Smoke is mysterious, fire is uncertain, and pit men are expensive. So the mystery, uncertainty, and expense of taking the chance to make great barbecue is being replaced by the quantifiable methods of always making pretty good 'cue.

— Jim Shahin

Austin Chronicle

Blogs

Quick Stop at Millers Smokehouse

On the way down IH-35 to a conference in Austin, a collegue and I stopped into Miller's Smokehouse for dinner.  We departed Dallas in the late afternoon, and raced the clock to get to Belton before their 6:30pm closing time.  The traffic Gods smiled on us that day, and we arrived with a few minutes to spare.

The cashier is located near the kitchen, and we walked through the front dining room to get in line to place our order.  In our rush, we failed to fully coordinate our order, and both ended up with a two-meat plate of "brisket and sausage".

We did, however, manage to order different side items and were able to taste the beans, potato salad, cole slaw, and green beans.  The brisket on my plate was mostly lean slices with the bark trimmed away (In my haste, I had forgotten to request fatty/moist brisket).  The brisket was smoky and tender, but because it was trimmed of fat and bark, many of my slices begged for the addition of sauce for both flavor and moisture/mouthfeel.  My colleague, however, had scored more slices that were cut more from the "high" side with the bark intact.  These slices were tender and tasty all by themselves.  

The Zen of Brisket and Zin

 

Thanks to Matt Thompson and James Jordan of wineposte.com and Justin and Diane Fourton from Pecan Lodge for putting together a Zinfandal and Brisket pairing that was, for lack of a better term, awesome.  The selected zinfandels were delicious, and the casual atmosphere at The Wine Poste struck a tone that matched the event.

Birthday Trip with a Stop at Stanleys

Barbecue is one of my hobbies.  I have visited/reviewed upwards of 250 establishments;  participated in the development of an amazing smoker at Karubecue.com; and cooked thousands of pounds of finished product for friends, family, and church fundraisers.

Sometimes when we travel as a family, I will wear a Barbecue Tours hat or shirt.  This is usually a good thing, and can prompt some interesting conversation.  People are passionate about barbecue!  However, there are times when I don't want to critically review a BBQ joint -- I just want to sit down and enjoy the experience...  

 

What Does a Rodeo Clown Know About BBQ?

Big Smiths CounterDuring Day 2 of the 2001 Barbecue Tour, our caravan was meeting in Sulphur Springs and the first group arrived slightly ahead of time.  Members of this group were scouting for 'Ray's Bar-B-Que'... and maybe looking a bit lost.  K-Dawg was approached by a rodeo clown (in full costume - and with a teardrop on his cheek) and informed that if we were looking for barbecue, we should give 'Big Smith's' a try.

After the group assembled, we altered our plans and headed south to Big Smith's B-B-Q.  Danelle (our server) and "Big" Steve Smith (the owner) were gracious hosts, and welcomed us enthusiastically.  Danelle told us "this [barbecue] is going to be the best of the day!" And a table of four near the door said "You can stop your tour right here.  There's no need to go anywhere else for BBQ."  This place certainly had swagger.

Intelligence Gathering for a BBQ Tour from St Louis to ???

7 Best BBQ Joints in St Louis - Riverfront Times

This is a 'Best of BBQ' listing for an area we are considering for an upcoming tour.  You can read the full article on the Riverfront Times site by clicking the headline above.  We are currently in 'intelligence gathering' mode to determine the key focal points of this tour.  Our tours are typically 3-days in length, targeting five (or six) barbecue joints each day, and covering 600-700 miles.  We would likely head south out of St Louis, but we might choose to avoid Memphis because of plans to dedicate an entire tour in that area.  Little Rock, AR has come up in conversation as an endpoint of this tour -- but so has Jackson MS.  Still to be determined...

Plus, our BBQ Crew will need some distractions such as: minor league baseball; brewery tours; pit manufacturer plant tours; bowling; etc.

Here is the current 'Best of Barbecue' listing from Riverfront Times:

Gaining clarity on the Dallas mini-tour

This morning:

  1. I recieved an email from a friend, saying that he wants to update me on his plans to install a pico-sized brewing system at his Lakewood home.
  2. Then I saw a notice that Lakewood Brewery is coming to Richardson to host a beer tasting in a couple of weeks.
  3. And finally, I found this handy guide of local (DFW) breweries and their tour operations/attractions (click headline below to be taken to the full article).

This all started me thinking about incorporating a local brewery (and maybe also a tap room for the end of the trail) into our planned Dallas mini-tour.  A few good barbecue joints, a brewery, and a tap room sounds like just the ticket! A beautiful day, this brewery guide, our list of DFW BBQ Tour targets, and a GPS.  That's all we need.  I'm getting hungry!

 

 

Get to know your DFW craft breweries by Brentney Hamilton - PegasusNews

 

Brentney's Guide contains:

Austin's Top 10 BBQ by Mike Sutter - Fed Man Walking

OK, so this list has already been out a few months, but I love to collect them from wherever I find them.  Visit Mike Sutter's Fed Man Walking site to read the write-ups and view his Barbecue porn.  It’s a shame we won't get to review John's place, but he'll need to stay put for more than a year before we'll consider a visit.

Awesome Brisket Cooking Primer - BBQ with Franklin

This is a GREAT primer for smoking a brisket.  Love this guy!  Aaron, the Barbecue Tours crew will be coming to see you one day soon!  Thanks for all you do to support not just your restaurant (of course, that), but also barbecue culture and the community.  Cheers!

Jack Perkins' Death Star

Jack Perkins' Slow Bone BBQ Causes Disturbance in the Barbecue Force
By Scott Reitz, Dallas Observer Blogs

"I was lucky enough to bump into Perkins outside of Maple and Motor while he was testing his equipment. Dubbed the "Death Star," Perkins' massive rig boasted a thermostat and automated dampening controls to regulate smoke and temperature. The machine allowed him to toss in his briskets, set up a fire, and essentially walk away. It even had a retractable smoke stack and was light years away from your typical restaurant smoke pit."

Smoke Daddy Says:

Hmmm.  That description (aside from the retractable smoke stack) sounds EXACTLY like a typicall restaurant smoke pit.  Smoldering fires produce notoriously bad smoke -- watch out for the creosote monster, Jack!  You might want to read up on the subject over at Karubecue.com.

Dallas Area Joints

Here's a starter list for discussion regarding DFW destinations for this year's mini-tour:

  • Pecan Lodge
    Dallas Farmers Market, Shed 2, 1010 S. Pearl St.
    Dallas, TX 75201
    214-748-8900
    http://pecanlodge.com
  • Lockhart Smokehouse
    400 West Davis Street, Dallas, TX
    (214) 944-5521
    http://lockhartsmokehouse.com
  • Meshack’s Bar-B-Que Shack
    240 E. Ave. B
    Garland, TX 75040
    214-227-4748 
  • Off the Bone BBQ
    5144 Mansfield Pkwy.
    Forest Hill, TX 76119
    817-563-7000
    http://www.offthebonebbq.com
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