Thursday, May 23, 2013

Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ first timers - Miller's Smokehouse in Belton

Brisket sits on the pit at Miller's Smokehouse. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

You never forget your first time. That applies to visiting great barbecue joints as well.

Our first trip 14 months ago to Miller's Smokehouse in Belton was one of those unforgettable journeys.

The visit was so inspiring that I couldn't wait to get home and write about Miller's. The lede was as follows:

"Every now and then you hit the motherlode on the Texas BBQ trail. For every 20 mediocre BBQ joints, there's one good one. For every 50 good ones, there's one great one. You can add Miller's Smokehouse in Belton to the list of great ones."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ first timers - Joseph's Riverport Barbecue in Jefferson

The opening spread to Texas Monthly's Top 50 BBQ list. (Photos by Wyatt McSpadden/Texas Monthly)

During the past four years, we've eaten a lot of great barbecue and met an equal number of notable folks running BBQ joints around the state. A meal is almost always followed by a pit tour while swapping tales about the Texas BBQ trail.

They always have a story to tell.

At some point the conversation almost always turns to Texas Monthly magazine and the holy grail of endorsements, their Top 50 BBQ list.

Faces would light up at the possibility of landing on the list. An instant evaluation that all those early mornings and hard work were finally worth it. All of the sudden they might join the joints with long lines that are open "til the meat runs out."

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dallas BBQ history made at Daniel Vaughn's book party with the first briskets ever cooked in Big D by Aaron Franklin

Aaron Franklin, center, works the serving line while Justin Fourton works his smoker "Lurlene." (Jim Rossman photo)

Friday was an historic night in Dallas barbecue.

The book party for Daniel Vaughn's Prophets of Smoked Meat at the home of Steve and Anne Stodghill brought together four of Texas' best pitmasters: Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Justin Fourton of Pecan Lodge in Dallas, Tim Byres of Smoke in Dallas and Will Fleischman of Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas.

Friday, May 17, 2013

New Dallas Joint: CattleAck BBQ

From left: Todd David, David Mills, Misty David and Lauren Parajon (all photos by Jim Rossman) 

In the wake of the Texas Monthly Top 50 list which was released this week, there’s been an abnormal amount of BBQ chatter on Twitter.

It was in a Tweet I saw mention of CattleAck BBQ in Dallas. I was intrigued, as I’ve at least heard of most joints in Dallas and this one was under my radar.

A jump to their Twitter feed @cattleackbbq led me to their website

What I found was a BBQ catering business that four weeks ago started opening for lunch on Fridays (take out only) from 11am until the meat runs out.

Today is Friday and it was 11am when I Googled the address and decided to make a quick run north up the Tollway.

I was greeted by the owner, Todd David and his wife Misty. Before I could get out a “hello” I was handed a slice of brisket from the moist end and it melted in my mouth.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Where's Vera's? ... and other Posse reactions to Texas Monthly's new Top 50 BBQ joints

In case you missed it, Texas Monthly's new Top 50 list of the best BBQ joints in the state is at the end of this post. The magazine will reveal its Top 4 on Thursday. Why only 4? We're hearing No. 5 had consistency problems and was dropped at the last minute.

Now, for some Posse reaction to the new Top 50:

-- The most interesting omission was Vera's Backyard Bar-B-Que in Brownsville. New Texas Monthly BBQ editor Daniel Vaughn put Vera's in his Top 5 in the state in his book, The Prophets of Smoked Meat. But maybe whole beef heads cooked with wood smoke didn't sync with TM's sensibilities.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A review: In Barbecue Crossroads, Robb Walsh shows how to write a road trip book

Author Robb Walsh doesn't think much of the best-of barbecue lists compiled by bloggers and journalists.

But we won't hold that against him.  The former food writer at the Houston Press, whose Barbecue  Crossroads was just issued by the University of Texas Press, admits he was once there himself. 

Besides, Crossroads is a fine book. As a barbecue road trip account, it's everything that Daniel Vaughn's The Prophets of Smoked Meat isn't.

"Take off your jacket, honey, make yourself comfortable," Thelma Williams of Thelma's in Houston tells a New York companion of Walsh's during their visit to her place.

Thelma could just as well be welcoming readers as Walsh takes them on a tour of joints in Texas and throughout the south.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

True confessions of a BBQ vegan

Wearing my favorite BBQ t-shirt from Stanley's while dining at our favorite vegan joint, The Loving Hut in Addison.

I've been a blogger for the past ten years, writing mainly about photojournalism and barbecue. I even helped start the now-defunct Dallas Morning News fantasy football blog in the early 2000's.

Because I have a confession to make, this may be the toughest post I've ever had to write.

For six long weeks in February and March of this year, I walked in the shoes of the enemy. The co-founder of the Texas BBQ Posse became a vegan.

I'm the same guy who claimed victory over the meat-free world in 2010 when the Texas BBQ Posse cook team converted two vegetarians with Bryan Gooding's first-place chicken at the first Blues, Bandits and Blues cookoff in Oak Cliff.

My life as a vegan started innocently enough when I went to a Christmas party at the home of our friends Ray and Susan Shepard. Ray is a serious barbecue expert and member of the championship Boys Can Smoke cook team out of Tulsa.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Barbecue Chronicles: Austin is the new Lockhart BBQ Tour

       The Texas BBQ Posse dives into a spread of sausage, brisket, ribs and turkey at La Barbecue in Austin. 
(Photo by Tom Fox/DMN)     

Story by Gary Jacobson

It would be easy to get carried away by what’s happening in Austin barbecue.

Amid a fertile startup environment, young pitmasters are creating a smoked-meat renaissance, using only wood-fired pits and adopting old-school ways to cook for a new generation. A case could even be made that Austin has replaced Lockhart as the capital of Texas barbecue.

We’ll leave that big-think stuff for another time. This is a story about barbecue tourism.

The Texas BBQ Posse has been riding since 2009, and the mission on its most recent tour was to sample as much of that good Austin barbecue as possible during a day trip from Dallas, covering 400 miles in 13 hours.

The five places we visited were all located within a 5-mile radius of the state Capitol building.

A review: Daniel Vaughn's book on Texas BBQ seems more about bad barbecue than good

The Posse has been a strong supporter of Daniel Vaughn, self pro-claimed BBQ Snob, champion blogger and new BBQ editor of Texas Monthly magazine.

Once, long before he got his new gig, we even discussed how an alliance of aggressive bloggers -- him and us -- might actually be able to displace the magazine he now works for as the bible of Texas barbecue.

So, this review is painful in the blogger brotherhood.

I expected his new book, The Prophets of Smoked Meat, to be a celebration of great Texas barbecue because there is plenty to cheer, including an ongoing BBQ renaissance in both Austin and Dallas.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Corkscrew BBQ: Finally found the best BBQ in Houston...well, Spring, TX.

Corkscrew BBQ in Spring, just north of Houston. (Photos by Jim Rossman)
For several months I've been monitoring the buzz around Corkscrew BBQ, a trailer operation in Spring TX, between Conroe and Houston.

My parents had forwarded me an article from the Houston Chronicle praising a new classic of Houston BBQ and decided it would be a priority on my next trip to visit my parents.

Fast forward and today's the day.

I got to Corkscrew just after noon and there were about 15 people in the line that stayed about that long until 1:30 p.m., when Pitmaster Will Buckman finally caught up enough to talk.