Tuesday, December 22, 2009

more home brisket

The Mrs hit a couple of more home runs with her brisket tonight. She did one trimmed brisket and one un-trimmed brisket just to see if there was much of a moisture difference in the two. Despite all the propaganda to the contrary, I couldn't tell any major difference. Both were smokey, moist, tender, and flavorful. No marinade on these, either, and they were just as tender as those she marinated last time. I think the bottom line is, low and slow is all you really need for great brisket.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Home brisket - Home Run!

The Mrs hit it out of the park last night with a dynamite brisket. It had deep smoke flavor, was perfectly moist, and was so tender it fell apart while slicing. Unfortunately, she's taking half of it to work! Wah! Now, on to ribs!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Smartass of the month WINNER!

David Besonen is the first, and so far, only winner of this award for sending me this:

Family BBQ - Quitman, Texas redux

resampled around noon 11/16/09

I made another stop at this joint this past week and still find it to be well above average. Both the brisket and ribs had a very nice deep smoke flavor, however the brisket was a bit dry and the ribs were a bit chewy. The brisket was so tender the slices were crumbling apart. Click on the pix below for a nice close-up that will make you HUNGRY. The potato salad had a bit more mustard this time but was still nice and creamy and better than average. I got an extra pound of that brisket to go and it made for some dynamite sandwiches with some Dr Pepper BBQ sauce.

UPDATE 3/31/10 This place has moved south of Quitman on Texas 37. I will check them out again next week.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Home Brisket number 3

The Mrs made her third home brisket attempt today and we're closing in on the real deal. Today we used a trimmed brisket and a mix of hickory and pecan for a 5 hour smoke. We finished with 2 1/2 hours in the oven at 250. The result was a deep penetrating smoke flavor which was just about perfect. Check out the smoke ring below. The tenderness was ok, but not quite to perfection standards. We decided it needed at least 5, maybe up to 7 additional hours in the 250 oven to get the desired tenderness. Regardless, it sure is fun eating the experiments! We're close, durned close! We shall be experimenting on ribs soon enough!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Family BBQ - Quitman, Texas

sampled 10/19/09 about 4 pm

I had passed by this place a couple of times on the way to Lake Fork and finally got a chance to sample it one afternoon when my fishing trip ended a bit earlier than usual. It looks pretty funky from the outside but the inside was clean and cavernous. I was the sole customer and the friendly lady behind the counter quickly filled my order of brisket, sausage, ribs, baked beans, and tater salad. The meat was pulled out of a warmer wrapped in foil, but being 4 pm that was really no surprise.

The sausage was average Ekrich and immediately forgettable. The brisket and ribs were another matter. The brisket had a nice smoke ring and gave way easily to a poke from a plastic fork. It had excellent smoke flavor but was a tad dry, probably due to sitting in a warmer til 4 pm. The ribs were juicy and falling-off-the-bone tender and also had an awesome smoke flavor. No dryness there at all. The baked beans were tasty with big chunks of bacon floating in them. The tater salad had a creamy mayo base and was also better than average. The sauce was a little weird. It tasted like chili powder in honey and was not to my taste at all.

Two out of three on the meats at a 4 pm stop is not bad at all. I need to try this place again during lunch or dinner and try some fresher cuts. They also sell East Texas style hot links. I'm hoping they do a big lunch or dinner business because it was sure lonely when I was there! With food this good they should be doing a much better business.

UPDATE 3/31/10 This place has moved south of Quitman on Texas 37. I will resample next week.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

5th annual Calories and Cholesterol Tour!

If we were the Starship Enterprise, our five year mission of exploration would be complete. Thank goodness we're just eating barbecue! There seems to be no limit to the number of BBQ joints in Texas to sample so we have years and years of "work" ahead of us! Yay! As usual this year's tour included some of our favorite places from previous tours, plus a bunch of new (to us) places we had not tried before. I have to say we did not have a bad meal this year. Some were GREAT but none were less than good or average. We visited Lillian, Burnet, Bertram, Spicewood, Austin, Lockhart, Luling, Gonzales, Smithville, Halletsville, Schulenburg, and Marlin. Over 6 days we ate at 13 different places. As always, I will mention that the opinions expressed below are just that, opinions, and are valid for that piece of meat on that particular day. Anybody can have a bad day or a great day with BBQ. the trick is serving consistently great food day after day, visit after visit. Someday Scott will put up his own blog and he can tell you how wrong I am about everything.

Remember, you can click on the photos for larger versions.

