I know I have not been blogging like I should, but I have really been busy. Ok that is an excuse and my dad used to have a saying about excuses that I will not repeat here. Anyways, lately I have been recording cooking videos and posting them on YouTube, so that has been taking up a lot of my time. Also the BBQ trailer is rolling strong, so that is keeping my extra time limited. So I said all of that to say this. Here is the link to my YouTube channel so take a look and let me know what you think about it. Leave a comment give me some thumbs up and subscribe if you can.
We had a quick stop at Coopers yesterday on the way from Molly and Danny’s wedding I did enjoy the Q. The brisket was good but probably better a little earlier in the day, the turkey and goat sausage were both fantastic. The Q is well worth your stop and the guys serving us were real nice great service. I will stop in again.
Wow what a day last Wednesday. My son John and I got up at 5:00AM and Headed to Austin to see what all the hoopla was about at Franklin BBQ. We arrived at Franklin’s just before 8:00AM. There was already a nice sized line forming outside the restaurant. John and I parked and found our place in line. We figured there were about 50-60 people ahead of us. We were having a good time in line visiting with the people in line around us, one young couple was in from LA and wanted to try some great Texas BBQ. Around 9:00 one of the employees came by to let us know that they were already sold out of pulled pork and ribs. Now remember they do not open until 11:00, but they were taking orders. He then returned to taking orders. Now it is about 9:30 he is nearing us for our order. We are still feeling good about getting to try some of this much talked about brisket. At 9:35 he is taking the order of the people in front of us in line. One man orders a whole brisket and the other orders 1/2 brisket, the young man looks at us and says sorry we are sold out. Yes we drove for over two hours sat in line over an hour and a half and they sold out to the people in front of us. Well our search for BBQ was not over, we had alternate plans. We are now heading a few blocks south to La Barbeque, who’s pitmaster used to work for Franklin’s. Upon approaching La Barbeque we noticed no line and no smoke coming from the pits, they had closed for the holiday and would not be open until Friday. Well now we are hung on the horns of a dilemma. John searches the net for John Mueller Meat Co. and I search for Micklethwait Craft Meats. Mueller’s is closed on Wednesdays so our choice was easy we were headed to Micklewait’s. Upon arriving we see people who were inline with us at Franklin’s, so we take our place behind them. Then more people arrive that had been at Franklin’s and we all have a great conversation about not getting in. After an hour wait the line starts moving, we are in the front so there is no danger of them selling out before we make it to the order window. We spent about $60 on brisket, pork shoulder, Shiner Bock Sausage and chicken, John also got some jalapeno cheese grits. We quickly received our tray of food and we returned to our picnic table that we were sharing with a very nice young couple, their six month old son and their parents in from Florida. In line one of the ladies had told us that she eats at Micklewait’s and Franklin’s both and that the brisket at Micklewaits is just as good as Franklin’s. Now the brisket was moist and tender, but I did not think it was overly flavorful. This could be because of the simple salt and pepper rub that most central Texas BBQ joints brag about. The sausage was very good and I loved the course ground texture that it had. Chicken was very good but again there was plenty of cracked black pepper, but I did enjoy it very much. The grits were tasty but maybe a little undercooked. The plate came with red onions bread and homemade pickles, which were outstanding. Now for the pork shoulder, it was out of this world, probably the best I have ever had. John and I both agreed it was fantastic. Not sure if I will wait in line again for Franklin’s, but I will return to Micklethwait Craft Meats.
We are a little over two months into selling BBQ in Lytle. Sells have been good for a new business and the community is showing up to support us. You can find us parked downtown Lytle at 15049 Main St, on Saturdays and Sundays. We try to open up at 11:00 and we stay open until we sell out. We don’t sell out every day but we selling quite a bit of BBQ. We sell brisket, spare ribs, sausage, chicken and pulled pork along with sides. Our sides include potato salad, coleslaw, beans and Mexican rice. On Sundays we are serving a Jack Daniel’s Peach Cobbler for dessert.
The SARA, San Antonio Restaurant Association, Showcase Dinner was a huge success once again this year. This years guest chef was Steven Raichlen and he helped to make the evening at the historic Pearl Stables just north of the down town, fantastic. The evening started with drinks and hors d’oeuvre that were prepared by Chef Johnny Hernandez and True Flavors Catering. Chef Hernandez and his people did an excellent job preparing the foods that Mr. Raichlen had chosen for the evening. Upon arriving I met my friend Ruben Sepulveda and his lovely wife Cheryl, who had graciously invited my wife and I to be their guest. My first tasting was Steve’s Buffla-Q Shrimp, I could have just continued with them and been so happy. Next I tried some Finger Burner Lamb Chops and then some Bacon-Grilled Dates, along with some Gentleman Jack to wash them down.
