Texas Pit Stop BBQ

8/23/13 1:42pm - What a find! On my way to Galveston for a fishing tournament, I wanted to try out this joint. Previously this summer I nearly broke my neck driving up the Gulf Freeway tyring to look backwards when I spotted the stacks of wood in the back. I did a little research. The roots of the joint stems from competition. The owner Arnold Garza was head cook for the Los Vaqueros cook team. Judging by all the trophies on display, Los Vaqueros did very well. They opened in 2011.

I scored Texas Pit Stop BBQ a 92 out of 100. This is Grand Champion Texas BBQ. Viva Los Vaqueros!

Smoke: Hickory, stacks and stacks of hickory. Two big black wood fired Olyers located behind the restaurant. Houston, we have wood fired bbq.

Brisket: EXCELLENT! Words come up short to describe the brisket, but I will do my best. A great big bright red 5/16in smoke ring underneath a rich thick black bark. Perfect pull apart tenderness. A fork pushed through it like butter. Bark had rub and full smoke flavor. Fat and meat were silky and smokey. No sauce needed at all, don't do it! Folks people stand in line for hours (yours truely) to eat brisket like this.

Ribs: Good. Tender but not tough of tender thin St Louis ribs. First thing you notice is the red glaze. It looks as sweet as it tastes. A glaze done with perfection; you will lick your fingers. Decent smoke but but the glaze is the what makes this ribs stand out. No sauce needed.

Sausage: Very Good. A great traditional spice beef sausage with great after taste. Big and thick slices. Casing was snappy. No sauce needed.

Sauce: Good. A traditional thick dark red sweet tangy Kansas City style bbq sauce. They serve a spicy sauce but it was more tangy than spicy.

This barbeque was so good I forgot to take a picture of it.  Got this one off the internet.
Texas Pit Stop BBQ on Urbanspoon

Jimee's Bar-B-Q

8/14/13 12:10pm - Was hoping to find wood fired magic but ran into my old enemy Southern Pride.  The couple that runs this joint are adorable.  I don't score customer service, but if I did, this place would get 5 stars.  Its outside dining but there is plenty of shade and big fan.  Not sure if this was a garage that serves BBQ or BBQ joint that fixes or stores RV's and trucks.

I scored Jimee's a 73 out 100.  This is Regional Texas BBQ with some serious Texas attitude.  I loved all the drift wood and deer antlers.  There was plenty of old school Coka-Cola memorabilia.

Smoke: Hickory.  Southern Pride gasser sticking out of the trailer/kitchen in the back.  I appreciated the owner's honesty.  He referred to his Southern Pride as an "oven" and not a pit.  No false advertising here.  You know what your getting.

Brisket:  Good.  An impressive bright red 1/4in smoke ring.  Not bad for a gasser.  The slices tested tough of tender.  Thin bark, no detectable rub, mild smoke.  Flavor was mostly roast beef.  There was some mild smoke flavor in the fatty parts.  Use the sauce.

Ribs:  Good.  They are served wet.  They were tough of tender, with little tearing and dirty bone.  A great salt brine pork flavor mixed with the finishing sauce.  They were simple and pleasant.  I ate all three of the ribs.  Can't tell you to use the sauce because you don't have a choice.

Sausage: Good.  A pork maybe beef course ground sausage with mild traditional spice and very little after taste.  Casing was a little tough.  Use the sauce.

Sauce:  Good.  A simple tomato vinegar based sauce with onion flavors.  Not a bold or flashy sauce.  Just a simple sauce that does its job.  It worked well with the meats.  You have to ask for sauce on the side or you will get everything drowned in sauce.  Don't bother, just get it drowned in sauce.

Father's Day 2013

6/16/13 Fathers Day

When the family asked what I wanted for Fathers day I said wanted fire up the Smoke Monster of course.

Wife likes Baby backs.  I have some wild turkey breast in the freezer.  Hate to waste all that wood on one puny rack of baby backs.  So what the heck, lets smoke a wild turkey breast and see what happens!  That cow patty on the left is the turkey breast.

Ribs:  Good.  Bloggin is easier than smokin.  These ribs were border line tough of tender.  A little tearing and slight dirty bone.  Overall flavor was really good but smoke was too intense.  Wife made some comments.  No sauce needed.

Ribs hit 193F after 4.5 hours.  I left on for another 30 minutes.  Average smoker temp was 250.2.  Used 1.5 chimneys of charcoal and 7 sticks of hickory.

