Monday, February 25, 2013

25 pounds of Franklin brisket!!!!!!!!!!!

Ahem.  Yes, you read correctly 25 POUNDS!!  Yum!  My dear, dear, friend Dave in Austin used his usual magic and top secret methods to obtain 3 whole briskets from Franklin BBQ.  Our usual deal is he gets me two and I pay for his as a "handling fee".  It's a good deal for both of us  any way you look at it.  Well poor Dave's freezer is full so he only got to keep half a brisket. Darn the luck.  I was, of course, ready to take up the slack.  The last few briskets we've had from Franklins had been running 6 pounds or so.  This time they were monsters; 11 pounds, 10 pounds, and 8.25 pounds.  Not only did Dave grab all that poundage for us, but he kept it in his fridge overnight (since they were pre-sold-out on the day I arrived).  Then he drove them down to Lockhart to meet us and deliver.  Have I mentioned again what a GOOD friend Dave is?  Anyways, he also got dinner at Black's out of the deal (along with half a Franklin brisket) so we all came away grinning.  I grinned more. 

From Lockhart we had to head down to Beeville for my nephew's wedding and "the babies" stayed well iced down in two big coolers.  On our return this morning the fun of slicing and dicing for the freezer began.  Now the neat thing about cooling down your briskets, slicing, then freezing, is the slices retain every ounce of moisture.  Just a quick zap in the microwave and it is almost as good as fresh.  I have several days of good eatin' ahead and don't forget I also grabbed a box of jalapeno cheese sausage at Kreuz.  Yes, I have put extra chains on the freezer door and added extra rounds and shells to all my weapons.  At least for the next few weeks. 

Thanks again, Dave!!

Oh, and if anyone doesn't believe yet I'm certifiably crazy about BBQ, the last photo should be proof enough!!

Luling City Market, Luling, Texas

2/22/13 visited about 11:30 am

Rumors have been going around the BBQ world and blogosphere that Luling City Market has lost its edge and is no longer in the top tier of Texas BBQ restaurants. Bullshit. The last time we were there was late in the day and the brisket was not up to their regular standards.  I opined that it was simply a matter of timing and this visit suggested I was correct.  Another 10 out of 10 brisket, though not quite as smokey as the brisket we had at Black's the night before.  The smoke was there, it was just a bit more subtle.  Ribs and sausage were spot-on and my wife thought the Luling ribs were a bit better than Black's.  They are different.  There is more of a sweet bark on the Luling ribs than at Black's.  Have no doubts, this is still a must stop for any BBQ nut.  Just don't show up 30 minutes before they close and expect their best.

Kreuz Market, Lockhart, Texas

visited 2/22/13 about 11am

The other stop I always have to make in Lockhart is at Kreuz Market for some of their jalapeno cheese sausage.  I have bought a lot of boxes of that sausage through the years for $37.50 so I was a bit surprised to get a bill for $45 when I got my case of cold rings. I guess the price for their cold rings has gone up from $1.50 to $1.80.  That's still a major bargain compared to the $5.25 Lockhart Smokehouse charges for the exact same link. I do love that sausage and I'll be back in March to get some more. 

Black's Barbecue, Lockhart, Texas

visited 2/21/13 around 5 pm

Yup, take me back to Black's!  Always my first stop when visiting Lockhart.  There are plenty of Black's haters out there but I am not among them.  Having sampled all 4 Lockhart joints numerous times on different occasions over several years (just look back in this blog), I have found they have the best consistency for quality smoked meats. On this trip the brisket was a 10 out of 10 and the ribs and jalapeno cheese sausage were right up there, too.  My buddy Scott had me pick up about 6 pounds for him and he has some good eating coming after a short zap in the microwave.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cowboy Joe's pit and grilling sauce

Well this was a first for me.  Someone over at Cowboy Joe's BBQ took a look at my little BBQ blog and asked if I would like to give their sauce a try.  When I heard they won the bottled division plus a top 10 people's choice at last year's Gettin Sauced contest down in Austin, I was intrigued and I just had to say yes!

The box arrived quickly and I immediately opened it up for a taste test.  Yup, I could see where this was a top ranked sauce.  The regular is a sweet vinegar sauce with a hint of fruit.  The spicy added an extra fiery kick that is exactly to my liking.   I was anxious to try it on some smoked chicken but all kinds of things conspired against me.  Finally I decided to heck with the smoker, I'm just going to throw it in the broiler and see what happens.

If you check the Cowboy Joe's website, they have nice instructions on how to grill chicken.  Being the ultimate lazy type I stuck with boneless skinless chicken breasts which were on sale cheap at $1.49.  In they went to a 325 oven for 40 minutes, then basted thoroughly with Cowboy Joe's sauce (1 breast spicy, two sweet), and back in for ten minutes, then basted again and under the broiler for another 10 minutes (lower rack).  Here's the sight that greeted me.
They were just a tad crispy around the edges but the center and thick ends were perfectly moist.  The caramalized flavors were great, but didn't penetrate deep enough into the meat for me.  I fixed that with some more of Cowboy Joe's in a bowl for dipping. Ah, that's the ticket.  That made for a pretty easy dinner plus a snack for later but I sure didn't enjoy scrubbing that broiler pan.  Oh yeah, that's why we usually smoke chicken!

Various food bargains kept us away from chicken for a couple of weeks until tonight.  Temperatures in the 70's and light winds in February made it a great day to smoke some chicken breasts.  I picked up 2 five packs for $1.69/lb and we split them half spicy and half sweet.  After my Mrs's secret marinade technique, all 10 breasts went on our little bullet water smoker for an hour and 40 minutes.  We popped the top long enough to give them all a good basting with Cowboy Joe's, then back in the smoke for another 15 minutes.  Then one more slathering and another 10 minutes before I got too hungry to wait anymore.  We cooked on charcoal with pecan and oak sticks picked up in the yard.  Something we usually have plenty of. 

As you can see the chicken was still a little "wet" and probably should have stayed on the smoker awhile longer to caramalize that coating.  Too bad, it was time to eat.  The chicken sat about 5 minutes while we prepped our baked potatoes.  Yeah, I know it was supposed to sit 10 minutes.  Again, too bad!
The Mrs and I each sampled the sweet and spicy and once again I added a bit more sauce for dipping.  I especially love their spicy sauce and its mix of sweet and fruit with a really nice burn.  Mighty fine.

My Mrs said the only thing she wants to try different next time is to add some of their sauce to her secret marinade recipe.   Fortunately, we have enough to give it another shot.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Houston, here I come

My buddy Mark sent me a note about the upcoming Houston BBQ Festival and I just bought a VIP ticket.  Their goal is to start a fest similar to the Texas Monthly BBQ fest, only featuring Houston BBQ joints.  Sounds like a good way to sample a bunch of Houston joints and spend the minimum time in Houston.  I'm in!  Should be a fun trip.  Of course I'll probably return via Lockhart and Luling, just because I can.  :)