The meal started with a Grilled Caesar Salad, and we were able to enjoy it while Steven was on stage showing us how to make the shrimp hors d’oeuvres and each of the other courses as we enjoyed them. The main course was a grilled New York Strip with Jack Daniels/Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce and Hell Fire Peppers, it was served with a Smoked Stuffed Potato, Pimenton Grilled Asparagus and a Oaxacan Grilled Corn Flan. The dessert was an excellent Grilled Pound Cake with Fresh Berry Salsa and Tequila Whipped Cream.
I had a chance to meet Mr. Raichlen during the meal and again the next day at the CIA. It was a true pleasure, he was a very nice man and was sincerely seeing that you enjoyed your evening and his meal. I was able to pick up an autographed copy of his new book BBQ Planet to go along with his other books that are in my library of cookbooks.
Thanks Mr. Raichlen for a wonderful evening and to SARA for the hard work they put into this scholarship fund-raising event for the culinary students of San Antonio.
What a great treat to stop into Smitty’s BBQ in Brownwood Texas and find Smitty himself there still cooking the Q. While spending my college time at HPU Smitty’s was an institution for us college kids. I first met Smitty lifting weights at Young’s World a gym owned by world champion power lifter Doug Young. Smitty was always nice to us young guys and always inviting us down to his BBQ restaurant for some good eating. So for the next four years we did just that. Now fast forward 30 years and I find myself having a daughter going to HPU. Now you know I had BBQ in my mind when we hit town for parents weekend. We hit town early and took Hailey to. Doctors appointment she had then headed to Smitty’s for lunch. Let me tell you I was excited to see Smitty sitting behind the counter. His daughter was running the counter and taking orders and his son was in the back running the pit. The Q was great like it always had been, moist, tender and tasteful. As I visited with Smitty he looks at me and says “trying to figure out how old I am aren’t you” I grinned and said yes sir I am “85 he says”. Wow 85 years young still in uniform and running the business he started in 1972. To all alumni make sure you stop in while passing through town and to all the new students make sure you drop in for some of the best BBQ you will have a chance to eat. Now make sure you say hi to Smitty and his family.
My mad dash to Tennessee was short one item, spaghetti.
I had always heard about it and wanted to try it while in Memphis, the the opportunity to try it never arose. So the other night I decided to give it a try. My wife thought I had lost my mind, but I talked her into trying it. Of course I had to promise to fix her something else if she did not like it, shock she was certain she would not. Well I must say she was wrong, it was a huge hit. The sauce was a deep red savory sensation that I used the left over pork butt that I smoked last weekend. I served it over some al dente spaghetti noodles , with a side salad. This is a recipe that will be used again and I hope y’all enjoy it.
2 lbs Spaghetti noodles cooked al dente
1/2 stick Butter
1 Onion diced
2 Garlic cloves minced
1 12oz can Petite dice tomatoes
1 6oz can Tomato paste
1 4oz can Tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (I used my chipotle sauce)
1/2 cup Water
2 tsp Basil
2 tsp Oregano
1 1/2 tsp Salt
3 cups Pulled pork (left over from the weekend)
Sautéed onions in the butter
Add garlic the last minute of sautéing
Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes
Stir in tomato paste
Add the seasonings
Add the BBQ sauce and water
Bring to a simmer
Add pulled pork and return to a simmer
Spoon the sauce over spaghetti and top with cheese if desired
I guess you can see we had plenty of BBQ on our trip to Tennessee. Actually we did not have Q every day, but some days we did have it twice. We started off early Thursday and headed north. The first day me made it to Little Rock and met part of Libby’s family for dinner and then we were up Friday and headed to Clarksville Tennessee. Saturday found us heading to the families plantation, for the family reunion.
The plantation, Allendale, has been in operation since the 1700s raising tobacco as its main crop. Upon our arrival we were greeted by the family patriarch, William Bailey Allen and his son Bailey. All the family were great and made me feel at home for my first visit. William Bailey’s tour of the home was fantastic but the old brick BBQ pit in the yard is what really caught my attention. This old pit had a gentle flume of smoke rising from it and I knew I had to see what was inside. Bailey was smoking spare ribs using the families vinegar sop. Now I had to find out what was in this sop and where the recipe came from. Well this sop has been used in the family for 3 or 4 generations, so I will give it to John when he gets home nest week and he can be the 4th or 5th generation to use it. Sorry I would love to share it with you, I might get kicked out of the family for posting it on the web. Now these were some excellent ribs, I would consider them a dry rib and they were very good. Bailey shared them as an appetizer prior to our meal and many people including myself added them to the excellent pulled pork that was catered by Red Top BBQ from Tiny Town TN. Red Top had some great sides to go with the Q and their service was fantastic.
