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Found 18 results

  1. I received a message from one of our HS members to put up a smoking BBQ thread on HS. His request was as follows: Would you consider starting a thread on Hornsport that explained step by step how you smoke & prepare different meat cuts. Please be very elementary in your explanations. Also please give a list of the minimum equipment- smoker type, thermometers, rubs, temps, time, etc. I love bbq but have NO cooking skills. Now that I have the time, I would like to become somewhat proficient at it. Seems fairly basic, but in actuality, it's quite a complex request. Let's start at the end, as you have said a mouthful. You say you now have time and you want to become proficient at smoking? That is a great combination of desire and time on your hands, both of which you will need. In order to become proficient, you absolutely must practice. It is like anything else. That's not to say that you can't throw on a brisket and have it turn out just fine the very first time. You most certainly can. The trick is getting that 10th, 40th, 100th brisket to be as good or better than the one(s) that you smoked before it. Some improvements are only going to be noticeable to you, other improvements will be very apparent to everyone else. Keep in mind: YOU WILL SCREW SOMETHING UP.....AT LEAST ONCE. Don't worry about it-it happens to all of us. Now that we have established that you're going to screw it up, let's get down to business. I would encourage all of our HS BBQ Pitmasters to chime in on this thread. Give us some of your expertise. I think this could be a great thread for all of our HS members, from novice to pro. I'm no expert. I'm proficient. I've ruined my share of smoked items over the years. It happens. I've also learned quite a bit over the years. I'll share with you whatever I can. Let's call this PART 1. (I'm going to have to take this in steps, as I want to make sure I don't miss anything. I'll update it with additional sections as we move forward.) Minimum Equipment: Pits: There are all kinds of BBQ pits, from electric to propane to wood burning. Pits built out of brick and mortar, to light steel to heavy-gauge steel. Pits shaped like planes or trains, uprights, horizontal, cabinets, bullets, kegs, etc. Heck, you can even smoke something using indirect heat on a basic Weber kettle if you have to. It's not all that difficult, and you don't need to spend several thousand dollars for a pit if you don't have it. First step, determine your needs. Are you going to go out and spend $5,000-10,000 on a custom-built top-of-the-line pit so you can smoke a brisket on the Fourth of July, then let it sit idle for the rest of the year? Or are you needing something that can be durable for multiple smokes just about every week? That's a wide range, so figure out how much you'll use it, how much you need to cook at once, and what your real needs are. Price: Once you determine how often you're going to use it, you will need to figure out a price range. Pits range anywhere from under $100 to as much as you want to spend, and then some. What is your budget? Type: Do you have restrictions where you live? Do you have limitations on how much time you want to spend tending a pit? Do you want "Set it and forget it," or are you more of a traditionalist that wants to tend to your stick-burner? Maybe you're in between. Let's take a look at the options. (Again, if anyone would like to chime in here with their own personal experience, please feel free; don't be shy.) Electric: There are several types of electric pits. Pellet Smokers: Traeger is a pellet smoker, driven by an electric auger system that feeds pellets to an element that produces smoke. Traeger is not the only company that makes pellet smokers, but they are currently one of the most popular. Makes a very good product, very little attention is needed to this type of pit. Set it and forget it. I have some friends that have these, and the finished product is good. It does not have the same smoke flavor as an offset stick burning pit. The meat is still smokey, just not what I personally prefer. Wood chips/chunk smokers: Cookshack is the leader in this one. More expensive than most, but in my opinion, as close as you can get to an offset for flavor. This operates with an electric heating element that sits underneath a mini wood box, heating the wood box so the wood smolders, creating the smoke. Puck Smokers: Bradley makes an electric cabinet smoker that uses bisquettes, or pucks, of wood, heated to smoldering by an element. North Texas Horn has used these in the past and has been pleased with them. I have never used one, so I don't have much to pass along on this. Wood sliver/fine chip smokers: Both Little Chief and Masterbuilt fall into this category. Little Chief is used predominantly in the northern parts of the country for fish smoking, mainly due to the fact that they don't get too hot and are simple to use. Masterbuilt is an electric pit that, similar to Bradley is usually a cabinet. LHR has used these for years. They are fairly inexpensive and they do a good job. They take some attention, as you'll have to replace the wood chips from time to time during a smoke, as