Monday, April 28, 2014

Miller's Smokehouse

One time, I stopped by Miller's Smokehouse in Belton on a Sunday on the way back from Dallas. They were closed however. Boo. On this particular Saturday, they were my second stop. My first stop was at Pit Stop BBQ in Temple. The only issue there was that they were closed because they were doing their taxes. Weird. Pitmaster Dirk Miller started Miller's as a taxidermy and deer processing business. From there, he started smoking his sausage and added more meats as the business grew. I have tried Miller's a couple of times at TMBBQ events. They are also included in the Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ list.

I was going to make a few stops today, but I got frustrated with the first place that I went all in for lunch. I ordered two slices of moist brisket, two pork ribs, and some hot link and jalapeño cheese sausage. The brisket was tender, smoky, and succulent. It had a good, oaky bark. Only on Fridays and Saturday that the pork spareribs are on the menu. The ribs had to be the smokiest I have ever had, and they were huge too. I thought they could have stayed in the smoker just a little bit longer because there were a little chewy. Dirk actually agreed with me. The ribs were good, but a little barbecue sauce on top made it even better. Both sausages were good. They had a good snap and were tasty. The jalapeño cheese had chunks of cheese. However the grit was a little too fine for me. They make their own sausage down the street in their meat processing building. The Miller's also run a bakery next door. I could not have indulged. I did not finish everything on my plate because I was so full.

Miller's Smokehouse puts out some of the smokiest meat you will have. If you are on the way to or from Dallas, stop here. Ignore the billboards for the other BBQ joint in town. Make sure it is not Sunday though. Miller's has some good pricing. Next time I want to try the pork butts and the regular sausage. They also have live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Grade: B+

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 208 N Penelope St, Belton, TX 76513
Phone: (254) 939-5500

Monday, April 21, 2014

Railroad Bar-B-Que (Kyle) (Closed)

Railroad Bar-B-Que is closed as of today at the Manchaca and Kyle locations. Kyle, TX is growing so fast that the interstate access road had to be moved. The traffic that runs by Railroad has decreased because of it. Kyle is now down to two BBQ joints. Milt's and Dickey's.

We built our house four plus years ago in Kyle. Being so close to Lockhart started my barbecue craze. The first place we ate on the day we moved in was Railroad Bar-B-Que. We got it to-go and ate on the floor of our new house. We have been back a handful of times. Railroad has a few locations around Central Texas. The Kyle location is in an old feed store next to the railroad tracks. Fitting.

Amber and I went there for lunch one Saturday. She got chicken tenders, and I got a three meat plate with moist brisket, pork ribs, and sausage. It came with a side of coleslaw and macaroni salad. The brisket was chewy and was like roast beef. You can taste the mesquite smoke, but other than that, it was bland. I am not sure the ribs ever saw a smoker. Sure it was pink like it has been inside of one, but I could not taste it. I would have thought it was baked or even worse boiled. They were tender and saucy though. The sausage was the highlight of the meal. The beef and pork blend was good. It had a nice pop, and the flavor was dominated by black pepper. The creamy coleslaw tasted like it came from KFC which is not a bad thing. I actually love the finely chopped coleslaw from KFC. The macaroni salad although solid seemed like it was a store bought variety.
Railroad Bar-B-Que is not our go-to BBQ joint in Kyle. We prefer Milt's Pit BBQ if we wanted to grab some local barbecue. Railroad does have all you can eat catfish on Friday and Saturday nights. Do not go on a Friday during Lent. It is crazy packed.

Until next time, happy smoking...

Smoking Pork Butt

This is the second part in my smoking adventures. Last time I smoked two racks of pork ribs. They turned okay. I was going to try doing pulled pork with the smoker this time. I have done pork in the electric smoker numerous times. My friends seem to enjoy it a lot. Pork butt is a forgiving meat so maybe it will turn out better than the ribs.

The pork butt I got was 11 pounds. I put the pork in brine of sea salt, white sugar, and apple cider vinegar overnight in the fridge.

The rub was ground black pepper, sea salt, brown sugar, and chili powder. I did not go nuts on the brown sugar this time. I do like it sweet and spicy.

I put the pork butt in the smoker around 5 pm. I used oak wood. I controlled the temperature a lot better this time. It seemed like a log of oak provided the right temperature for about an hour. The temperature stayed between 225-275 degrees. It was a little bit cooler this night as well.

I got this cool thermometer from a friend as a housewarming gift. It is wireless. You can leave the probe in the meat and check the temperature reading from the receiver. There are audible alerts when the meat gets to a certain temperature. The only thing I do not like is the highest temperature alert goes off at 180 degrees. I was shooting for around 185-190. I feel like I am sort of cheating with this gadget.

