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!
Share and Enjoy
Kreuz Market in Lockhart Texas was BBQ that I had to try. It is on my “Bucket List” to visit the self proclaimed BBQ Capital of the world but patience is not one of my strong suits so last week, we contacted Kreuz Market and ordered up some of their world famous brisket, Kreuz Original and Kreuz Jalapeno Cheddar sausages and had them sent to us via FedEx. What a great concept, Texas BBQ in Chicago. I thought that since this was a first for me, I would share the experience, give you some tips and encourage you to impress your friends at your next dinner part or backyard BBQ.
I had my BBQ Team partner from the “Pork Phat Posse” Doug and his family coming over for the sampling on Sunday night so I got my order in late on Tuesday. So I was forced to ship via FedEx Two Day, not reccomended. Best bet is to make sure that you order on Friday, or well in advance of the party so that you can save some money on shipping and leave yourself plenty of time to get the food here. Read the shipping instructions on the site and if you want them next day, be prepared to pay the premium.
The food arrives frozen in a vacuum packed plastic wrapper to insure that it is as fresh as can be. All the meat is pre-cooked so it is even safer. The shipping costs are well justified in that the food is shipped in a stryofoam shipping cooler to insure it arrives in great condition. We thawed all the meat out and read the enclosed cooking instructions which suggest oven or smoker reheating of the meat.
I chose to smoke the meat on my Primo Oval XL Smoker and used a little oak to get a fresh smoked taste on the meat. I put the 3#’s of brisket on one hour before the guests arrived and the sausages on 30 minutes before and tried to time everything so it would be fresh out of the smoker. Wise move, serving it hot gives you the best reproduction. My brisket had the burnt end on it, AWESOME! The fat was perfectly cooked, the meat was tender and had a smoke ring on it thanks to the pitmaster in Texas!
The sausage was an experience for me as I worked at Poeta’s Foods in Highwood in High School and made fresh Italian Pork Sausage just about every day. It was delicious, smokey and tender, really juicy and flavorful. The smoked sausage flavor was very Texas and I highly reccomend trying out the Jalapeno Cheddar Sausages they were my favorite and not overly spicy, just really something special! Brisket has been a quest for me, it is one of the most difficult things to master and if you want real Texas BBQ, spend the money on Kreuz and you will briskte will taste like the Pros, everytime.
Photos Courtesy of Central Texas Barbecue Run
Share and Enjoy
What started out as a hassle turned into a classic respect not only for Richmond, VA, but barbecue in general. United Airlines lost my friends luggage and we were travelling with four children and our wives and were looking at a four hour drive to Duck, NC. Jon and I stayed behind to wait for our bags and had a few hours and a hunger to kill last August so our search for some Barbecue began. We spotted a smoker, in a parking lot with a tent set-up and thought this must be good, it turned out this was some of Buz and Ned’s future competition. This fine gentlemen was three hours from serving time, so he suggested Buz and Ned’s place as the best in Richmond, and winner for Throwdown with Bobby Flay.
It is tough to miss, as a huge billboard sits right over the location and it is right off the main drag. In we went and order up a couple of pulled pork sandwiches and a full slab of spare ribs. Being from Chicago and growing up on Carson’s baby back’s we were somewhat intimidated by the spare ribs, but as you can see from the photo, they are about as pretty as you will ever find. Don’t change a thing when you order the pulled pork sandwich, it is perfect, awesome slaw, a dab of hot sauce and the whole affair melts in your mouth!
There is a spot on review at www.roadfood.com about the food and the taste of the pulled pork sandwich, but the main event, the Bobby Flay smack down ribs were the highlight. Crusty, smokey and just enough carmel to make your mouth water with each bite. We ate as many as we could from this Flintstones size portion and still managed to save a couple of bones for my BBQ loving wife Gretchen. Jon and I were both very impressed with the food and the feel of the joint. Hot sauce on the table, your own personal roll of paper towels was also a nice added touch. Great flavoers of sodas, beer and I highly reccomend their freshly squeezed lemonade as perfect selection for cleaning the pallette between bites or meats.