the capacity for wood is not all that great. Flavor wise, again, not the same as an offset burning logs, but it is suitable if cost & ease of use are your top criteria. Propane: Most are popular with hunters and fishermen, as well as campers. These run off a standard propane bottle, and are available at places like Cabella's, Bass Pro, Academy, etc. I have not used one of these, so as far as quality of smoke produced, someone else will need to chime in. Most of the majors have entries in this category, Brinkmann, Bradley, Camp Chef, etc. Charcoal Smokers: These are typically in a bullet design, under the names of Brinkmann, Weber, Char-broil, Smokey Mountain. Work by using charcoal as your main heat source, with wood chunks tossed in to create the smoke around the meat. The up side is they're pretty reasonably priced, so if you're on a budget, this may be the way to go. Down side is that it can be difficult to maintain heat for longer smokes. Most have a door to access the charcoal/wood tray to add more, although these can be small and a bit challenging if you're working with hot coals. The flavor profile on the smoked meat is pretty good. Ceramic/Porcelin Wood Smokers/Grills: I'm referring to two in this section; Big Green Egg and Kamodo Keg. Both are fantastic grills. Smoking is done with indirect heat. Both produce very good results. Maintaining temperature is tricky the first few times you use these. Once you get that down, they are pretty easy to use and one of these may be my next purchase, mainly for the grilling benefits. Offset Stick Burners: OK, now we're in my wheelhouse. I admit, I'm extremely partial to the traditional offset, heavy steel constructed smoker pit. There are a plethora of manufacturers out there, and prices are all over the place. I got my start with an old New Braunfels Smoker. It lasted me 10 years in the PacNW. I replaced it with my current pit, and Old Country BBQ All American. Academy carries this item. A HornSports member, chorn, is one of the owners of Old Country. They make an extremely functional mid-range pit. They also manufacture pits for those on a limited budget as well as some really killer high end products. Others are Gator Pit, Klose, Pits and Spits and Lyfe Tyme, to name a few. All are solid. In my opinion, there is really no comparison to a product smoked in an offset using logs. Unless you have the time, money and expertise to build a brick and mortar pit like is used at Coopers, Smitty's, Black's, etc., I am a believer in the offset steel pit. Feel free to ask me any questions about these, and I'll answer as best as I can. Thermometers: Thermometers are a key piece to your smoking process. There are many types; from digital to analog, wireless to wired. I've used most over the course of time. Wireless: Probably the most convenient. You plug a probe into the meat, plug the other end into a sending unit, and have another unit that tells you the temp of the meat from a distance. Battery operated. The best brand of these I've found is the Maverick. Bluetooth: If you have an Apple device, I recommend the iGrill. Wired unit that accomodates two probes, that talks via bluetooth to your iPhone/iPad. I use this quite often. What I really like is you can purchase an ambient temp probe that can sit in your smoke chamber, and then set a range of temps. If the temp in the pit goes below or above your range, your phone/iPad alerts you. Manual: There is absolutely nothing wrong with the old standby of an analog or digital meat thermometer. I keep two out in the Man Pit. Just in case and also for quick temp readings if I don't want to mess with the iGrill. So there you have it; Part 1. In Part 2, we will discuss wood, rubs and cuts of meat. Bear with me, as I have a lot of travel coming up for work in the next couple of weeks. I'll get to it, I promise. For now, hopefully this will foster some good discussion and input from others. Questions are good, and there are no stupid questions. If I don't know the answer, I'll try to find it for you.
  2. Can't lie. Didn't make this recipe myself. I stole from Michael Symon, an Iron Chef. Super easy, light, and refreshing. Great with BBQ/grilled meats! I only added half the dressing mixture. Tasted the salad to see if I needed to add more and did not. Add the liquid mixture to your liking. http://abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/recipes/grilled-corn-salad-michael-symon
  3. Sorry for the delay, but this thread is going to discuss the types of woods used in smoking. You can use many types of woods for smoking, and each imparts different flavors. Depending upon what tyype of meat you've got on the pit, that will help determine what type you use. Let's discuss here, and as always, I'll try to answer questions for y'all. Here's a list of my favorites: Pork: Apple, Cherry, Hickory, Pecan, Maple Beef: Pecan, Oak, Mesquite Turkey: Cherry, Pecan Chicken: Oak, Apple, Pecan Fish: Alder NEVER use pine or cedar for smoking. I tend to use red oak as a base for most of my smokes. If I could get my hands on Post Oak logs, I'd use that instead. I don't like white oak. I really like Pecan Mesquite you have to be careful with, as it can be very overpowering. So fire away with your questions.
