Gretchen and I had the honor to go behind the scenes of Hill Country BBQ in NYC this past weekend. We were there on business, serious BBQ business, to eat our way through the Big Apple, via the Big Apple BBQ Block Party which was a slice of heaven in Manhattan. Elizabeth Karmel, the Executive Chef of Hill Country has made her mark on NYC bringing Texas BBQ, that’s real Texas BBQ to the Yankee’s and serving it up right.
To add to the enjoyment, David Knight, the genius behind Old Hickory Pits and his daughter Elizabeth joined us on the tour and when he is impressed, you know that Hill Country has something good. Karmel was going for that Lockhart Texas feel, complete with sausages imported from Kreuz in Lockhart and the same meat by the pound, wrapped in butcher paper and stored just like the do down in Texas. The sides bar are many of her recipes or those that have been handed down and eaten at many family BBQ’s over the years.
The cafeteria style of the place is the most fun, you get a card which is like a menu, and then you travel from station to station, filling up your tray with meat, then sides, then Blue Bell Ice Cream and fresh baked cupcakes. They add stickers on your card of what you have eaten. You check out at the end, after you have finished (which assumes you can still walk out of the place) and pay there. Very friendly waitresses wait on you bringing you drinks, water and anything else you might need.
Now let’s get to the meat of the matter. The brisket is unlike anything that I have ever tasted, we had the lean, which has a perfect smoked flavor and is a little more dry which is why they call it "lean" but delicious as can be. You can really taste the simple rub, but it is the Post Oak, a standard Texas smoking wood that makes the brisket stand out. The brisket "moist" is a must have, it is the way it is meant to be in my humble opinion and taste as can be, the consistency was perfect and the taste was sublime. (Can you tell I love brisket?) The ribs were special too, the simple rub and the post oak combined for some tasty spare ribs.
Let’s get down to the highlight of the tasting, the pork chop (bone in) which is smoked in the smoker and then they pull it out and slice it off the rack for you, and then cut up in small pieces, just like my momma used to! It was delicious, the rub is the one used on all else, but I have never had a pork chop so juicy and tender in all my days. Finally we tested the beef ribs and those too were delicious, but you need many of them to really get your fill. We also used some of the "If You Gotta Have It" BBQ sauce, which is a no-no in Lockhart, but in NYC, anything goes and this BBQ sauce is worth having.
Hats off to Pitmaster Pete Daversa, Elizabeth Karmel, Marc Glosserman, and John Shaw who rolled out the red carpet for us and treated us so well at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party we cannot wait until next year!