The turkey breast was the biggest surprise.  Pulled the breast off when temp hit 162F after 4.25 hours.  Wild turkey is extremely lean.  So lean that it can get real tough if overcooked.  I always fear gamy flavor so i marinated it in vinegar and lime overnight.  I used lime because we didn't have any lemons.  As expected the thinner portions were tough as leather and were discarded.  The big meaty parts were very tasty but a little dry which was expected.  You could taste the lime which made it even more interesting.  Smoke was really good.  I chopped up the turkey and mixed it with store bought BBQ sauce and had excellent chopped turkey sandwiches all week.  Heck even the wife liked it.  It was so stupid simple I don't think I eat wild turkey any other way.

First Lyfe Tyme Pit Brisket

May 27, 2013.

Brisket: Fair.  Bloggin is easier than smokin.  It had a 5/16in smoke ring! Thank you very much.  Tested Chewy tough.  Could not pull apart the slice.  A knife was needed.  Full mesquite smoke flavor.  Use the sauce.

It took 12 hours for this 10 pound brisket to reach an internal temp of 194F.   Average smoker temperature was 245.6.  Not sure how I blew it on tenderness.   This was one tough piece of beef.  The collagen never really melted away. It hit 160F after 4 hours whcih is when collegen begins to melt.  Internal temp climbed slow and steady.  I really did not witness a stall. When I purchased the brisket I failed to do the bend test.  The bend test is you take the brisket and try to bend it so both ends touch.  If it resists then its too tough. Will not make that mistake again.

Season the Pit

I have a four year who does not mind very well.  The fire box gets gets so hot it will burn your fingerprints off.  So I call the pit the "smoke monster" to instill a little fear in my daughter to not go behind the garage.  The trick or treat jack-o-lantern is to catch the drippings but it also adds spookiness for a certain 4 yrd old an hopefully add to its namesake.

Not sure of the purpose, but Lfye Tyme and others recommend you "season" the pit.  Seasoning the pit is just smoking it without cooking anything.

I took it a step further.  I love cast iron cook ware and very familiar with coating with a little cooking oil to preserve the cast iron and prevent rust.  I did the same.  I coated every square inch inside the pit and fire box.

After it soaked in for a day or two, I fired up the pit for the first time.  I have a remote control thermometer.  Being the Aggie engineer nerd that I am, I of course tracked the rise in temperature.

Stack was half closed and Fire Box vent was half closed. With a full chimney of charcoal it reached 223 degrees in 30 minutes.  Temp rose to 248 after another 15 minutes and stalled at 258.  Added a piece of mesquite to start smoke.  Temperature remained above 229 for the first two hours!  Very efficient design.  With very little effort and fuel, this pit holds a temp around 250F which is perfect for some low and slow BBQ action!

The pit came with a Lyfe Tyme temp gage.  I noticed on the gage the zone marked "Bar-B-Q" is from 250F to 350F.  Most competitors smoke at 225. This pit is a 250F pit.  It takes little effort or fuel to hit that temp.  It takes little effort to maitain range of 240 to 260.  Not quite the magic 225F but I have a life and nobody wants barbeque at 10:00pm.

Put on a 1/2 chimney of charcoal after 2.5 hours and more mesquite.  Temp rose to 281 in 20 minutes and stayed that hot for an hour.  As expected real wood fire really heats up the pit.

Charcoal was completely gone over the next hour.  Added a large piece of Mesquite to cook down for solid wood coals.  Temp in smoker got up to 286.

Once burned down, I put those mesquite coals to good use.  The pit comes with a grill that fits in the fire box.  I cooked two 1 inch thick NY strips over those bad boys for some serious mesquite smoke flavored steaks.  The wife was very happy.

Lyfe Tyme Pit upgrade!

Christmas came in May 2013!

Sun, rain, sprinkler system and too much use finally caught up with the free New Braunfels Smoker.  After four years I am confident I got my money's worth.

The rust was so bad two of the legs popped off as I dragged it out of the backyard.  There use to be a tray at the bottom but it literally broke apart and left a trail of rusted metal to the back of the garage.
Good buy old friend, I wont miss you because I heading to D&S Lawn & Automotive in Tomball, Tx to pick up my brand new 300lb Lyfe Tyme Pit!

I finally graduated from a novice backyard smoker to a...well I'm still a novice, but I have now have some serious equipment!

I will now sharpen my skills with a real wood for heat source and smoke.  I feel so grown up.

