliced brisket and ribs. The green beans were the best item on the plate. They still had some firmness to them, and had great flavor. The loaded cheesy potatoes could have been used for home remodeling.

The brisket slices had decent flavor and bit of smoke, but the slices were so tough I could barely pull it apart with my hands. Ribs were well cooked, tender and moist, but again had little flavor with no smoke. The pulled pork was the abomination of the plate. The meat was so overcooked that it could have been remolded into playful shapes. The mass of meat tasted so old and it was more like eating decayed flesh. I spit out the first big bite and went searching for a decent lunch.

Rating *
Backyard BBQ on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Salumi at Cube

Cube Marketplace in Los Angeles is a salumi and cheese lovers paradise, and if you've read my posts from a few months back, you know that I enjoy all types of cured meats. The menu of cheeses and meats alone takes two pages to cover, and it's all on display behind the large glass opening in the store's cooler. A lovely woman with blue hair (it may be a different color by the time you visit, as I don't think it was natural) was described to me as the cheese guru. She was as advertised as well as being incredibly knowledgeable about the salumi choices.

After sampling quite a few, I finally settled on these (from left to right):

Barolo from Creminelli - A dense salami made in the true Italian style by an Italian transplant who basically moved to Utah so he could supply this great country with his great salami (it can't be imported due to FDA rules). It's very chewy, with mild spice and a hint of nuttiness. I'd been searching for a retail outlet of this salami since reading about it in Meatpaper, so I was happy to find it here. I was even happier to find it back in Dallas at an equally good cheese shop on Oak Lawn called Scardello.

Jamon Iberico de Bellota - Thin slices of delicate meat clinging loosely to the most delicate melty fat imaginable. Of course it's salty, but the rich flavor imbued by the acorn diet of the pigs (that's what the "bellota" part indicates) is unique to any sort of prosciutto you might be used to.

Nduja from Baccalone - Chris Cosentino's salumi company in Oakland produces this loosely packed, spreadable and spicy mixture of pork, fat and chilis. It is smoked then fermented to create a unique tanginess. The NYT describes it this way "Nduja is part of the Italian sausage family known as salami dal spalmare, spreadable salamis, made by finely grinding fat and meat and then aging the paste in a casing." I liked it best of all the choices on the board.

Wild Boar Salami by Fatted Calf - This unique salami from Napa has blue cheese overtones, and was actually reminiscient of boiled crawfish on the back of the tongue. The flavor was strong, so a little went a long way. Slice it thin.

I also sampled a lamb prosciutto from Seattle's Salumi. It was far too gamey for me, but I look forward to trying more of their offerings on my next trip. Thanks again to Barri, Rachael, and the girl with the blue hair. I'll be looking for your help again next time I'm in town.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dave's BBQ

4353 Gannon Lane

Dallas, TX 75237

Open Tues-Sat 10:30-9

After a long and exhausting search for a number of new BBQ joints, I finally settled into the line at Dave's BBQ in South Dallas. I hadn't heard of this joint until "william" posted about it on SideDish, alerting me to its existence (if you're out there william, I still owe you lunch). There are a few chairs and booths inside, but this is mostly a to-go business. Orders are taken at a front counter, but the meat operation is mainly out of view towards the back of the joint. A three meat plate of sausage, brisket, and ribs came at a reasonable price, and I found a small table outside to enjoy it while I admired the large trailer mounted smoker out front.

Sides of beans and slaw were both uninspired. Ribs were nicely cooked, and were plenty tender, but they lacked smoke and could have used more bold flavoring. Brisket was well flavored with a good beefyness, but these moist and tender slices were also lacking that good smoky flavor. Sausage (which I'm told is house made) had incredible flavor. Moist meat just below a snappy casing was well seasoned, but not overly salty. These links had somehow soaked up more of the smoke than any other cut, and was by far the best meat of the day. I would return for it alone.

I hesitated to leave knowing they had beef ribs on the menu. I'd tried every joint I could think of who offered beef ribs a few months back, but Dave's were left untried. The hand written sign above the counter said they were available in half or full slabs. I begged the cashier for a smaller portion, but she wasn't budging, so I walked out with a styrofoam container whose heft was challenging for a single arm to wield. In the car I discovered the unfortunate pool of sauce all over this enormous pile of surprisingly meaty back ribs. The meat was tender with well rendered fat throughout. In this case, the sauce really did provide a complimentary flavor to the meat, and its smoky overtones provided more oomph to the meat that could have used a bit more smoke.

After sampling four of their meats, my standards of brisket and ribs alone would have kept them in the two star category, but the addition of an excellent house made sausage and above average beef ribs were enough for an additional star.