  4. We have not had an update on this in a few weeks, so here goes. I'm going to discuss several things in this edition that were suggested in Part 3. Feel free to throw out some more questions in this thread and I'll try to answer them. How to start the fire in the pit and keep it hot: This is a fairly easy thing to get going. I will typically get lump charcoal, (I use Royal Oak lump,) and load it into a charcoal chimney. The way the charcoal chimney works is by stuffing no more than two full sheets of newspaper in the bottom of this; flip it right side up, then load the top with lump charcoal. Light the newspaper. DO NOT USE LIGHTER FLUID OR ACCELLERANTS. When the coals are white-hot, it's time to carefully dump the coals into your firebox. The chimney and the firebox will be hot. Wear gloves and use tongs or a fireplace poker to handle the chimney. At this point I'll add a few logs to the pit on top of the spread out coals. Open the damper on the firebox and on the pit's smokestack. I'd recommend about 50% open on the firebox and 100% open on the smokestack. To maintain the heat, you will need to learn your smoker. All are a little different. Some require more fuel, other's more air. It's a mixture. The dampers will all look a bit different: Basically, the damper will help control air flow on your fire, and by extension, control the heat/temperature in your smoke chamber. Again, you will have to learn your pit to know how much is just right. For right now, we're just getting the fire started, and you're wanting it open a bit more than you'll have it during the smoke process. How to know when it's time to put the meat on? The simple answer is, when your smoke is BLUE and your temperature in your smoke chamber is at your desired smoking temp. "What is blue smoke?" you ask. Well, when you are burning wood, the impurities, (bark, etc.,) will burn off first. This creates a brownish-white puffy looking smoke. When the impurities have burned off, this is what the smoke looks like: The left stack has blue smoke, the right stack is not quite ready yet. You can see the difference between the two. Once you have blue smoke and your chamber temp is where you want it, time to put the meat on. What to do if you're having trouble maintaining temp Just relax and don't get all wound up. This is not an exact science. You've probably all noticed I've mentioned a time or two that you have to know your pit. It's a learning process. Again, learn your pit. Sometimes if your temp is spiking, it's because you may have added too much wood, don't have enough lump coals or have too much air flow. Sometimes it's a combination of several of these factors. Mess around with the dampers first. Shutting down the amount of air flow will lower the temp in your smoke chamber. Another thing to remember, spikes and drops in temp will NOT be immediate. It takes time. When you shut the dampers and/or smokestack, it will take a bit to choke down the fire. This is a process. Crack open another beer and enjoy the process. Don't be in a hurry. What side to put the meat on the grate (fat side up/down) This is personal preference, but I'm a fat-side up guy for my briksets. This is because I like to think that as the fat renders, it runs through the meat below it, thus flavoring and adding moisture to it. How best to season/brine the meat. We've discussed this a bit in Part3. I like salt and pepper for my briskets. For pork butt, Bad Byron's Butt Rub. Also, Sweetwater Spice brine concentrates are very good quality and add nice flavors. How often to put more wood/charcoal in the pit. Y'all are tired of hearing this, but know your pit. I'm at the point now where I can put in four split logs and leave for 3-4 hours and my pit maintains a 210-240 degree temp without adding wood. For overnight smokes, I'll sometimes add an extra chimney of lump heated up prior to heading in for the evening. How do I know if it's ready? It depends on what you're cooking. Time and temp that you find online, or you get from friends are merely guides. Every piece of meat is different and will be ready when it's ready. Don't rush it. Some briskets may be ready to pull from the pit at 180, others at 210 (internal.) If you can put a meat fork where the point meets the flat, and it goes in like butter, it's ready. Once you've done enough briskets, you can actually lift the brisket off the pit and feel that it's ready. Practice, practice, practice. How to clean/maintain the smoker. BBQ is a dirty business. You'll get congealed fat on the bottom of your smoke chamber, you'll have grease, soot, and general dirt all around. You don't want to take a power washer to your pit. Not a good idea. I'll take a putty knife and scrape the congealed fat/grease from the bottom of the pit when it gets too much. I smoke a LOT. I don't do this but about once a year. I've got a drip bucket under the drain on my pit, so that makes it easier, but I still get areas that build up. I do not scrape the inside of the pit lid, here's the inside of my pit: That's flavor boys & girls. As far as any rust you may get over time, wire brush will help clean it, then I use a high-heat black spray paint to repaint it. I go to the auto parts store and buy some high-heat engine paint. I know that several folks, including Chad from Old Country, recommend using the high-heat grill paint from Rustoleum, but I have had much better results and longevity from some other high heat engine paints. VHT is a good product. Also, do NOT leave ashes in your firebox when you're done smoking. Ash retains moisture, and that's the quickest way to cause the bottom of your firebox to begin rusting out. That's all I have for now. Post your questions in here and I'll answer them as best I can. Anyting goes. Happy Smoking.