Barebque Nonsense

My wife calls it Barbeque Nonsense.

Growing up in Abilene, Tx eating at Joe Allen's BBQ formed my love for mesquite smoked Texas Barbecue.  My love of eating Texas BBQ turned into a passion after my best friend gave me his well used New Braunfels Smoker back in 2009.

The smoker was an upright rectangle box an a offset fire box. Made out of thin gauge steel.  It was very inefficient.  It took 20 pounds of charcoal to cook my first brisket.  I had the hardest time keeping the temp in the smoker above 200 degrees.

My first brisket was 9 hours of hard work but the results were perfect and my love of eating barbeque transformed into a passion of smoking. 

After my first brisket, I began experimenting with other meats.  I even created my own sauces and rubs.  Started to develop my own recipes for pinto beans and potato salad.  I dubbed my ribs as Meat Candy and began to share with friends and family. 


It's Ribs!

7/22/13 12:14pm - Well if your name is "It's ribs!" you might want to serve some tender tasty pork ribs or change your name.  I went a while back on recommendation of the beef ribs, which I would recommend.  The menu selection had the Holy Trinity, so I mad it a point to come back.

I scored It's Ribs a 70 out of 100.  This is Bum Steer BBQ but in fairness they don't market their BBQ prowess.

Smoke:  A secret, but I would guess Hickory.  There is a well used smoke stack in the back but not a stick of wood in sight.  There is no reference to wood used in their menus.  Little evidence of wood fired, so I suspect a gasser.

Brisket:  Good.  No smoke ring except on the ends.  Tough of tender, a knife was needed.  Good smoke and salty rub.  Use the sauce.

Ribs:  Poor.  If you like over cooked and charred ribs, this is the place!  The have successfully recreated your drunk uncle's backyard disaster.  A St Louis cur spared rib dry of tender.  A sticky charry black bark with a hint of burnt.  Overcooked brown through and through.  Use the sauce or just order the beef rib.

Sausage:  Good.  A fine ground pork sausage with great bacon and salt pork flavors.  A little greasy and some faint smoke.  No sauce needed.

Sauce:  Good.  A tangy strong molasses tomato vinegar based sauce.  Overall flavor was good but it overpowered the meats.

PS: Try the beef ribs.
It's Ribs! on Urbanspoon

Leon's World's Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que

8/3/13 1:30pm - While on vacation in Galveston, I finally got my chance to eat at Leon's.  They made 2013 Texas Monthly top 50.  After a week long seafood binge, I was ready to sink my teeth into Top 50 Texas 'Que....and I'm still ready.  I have always suspected that TM sometimes lists a few joints just because its good magazine business.  Either that, or they try to make up for not listing them in the past. Galveston has never been represented in TM Top 50 and from what I read, the owner is loved by his patrons and Galveston.  There should be room in the Top 50 to give some love back to a man like Leon O'Neal.

I scored Leon's a 75 out of 100.  This is Regional Texas BBQ.

Smoke:  Oak.  Ole Hickory gasser hidden behind a cedar fence up against the back.  Just a few steps behind it lies the old smoke house.  Its sad to see the old rusted steel barrel smoker left there abandon and forgotten.  I understand that Leon made the switch to a gasser after Hurricane Ike.  Another unrecorded Ike casualty.

Brisket:  Fair.  Zero Nada smoke ring! Solid gray with a thin black bark.  It tested tough of tender and finished dry.  Some smoke and a little salty rub. Not Top 50 quality by a long shot.  Use the sauce.

Ribs:  Very Good.  Near perfect tender spare ribs served with the rib tips cut separate.  I thought that was clever and I will serve my own spare ribs the same way from now on.  A great salty black peppery rub.  Good smoke and rosy red ring.  Great overall flavor.  Top notch ribs.  No sauce needed at all.

Sausage:  Excellent.  I found some pirate treasure!  A coarse ground beef (maybe some pork) sausage with strong traditional spice, garlic and salt flavor.  Great black peppery and tid-bit of cayenne heat after taste.  Fabulous and wonderful east Texas style sausage.  If they sold it at the HEB, I would serve it at my table. No sauce needed at all.

Sauce:  Fair.  A tomato base, faint vinegar weak tangy sauce.  Hints of black pepper and chili powder.  Overall flavor was very mild and almost undetectable.  It somehow lost all its flavor when sampled with the meats.  It did nothing to improve the brisket.  It was almost a flavorless sauce.  Very strange.
Leon's World's Finest Barbeque on Urbanspoon