Tuesday, April 14, 2009

BBQ brisket bombs

UPDATE: Most Q-lovers prefer sauce on the side, according my recent poll, with drizzled on top coming in as a close second. Greg wrote to note that chopped brisket sandwiches are mixed with sauce, sliced sandwiches come with sauce on the side. Guess the message is that it's good to have options.
I had some great expectations for the slow-smoked Hill Country sandwich currently featured on the 5-Spot's "Keep Austin Weird" menu. 

It was cooked in a smoker, so the server assured me. It came on Texas toast, slaw on the side. (Cilantro haters would not dig this cabbage salad, just fyi.) The sauce was made with Dr. Pepper.

But, alas -- this the menu did not say -- it was served sloppy Joe-style, drowning in the sticky sweet sauce. I couldn't even taste the meat, which was sliced deli thin and was fatty. When I asked the server if there was an option to get the sauce on the side, he said he didn't know, but that, as far as he was concerned, the more sauce, the better.

No! No!! And No!!!

True barbecue is about the meat, sauce is secondary. Am I right? 

I asked my bro-in-law, who grew up in Austin to 'splain it to me, he the merry maker of migas and hoe cakes and the best damn enchiladas I ever put in my mouth. But he has been too busy hanging out with super modelquins (he's art-directing those commercials). Instead, I went searching for the pics he and my Sissy sent last fall while eating around the Hill Country, and, sure enough, there's no sauce near the nice slice of brisket at the world-famous Mueller's. That's the meaty photo, by the way. The line at Cooper's is pictured on top.

How do you like to roll when it comes to Q? Sauce on the meat or on the side? Take the poll please and I'll share the results in the near future.


CB said...

you are so correct. I'm always amazed that folks who would brine a pork butt or chicken for 24 hours, prep a brisket with the care one gives a sacred object - then smoke it for 6 and slow roast it another 4 or more hours - would start off by covering it in so much spicy rub or finish it with an abundance of sauce, be it vinegar-, mustard-, or ketchup-base that the taste is hidden, obscured, altered inordinately. I wanna taste the meat. That wonderful flavor and subtle texture that comes by all of that loving treatment.

With ya.

Fred Deaton said...

Growing up in Memphis and living in West Tennessee, I have specific views of BBQ: It has to be fresh bun, pulled meat mustard slaw, and sauce on the side. I constantly get into an arguement at Corky's about the sauce because I do not want the sauce they have anywhere near my sandwich.

In my opinion the meat should stand alone without the sauce. The sauce is an addition to supplement the meat's stand alone flavor much like fresh bread and slaw.

Most BBQ restaurants offer sauce on the side as well as on the meat because people have differing preference of sauce.

Sadly a few restaurants use the sauce to cover up mistakes or shortcuts to cooking. This is more prevalent now that many Q restaurants use gas cookers with attached tinder boxes.

Saying all of this, Beef is tough to BBQ! Texas is Beef! The meat smokes and Q's differently than Pork or Chicken. I would even say a differnt type of sauce is needed for beef. A person not knowing this would cover the meat with sauce to try to cover up shortcomings in the production of the product.

merkutio said...

That picture doesn't look like Muellers to me. If that is from the Hill Country around Austin, that is Rudy's without question; from the white bread, parchment paper, and that even looks like a Rudy's special sauce bottle

Mark said...

Use sauce sparingly! A couple of mops on the ribs toward the end of cooking and let the meat and the smoke be. And you are right on about Pecos Pit. Too much sauce on some of the most perfectly cooked brisket. It used to not be this way when it was just the husband and wife team. He would just dip the buns in sauce, not ladle it over the top. Love your blog. Missing your Thai Chicken Burrito?

Freakazoid Freddy said...

When brisket is done well, it is absolutely divine, and is so juicy and tender that sauce would detract from it.
But brisket takes longer to smoke than ribs or chicken, and a lot of places take shortcuts and use sauce to hide things, even places celebrating Austin cuisine. Maybe they mean Austin, Minnesota.