Whup's Boomerang BBQ - Marlin, Texas

sampled 9/26/09 about 1 pm

This is another joint from Texas Monthly's top 50 list and with good reason. This little shack is located down a tiny potholed Marlin suburb street. Inconveniently, the street sign for Bennett Street is missing on the main drag. That made finding it fun. However it was well worth the trouble. For about $16 I got several pounds of brisket, sausage, ribs, and pork, most of it awesome. The brisket had a killer smoke ring, was plastic fork tender, and full of smoke flavor. The ribs were falling off the bone and similarly smoke filled things of delight. The sausage was the only disappointment. It was a bit greasy without much taste to it. After a few sample bites I left the sausage alone. The tater salad was a nice mayo/mustard mix and was the fine and creamy kind. Very tasty. The funk factor is off the chain and the food is great. Note how I conveniently photographed the sign with the hours and phone number so you can taste test for yourself. You should!

Kreuz Market - Lockhart, Texas

sampled 9/26/09 about 11:00 am

Another long time favorite of ours and they almost never disappoint. While I waited for them to pack my 5 boxes of jalapeno cheese sausage (2 1/2 going to other folks) Scott went around and ordered some ribs and brisket for breakfast. While he was off ordering drinks and such, I snuck a few bites and they were mighty fine. The brisket was extra tender and very smokey. I had one bite of rib, and it was tough, but also very smokey. Scott said his ribs were tender and great. I still say their jalapeno cheese sausage is the best in the world and I'm still looking for some place to prove me wrong. Kreuz has made a few startling changes recently. They now accept credit cards (they always did on mail orders anyway) and have, gasp, salads! Next thing you know they will have sauce and forks! Damn yuppies!! Ha ha. I don't care. They still have the best sausage in the world, to my mouth.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Black's BBQ - Lockhart, Texas

sampled 9/25/09 about 6:45 pm

A long time favorite of ours and another "must" stop on every tour. Multiple reviews and photos are available in earlier tours. I have never had a bad meal at Black's and I have never had a bad piece of meat. Their brisket is consistently tender and smokey and their ribs are the same. I've always thought their jalapeno sausage fell well below Kreuz, but I think they are definitely closing the gap. Just check out those jalapeno flakes in the sausage below. This time I noticed they are selling pre-packaged rub and even wood chips so you can try to match their great taste at home. A great marketing idea, but somehow I doubt you could come close at home.

City Market & Roy's Guns - Schulenburg, Texas

sampled 9/25/09 about 1:15 pm

We had noticed this little joint on the way down to Halletsville and mentally marked it for a future visit. After Novosad's turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, I bugged Scott to pull in there on our way back north. I'm glad we did! Apparently they don't cook lots of BBQ here, it's mostly a meat market, but they had some brisket and some sausage left. I was a little hesitant when they warmed it up in a microwave, but on seeing the brisket it turned to optimism! Look at that killer smoke ring! A thing of beauty indeed!! The brisket was very tender and full of smoke flavor. Mighty nice. The sausage tasted for all the world like Ekrich from the grocery store. Strange considering their sausage is a specialty. Guess that's all they had left after 1 pm. The sauce was a nice mustard/tomato mix and a bit tangy. To make things even better, they had REAL Dr Pepper in the cooler. The one made with Imperial Pure Cane Sugar instead of corn syrup. How cool is that? I was sorry we missed out on the pork ribs and the good sausage, maybe next time, and there WILL be a next time, based just on that brisket! I never did see the guns inside, maybe they're in a back room or maybe they just come out when robbers appear. BBQ and guns make a nice combo, though. Catty corner across the street was an even better sign and a combo that might not be so good. Drive through liquor and guns! I love Texas!

Novosad's BBQ and Sausage Market - Halletsville, Texas

sampled 9/25/09 around noon

According to the sign on the door, we would have better luck here today and, sure enough, the sign was gone and they were open for business. Inside is a tiny meat market and a small BBQ operation, one of the smaller joints we have sampled this trip. The brisket was tough and chewy and had no smoke flavor. Scott said the first slice he had was great, but the others weren't. The 2 ribs I had were tiny, including a rib tip, and both were chewy, except one end of the bigger rib. That one bite was awesome, the rest was a chore. I think next time I will need to sample from deeper inside the rack. Scott said his were nice. Ah well, it all depends on when you stand in line! The sausage was very tasty but a bit dry. A coarse grind with a nice mild mix of spices. The highlight of the stop, for me. The tater salad was an average mayo blend with coarse potato chunks. The sauce was heavy on the vinegar and a mix of tomato and mustard. Maybe they were off a bit because they had been closed the last 3 days. We'll give them another shot on another day, but today they were not worth the trip.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

