Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pecan Lodge and Snow's from the fridge

sampled 8/22/14
Warmed up some Pecan Lodge and Snow's last night for dinner and still have a smile on my face the next day.  The brisket from Pecan Lodge was perfect.  The fat was melt-in-your-mouth and the tenderness and moisture survived the fridge just fine in a sealed plastic bag.  The smoke flavor was deep and long lasting.  I had inside fatty slices from Pecan Lodge as you can see from the photos below.
I started carving from the lean end of the Snow's brisket and it is a bit dry but very tasty.  Good smoke flavor, too.  I suspect that will moisten up as I get further into that whole brisket. The sausage was excellent with great beef flavor but no hint of the jalapeno spice I was expecting.  The bag was marked "JAL" so I'm sure it is supposed to be jalapeno.  Their sausage is leaner than most but it also has better smoke flavor than most. 

I have some mighty fine eating to do over the next week or so.  I hope the cooks at the KCBS contest in Bedford are on their game next weekend.  However I don't hold out much hope of them matching any of this.
In the photo above Pecan Lodge brisket is at the bottom, Snow's brisket and sausage is at the top.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August Snow's in Texas!

8/20/14  ???????
Not the frozen water from the sky, the smoked meats from Lexington!
Now that's the kind of Snow's I can handle!  Smoked fresh Friday night and at my door frozen on Wednesday evening.  I didn't even have to get up early on a Saturday morning and drive to Lexington.  Now I know it's always better fresh off the pit, but I've found in the past that warmed up brisket and sausage can make a mighty fine meal.  Scott and I have been planning to order us some Snow's for awhile now and we finally got our freezers down low enough to have some room.  Scott even went by Pecan Lodge and grabbed us a few pounds for a comparison test.

My order was 2 whole briskets plus one order of jalapeno sausage.  The briskets came in at 4.5 and 4.6 pounds and I'm guessing there is around 2 pounds of sausage. With shipping it came to around $14/pound.  Not bad for home delivery!

-----------------Individual Item Breakdown-----------------
Item Ref.   Price ea.   Qty.  Description
snows01     $59.95      2     Snow's BBQ Brisket
snows12     $14.95      1     Snow's Jalepeno Sausage
---------------------Order Summary-------------------------
Item Subtotal:    $134.85
Shipping Cost:    $18.09
GRAND TOTAL:      $152.94 

We will warm some up later and report back.  I'm looking forward to smelling smoke from Lexington in my microwave.  Easy mode!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mr Grill 18 inch grill cleaning brush

This was another one of those weird deals that comes along infrequently where someone asked me to review their product.  Most of the time, I just decline.  I am mainly here for the BBQ and because I'm just too lazy to answer the same questions over and over about where we've been lately, what was good, etc.  I'm really not here to get free stuff or because I am going to write a book or sell koozies.  I just like BBQ.  However, as a BBQ lover, and a lover of meat in general, the wife and I do some grilling from time to time.  This looked like an interesting product that we could use, so when Mr Grill asked if we would like a free grill brush in return for a review I said, sure, why not.

This was back in May of this year and they had asked for a fairly quick review here, plus a review post on  It has taken me much longer than anticipated to get this done and I apologize to Mr Grill for the delay.  Part of the problem has been we have not done a lot of grilling this season.  In order to do a good test of this product I wanted to use it several times under different conditions, not just a one time test and a quick review.  Once again, I was provided this product free of charge by the folks at Mr Grill.

As a practicing carnivore we tried out this grill brush with several different meats and in a couple of different situations.  First off we fired up the box for some good old ribeyes.  The key thing about this brush is the 18 inch long wooden handle.  They recommend that you use it while your grill is still hot for easiest removal of food particles from the grill surface.  We have a simple, heavy wire grate that is probably about 15 years old.  After cooking the steaks I did some scrubbing with the Mr Grill brush while the meat rested.  Here is what the grate looked like before and after.  As always you can click on the photos for larger views.
Now this was done while the coals were still plenty hot.  I think it did a pretty nice job.  The pitting on the close up is just because it is a 15 year old grate that has seen lots of use.  Food particles washed out easily from the brush with the hose.

Next up, several weeks later, we grilled up some hamburgers.  My wife wanted to scrub the grate as usual and she found the pre-cleaning done last time after cooking the steaks saved her considerable time.  All she needed to do was do a quick scrub with a fine brillo and some soap and water and we were ready to go.  No more digging off dried and encrusted food particles.  The Mrs liked this.
One again here's the before and after pictures.
Again, a quick scrub and most of the mess was gone.  With the long wooden handle, I didn't even need to wear a glove, even though the coals were still smoking hot.