Rating ***
Dave's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Memphis in May 2010 Results

Congratulations to Yazoo's Delta Q. Out of 254 teams at this past weekend's Memphis in May BBQ compeition, they took home the top prize, based mainly on their win in the illustrious whole hog category. A run-down of the other top finishers is below. You can see the familiar names of Cool Smoke taking top honor in the pork shoulder category, as well as Myron Mixon's team, Jack's Old South finishing 8th in the same category. I couldn't even find Jack's Old South mentioned anywhere in the whole hog standings. Does anyone out there know what happened to Myron in his favorite category?

10 Wasted N Basted
9 Diamond D Cooking Team
8 Gwatney Championship BBQ Team
7 Crispy Critters
6 Hogapalooza
5 Barbeque Republic
4 Party Q
3 The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint
2 10 Bones BBQ
1 Yazoo's Delta Q

10 Ubon's - Barbeque of Yazoo
9 Ranucci's Big Butt Barbeque
8 Jacks Old South
7 Southeastern Smokers
6 Bib Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q
5 Right On Q
4 Lillie's Q
3 Sweet Swine O Mine
2 Rebel Roaster Revue
1 Cool Smoke

10 Slab Yo Mama BBQ Team
9 Performance Smokers
8 Can Do BBQ Team
7 Pig Cookers of America
6 Ribbed For Your Pleasure
5 Baby Back Griller Allstars
4 Pork Fiction
3 Prime Time BBQ
2 Sofa King Smokers
1 Natural Born Grillers

Yazoo's Delta Q

Hopefully I'll be able to make it there next year, but you can check out some on the scene reporting by the Man Up Texas BBQ guys who were able to attend this year.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Stanley's Famous Pit Bar-B-Q

TYLER: Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q
525 S. Beckham Ave

Tyler,TX 75702


Open M-Sat 11-9

Update: On a trip down to Nacogdoches, the family stopped for 'cue in Tyler at Stanley's. I'd visited once before with a friend and found many faults with Stanley's although it seemed to have potential. After meeting owner Nick Pencis at the Gettin' Sauced event in Austin, he urged me to return and try some of the recipes he had tweaked, most importantly the brisket. It has improved but there are still some issues.

Again, I ordered a four meat sampler along with a turkey sandwich for my wife. I actually enjoy BBQ sauce as a condiment (just not on well smoked meat), but my wife can't stand it. So when my platter arrived with sauce on the side, and my wife's sandwich had sauce all over the meat, I was confused and disappointed. After wiping it off with some paper towels, she had an edible sandwich of tender smokey turkey from an actual turkey breast rather than some processed bird. The sausage type had not changed, but these grocery store grade links had received a heftier dose of smoke to make them more palatable. Baby back ribs were meatier, but had a good crust despite the heavily sweet glaze. A good amount of smoke could be detected in these tasty ribs. Brisket was also smoky, and showed a great improvement from the first visit. Although too much fat had been trimmed, what was left behind were slices with a nice bark and a plenty good smokering. The flavor was smokey, and the meat was moist and perfectly tender. This was some good beef.

Two portions of pork. Which one looks better?

Pulled pork was a conundrum for me. The first batch was pale, monochromatic, and lacked much flavor at all. I explained this to the pit master, who promptly switched it out for a much better portion of pork that had bits of black bark with plenty of flavor and smoky goodness. I decided to reward a pit master who was willing to make it right rather than downgrade them for giving me a substandard portion of meat to begin with.

Rating ****

July 2009: The four meat sampler plate should become a staple of every self-respecting BBQ joint. The idea of piling a plate with multiple proteins, and diggin' in without the distractions of cole slaw, pinto beans or anything else to slow down the ingestion pleases me. The folks over at Stanley's seem to agree with me.

A friend from LA wanted a taste of some good Texas 'cue so we headed out to East Texas in search of some transcendental smoked flesh. I provided the expertise and the route, he provided the rental car and the photography. At Stanley's we bellied up to the counter to place an order for a plate overflowing with ribs, hot links, sliced brisket and pulled pork. In addition, we just had to order the "Brother-in-Law" sandwich based on the name alone. At this joint meals are prepared in the kitchen rather than right on the counter, so we sat in a booth sipping sweet tea until our order was called.

A plate full of meat is a beautiful sight, but we dove in shortly after admiring the visual affect. Hot links were underwhelming slices of slightly spicy pork sausage...not a great start, as hot links seemed to be a misnomer here. The ribs had a sweet tangy glaze applied lightly to the dark smoky crust. These baby backs weren't very meaty, which allowed the smoke to penetrate the full depth of the rib. The tender meat also had a good level of moisture, some of which can be attributed to the glaze. Although sauced, these ribs were enjoyable. It should be noted that the liberal use of sauce is generally what separates the East Texas style from the Central Texas style. This wouldn't be the last time this was encountered on this trip.