City Market - Luling, Texas

sampled 9/24/09 around 5 pm

Following a long and interesting visit to the Gonzales museum, we headed to Halletsville where we found our chosen destination, Novosad's BBQ, closed! Not permanently, but for a couple of days, according to the sign. We next wandered down to Yoakum looking for a joint called Honey Do BBQ. After we failed to find it, I inquired at the chamber of commerce and was informed they had recently moved out of town down 77 closer to Victoria. They also recommended Fat Albert's BBQ in Yoakum which hadn't moved out of town. Well that was good enough for us, so we wandered over there and found them closed until 4:30 pm. It being 3:30 and us not having much to kill time in Yoakum for an hour, we opted to backtrack and have another go at City Market in Luling. Dang, it sure is tuff having to take that as our 4th choice. :) Yum! Awesome as always.

Gonzales Food Market - Gonzales, Texas

sampled 9/24/09 about noon

Another small downtown market with a large reputation. On this day both the ribs and the brisket were downright tough and chewy but had plenty of smoke flavor. The coarse grind sausage was the highlight but it suffered from a tough skin as well. For sides I had some average mac and cheese and some nice fried potatoes which tasted just like mine at home (ie. awesome). We are definitely coming back here on another day based on taste alone. Tough ribs or brisket can happen to anyone on any given day. I'd also highly recommend the Gonzales historical museum for a nice slice of important Texas history. Yes, they have the real "come and take it" cannon on display. Awesome!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

City Market - Luling, Texas

sampled 9/23/09 around 5 pm

One of the great things about taking "the tour" every year is going back to our favorite places. All you have to say to me is "City Market in Luling" and my mouth starts watering. The brisket was just a tiny bit dry this year but everything else was awesome. Even so the brisket just crumbled at the touch of a plastic fork. Just look at that smoke ring. How do they do that? This is still my #1 all time favorite joint and they did nothing to change that this trip.

Zimmerhanzel's BBQ - Smithville, Texas

sampled 9/23/09 about noon

Another place which makes many lists and I can see why. This is another home run spot, snd cheap, too! For about $9 I got a 3 meat plate with 1 rib, 1 sausage, and some nice brisket. All was first rate, top of the line BBQ meat. The smoke flavor of the brisket was subtle, but stayed with you. We have had some that was more tender this trip (it cut easily with a plastic knife) but this was as tasty as any. The sausage was a flavorful coarse ground and the casing was just slightly tough. I had a little trouble getting through some of it with a plastic knife, yet it chewed just fine. Just the right amount of moisture, not greasy or dry. I wish they had a spicier version, but their mild was tasty. The rib I had was the highlight. It was as good as North Main and I don't get to say that too often. If we weren't having another BBQ meal a few hours later I would have gone back and had a couple more ribs. They were falling off the bone tender and plenty of smoke flavor with a perfect crust. The tater salad was very good with a mayo base and sweet pickle flavoring. I liked it a lot. The pinto beans were perfect, too. The sauce had a unique taste, sweet and very tomato-ey with a bit of tang. Maybe I'm crazy, but it sort of tasted like V8 with honey. It was actually pretty good! This place certainly deserves its lofty reputation.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ruby's BBQ - Austin, Texas

sampled 9/22/09 5:30 pm

Ruby's is another one of my old favorites and a scheduled stop on the tour every year or two. They have an excellent spicy sauce, their brisket never disappoints, and they have killer fried potatoes. Everything was right on form so nothing to do but post the latest dinner photo and add one from the outside, which, strangely, I had never shot before.

Opie's BBQ - Spicewood, Texas

sampled 09/22/09 about noon

We'd heard a lot of high praise for this joint so we thought we'd swing by and check it out for ourselves. Frankly, I don't get it. With the first bite of brisket Scott said "roast beef". And that's pretty much what it tasted like, not BBQ. It was tender and moist but no smoke flavor at all. The ribs were chewy and a bit dry, again with no discernible smoke flavor. The sausage was almost a clone of what I had at the Burnet Feed Store which was an excellent fine grind jalapeno sausage. Easily the best meat I had at this joint on this day. The highlights of the meal, and Scott concurred, were the sauce and the chocolate chunk brownie. The sauce was a very nice mix of sweet and spicy and was easily the best sauce we have had on this trip, so far. The brownie was massive and had some real heft to it. Big chocolate chunks inside accounted for the extra weight and were most welcome. Maybe we just came on a bad day, but on this visit Opie's certainly did not live up to the praise we have heard elsewhere.