Our next use of the product was on our little bullet smoker.  The Mrs decided to smoke some chicken.  Her secret marinade means it does not come out very pretty, but it sure is delicious, moist and smokey.  She has been experimenting with adding glazes to the last part of the cooking in order to make her smoked chicken "prettier".  That meant there was a sticky mess on the grill surface when we finished the smoke.  I have to say this was the one "fail" for this grill brush, however I think that was mostly operator error.  As I had done previously with grilling, I went at it right after we removed the chicken from the grill.  It mostly resulted in smearing out a sticky mess and clogging up the brush bristles with same.  It probably would have been better to leave things alone for awhile and move the grills closer to the hot coals to let them harden up that glaze.  Lesson learned.  I wondered awhile how I was going to get that mess out of the bristles, but I found plugging in the hot tea kettle, boiling some water, and pouring it over the brush worked the miracle.

Our final experiment was back to steaks.  Here's the before and after pictures once again.
Still doing a nice job and the Mrs is very happy with her reduced cleaning time on our grilling projects.  The Mrs is happy so I'm happy.

One key issue is how the bristles hold up.  Below is the before and after, new and following 4 uses.
The trick with a cleaning brush like this is you want bristles stiff enough to do the cleaning but not stiff enough to scratch or damage your grate.  These brass bristles do a good job of getting off the gunk and I doubt they hurt the grate at all.  Sort of hard to tell for sure with our old beat up grate on there though.  It's held up pretty well in four uses and I think we'll get a lot more use from it.

I guess timing is everything because I just looked on Amazon and find this very brush is on sale for just $9.99.   Who knows how long that will last but I think it's a very good deal.  Their regular price is $13.99.    Mr Grill on Amazon

Thanks to Mr Grill for allowing us to test out this fine product.  Again, sorry for the long delay in getting it reviewed.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Beware the Lone Star Tick that can make you allergic to BBQ!

Thanks to my buddy Dave in Houston for the tip.  Scary stuff, but fortunately this tick seems to be mostly in the southeast and far away from Texas BBQ lovers.

Friday, August 8, 2014

It's almost time...

...for the Fall BBQ season.  Just a few more weeks of this 100 degree heat and it will be time for all the fall BBQ festivals.

On August 31 I'll be judging the Texas State championship KCBS contest at the Bedford Blues and BBQ fest for the the fifth straight year.  September 14th Scott and I will be down for the Texas Monthly BBQ festival in Austin.  Thanks again to buddy Dave for being online and pounding enter on his keyboard to buy us all VIP tickets during the 4 minutes they were available!  October 4th Scott and I will be at the inaugural Smoked Dallas event.  Then on October 19th we'll be back in Austin for Gettin Sauced, our first chance to catch the annual event put on by our buddies at Man Up. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The August 2014 Fort Worth and Westward BBQ jaunt

Sampled August 2, 2014

Another short but merry trip is in the books.  We hit 5 BBQ joints, a malt shop, and a liquor store on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.  What's not to love?  We focused on Texas Monthly Top 50 joints for Scott but still managed to sample a brand new spot that had just opened.  Travelogue and lots of photos follow below.  As usual, you can click on the photos for a larger view.

We just had a few bites at each joint as a sample and brought along plastic bags for the rest.  Some got thrown out, some we took along, and at one spot I had to order more to go.  I think we will have to make further forays into Fort Worth and westward looking for good Que because I am sure there is more to find.

Tommy Boy Sausage Company, Weatherford, Texas, 8/2/14

Sampled about 4 pm
This is a new joint we passed heading west on 180 towards Mineral Wells and we made a mental note to check it out on the way back.  This joint is on the west side of Weatherford between Weatherford and Cool.  We were a bit taken aback by the sign offering linguine and clams, something we had never seen at any BBQ joint before, and probably never will again.  After our laughter subsided, we moseyed inside for our 5th BBQ meal of the day.  I was surprised not to see ribs on the board inside but I went ahead with sliced brisket and sausage with some garlic mashed potatoes.  Scott ordered a sliced beef sandwich.
After a short wait our food arrived and I got my second surprise of this visit.  The brisket had been sliced with the grain instead of against it, looking for all the world like roast beef.  That made a pull apart test impossible, but I think if it had been carved against the grain it would not have done too bad.  There was a bit of fat left and it was pretty well rendered but just a bit on the stiff side.  There was no smoke flavor.  The jalapeno cheese sausage tasted of neither and just tasted like regular sausage.  The garlic mashed potatoes were smooth and creamy with plenty of garlic flavor and were the highlight of the meal.  They had some interesting bourbon BBQ sauce and you could really taste the hint of bourbon.  Interesting, but not for me.

I made a pit stop and Scott let slip I had a BBQ blog.  That's something I hate because I want to experience every single meal as an average customer, with no special treatment.  We came to an understanding on that later!  However it did help produce the best meat of the stop when the boss man brought us a rib to sample.  It was tender and moist with excellent smoke flavor, the best meat we sampled there today.  As we checked out they brought us a few more ribs to go, gratis, which I left with Scott.  They told us they had only been open a little over a month and were still putting the finishing touches on their operation, so we may need to re-investigate later.  Scott said his sandwich was fine and he bagged it up for later consumption along with the extra ribs.  I would suggest they might want to take a trip up to Peadenville. 

