Friday, February 25, 2011

Luckie's Smokehouse: Last of the OC's three new BBQ joints opens for business

UPDATE 2/28: Click here to see our friend Daniel Vaughn's review of Luckie's Smokehouse on his Full Custom Gospel BBQ blog. Daniel also points out Oak Cliff Barbeque, yet another new BBQ joint in the OC.

After months of preparation, Luckie's Smokehouse is open for business at the corner of Davis St. and Clinton Ave. in Oak Cliff. Luckie's is the third BBQ barbecue joint to open in the OC in the past month. They were formerly located at I-30 and Cockrell Road.

The Posse watched the early stages of their development across the street from the The Blues, Bandits & BBQ cook off last September. The former gas station across from the Kesseler Theater has now been transformed into a very cool restaurant with lots of outdoor seating.

In late January, Papa Joe's Backyard BBQ was the first of three new joints to open in Oak Cliff, located near Illinois and Edgefield. Next came the much-anticipated opening a week later of Lockhart Smokehouse on Davis St. in the Bishop Arts District.

Travel a mile or so west down Davis St. from Lockhart Smokehouse to check out Luckie's. The owners have done a great job with the place, both inside and out. The artwork is unequalled in any other BBQ joint I've been in, including an awesome mural of Oak Cliff luminaries by artist Rick Timmons. Yes, that is Elvis on the bottom right corner, he once had a bowl of chili in the OC!

This is a sit down place with wait staff, not your usual order-at-the-counter DFW que joint. The service was good, but the take on our first meal there was mixed. The puled pork and turkey were cooked well, but devoid of smoke. The brisket was dry and seemed overcooked, but we won't pass judgement on a place until several visits. The sides were pretty good and the three homemade sauces were a needed compliment to add flavor to the meat.

The folks eating next to us are Luckie's regulars and love the ribs. I must admit they looked really good on the plate. They also encouraged us to try the burgers on our next visit. A table of colleagues from The Dallas Morning News enjoyed their lunch as well, especially the sausage and turkey.

Bottom line, Oak Cliff could be developing into the BBQ mecca of DFW. Throw in SMOKE restaurant, located on Ft. Worth Ave., and you have a mini BBQ tour extraordinaire in the making.

Luckie's Smokehouse, 1300 W. Davis St., Dallas.

Photos by Chris Wilkins

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Old School BBQ & Grill: East Austin ‘Que joint delivers solid brisket, fantastic burger

Here's a report on Old School BBQ & Grill from the Jacobson branch of the Texas BBQ Posse, including Gary, Sherry, Libby and Gunnar Jacobson and Mike Gagne. They visited Old School last Sunday and share this report:

Among the newfangled trailer eats of Austin, fine smoked meats can be found at Old School BBQ & Grill, operating out of an old yellow school bus at East 6th and Waller streets.

The crew is often mobile. Check online on their website, Twitter feed or Facebook page to see their particular whereabouts.

Trey Cook, the pit master this day, chatted us up during lunch and confided that he was trying a new rub on the brisket, a peppercorn-based spice mix. After 24 hours of smoking at 180 degrees and another 12 hours at about 225 degrees, the corns were soft and the concoction just spicy enough to satisfy the range of taste buds in our small group. The brisket was moist, a little fatty but delicious.

According to Trey, one of the secrets to their brisket relies upon the special cuts, which are from only the left side of the cow.  This is because he says cows always sleep on their right sides, forcing them to use the muscles on the right-side of their bodies more. The left side, so the reasoning goes, is less muscled and, thus, more marbelized.

No one in our group had ever heard that before. So we had to check it out. Mike Gagne found that -- according to a Texas A&M study -- cows sleep on both sides and might even have a propensity to favor their left side. Aggies can’t be wrong, can they?

We also contacted Posse member Marshall Cooper, who knows just about everything involving barbecue. Yes, Marshall, responded by email, he had heard of the left-side theory. But, he said, the only people he knew offering it were butchers who did their own slaughtering.

Trey didn’t reveal his meat sources, but he did say he uses a local supplier.

We got to Old School about 15 minutes before it opened at noon on a Sunday. The bus shared a vacant lot with other food trailers, four blocks east of I-35. It is a fine place. A picnic table, chairs, a firepit and quirky sculptures are scattered over the grounds. The ever-growing skyline of Austin looms nearby.

We wanted to try the ribs, but Trey said he hadn’t made any that day and he recommended ordering a day ahead if you want some. They go fast, he said.