  5. Mike says this board needs some spice. Let's talk food in Austin for a few minutes. Chime in, tell me your hidden gems or even the common joints that everyone knows about. Nothing is off limits. It's the offseason. So I made the trek to Austin a few weeks back. We had food at several places, some old names you'll recognize, a few new ones. Here is my list, good/bad/otherwise Kerby Lane: I remember this place being better back in the day. It was by no means awful, but it really wasn't memorable either. Went there for a late supper, had chicken fried chicken. It was just, well, average. Fixe: in a word, phenomenal. The food, the atmosphere, the service, all top notch. Would go again. Lucy's on S. Congress: Cool vibe, food was awful. Service not much better. Fried chicken joint with solid ratings. The food was all fried and tasted like they hadn't changed the oil in their fryer in months. The veggies were overcooked. The sides were awful. Will not return. Sandy's: Stopped in for a malt, and it was the same as it ever was. Decent burger joint malt. Prohibition Creamery: Ice cream joint/bar on E. 7th. Bourbon ice cream Bourbon milkshake-nuff said. Fantastic. Wife had red velvet ice cream and is still raving about it. Cool joint for an evening nightcap/dessert. Nightcap: W. 6th. Stopped into this converted home for a drink and some evening appetizers. Everything was well-prepared. Service was great. Will return. Matt's El Rancho: Classic place, food same as I'd remembered it. Just a cool place to sit out on the patio and relax with a margarita and a bowl of Bob Armstrong queso. Yep, never change. Blacksheep Lodge: S. Lamar. We had a HS Happy Hour here back in football season. They do a nice job with bar food, drinks are spot on and it's an out-of-the-way pub with good grub. So go, tell me your go-to spots.
  6. I'm taking the family for a little get-a-way trip this weekend before spring ball starts. I've done this in the past and I have been very pleased with the recommendations I've gotten from you guys. So where's the best places to eat at in San Antonio? Mexican? BBQ? Burgers? Breakfast? Whatever. Best place to sit outside and enjoy a beer or margarita? Thanks for the help!
  7. So I'm watching the Travel Channel right now and it's highlighting BBQ joints across America and the first one that they showed is Gatlins BBQ in Houston. The food looks pretty good, specifically the Brisket sandwich. Anyone have any experience at this place? Any good? What are some other good BBQ places in Houston? Best you've ever eaten?
  8. Travis posted this on TOS about his new place. I'll probably try to swing by next time I'm down that way. In the meantime, always good to support a fellow Horn, so go try it out. My wife and I are proud to announce that we have opened Hays City Store in Driftwood at the intersection of fm 150 & 3237 in Hays County. It is in between Kyle, Wimberley, and Dripping Springs. We serve scratch made Texas comfort food with a full bar, outdoor beer garden, and small general store for the neighbors. If you like Chicken Fried Steak, fresh ground burgers, fresh salads, etc and home made desserts we invite you to check us out. We are open for lunch and dinner everyday and hope to be offering breakfast in the near future. Please visit our website at www.hayscitystoretx.com or look us up on Facebook under Hays City Store. We look forward to meeting all Orangebloods in the near future. Have a great Easter! Hook'em I mean, how can one go wrong with CFS, homemade desserts and a beer garden? If you go, let me know how it is.
  9. From the "WTF File," it seems that an Austin City Councilman is messing with the fabric of Texas BBQ. This has got to be the most proposterous thing I've ever heard of. Seriously, what is wrong with people these days? BBQ has been around since the dawn of time in Texas. Smoke from fires has been around since the cavemen. Sheesh. If you'd like to respond directly to the councilman, his Twitter feed is @d3forpio or https://twitter.com/d3forpio Barbecue Master Aaron Franklin Slams Proposed City Smoke Limitsby Meghan McCarron and Nadia Chaudhury Mar 30, 2015, 9:38a 10 Comments Requiring smoke scrubbers could force Franklin Barbecue to shutter. A proposed city council resolution could threaten Austin's continued status as an international destination for Texas barbecue. District 3 council member Sabino "Pio" Renteria is spearheading a code change to limit barbecue smoke in residential areas, as reported by KUT. Pitmaster Aaron Franklin tells Eater if such a code were to pass, it could force Franklin Barbecue and many other barbecue joints in Austin to go out of business. The proposed code change would require any restaurant or food truck using "a wood or charcoal burning stove or grill" within one hundred and fifty feet of residential zoning to install an exhaust system known as smoke scrubbers. Franklin estimates the cost of such a system would run between $15,000 and $20,000, which he says is not an option for even his hyper-successful business. "Cost aside, the barbecue would not be the same—it would modify how the cooker smokes," Franklin says. "If this resolution passes, we would be forced to close or move. It would destroy Austin barbecue." Franklin acknowledges barbecue businesses need to be good neighbors, but says the smoker scrubbers are a wrong-headed solution. "A good, clean fire doesn't smell bad. It's the byproducts of an incomplete combustion that smells bad. A hot fire would fix those problems, and scrubbers wouldn't eliminate the smell of burning wood." Franklin also notes he carefully vetted his restaurant's new smokehouse with all of his neighbors, and says he received nothing but enthusiastic support. Renteria's proposed code change is intended to address complaints by neighbors of "thick smoke" and oppressive smells. The District 3 rep told KUT: "People cannot even open their windows without having their house smelling like barbecue," he says. "Whatever they're barbecuing out there, when they start their fire, it's really thick smoke. No one wants it." Earlier this year, Bouldin Creek residents were bothered by the smoke from Terry Black's Barbecue. Because of that, co-owner Michael Black tells Eater that they were looking into smoke scrubbers before the announced potential code amendment. "We’ve already put in $10,000 in modifications," he says, "to make the pits more efficient and burn less wood," which also resulted in less smoke time. "The TECQ [Texas Commission on Environmental Quality] has come out and done air quality readings right next to our pits," he adds, "and we’re well below their lowest level for concern." However, he further explains, "The neighbors have told us that they don't want smoke reduction, they want smoke abatement, so there is where the problem arises." The agenda item for council to take up on April 2 would only initiate the process of amending the code; the City Manager would then have to propose the full ordinance to council "no later than May 21, 2015." Eater has reached out to council member Renteria as well as other local barbecue restaurants for further comments. Watch this space for further updates.