After a couple of days at the family reunion we headed down to Franklin. Libby’s cousin Craig lives there, so we met with her Aunts and Uncles there for a few days of touring. The first night Craig took us to Famous Dave’s for a night of Q and fellowship. Dave’s serves their BBQ Feast on a trash can lid and we got two of them. The ten of us had more Q and sides then we could eat. Each lid had three sides placed in the center of the lid and a variety of smoked goodness around the outside. The sides we got were corn on the cob, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, and fries. The outer edge of the garbage lids contained brisket, ribs, chicken and pulled pork. I thought for a chain restaurant the Q was very exceptional. The only thing that I would say was under par was the sauce on the ribs a little burnt. Looks like the sauced them to soon, but they were good.
Touring the Civil War sites and plantations around Franklin was fun and then we headed to Lynchburg for a tour of the Jack Daniel’s distillery. The tour was excellent and afterwards we went to Miss Mary BoBo’s for lunch. Now Miss Mary’s is not BBQ but it is some fantastic down home cooking, served family style. I would recommend this as part of any trip to Lynchburg, just remember to get reservations way in advance.
Once we finished lunch, we loaded into the truck and headed to Memphis. Now this is the BBQ city I had been waiting for. Our first day there we headed straight to Sun Records and then to the Rock and Roll and Blues Museum. For lunch we headed to Corky’s. Corky’s had been selling ribs since 1984. I ordered a rack of ribs half wet and half dry, Libby got a half chicken and her parents got chopped chicken and chopped beef sandwiches. Everyone loved their meal and the service was excellent. Now my wet ribs were some of the best, but I can’t say that about the dry side. I thought the dry was way over seasoned. It seemed they had just dumped the rub on top of the wet so it would stick. The sides were all delicious and so was the variety of sauces they had, we left full and happy.
Now Corky’s gave us some advice on local favorites, so we stopped at Topps BBQ for supper. Libby and her parents got burgers and I got ribs and pulled pork. They loved the burgers, mom said it was the best burger she’d had in years. Now I can’t say that about the Q. The pulled pork was good but the dry ribs were just ok. Tuesday was capped off with a night for Libby and I on Beale St. Wednesday is Bikes on Beale, and let me tell you the bikes were there. We wandered up and down Beale looked at some beautiful bikes and listened to some excellent music. Before the night was finished we wound up at BB King’s and enjoyed some live music played by the Blake Ryan Band.
Thursday started at Graceland, then the Peabody Hotel to watch the ducks make their entry. We had a quick-lunch then we toured Mud island and had a river boat ride. For dinner it was Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous. Now advice on going to Rendezvous was mixed, but I figured I was going to find out for myself, boy am I glad we did. The dry ribs were great and so was the sauces they had to put on them. Libby once again got chicken and her parents got chopped sandwiches. Libby thought that Rendezvous had chicken a little better the Corky’s, but my in-laws gave Corky’s the nod for chopped. The sides were good also, everyone loved the potato salad and the coleslaw opinions were mixed. Service now that is where other places stood out. Our server was more interested in watching the baseball game on one of the TVs, placed around the restaurant for the guest then taking care of us.
Now having an early dinner meant I could squeeze in a late night run to Central BBQ. This was an excellent decision, even though I had to go by myself. Upon arrival I had to wait outside before I could get inside to order. I tried ribs once again and they were excellent. The ribs came out as a dry rib but were nice and moist. They have four sauces for you to use their regular sauce, hot, vinegar and mustard. I tried them all and they were excellent. This is where the locals were and I could see why, excellent Q and fantastic service. This is an excellent way to end out last night in Memphis.
Friday morning we were up early and heading to Vicksburg for a little touring. When we entered Mississippi we stopped at the Tunica visitors center for some information and maps. Then it was back in the truck heading south to Vicksburg. We hit the little town of Clarksdale about lunch time so we got off the highway and looked for a place to eat. I was hunting BBQ and my passengers were looking for something else. I found an excellent little place called Abe’s. Abe’s claims to have been serving BBQ and Blues since 1924. I believe it, the baby back ribs I got there were excellent. Now I am not going to mention where everyone else ate, I ate my Q in the truck then joined them inside while they finished their meal. Its back into the truck and headed to Vicksburg for out tour, then on to Shreveport for the night.
Saturday we are up and going, heading to Texas and home. I stop in antique shop so the girls let me have BBQ for lunch. Libby googled BBQ in Palestine and finds four locations, one has bad reviews, so we look at the other three and wind up at Bishop’s Brisket House. Now on first look I was not impressed. Bishops is in a mall, not a place I would look for good Q. Well I was wrong this Q was excellent. Being back in Texas I needed brisket, so it was brisket and ribs. Libby once again got chicken, mom got turkey and dad got ribs. We were al impressed with the meats and the sides. The service was great and everyone in the restaurant seemed happy. With a full belly we climbed back into the truck and headed home.