Brisket had a more traditional preparation with a light rub leading to a decent crust and a good smoke line. The meat was moist, but the ease with which it broke apart in my hands was evidence that it may have been overcooked a bit. Also, the smoke and flavor was there, but the fat was missing in these too-lean slices. Finally, the wholly untraditional pulled pork was the best item on the plate. The mixture of tender shredded pork, black bits of crust and small bits of rendered fat came together with the nutty flavored sauce that was applied with restraint. We thought it may actually contain some asian peanut sauce. Odd...but good.

The final item was the Brother-in-Law sandwich. Chopped beef, sliced sausage and American cheese were piled atop a buttered bun and doused with the house sauce. Hot sauce was available on the side, but eaters were warned that the staff would no longer replace food that had been doused with this screaming hot sauce. Squirt at your own risk. Before taking the sauce challenge, we took a few bites, and all of these flavors came together quite well. I had doubts about cheese and brisket, but the sausage buffer was key to this flavor profile. Adding the grainy hot sauce added a pleasant kick without much pain.

Stanley's may not have any one outstanding traditional Texas BBQ item, but judged on the whole, this joint is worth a stop.

Stanley's Famous Pit BBQ on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

A Plus Grocery

This is a public service announcement. A Plus Grocery on Mockingbird at Lemmon in Dallas advertises "BBQ" on their storefront. Do not attempt to ingest this sorry excuse for smoked meat.

After I ordered a sliced brisket sandwich, the kitchen staffer quickly grabbed a plastic wrapped portion of brisket and tossed it in the microwave. Once it had been recooked too nearly beyond recognition, it was unwrapped and tossed onto an dry toasted white bun. I immediately spat out the first bite I took, then I headed over to Big Al's for lunch instead. A star rating of any sort would be too great of a compliment.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Smokin' a Brisket

A few weeks back I smoked a brisket for some friends, and I'm just now getting around to writing about it. Smoking a brisket for me generally means smoking a whole lot more than just a brisket. Although I feel like I can churn out a decent slab of beef, it doesn't hurt to have a back-up (or four) just in case, and if the fires already going, you might as well take full advantage. My favorite bulletproof cut is a pork shoulder, and since it takes about the same amount of time as a whole brisket, it's convenient to smoke them together.

This batch was smoked with pecan and charcoal. The pecan came from a tree in my neighbor's yard that fell on my roof. It was a damn large limb, so it kept the smoker running all day.

The brisket was once again oversalted (by me). I really need to go lighter on that rub. It was also a bit tough because it had not gotten to temperature (190) before dinner time rolled around. I actually wrapped it the next day and slow cooked it in the oven for several hours until it tenderized a bit more, and none of the smoky flavor suffered.

Baby backs were on sale, and were perfect from the smoker. A nice bark from the sweet rub coupled with good texture and moisture gave me room for seconds.

The pork was good, but again needed more time in the smoker to tenderize a bit more. While pulling wasn't an option, the sliced pork was plenty flavorful.

I threw on a split chicken and some homemade andouille sausage for good measure. They were both excellent, and made for a much prettier plate. There was about four times the necessary amount of food, so I had plenty of leftovers. The ribs were best straight form the fridge, but the brisket and pork made some good quesadillas.

Do you have any pics of your recent smoking adventure? Send me some pics with a brief description, and I'll post them.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

BBQ Question

A reader wrote asking a question about a few long-gone BBQ joints in Denton, Texas. They don't sound familiar to me, so I'm throwing his question out to the masses.

"I attended North Texas State University (now UNT)in the early 1970's. I regularly ate at a bbq restaurant called the BBQ Barn which was housed in an A-frame building located at the intersection of Locust and Eagle streets. It was split down the middle with two doors, the left one for BBQ and the right one for hamburgers. The BBQ was so good I never ate a hamburger. They had a big sign where you placed your order which said 'TRIM ALL FAT' and they certainly did.

"The family that ran it also had another location under a different name
located near Texas Women's University on a side street between University
and Sherman streets.

"They went out of business long ago but I continue to wonder if the family
still sells bbq somewhere else?"

He would appreciate any assistance you can provide. Just comment below if you know anything about these two joints past or present.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Marshall's Bar-B-Q

GARLAND: Marshall's Bar-B-Q
510 W Walnut Cir

Garland, TX 75040


Open M-F 11-6:30, Sat 10:30-4:30

Initially I crossed this location off-of my DFW to-do list thinking it was part of the Marshall's mini-chain. After learning that it was an independent operation, I made it a stop just before a weekend brisket run to Meshack's just down the road. Two friendly Asian ladies helped put together my to-go order of one of the cheapest two meat plates in town. Ribs, brisket and two sides were under $10. A pile of average tasting fried rice was one of the most original BBQ accompaniments I've tried in the state along with a creamy and sweet macaroni salad.

