Brisket Bar B Q

11/15/13 - Never judge a book by its cover.  When you enter the parking lot, you think "this place has to be good".  Its a stand alone structure with an old vintage look.  Tin roof, smoke stack, cedar and limestone finishes.  Unfortunately, it all goes down hill from there.

I scored Brisket Bar B Q a 71 out of 100.  This is Bum Steer BBQ

Smoke:  Large stacks of hickory behind a CMU block smoke house with rusted smoke stack reaching to the sky.  Looks like an Olyer and all the signs of wood fired BBQ.  This is the first wood fired Bum Steer rating.  Since I spot wood fire 5 points, this is worst than most gassers.

Brisket:  Good.  A 1/4" smoke ring beneath a smokey chewy bark.  Tested tough of tender. Even the fat was tough.  It dried out fast.  Need a good set of teeth for this brisket.  Use the sauce.

Ribs: Fair.  Tough and chewy.  Had a good rub, smoke and salty pork flavor.  Need a better set of teeth for these ribs.  Maybe they should go all the way and sell jerky.  Use the sauce.

Sausage:  Fair.  A fine ground salty pork link.  Casing was chewy.  Tasted like greasy Bologna. Use the sauce.

Sauce:  Fair.  A thick clumpy tangy brown sauce.  Flavor was mild buttery tomato soup.  Everything here needs sauce but they need a new sauce here.  Bring your own.

Brisket Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Meat Candy

11/9/13 - Dropped the wife off for the annual Nutcracker Market.  Its a some what of tradition for the Houston ladies.  Its an excuse to get together with your girlfriends, drink wine, and buy overprice Christmas junk.  All under the guise of supporting the arts, the Houston Ballet.  Just an excuse for wine and shopping, two things Houston ladies do best.

Anyway, I am on my own for supper tonight and there is an Aggie football game on today.  Time to fire up the pit!

I decided to make my fabulous Meat Candy ribs.  I got this recipe from Southern Living a few years ago.  The key is the wet seasoning.  It transforms the smokey porky goodness into Meat Candy!

I wanted spare ribs but the wife likes baby backs so what to do?  Smoke 'em both! No since in wasting all the hard work on one slab of ribs. 

First I remove the membrane off the back of the ribs.  I hate it when I order ribs and there is this plastic sheet on the bottom.  Pure laziness.  It  takes 1 minute to remove.

I prepared my secret rib rub.  Its heavy on salt vs sugar.  Light on Black Pepper.  Chili powder for transitional flavor.  Secret spice is cinnamon.  If I don't scorched the ribs the cinnamon flavor comes through so subtle.  Cover both sides generously with the rub.  The salt starts the dry brining process. I leave on counter while I get pit ready.

Smoke? Pecan is the perfect Meat Candy nutty smoke.  You want to go soft on the smoke so you can taste all the great meat Candy flavor.  Will use charcoal and a few chunks of pecan for smoke flavor.

Love my pit.  One chimney of charcoal and it hits 238 in fifteen minutes.  Couple chunks of pecan and were smokin.  Put on a chimney about every 75 minutes with pecan chunks.  At hour 4 I pull the ribs off for the wet seasoning.  The meat temp as reached 175 not the 185 target I wanted but its getting late. 


Aggs BTHO out Mississippi State! 51 to 41.  Johnny Manziel's last home game.  I am going to miss Johnny Football.  He was stuff of legend and myth.


The wet seasoning is pineapple juice, peach nectar and a little balsamic vinegar.  The core ingredient is pineapple, you can experiment with other nectar like apricot or mango.  Place ribs meat side down in foil.  Pour a cup over the ribs.  Fold up tight and put back on pit for an hour.


Pull ribs off, discard foil and juice.  I love the fruity steam aroma that rises when you open the foil.  Place ribs back on pit meat side up to dry off a little. 