  10. Been a while since we've had a BBQ thread. Last night I put a 13# brisket on the pit, and today, added 4 racks of St. Louis style ribs. Key to the ribs was, I got a tip from a buddy, NorthTexasHorn, to add Whataburger Honey Butter to the final step of the ribs. I must say-AWESOME! I still used the Salt Lick Garlic Rub on the ribs. Nice mix of spice to sweetness. Here are the pictures. Weather last night was mid 40s, calm, a bit of rain on and off. I was out in the pit with the dog, a bit of Austin's KOKE FM streaming, some Willet Rye in the glass, and a nice Cuban cigar to keep me company. Have any specific questions, fire away. I'd really like to hear what kind of ways you've prepared ribs that may be a bit different, and what your thoughts of the finished product were.
  11. I thought I'd start a thread for everyone to share their favorite Snack/Appetizer/Drink/Grill recipes for Sunday. I tried to open the Old Orangebloods Recipe Index from Google but couldn't get it to open. Maybe some of you can get it open and share it with everyone. Our late friend, Jeff Dillard, had many of his great recipes in that collection. RIP old friend.
  12. I thought some of you would be interested as it seems so many have eaten at the piace at one point in their lives or another. I, for one, will make it a point to eat here one more time before they shut the doors. http://www.news-journal.com/news/local/iconic-longview-restaurant-johnny-cace-s-to-close-doors-in/article_166210e0-a0f1-11e4-838a-03cafd1ab2f7.html#.VL70ybp0038.facebook Iconic Longview restaurant Johnny Cace's to close doors in March By Amy Pearson apearson@news-journal.com An iconic Longview restaurant announced this afternoon it will close its doors in a few months. Johnny Cace’s Seafood & Steak House will close March 28, according to owner Cathy Cace and General Manager Chelsea Cace. Employees were notified this afternoon. The property, owned by the estate of John S. Cace Jr., is up for sale. Cace’s will still have their annual Valentine’s Day Cupid’s Delight celebration on Feb. 14. The following week, they will let the good times roll during their traditional Mardi Gras celebration. They will celebrate 66 years of the restaurant March 10, less than three weeks before they close. They will also honor existing gift cards until March 28 and supply patrons with their favorite gumbo, etoufee and cheese croutons in the meantime. “It was with a lot of thought and a lot of prayer that we came to this decision,†Cathy Cace said this afternoon. “It was a long time in the making.†Look for a more in-depth story about the end of an era for an iconic Longview restaurant in Wednesday's Longview News-Journal.
  13. I received a message from one of our HS members to put up a smoking BBQ thread on HS. His request was as follows: Would you consider starting a thread on Hornsport that explained step by step how you smoke & prepare different meat cuts. Please be very elementary in your explanations. Also please give a list of the minimum equipment- smoker type, thermometers, rubs, temps, time, etc. I love bbq but have NO cooking skills. Now that I have the time, I would like to become somewhat proficient at it. Seems fairly basic, but in actuality, it's quite a complex request. Let's start at the end, as you have said a mouthful. You say you now have time and you want to become proficient at smoking? That is a great combination of desire and time on your hands, both of which you will need. In order to become proficient, you absolutely must practice. It is like anything else. That's not to say that you can't throw on a brisket and have it turn out just fine the very first time. You most certainly can. The trick is getting that 10th, 40th, 100th brisket to be as good or better than the one(s) that you smoked before it. Some improvements are only going to be noticeable to you, other improvements will be very apparent to everyone else. Keep in mind: YOU WILL SCREW SOMETHING UP.....AT LEAST ONCE. Don't worry about it-it happens to all of us. Now that we have established that you're going to screw it up, let's get down to business. I would encourage all of our HS BBQ Pitmasters to chime in on this thread. Give us some of your expertise. I think this could be a great thread for all of our HS members, from novice to pro. I'm no expert. I'm proficient. I've ruined my share of smoked items over the years. It happens. I've also learned quite a bit over the years. I'll share with you whatever I can. ********************************************************************************************************************** PART 2-Rubs/Brines/Presmoke Tips Seasoning the Brisket: I feel like this is a very important piece to smoking any cut of meat. How you choose to season it will directly affect the finished product, in a big way. Too much salt-you WILL taste it. Too much cayenne-get a glass of milk. So let's talk about how I do it, and some of the products available out there. Dry Rubs: I make my own dry rub for briskets. I use about 45% cracked black pepper, 45% kosher salt, 10% chili powder. Pretty basic, but I've found that the simplicity makes it easy to make, as well as produces a nice flavor for the bark. Here's a photo of a 1# jar of my rub. You can go to any store and find a large sampling of dry rubs. I have tried many. You can get these at your grocery store, local BBQ restaurant, butcher shop or sporting goods/outdoors store-Academy, Bass Pro, Cabella's. Some you'll have to order online. A few of my favorites are: Bad Byron's Butt Rub Rudy's BBQ Rub Cooper's BBQ Rub Anita's Brisket Seasoning Stubb's BBQ Rub Salt Lick Garlic BBQ Rub. All are pretty solid. You may have your own that you prefer. There's no right or wrong answer. It's all up to you. Some are sweeter than others. Try a bunch of them, and decide which is best for the flavor you're looking for. Brines: I have used brines in the past. I like using these, especially Sweetwater Spice Co. Brisket Bath or their Tres Chiles brine. This product is a brine concentrate. You mix it with water and soak your cut of meat in it for an hour per pound. I typically will use a Glad Turkey Brine Bag, (found at your local grocer,) (make sure you pay attention to the size limitation for the bag-printed on the box!! Nothing worse than getting home and trying to put a 13# brisket into a bag that holds 8#s of meat; trust me from experience!) Put the meat in the bag, add the concentrate, add the water, seal the bag, place in an aluminum pan in the fridge for the recommended time. When it's time to pull the meat out, SAVE the brine. You will now strain the brine and save the spices. Take the spices and rub the brisket with this spice paste. VERY IMPORTANT: YOU WILL NOT NEED ANY DRY RUB OR FURTHER SEASONING! One of our very own Longhorns, Scott, (caliHORNia on OBs,) makes these products. He has several flavors, and they can be found at Academy and Whole Foods, or on his website, http://www.sweetwaterspice.com/ I highly recommend his products. They are easy to use, and produce a great flavor on whatever you're smoking or grilling. Give them a try. Presmoke Tips: Meat Prep: Start: I will take my cryovaced packer brisket and rinse it off well under the faucet cool water. Make sure to get any blood, and any loose pieces of meat/fat off the brisket at this time. Don't soak it in a sink full of water, just rinse it off well. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty! Trimming: I have tried several ways of getting a brisket prepared. Prior to seasoning, trimming the fat is often beneficial. Understanding that every brisket is different, trimming is not set in stone. I shoot for ~1/4" fat on the top of the brisket and I remove the really dense chunk of fat on the bottom that sits on the edge just under the cap. There are many YouTube videos on this, and some say to cut off more than others. I am a fan of trimming just enough off of the brisket, as the fat will render into the meat and help with moisture. Just search on YouTube under "Trimming a Brisket" and you'll get several hits. Watch a few, and see how they do it. Again, try different things until you find what works for you. Rub: As we discussed the rubs above, there are several ways to go about applying your rub. Again, I've tried many. I've used French's mustard and olive oil rubbed on the brisket prior to applying the dry rub. I don't think there's any real benefit to this, but you can do it if you feel you want to give it a try. I used to do this pretty regularly, and found that it did not affect the flavor of the finished product, and the rub stays on the damp brisket just fine without it. When you get ready to apply the dry rub, get you an aluminum (disposable) half steamtable pan. Place your brisket in the pan. Wash & dry your hands, and get you some plastic disposable foodservice gloves on. This keeps your hands somewhat clean throughout the rub process and keeps salt/pepper/cayenne from getting onto your skin. Take the bottle of rub and shake it somewhat liberally over the meat in a left to right and top to bottom motion. Don't put too much on, but a medium coating. Rub the entire brisket top with this, then flip the brisket over in the pan, and repeat the process. Be sure to get the rub onto the sides of the brisket as well as on the ends. Aaron Franklin has a good video on this process. Brine: If you've brined your brisket with the concentrate, this is the time to put the brisket in a half pan, rub with the spice paste and let it sit out until your fire is ready. Fire & Temp of the meat: At this point in the process, I go and get the pit fired up. I'll let the brisket sit out on the counter until the fire is ready. Some folks say keep it in the fridge, I don't subscribe to this philosophy. It's OK for the brisket to sit out at room temp for a half hour to an hour, even more if you'd like. It will be fine. In PART 3: Building your fire, getting the pit ready, smoking the brisket.
  14. At my place, 2 pork butts and 2 tri tips. I've got a baseball team of 16-17 yr olds to feed tomorrow. Of course I had to eat.
  15. Some of you have read this before, but I was feeling a bit nostalgic tonight and wanted to share with my HS buddies. Last summer I took a trip to Lockhart with my son, and this is the recap. For those that have read it before, I apologize for rehashing. For those that have not, read on. One of the best father/son trips I've ever had with my boy. As I drove the Ford F150 rental down the 130 Toll Road on Thursday, on my way to Lockart, I think my taste buds were racing faster than the 85 MPH speed limit. You see, when NTG came to Washington for a visit a few weeks back, we got to talking 'cue. I was planning a trip to Austin to bring my son to the UT Baseball Camp. On our last trip to Central Texas my son and I hit up Coopers in Llano. My boy constantly talked about Coopers and I wanted to give him more of the same on this trip. I had mulled over standing in line at Franklin, but NTG had another recommendation. He said, "Do the Lockhart Challenge." Now for those of you not familiar with the Lockhart Callenge, let me explain. You hit up the three majors in Lockhart; Smitty's, Kreuz and Black's. You order a quarter pound of brisket, sausage link and, perhaps, a rib at each. No sides until you hit the final stop of the three, otherwise you'll fill up too fast. Back on TX130, I had just hung up the phone with NTG. He was invited, but opted out because he said he had to work. I guess that translates into about 40 or so posts on OB before 10 AM on a Thursday morning. Hell, Ketch should be paying NTG for his content contributions, but I digress. When I hung up, my 15 yr old son was as pumped as I was to get to Lockhart. Never has driving at 85+ felt so damn slow. We get off the toll road and begin to putt along through the outskirts of Lockhart. We are starving, and the truck needs some gas. A quick stop at the Corner Food Stop for some petrol, and were back on our way. First stop, Smitty's As you walk into the nondescript screen door, you enter a hallway that smells of BBQ and smoke. It's about 20 yds long, with a long bench running along the left side. There was an old, skinny black gentleman sitting at the very end of the bench, and he greeted us kindly. It was 98 degrees outside, and easily 10 degrees warmer in this hallway. I felt like I had entered BBQ's version of the Sistine Chapel. It was quiet, with the only sound being the crackle of wood burning a few more yards in front of us. I returned the greeting to the old man, and fixated my eyes on what lay before us, merely a few short steps away. As a BBQ guy, this was it. This was the place. The place where all the magic happened to briskets, transforming them from a fatty, throw-away cut to a tasty goodness with bark, smoke rings and flavor for days. I smelled it coming in, and all I could think about was getting my order and sitting down. My son and I stood and took in the view of the pits. Fire burning on both ends in fireboxes. Old, made of brick and mortar. The crackling of the wood seemed to be singing the prettiest song I had ever heard. After a moment of silence, my boy and I proceed to the counter in the next room. We order a couple of sausage links, and a quarter pound of brisket then head to the dining room. I get him an 7-Up and I get a Shiner Bock. No forks, only butcher paper, food and a knife. I grab some napkins and we sit down to dive in. We have no bar to judge how good this product is in comparison to the next two stops, but the food on our paper rapidly disappeared as if we had not eaten in months. We cleaned our mess and walked out the same hallway we entered. My only regret is not taking a picture of the long hallway as we walked in. Hot, sweaty and ready for more, we head to the second stop-the famous Kreuz. Upon entering Kreuz, we are immediately in front of two pay-for-a-toy crane vending machines. NOT what I expected. This was the anti-Smitty's. While Smitty's had the smells, the aura and the vision of a BBQ joint from days long past, this was more modern. Oh, there were some old pictures and a few old cash registers and antiques around the next corner, but this we clearly newer than Smitty's. It wasn't the same. The dining area on the left was open, but there were individual tables, as you'd find at any restaurant in 100 different small Texas towns. We stop and look at the signs and both laugh. I appreciated the candor of the "rules." We head to the pit. The pit at Kreuz is similar to the one at Smitty's, only it doesn't look as aged. We place our order, same as Smitty's, quarter pound of brisket, two sausage links, and a piece of bread. After a quick stop at the next counter, we order an RC for the boy and a Big Red for me. So now we have two candidates to compare. The Smitty's brisket was better. It had a better smoke ring, and the bark was done perfectly. The flavors all came together with each bite. The Kreuz brisket was just OK. It wasn't bad, mind you, but it wasn't nearly as flavorful as Smitty's. The bark was virtually nonexistent. The sausage at both Smitty's and Kreuz were similar. The flavor was nice, but not knock-your-socks-off great. Both were a bit greasy. I'm not what you'd call a "healthy" eater, but I was a bit disappointed in the amount of grease. The casing on each was tough, and there was a time or two that I felt the plastic knife may not be enough to do the trick. Nonetheless, we cleaned our butcher paper, threw the trash away, and hopped in the truck to go visit Black's. As we were leaving Kreuz, I noticed their supply of logs beside the