However mangled the picture makes these cuts appear, the thick slices of brisket were nicely cooked, but had nary a hint of smoke. The slices were moist and tender with a good beefy flavor. Large meaty spare ribs did have a hint of smoke, but most of the flavor came from a sweet glaze heavy with black pepper that was applied after cooking. While both meats were cooked well and had good texture and decent flavor, they lacked bark, a smokering and smokiness altogether. This was just mediocre BBQ.

Rating **

Marshall's Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Read the rest!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Taco Cabana Brisket Tacos

It was a Sunday night, and we were finishing up the daily chores just before bed. The television chattered quietly behind me with little of it grabbing my attention until the word "brisket" was uttered. I turned to see a duo of soft flour tortillas enveloping shredded "hickory smoked" shredded brisket. It was a Taco Cabana commercial advertising their newest menu option, hickory smoked brisket tacos, and my wife chuckled "now you have to try them".

The next day (last Monday) I made my way to the Lower Greenville location of TC in Dallas. Unwrapping the foil covered torpedoes didn't release any smokey aroma, so I dug right into the meat. While there was a hint of smokiness, there's no telling how this was achieved. I doubt Taco Cabana constructed a big smokehouse at the San Antonio headquarters, so there's a good chance that some liquid smoke made their way into the meat. Besides that, the meat was moist, tender and flavorful. Although BBQ sauce is available, adding some cilantro, onion and lime made for a couple of tasty tacos.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Firewheel Farmer's Market

When I heard there was a booth at the Firewheel Farmer's Market called "Brisket Heaven", you know I had to get right over there to verify the claim.

But first, I encountered the colorful booth of Double Throw Down BBQ, and their mounds of pulled pork. I opted for a pork sandwich naked. The sandwich was a great mixture of black smoky crust, moist and tender meat, and silky smooth fat. I barely bothered with the bun just scooping up this excellent meat with a fork. If I didn't have another sandwich in my near future, I would have gotten another.

Just a few tents up from Double Throw Down BBQ is the initial reason for my trip. Brisket Heaven had no smoker, and a spartan table set up.

While they were definitely serving brisket, this was a tender pot roast that doesn't attempt to pretend to be smoked. I was disappointed only because of my expectations. The sandwich itself, with well seasoned tender beef, a chunky vinegar slaw and a hot pepper relish together on a soft white bun made for a great lunch. Just don't show up like I did hoping for smoked meat.

After you've finished whichever sandwich you choose at the Market, be sure to top of your lunch with a cake from Ain't No Mo Butter Cakes. These are some of the best tasting and most moist cakes I've ever eaten. You can also pick one up on your next trip to Smokey John's.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Learn 2 Q Class

I recently attended a BBQ class taught by competitive smoker Troy Black. He was in Mesquite, Texas as part of the Real.Texas.Festival. to teach the grilling public how to create real BBQ with real wood smoke. He competes on the KCBS circuit, so he wasn't in the competition held during the weekend which was sanctioned by the Lone Star Barbecue Society. For more info on the competition, check out the article in the Dallas Observer.

Troy began the class with a description of the myriad options for true dedicated smokers, with the most economical option being a Weber Bullet Smoker. The rigs he uses for competition are simply too extravagant for the average backyard cook.

The next lesson was about ribs. He explained the different available rib cuts, then discussed his method for smoking which begins with a dry rub, then a trip into the smoker for about 4 hours, followed by a finishing sauce to provide a nice glaze.

As I rushed over to Mesquite for the class, I didn't have time for dinner. Luckily, Troy opened up a few racks to show the class what the finished product would taste like. While they were lighter on the smoke than I like, these were tender and flavorful baby backs.

Pulled pork was next which begins with a pork butt (the upper part of the whole shoulder) and a different recipe rub. This cut is full of fat, and stays moist even after a long cooking period. Going against standard practice for most home cooks, Troy swears by cooking with the fat side down rather than up. He does this top preserve the bark on the top of the meat, rather than having it stick to the grate. The results on my plate showed that he knows what he's doing. It was the best meat of the night.

Brisket was the final cut discussed. Troy always smokes a whole brisket rather than bothering with just a flat cut. He has yet another rub recipe for this cut, and specialty sauce just for beef. Unfortunately, he covered the beautiful slices of beef with the sauce before serving, but I was lucky enough to get a crusty corner that the other attendees left behind. It had great flavor and was plenty tender. I wanted more.

If you're wondering about this guy's credentials, just check the standings from the latest KCBS event in Huntsville, Alabama. The finished second out of 71 teams.

If you want to get the same experience, you can catch Troy this weekend in Owensboro, Kentucky where he'll be teaching a class similar to the one I attended. He doesn't yet have another stop scheduled for Texas, but I'll let you know when he does. Until then, you can purchase his instructive DVD from his website, or grab his book from Amazon The Big Book of BBQ.

- BBQ Snob

Read the rest!


Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.