Try to get internal temp up to 190 but it has fallen to 167.  This is taking way too long. Six hours is long enough for ribs.  I am not waiting until 10pm to eat.  Wife will be home soon and I have to pretend like I'm interested in the junk she bought.


Ribs:  Good.  As expected the tenderness was not perfect.  Blogging is easy than smoking. Slight tearing and dirty bone.  A nice rosy red interior underneath a tasty bark.  The wet seasoning flavor was deep into the rib and the rub added yet another flavor boost.  The pecan smoke was just right and added another flavor dimension to the ribs.  No sauce needed. 

7 Rivers - A Texas Kitchen

11/7/1311:37am - Typical Houston gasser BBQ.  Yet another example that all you need in Houston is a great sauce, a gasser and you are in the BBQ restaurant and catering business.

I scored 7 Rivers a 73 out 100.  Regional Texas BBQ.

Smoke:  Green Oak.  The Old Hickory is proudly displayed in the back in a glass enclosure.  Bright and shiny stainless tasteless steel.  The owner with great pride announced he only needs 2 sticks to smoke his BBQ.  Any wonder why I hate gassers?!

Brisket:  Good. Standard 1/8in smoke ring beneath a paper thin bark.  Thinly sliced, tested tough of tender.  Very little smoke and was basically dry roast beef.  Use the sauce.

Ribs:  Fair.  Slightly overcooked soft bite clean bone tender and moist.  Had a mushy peppery rub.  No sign of smoke ring, just brown pork.  Little smoke.  Use the sauce.

Sausage:  Very Good.  A beef link with traditional spice and good after taste.  Little grease and little smoke.  Overall flavor was good.  I enjoyed this link.  No suace needed.

Sauce:  Very Good.  Served warm.  Tomato based and very tangy.  It has a sutble spiciness that started out soft but finished strong.  This stuff could make anything taste good.  Use it with every bite.

7 Rivers BBQ Texas Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sunday stuffed pork loin

11/3/13 - Stuck in the house all day Sunday meant it was time to fire up the pit.  I had a pork loin in the freezer so that solves what to smoke.  I decided to try a stuffed pork loin.  Pork loin is very lean so a good moist stuffing helps offset any dryness. 

So what to stuff it with?  The few recipes I found were impressive but way too labor intensive.  This is not Cafe Bistro.  So I dumbed it down to Stove Top stuffing left over from last Thanksgiving.  I added some apple, pecans and cranberries.  Good enough for the backyard.

The wife came home from the grocery store with mesquite charcoal so I guess that choice was taken away from me.  I had a few mesquite chunks left over so that's that.  Pork loin is delicate so you want to go soft on smoke.  I will use only charcoal and one chunk of mesquite.

The 3lb package of pork lion had two separate loins about 2 inches thick.  First I trimmed the fat and silver.  I "unrolled" each loin by filleting 1/2 inch from the board. You cut sideways at same height above the board until you "unrolled" the loin. I overlapped the two loins so I had about a 8 1/2 inch wide sheet of pork loin.

I sprinkled a little Kosher salt to start the dry brining process.  I then spread 2 cups of prepared Stove Top stuffing over both loins and padded down tight.  I then rolled the lion and stuffing like a towel.  Tied the pork loin with string about 1 inch apart to keep everything together.  Looks good so far.

After it was tied up, I sprinkled some kosher salt over the outside along with cracked black pepper.  Stuck in the frig uncovered until cook time.

My target temperature is 145F.  Last time it only took about 1 1/2 hours.  Since its a lean muscle, there is not a bunch of connective tissue to break down.  There is no need to go low and slow.  Get the fire hot and go baby go!  Last time I got the pit up to 300F and everything worked out fine.

I started with a full chimney of charcoal with brown paper bags I collected from the Specs liquor store.  Placed the loin in the pit.  Stuck the remote control thermometer in the thickest part.  Placed a chunk of mesquite in the center of the fire box.  Opened the dampener on fire box all the way and dampener on smoke stack 1/2 way for some serious air flow.  Once coals were flaming over the top of the chimney, I poured them over the mesquite chunk.  Burn baby burn!