It took about 11 hours for the meat to hit 190 degrees. I pulled it off the smoker, wrapped it in paper first then foil, and threw it in a cooler with a towel wrapped around it. The meat would cook a little bit and stay warm for a while.

I took the meat out of the cooler around noon, and it was still hot. I pulled the pork apart pretty easy with two forks. The bone also came out without any effort.

The pulled pork turned out pretty well. Everyone liked it, and there was not that much left over when the seven of us were done with it. It tasted delicious without any sauce. Next time I will use a little more rub. I was hoping it would be spicy, but it was not. I will also rotate the meat in the smoker too. I probably lost about a half of pound of meat because some of the meat was charred closer to the fire. It probably happened when I added new wood and heat was a little high for a moment. The backside of the pork could have been done a little bit more. Hey it is called barbecue. You live and learn. Brisket, you are next.

Until next time, happy smoking....

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (Llano)

Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano was the next stop on the list after leaving Opie's Barbecue. Amber and I have eaten at the Cooper's in New Braunfels a few times. One time we order 70 bucks worth of barbecue for the two of us! Ordering the smoked prime rib added up pretty fast. The Cooper's in Llano was included on the Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ list again. When I got there, the serving pit was located outside of the building under a roof. You can see the other smoking pits when you walk up. Everything here is smoked direct over mesquite coals.

I was not very hungry when I ordered, but I still went for it. I got moist brisket, pork ribs, sausage, and a pork chop. The moist brisket could have been trimmed better before it hit the smoker. It was really fatty and a little salty but still tasty. The fat could have been rendered better, and the brisket could have used more smoke. That is a consequence for cooking it direct. Hot and fast. It was better than I thought it would be. The pork ribs were also salty but solid. The tip of the rib was really dry and chewy. I wanted a center rib, but the guy cutting was trying to get rid of an end piece. It had a good flavor nonetheless. The sausage had a nice pop from the casing and was really good. The grit was a tad fine for me but had a good fat ratio. The thick pork chop is what Cooper's is known for. It was the highlight of the meal. The "big chop" was delicious. It was perfectly seasoned and was moist and juicy. It had enough smoke where it would not become overbearing. Do not skip out on the free pinto beans that you can have. They are really good. I could not finish all of the brisket and pork chop, but I had some good leftovers for the next few days.

I am a fan of Cooper's. They have a few locations all over Texas. They are about to open a new location in downtown Austin. My first visit at the Llano location did not disappoint. It is definitely a drive from Austin. If you are ever out in that area, make sure you stop in and get some 'cue. I forgot to order the beef ribs this time. I will remember to order it next time. Grade: B

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 604 W Young St, Llano, TX 78643
Phone: (325) 247-5995

Monday, April 7, 2014

Opie's Barbecue

My wife and her friend were going on a bachelorette trip which meant I was on my own for the weekend. Yes! This would be a good opportunity for me to hit up a few BBQ joints over the weekend. I had a list of places that I could visit for the first time. The first stop for the weekend was Opie's Barbecue. I have tried their meats at a few barbecue festivals, and my reactions have always been positive. They are located west of Austin in Spicewood which is about 30 miles away. They are also on the Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ list. Good enough for me to visit.

The first thing you see when you walk through the front door is a huge meat case. All the smoked meats are presented in front of you. I went with moist brisket, pork spareribs, baby back ribs, and regular sausage. The brisket was like butter. It melted in your mouth. It was tender and smoky. They used an electric knife to cut it, but a butter knife would have been the better utensil to use. It had a great bark that came from mesquite wood and was one of the better briskets I have had. I was not expecting to eat a brisket of that quality. The sausage was heavy on pepper and had a good snap. Their house blend was tasty, but the grit was on the fine side. The pork spareribs were solid. They were tender and juicy with a good amount of smoke. The baby back ribs were the winner here. They had a sweet saucy glaze and were delicious. I could have eaten a whole rack if I did not have another stop to go. You have to order by half rack, but you have to get it. Opie's even gives you free pinto beans as a side. They were good but nothing special.

Opie's Barbecue is really not that far from Austin and worth the visit. The anticipation grows during the drive, but once you take your first bite, you knew you made the right choice. Everything was good if not great. I will try the pork chop, pulled pork, and jalapeño sausage when I am there again. On the way out, I heard someone complaining about there being a line. There were about eight people in line. Spoiled. My next stop for the day was Cooper's Old Time Bar-B-Que. Grade: A

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 9504 Texas 71, Spicewood, TX 78669
Phone: (830) 693-8660