Even if you hanker for barbecue, don’t forget to try Old School’s burger! It just might be the best you’ve ever had. The burger is some fine Angus beef. Standing out more than anything was the carmelized onions and tomato. It doesn’t need mustard, mayo or ketchup.

This is a BBQ place where the sides cannot be forgotten. The potato salad and french fries are solid. Sadly, the super cheesey mac and cheese was not available on this Sunday.

Next door, Flying J’s, the waffle-and-chicken trailer did not disappoint either. The thick deep-fried crust on the chicken provides the flavor, combined with maple syrup and hot sauce. “It’s a delicious mess,” Sherry said after taking a bite. In fact, it’s a meal that jazz greats like Dizzy Gilespie are said to have eaten in Harlem. In the late night/early morning after a show, all that was available to eat was the chicken of the previous day and that morning’s waffles.

Photos by Gunnar Jacobson

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Marshall Cooper takes his new Jambo J-3 pit for a test ride

Texas BBQ Posse pitmaster Marshall Cooper finally got his new Jambo J-3 pit on Thursday, after being delayed by the ice storms. In typical Marshall fashion, there was a fire going almost as soon as the J-3 was parked in the driveway.

Marshall has been smoking meats for over 25 years and keeps intricate notes and meat maps from all his cooks. Here are some notes from the initial cook:

Friday, 2/11 at 11:12 pm
"I've staggered about 58 pounds of meat onto the pit since 1:30 pm today.
Fire management is easier than you would believe. The desired pit temp just locks in as good as kitchen oven. Geer's elaborate R&D program worked ........"

Sat, Feb 12 at 6:29 am
"! Just now tasted the first #120 brisket. Within 1-2 hours I am about to pull an 18 pound #119 that went unwrapped. Also about to pull a 20 pound whole pork shoulder. 
1st brisket (from Tom Thumb)
Smoke: lacked, way too light for me. Roast beefy. I think the fire burns so clean, the exceptional draw produces much less smoke. I realized this smoke difference mid way through cooking but had already foil wrapped this brisket. 
Tender: extremely, butter
Juicy: extremely for a Tom Thumb Store brisket, Ranchers Choice. Pulled off the pit a little late, meat was 205 which made the flat end dryer. After brisket rested for 3 hours plenty of juices visible when sliced. 
Flavor: ok. Needed more rub. 
Texture: ok for foil wrapped. 
Smoke ring: Yes
Fat Rendered: Yes. 
Bark condition: nice rich dark brown, not black and bitter. 
Overall Opinion: roast beefy due to not enough smoke. Juicy except in flat end. Damned good first brisket off brand new less seasoned pit
Solution: burn an extra log while unwrapped and choke fire down to adjust smoke."

Photo by Chris Wilkins

Thursday, February 3, 2011

See the photos: First trip (of many) to Lockhart Smokehouse

After waiting several months for Lockhart Smokehouse's opening day, the Posse made its way across the ice-packed Houston Street viaduct today for lunch in the OC. We were not disappointed.

Posse pitmaster Marshall Cooper, his son Mark & I sampled the meat spread shown above. We ordered brisket, shoulder clod, a pork chop and Kreuz jalapeno sausage. Jim Rossman and Gary Barber joined in on the meatfest as well. There was nothing left but grease-soaked butcher paper when we were done.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Super Bowl XLV Media Party - See photos of the Texas BBQ celebration

Even Super Storm 2011 couldn't stop the BBQ greatness of the Super Bowl XLV Media Party last night at the House of Blues.

Eight of the planned ten pitmasters from across Texas made it through the ice and snow to the HOB. The teams were Snow's BBQ of Lexington, Louie Mueller Barbecue of Taylor, Franklin Barbecue of Austin, Black's BBQ of Lockhart, Blue Ribbon BBQ (Mikeska family) of Austin, Mills County BBQ Company of Goldwaite, Stanley's Famous Pit BBQ of Tyler, Schoepf's Old Time Pit BBQ of Belton and Earl Campbell's Sausage. Only the teams from Cooper's Old Time BBQ and Meyer's Elgin Smokehouse were unable to make it through the ice storm.

Thanks to Drew Thornley and Man Up Texas BBQ for joining with the Super Bowl XLV Host Committee to put together a great lineup featuring the best of Texas cue.

Here are some party photos shot by Posse member Gary Barber of the historic gathering. The weather might have sucked but the BBQ was amazing!

Photos by Gary Barber