My friend Jon didn’t stop talking about it and although the drive to North Carolina’s outer banks took us an additional five hours, the stop at Buz and Ned’s Real Barbecue changed our lives and taste for REAL Barbecue:
The Definition of Real Barbecue
“Real Barbecue def: (U.S.D.A./FSIS) Meat products such as beef, pork or chicken cooked with wood or the hot coals there from (exclusively), for a sufficient period to assume the usual characteristics of a barbecued article which includes the formation of a brown crust on the surface and the rendering of surface fat.
The barbecued product must lose at least 30% of its precooked weight in the process”
For more photos of the Interior of Ned and Buz’s Real Barbecue, check out this awesome Flickr Photostream from Jason Perlow, the founder of eGullet, the food discussion website and culinary society. He also runs his own blog: Off the Broiler.
Share and Enjoy
Jeff and Donna had been talking about taking me to Pappy’s Smokehouse for some time now and knowing that Skip Steele of Super Smokers fame had moved into a new home, we had to try it. We arrived early, hearing that sometimes Pappy’s will run out of food and simply go home and the Beef Brisket is usually the first to go. We ordered up the brisket, and I had to try the Deep fried corn on the co, oh yeah! We assembled all the various sauces and waited for our food to arrive.
While waiting, the BBQ Pro Shop Webmaster, Jeff Hirsch started a conversation with the nice lady helping us and before we knew it, Skip himself was serving us our food. He and I talked about BBQ in Chicago. I commented on how much I liked his Brisket, it was tender, very flavorful and more beef like than any smoked brisket I had ever had. He told us that he believes in cooking the brisket right and not drying it out and destroying the flavor. It was something special. He then brought us out a slab of St. Louis ribs to try and they were perfect. Tender, but not falling off the bone, just enough.
Skip is a man who loves his art, he worked at RUB BBQ in NYC and in Las Vegas, and he has helped out many restaurant owners start-up their BBQ joints. Skip gave us a tour of his custom designed and built smoker that he had them design so that he could get the maximum amount of food in it every day to keep his customers happy. He uses different smoking woods delivered from local sources and his style and passion for what he does is palatable.
The BBQ World is really a special fellowship and one which I am proud to be a part of in some way. Take a look at Skip’s simple rub recipe below, I found it on the web and loved it. Tried it on some ribs and it really was something special.
Chef Skip Steele of RUB BBQ Dry Rub Recipe
2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1.5 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
Share and Enjoy
The City of Lockhart is ground zero for texas BBQ or the BBQ Capital as they proudly proclaim themselves. There are four BBQ restaurants in Lockhart. The restaurants estimate that about 5,000 people visit their establishments each week. This would be roughly 250,000 people a year who eat BBQ in Lockhart. I was blown away with the history of the town that was shown on the Travel Channels Barbeque Paradise and the relationship between Smitty’s and Kreuz just smelled of history. Here is what the city’s website says about Kreuz:
Kreuz Market (pronounced ‘Krites’) located at 619 North Colorado Street might be the most unique dining experience you’ve ever had. The beef, sausage or pork is served on brown butcher paper. No side dishes here. But you can enjoy a slice of cheddar cheese, chunk of onion, fresh tomatoes, avocado and your favorite beverage. Don’t ask for barbecue sauce. They don’t have it and quite honestly are offended if anyone asks. The owners say, ‘good barbecue doesn’t need sauce.’
I was introduced to Keith Schmidt by my good friend Elizabeth Karmel, who is the developer of Grill Friends BBQ tools. She highly reccomends the Kreuz Jalapeno Cheese Sausage which I plan to smoke on my Primo Smoker in the next few weeks. I will also order some of their world famous Brisket to test it out. You can order on line and they will ship you their food. Apparently, Texas is known for thier sausage as well and they are tied in a really special way. Stay tuned for a posting on how they turned out!
Great Blog Entry and Photos about Kreuz Market