restaurant. Holy crap do they have a supply. Unbelievable. This was all fenced in, and stacked to the top of the fence. It was probably 20 yards deep and 30 yards wide. Impressive to say the least. Off we go back into old-town Lockhart. As we turn the corner, there is Black's. It's back to the old-school look. Black's, from the street looks like an old saloon. We stop as we walk in, and look at the signs for the Chisolm Trail Roundup coming in late August. As we walk inside, the air is filled with the familiar smokey BBQ aroma. We wander slowly down a short hallway, checking out the pictures on the wall of folks that have dined here. We turn the corner, and are met with an array of sides. My belly is telling me to skip the sides, and go for the brisket. I listen. We tell the gentleman that we'll pass on the sides, and we order a half pound of brisket. We get the rundown on the sausage that they have, original, spicy and Shiner Bock. Well, this is a no brainer for me. We get the Shiner Bock sausage. As they're cutting our order, we get to talking. I ask if he ever showed anyone the pit setup. He said, "you want a tour?" Hell yeah I want a tour. I pay for our order and we are invited behind the counter. We are promptly given tastes of the Shiner Bock sausage, and an explanation of how they make it. They don't waste anything. The trim from the ribs and briskets goes into their sausage recipe. And that's exactly how it tastes. The texture is one of homemade sausage. The flavor is out of this world. Winner on sausage, and we haven't even made it to the next step of the pit tour. On to the pit tour. The first stop is the warmer. It's kept warm by Pit #2. As you turn right, you see the smoke boxes. In box 1 are sausage smoking over top of the briskets. As we move along to our right, the pit master is explaining the process. He's telling me how they trim their briskets, what pieces they cut out, what temperatures they smoke at, and what they keep their serving/warming line at. I'm sure my eyes were as big as saucers. I was like a kid in a candy store. I could not believe how huge this operation was, in such a small space. The layout was very functional. I take this picture, and upon review, this is a BBQ guy's masterpiece. Wow, just wow. We get to the end of the tour, and it's easily 105 degrees inside the smoke room, probably hotter. I can feel the heat radiating through my boots. Damn it's hot! Directly in front of the firebox below, about 15 feet away, is a screen door. The pit master tells us that Mr. Black designed this to allow for a constant draft to help with the smoke flow and maintaining the fire box. He tells us about the post oak that they use. That's all they use. He offers up a lesson on post oak aging, discusses some more sausage making tips, and we begin to talk about lack of BBQ in the northwest. He's a very pleasant guy. He's been doing this for 18 years. He wants to open a place of his own one day. My son and I thanked him for taking time out of his day to do this tour with us, and we headed out. The Black's brisket was extremely flavorful. It had the right amount of bark, perfect smoke ring, and the lean portions were just as tender as the marbled pieces. I would rank the locations as follows: 1. Black's. Sausage was far superior in flavor and texture to the others. Brisket was as good as Smitty's. 2. Smitty's. Brisket was tied with Black's, sausage was a bit tough on the casing, and the flavor was nowhere near what Black's was. 3. Kreuz. Brisket was nowhere close to the others. Sausage was on the same level as Smitty's. I think my expectations of Kreuz may have been too high. I really thought that their product would be better. Maybe it was an off day; it happens. There have been too many reviews of the greatness of Kreuz for this to be the norm. I was thoroughly surprised by Black's, and Smitty's gets the award for the best ambiance. I seriously felt like I had been thrown back to the early 1940's walking in there. What an experience. As we hopped back onto the tollway, Austin in our sights, my son couldn't stop thanking me for taking him on this excursion. He came away with a full belly, a shirt from Black's, and hopefully some memories that one day he'll share with his son. I wouldn't have traded this day for anything. Our next trip will probably include a visit to Franklin. I've been, but he needs to give that a try. Thanks to NTG for the rec. This was clearly a trip that was Texas Good. And to the BBQ Trifecta, it was the Holy Trinity of BBQ in one day. In the name of the Brisket, the Sausage and the Shiner Bock....Amen.
  16. Gosh, I love Nate Silver! Stats for everything! VORB (Value over Replacement Burrito) LULZ Wish I had this job. I've actually had burritos from all the SF establishments listed. HRD is unique because it incorporates Korean flavors. Intrigued to see who prevails in the South/West Regions. Only burritos I've had in Texas were from chains: Freebirds, Chipotle. http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/in-search-of-americas-best-burrito/
  17. So, as most of y'all know, we had a big shindig this weekend here at the casa for PDX Horn's going-away party. Brisket, a keg of Shiner Bock, tons of food and a great time. Well, that was Saturday. Sent my son to the store for ice on Sunday morning. Again Sunday night. Today I said, "screw it." I'm proud to announce the new addition to the Man Pit. Please welcome Kegerator! And a couple of Panoramic Shots:

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