Now this was a great trip, ten days, nine BBQ meals over eight days. Libby’s family reunion was excellent the touring was fun and educating. Surely a trip to be remembered.
Now when I was leaving their original store the other evening about 8:03 I was not thinking so. I was in Philly for one day and wanted a famed Tony Luke’s Philly Cheese Steak. I let the time get away from me and i got there just before closing. Not realizing the time was so close to 8:00 I stood and looked at the menu carefully decided what I would have for my first time to try this classic sandwich. I moved toward the counter and a man hurried past me and stepped to the window to order. A young man pulls open the window and with an accent that I would expect from a guy from South Philly estates we are closed. My heart sunk I looked at the man then my watch it was 8:02. Now the other patron did not take we are close to well. He told the guy at the window that it was not yet 8:00. Once again in his gangsterish voice he states, “by our clock it’s 8:02 so we are closed. With my head hung low I slowly walk to the car to let the family know after all the hunting to find the original and dragging them to a place they had never heard of there would be no sandwiches for our supper. Now my wife being protective of me like she is and knowing how I was looking forward to this sandwich h was ready to go fight. Everyone in the car apologized for dragging their feet and is not getting there in time. I pulled the car back onto the road and headed back to Lancaster county for the last few days of our trip. Shortly after getting on the interstate my wife announces she is on their website and what do I want to say. Now she knows me and she is usually not fond of me letting people know if I do not have a gold experience at their establishment, but this time she is like a mother lion protecting her family. So I dictate a letter and before we are out of the. city and email is on its way to management. Early the next morning we are in the card for another day of touring, destination of the day Intercourse. For you unknowing people, that is a small town in Lancaster County Pennsylvania, right in the middle of the Amish country. Early in the morning I receive and email for a nice young lady named Cindy, from Tony Luke’s, she is very apologetic and ask for some details of my ordeal at Tony Luke’s and gets my contact information. In no time at all I get a phone call, it is Tony Luke Sr. I cod not believe that he had personally called me. He is apologizing for the service and wanting to know if I am still in the city so he can make things right. I was sorry to that I had left the city and was not returning at least not this trip. Tony was a pleasure to visit with, his accent was fantastic. He truly felt bad and was ready to make things right. He let me know that he was shipping me the fixings for some cheese steaks along with instructions on how to prep rare them so I could have the Tony Luke’s experience when I got back home to South Texas. Now that folks is taking care of the customer. Shortly after hanging up with Tony Sr my cell rings again and it’s Tony Jr. He is just as nice as the dad although he sounds a little more shall we say pissed off. He also apologizes and lets me know that in no way is this the way Tony Luke’s operates. Tony Jr understands the service industry just like his dad and wants people to be happy when they leave one of their restaurants. He also lets me know that he is personally headed to the original location to have a talk with the young man who was not portraying customer service that they expect. I don’t think I would want to be in that young mans shoes right now. Before hanging up Tony Jr invites me to have lunch with him if I am ever back in Philly and I extend the offer to him if he ever ventures to San Antonio. Now I can’t wait to get home and cook up some cheese steaks, now I know they won’t match up to the ones made in-house at Tony Luke’s, but I know I will taste the love in them. If anyone is in Philly make sure you stop into one of the Tony Luke’s for your Philly Steak Sandwich. Missing out on a steak sandwich may have been worth getting to visit with the men that created a Philadelphia icon. I hope I can get back up here to meet them in person some day. They both seem like class acts.
One thing would never grow up was grits. Well these are not my mama’s grits. They are surely upscale and full of flavor that your normal grits can only hope to be. One reason for the great flavor is because I use chicken broth and cream to make the grits instead of water. Then I add fire roasted poblano peppers, fresh garlic and sweet onions. These grits were a great accompaniment with some sautéed shrimp and a grilled rib eye. Try these grits, especially if you think you don’t like grits. They will change your mind.
- 1 cup quick grits
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup diced onion
- 2 poblano peppers roasted and diced
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 4oz cheddar cheese
- 4oz monterey jack cheese
- TT salt pepper and Tony Chachere”s
- Saute onions in butter, add peppers and garlic about midway of the onions becoming translucent.
- Add chicken broth and cream and bring to a simmer.
- Gradually whisk in the grits and seasonings.
- After grits thicken stir in the cheese.
I served the grits with sautéed shrimp, that were cooked with slivers of onion and Anaheim chilies. the entrée was a grilled rib eye. The grits were and excellent addition to this surf and turf meal.