At 20 minutes fire pit was up to 209F and pork loin was at 63F.  Started another full chimney.  At 45 minutes I put 2nd chimney on.  Fire jumped to 230F and pork loin rose to 79F.  At 60 minutes pit was up to 285F and loin rose to 103F. At 90 minutes pit dropped to 280F but loin rose to 122F.  Cool weather was messing with my temp control.  Started another 1/2 chimney to finish off the loin.  At 105 minutes pit fell to 266F but loin continued to rise to 139F.  Poured 1/2 a chimney of flaming hot coals to get me over the finish line. At 110 minutes pit rose back up to 278F and loin rose to 141F.  Time to set the table! At 120 minutes pit was back up to 286F and pork loin reached the magic temp of 145F.  Let's eat!

Pork Loin: Very Good.  A rosy red interior beneath a noticeable smoke ring.  Near perfect tender and moist.  Smoke was perfect, added a new flavor dimension but did not overpower. The apples and cranberries added a nice texture and sweetness.  Could not taste the pecans.  The stuffing tasted like stuffing.  It needed a sauce or gravy to put it over the top.  Its a lean cut, the stuffing definitely helped to offset the lean pork but a sauce or gravy would have sent the flavor over the top.

Luling City Market

10/31/13 11:48am - After 32 years, was the decision to name the joint Luling City Market brilliant marketing or identity theft?  Sadly it seems the latter because nobody talks about the BBQ.  It is hard to believe but after three decades, BBQ enthusiasts are still upset about the mere existence of this Houston establishment.  With purpose and intent the owners lured a City Market employee back in 1981 to be the pit boss and bring legitimacy to this new upstart.  He also brought the mustard based sauce recipe (get a rope!).  The rest they say is Texas BBQ history.  The name itself seems to be a curse.  To this day patrons compare this Houston barbecue to its Luling name sake.  That expectation is near impossible.

I scored Luling City Market an 85 out 100.  This is Reserve Grand Champion Texas BBQ.


Smoke:  Oak.  Wood fired barbecue in special designed steel pits.  The billowing blue smoke out of the rusted smoke stack is a rare site in Houston.  The health inspector must get free lunch for life and free drinks at the bar for life.

Brisket:  Very Good.  A 1/4in smoke ring beneath a substantial black bark. Slice was near perfect tenderness but dried out way too fast so it was marked down a bit.  Full smoke flavor and well rendered fat.  The salt and pepper rub gave it a great flavor boost.  No sauce needed for the first half then use it after it dries out.

Ribs:  Good. Rosy red throughout beneath a nice bark.  They were just a little bit overcooked but still very tender, with soft bite and clean bone.  Rub was long gone and descent smoke.  Use the sauce.

Sausage:  Good.  A handmade Central Texas style all beef loose packed link.  It was mushy beef with garlic and traditional spice flavor.  A descent after taste for a central Tx link.  However, it was not Central Texas good.  I did not finish it.  Use the sauce.

Sauce:  Excellent.  They actually sell the stuff by the bottle and I wish I knew that before I left the place.  I have had the original in Luling and other knockoffs around the state but this was the best mustard base sauce I have had.  It was bold in mustard flavor and tangy spicy.  It worked magic on the brisket and lack luster ribs and sausage.  A bottle is on each table and don't worry you will find it halfway through lunch.

PS:   Warning: based on reviews from meatheads I trust, this place seems to be "Hit or Miss".  I fortunately got a Hit but suffered massive sticker shock: $25 for 3 meat lunch and no left overs!  That ain't right. Overall they did a good job bringing that Central Texas BBQ experience to Houston. They just should have come up with a better name.  Bet they would like a do over.

Luling City Market Real Texas Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon