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
Phone:
Website: http://stanleysfamous.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stanleysfamous
Twitter: https://twitter.com/stanleysfamous

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Evie Mae's Pit Barbecue (Revisit)

My wife's family lives in Lubbock, and I dread that trip every time we go. There is no good barbecue in the area until recently. I think I am more excited to go to Lubbock than my wife now. Evie Mae's Pit Barbecue moved into a brick and mortar location a few months ago. They were having their grand opening celebration over the July 4th weekend which we were invited to. We were due for a trip to see Amber's family, and the timing could not be more perfect. Here are some pictures of the new location and from the event:

The Calm
Pitmaster/owner Arnis Robbins seasoning the pig
Pit room
Piggies taking a smoke bath
Wrapped briskets
Stack of oak
Fire
Slow and low
Parking lot filling up
Ribbon cutting ceremony
Finished piggy
Serving time
Brisket
Burnt ends
Brisket, pork, green chile pork sausage, coleslaw, beans, green chile cheese grits, and cornbread
The spread
Banana pudding
Packed house
Live music
Photographer Robert Lerma
Arnis
Mallory & Arnis Robbins in front of the trailer they started in
Congratulations to one of the nicest couple you will ever meet. They are also planning to expand into the space next door for more seating and opening a bakery. About 300 people showed up to the grand opening event. It was a good time, and there was a lot of tasty barbecue to eat. They smoked four whole pigs for it. Thanks to Arnis and Mallory Robbins for having Amber and me. I wish them good luck. I will be sure to stop in every time we are in town.

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 217 Highway 62, Wolfforth, TX 79382
Phone: (806) 782-2281
Website: http://www.eviemaesbbq.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EvieMaesBarbecue
Twitter: https://twitter.com/eviemaesbbq

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Joesph's Riverport Bar-B-Que

I headed to East Texas a day before the 2016 Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival to explore the barbecue in the region. I was off to a good start with a stop at Bodacious Bar-B-Q. The second destination of the day was at Joesph's Riverport Bar-B-Que up in Jefferson. The Texas Monthly Top 50 currently includes Riverport so I was excited to see what was in store for me. Pitmaster/owner Stephen Joseph has been there since 1991 and took over the business in 1993. An electrical fire gutted the building in 2012. Stephen had to get a new Bewley smoker and build the place back up from its ashes.
I did not go crazy at Bodacious so I had plenty of stomach space to spare. I went with a three-meat plate and ordered brisket, pork ribs, and pulled pork with Cajun fries and potato salad on the side. When I received my meal, I was like what?! All this for 13 bucks?! I felt like I was stealing. The tender, smoky brisket was easy to eat. I was pleasantly surprised. The bark was seasoned by salt and pepper and also cayenne and garlic. It had a good flavor to it. The meaty pork ribs were no joke. The juicy meat came away from the bone easy and had a sweet finish to them. I wanted to eat more than one but needed to pace myself. The trend of good smoked meats continued on to the pulled pork. My mouth enjoyed the succulent bites of pork. It had a nice texture and taste to it. All the sides are house-made. They even cut their own fries. The potato salad was solid. The fries were wonderful. I ate all of the sides. Stupid mistake. Stephen brought me out a half order of the Swamp Fries to try. It comes loaded with Cajun fries, cheese, onions, jalapeƱos, bacon, and topped with chopped beef. It is a meal in itself. I could not stop eating it and somehow ended up finishing it all. Tasty and fulfilling.
Although Jefferson is a ways off of I-20, it is worth going out of the way to check out Joesph's Riverport Bar-B-Que. The quality and value makes it a no-brainer. I will try to stop by again next year. I really want to do the Swamp Fries challenge. It is basically five pounds of meat and fries. No one has come close to completing it. If I attempt it, I would probably be useless the next day. Anyone want to come join me for moral support? Do yourself a favor and visit Stephen and company. He is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. East Texas BBQ was treating me well so far on this trip. Grade: B+
Until next time, happy smoking...
Address: 201 N Polk St, Jefferson, TX 75657
Phone: (903) 665-2341
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/riverportbbq/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ETXpitboss