Hashknife on the Chisolm, Peadenville, Texas, 8/2/14

sampled about 2:30 pm
Yet another Texas Monthly Top 50 joint.  Originally this was on our "maybe" list as it was out west of Fort Worth and north of Mineral Wells.  However finding one of our other targets closed we decided to head a little farther west than originally planned.  We were glad we did.  This was the highlight of the day.

After ordering at the counter we retired to a corner table where our meals quickly arrived.  All of the meat was steaming hot.
The thick rind of fat on the brisket was still intact and untrimmed and that can either be a good thing or a bad thing.  In this case it was a great thing.  The fat on the brisket was perfectly rendered and turned to molten flavor that blended smoothly with the meat.  Smoke flavor was abundant and delicious.  The pull apart test was textbook.  Easily the best brisket we had all day.  Ribs were similarly excellent, moist and tender.  The sausage was the only average meat item on my plate.  Even though I could see flecks of jalapeno in my sausage the flavor was just not there.  It just came across as average sausage, especially when compared with the great spicy kick I got at Cousin's earlier.  I had seen raves on their french fries online but they were nothing special to my palate.  The brisket was so excellent I went up and ordered another 2 pounds to go.  Click on the photo below and note that the slice on the bottom is so tender that the carver's fork mark remains in the meat.  Now that's tender brisket!
This place required a little extra driving but in this case it was well worth it.  Put this one on your destination BBQ lists.  Oh, and where the hell is Peadenville?  Just go to Mineral Wells and go north 8 miles on 281.

Cousin's BBQ, Fort Worth, Texas, 8/2/14

Sampled about 12:15
This was another Texas Monthly Top 50 joint Scott had never sampled, though I have had them several times at Texas Monthly and other BBQ fests. This is your usual cafeteria style BBQ joint where you cue up for que and go down the line adding sides etc.  I grabbed my usual 3 meat plate of sliced brisket, ribs, and jalapeno cheese sausage and added some mac and cheese and broccoli rice. 
Both the brisket and ribs were tender and moist but had no smoke flavor.  The sausage had a great kick, the spiciest I had all day, and was a definite highlight.  It would have killed Scott.  Sides were average.

The Longoria's BBQ, Fort Worth, Texas, 8/2/14

sampled about 11:30 am
Another Texas Monthly Top 50 joint on Scott's hit list he can now scratch off the list.  On ordering I noticed they had an ingenious way of sending their food orders to the back room for preparation.  They have little plastic coated cards with all their food items on them and they simply circle with a dry erase marker and hand them back.  Easy peasy.  After waiting a few minutes and admiring the cool reproductions of Republic of Texas currency embedded in the table, a nice lady brought our food and the eating began.
Straight away we noticed the brisket was undercooked.  It failed a pull-apart test and was definitely springy and tough.  No smoke flavor, either.  The ribs were much better with nice smoke flavor, tender, moist, and with a nice bite mark.  The sausage had nice flavor but was a bit dry.  I had french fries as a side and they came out nice and hot with a coating of seasoned salt with a bit of sugar added.  Interesting!  I think I will experiment with that at home.  The ribs were the winner here but the brisket was a disappointment.
It was interesting to note this was the first BBQ joint where we had seen James Dean on the wall.  Usually it's John Wayne, Gary Cooper, or Hank Williams.

Off the Bone BBQ, Fort Worth, Texas, 8/2/14

sampled 8/2/14 at 11 am
This is one several spots Scott had been wanting to try.   It is not related to the Off the Bone BBQ in Dallas.  We arrived a bit early and found the crew inside were hardcore about keeping the doors locked until exactly 11 am.  After making our way inside at the official opening time, we ordered our usual, mine being brisket, ribs, and a hot link.  After a short wait a nice lady delivered our plates and we were off and running on our latest adventure.  The brisket here was particularly nice.  It was tender and moist with good smoke flavor and well rendered fat, though there was not a lot of fat on my brisket.  Ribs were a mixed bag, with Scott calling his excellent while mine were chewy and tough.  My ribs had good flavor and lite smoke but they were definitely undercooked.  The hot link was neither hot or spicy and just tasted like bland sausage.  The brisket was a winner here but that was about it.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Headed to Fort Worth tomorrow

Scott and I are headed to the town of the cow tomorrow to hit several Texas Monthly Top 50 joints and whatever else we stumble across.  Scott doesn't get to Fort Worth much so we just decided to make a mini trip out of it.  We are planning to hit 5 to 7 joints which is still just the tip of the iceberg in that great BBQ town.