Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pappa Charlies Barbeque (Revisit)

Amber and I spent a weekend in Houston to hang out with our friends, Sean and Kaylie. We tried Ronnie Killen's new burger place for lunch that Saturday. We enjoyed the burgers. The girls split off to go shopping, but my eating adventure was just beginning. Sean happily tagged along, I think? We had to stop at Killen's Barbecue while we were in Pearland for some dessert because I have never tried his banana pudding. Decadent. I did not want to wait in line for any smoked meats there, but I was not going to waste a trip to Houston without getting some good BBQ. Pappa Charlies Barbeque recently moved into a brick and mortar location close to Minute Maid Park. Congrats to owner/pitmaster Wes Jurena and crew on the new place! We stopped by to check it out.
With my stomach still pretty full, I took it easy and just ordered some pork ribs and 44 Farms boneless short rib burnt ends. I should have ordered a rack of the pork ribs because I could have eaten a dozen of them. I am pretty sure these are my favorite pork ribs to date. I like them sweet and spicy, and Wes' pork ribs are right up my alley. The bold finish with the tender meat makes you keep coming back for more. The burnt ends are pricey but worth every penny. You get a more even marbling by using short ribs instead of the point of a brisket. The result is a rich and more flavorful bite. You just cannot have one or two or three... Well you get the point.
Pitmaker pits
I wish we lived in Houston sometimes. I am kind of tired of Austin barbecue because I eat it so much. I just want some change or something new/different. My only issue with Houston BBQ is the good places are all spread out across town. I have access to eight great places from my work within 10 miles. I guess I cannot have it all. Pappa Charlies does do a smoked meatloaf that I would love to try someday. They are also doing brunch on Sundays now too. It is also a great spot to drop in before or after a baseball/soccer game for some good 'cue and a brew. Sadly there was no dessert on the menu for me to try out. We made a detour to Roegels Barbecue Co to grab some of Misty's infamous bourbon banana pudding on the way to meet up with the girls. Damn.
Jim Buchanan
Until next time, happy smoking

Address: 2012 Rusk St, Houston, TX 77003
Phone: (832) 940.1719
Website: http://www.pappacharliesbbq.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pappacharlies
Twitter: https://twitter.com/pappacharlies

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Whole30 and BBQ

Amber was doing the Whole30 diet for the month of June. I wanted to support her throughout the month so I participated. Basically you can only eat meat, fruits, and vegetables. Nothing processed. I even made smoked pork belly for breakfast. You know I love barbecue. It was going to be tough, but it worked out fine as long as you take the time to research and plan everything out. I could not have BBQ sauce, but I typically do not use sauce anyways. Here is what my BBQ eating looked like in June:

I stopped in at Schmidt Family Barbecue the first day of the month. I ordered brisket and chicken. Salt, pepper, and smoke. Simple. I stayed away from the ribs because there was sugar in the rub, and I had no idea what went into sausage they get from Kreuz Market. I made a rookie mistake. I ate pickles. The store bought pickles have a preservative in them, and that's a no-no. I fudged up on day one of the diet.
My blogged turned three on June 10th so I celebrated by going back to the place that got my blog off the ground. I wrote a review of Micklethwait Craft Meats early on, and Daniel Vaughn shared it to the world. I went with brisket, a pork rib, smoked strip loin, barbacoa (beef cheek), pulled pork, and sliced lamb shoulder. Tom Micklethwait uses a simple rub of salt and pepper so I was able to eat most of the menu. The sausage of the day had cheese in it so I stayed away. The homemade pickles were an added bonus.
I was writing a piece for Eater on Lockhart barbecue so I needed to get some newer shots of Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que. I was able to order the Texas Trinity with no issues. You can get the pork ribs without a glaze. The sausage is seasoned with basic ingredients so I was happy with that. The pickles are only for show in this picture.
For one of my Sunday Project Smoke Days, I wanted to cook up some pork ribs. I seasoned the baby backs with just salt and pepper. I could not use a BBQ sauce or sugar for a sweet glaze so I had to find a way to add a touch of sweetness. I decided threw a third of a pineapple and a jalapeño in the Vitamix. Glazed the ribs an hour before they were done. The ribs turned out well. The meat was smoky, juicy, sweet, and spicy. A nice balance.
I had not been to Terry Black's Barbecue in a while. I also had never gotten a beef rib from there neither. Because I was limited to what I could eat, I knew I could finish the beef rib easily. Ordered a slice of moist brisket as well. Both were cooked perfectly. The beef rib had a nice crust and was super tender. Once again pickles were for decorative purposes.
Another Sunday, another smoke project. This time I decided to smoke chicken thighs and drumsticks. Once the chicken was close to being done, I covered them in a mango habanero (one mango/one habanero) purée. These were wonderful. Just enough sweetness with a good kick.
I am working on an updated review of Freedmen's Bar so I dropped in on a Friday. I ordered brisket, pulled pork, and sausage with grilled coleslaw. I checked with pitmaster Evan LeRoy ahead of time. He was very accommodating and helpful. The pulled pork has a finishing sauce that was not Whole30 approved so I asked for it not to be added. The sausage has pink salt. When I Googled pink salt, Himalayan pink salt was returned which was fine on the diet. Pink salt is actually a nitrate which is a preservative I found out later after the fact. Doh! The menu listed what was in the coleslaw (cider vinegar, caraway seed, cilantro), but it left out honey. The menu now says honey on it. The pickled vegetables added a nice change of pace.
My parents came to town and wanted to eat barbecue because they read my article on Eater. Hay's County BBQ is good, quick, and painless so I took them there. Amber and I ate the brisket, pork ribs, turkey, pork chop, and avocado. My parents ate that and everything else (also a ring of jalapeño and cheese sausage not pictured). Hay's has one of Amber's favorite briskets. My parents said it was the best barbecue they ever had. They have had bad experiences with BBQ in the past so do not eat it very often.
I lost 10 pounds in the month of June so you can definitely eat barbecue on a diet. I did miss not being able to eat the sides, banana pudding, and the homemade bread from Micklethwait and focaccia from Freedmen's. I only messed up twice on the diet. Both happened to be while I was eating barbecue out. With some careful planning, Whole30 and BBQ can coexist.

Until next time, happy smoking...

Monday, August 1, 2016

CorkScrew Barbecue (Revisit)

When we visited CorkScrew Barbecue for the first time, Amber was not happy with me. It was hot and humid, and she did not know it was a trailer at the time. We waited about an hour and a half outside in the heat. Since then, CorkScrew has moved into a brick and mortar in Old Town Spring. On this particular Saturday, we got up early and arrived 30 minutes before they opened. There is a number system which lets you hangout wherever, inside or outside, without waiting in a line. We bought a couple of beers and hung out in the air conditioning.
Beef ribs are only available on Saturdays so we had to order one. They charge 20 bucks per bone instead of per pound. This allows for faster service plus it comes out cheaper for the customer. I ordered some brisket and pork ribs with mac and cheese as well. Amber got some brisket tacos and cherry cobbler. Everything was great. The meats were seasoned well and cooked to the ideal texture. They have two Oyler smokers that do all of the heavy lifting and provided a good amount of smoke. A lot of people say CorkScrew is their favorite brisket in Houston, and I could see why with the silky, tender beef. The beef rib did not disappoint. The peppery bark made love with the rich meat and was divine to eat. The pork ribs were no slouch either. The meaty rib did not give up much fight as I bite into it. I definitely ordered too much and could not eat it all. I did not order any sausage assuming it was the same old commercial sausage I had last time. It was not. I ended up tasting it at the Houston BBQ Festival the next day. It is a new recipe that the Buckmans came up with that is made for them off-site. It had a good flavor and a nice spice to it.
Husband and wife duo Will and Nichole Buckman are killing it in the northern parts of Houston. It is a drive to CorkScrew, and the anticipation and excitement builds as every mile passes. With the first bite into the smoky meat, you know it is worth it. I will try to make it there more often, but with the Houston barbecue scene the way it is, it can be tough. The Buckman and company sell out later on Saturdays and basically every day they are open now at the new location. Plan ahead and make the trek up there after the lunch rush. Just pay attention to their social media accounts for updates.
Until next time, happy smoking...
Address: Old Town, 26608 Keith St, Spring, TX 77373
Phone: (832) 592-1184
Website: http://www.corkscrewbbq.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/csbbq24930/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CorkscrewBBQ

Monday, July 25, 2016

Smoked Pork Belly

I said it once and I will say it again. I am a sucker for pork belly. If I see it on the menu, there is a 99% chance I will order it. Amber was doing the Whole30 diet the month of June. I wanted to support her and chose to participate as well. The diet only lets you eat meat, fruits, and vegetables. Basically we could not eat anything processed, sugar, dairy, bread, legumes, nor drink alcohol. Lame. Not being able to eat bacon for breakfast was going to be an issue. You can buy uncured bacon, but it is hard to find ones without sugar. If you do find it, you pay a premium for it. I recently saw that Costco sold slabs of pork belly. I took this opportunity to smoke my own pork belly.
The slab from Costco weighed over nine pounds, and there was no skin. I did not have to remove the skin, but then I could not make cracklings. Catch-22. I did not have time to cure the belly plus it adds a lot of salt. I rubbed the meat down with coarse black pepper and Hawaiian sea salt for added color. The next time I am smoking a pork belly, I will be more liberal with the seasoning. Probably apply the rub until I see nothing but black. I asked and looked around to see what the finishing internal temperature should be. It ranged from 160 degrees to over 200. I did not want to risk having pulled pork if I went too high. My goal was to hit 175. The meat was in an oak smoke bath for eight hours.
I let the belly rest for about 30 minutes before I cut into it. Once I started cutting, I could not stop eating. It was so tasty. The meat was rich and smoky. I finally stopped eating long enough to section the slab into 3 pieces. One was for breakfast. Another for the next part of this post. The other? No idea? Any suggestions? I sliced the section for breakfast thin. They were easy to crisp up in a frying pan and was great every morning I ate them. I thought this smoking adventure was a success.
I love me some bacon burnt ends from Heim Barbecue. I also saw that Pappa Charlies was doing char sui pork belly as specials. I decided to combine both ideas into one. I grew up eating a lot of Chinese BBQ and well you know my affinity for Texas BBQ. The perfect combo. You can find char sui sauce at your local Asian market. The one I bought was from Lee Kum Kee and came in an eight ounce jar. I cubed up about three pounds of the cold smoked pork belly and covered it with the sauce. I gave it about two hours worth of smoke to get the internal temperature to 195 degrees.
Damn. The pieces were fantastic. They were sweet, sticky, and smoky. There was a ton of flavor. I ate them with a bowl of rice and was happy as a clam. I would make those again for sure. I might play with different flavors first, the next time I do bacon burnt ends.
Until next time, happy smoking...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q (First Impression)

At last, I have come to the final stop of the day on my East Texas barbecue tour. I started at Bodacious and continued to Joseph's Riverport. I actually stopped at Country Tavern in Kilgore but only got the baby back ribs. They were saucy and were not bad at all. I was by myself and was extremely full after that. I checked into my hotel in Tyler and hung out for a little bit. I headed to Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q around 6:30 for dinner. There was a short wait.
When I arrived at the front of the line, I ordered the Four Meat Sampler Plate. I got moist brisket, baby back pork ribs, pulled pork, and turkey. The turkey was one of the better ones I have eaten. It had a nice flavor and was very juicy. I could not resist the sweet and saucy baby back pork ribs. With every bite, I wanted more. The tender, moist rib meat came away nicely from the bone. I probably should have ordered a half rack of them and called it a day. The pulled pork was fine. It was a little dry and lackluster in flavor though. I received lean brisket instead of moist. I could not eat it. It was dry as a desert. I went back to the counter and asked for moist. It was a little bit better. I am chalking up the quality to me being there later in the day. Before the Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival the next day, I came back to get the Mother Clucker. It is a spiked and smoked chicken thigh filet with spicy BBQ mayo, cheddar cheese, topped with an over easy fried egg and served on toasted jalapeno cheese sourdough. I upgraded mine with house-made guacamole and candied bacon and made it a Cadillac Clucker. Holy hell! It was delicious. I ate all of it at the expense of my Red Dirt experience. The depth of flavors, the textures... Man o man.
Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q is on the Texas Monthly Top 50 list. They must be doing something right. I guess I just went at the wrong time for brisket. I need to come back during lunch time. It is hard because I want to go back to Bodacious and Joseph's Riverport as well. The ribs, turkey, and the Mother Clucker were outstanding. They have quite a few good things going. Until next year. Grade: N/A

Until next time, happy smoking...
Address: 525 S Beckham Ave, Tyler, TX 75702
Website: http://stanleysfamous.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stanleysfamous
Twitter: https://twitter.com/stanleysfamous