Jun 1, 2017
Texas barbecue has no peer on earth.” That’s what I immodestly declared in 2013, when we published our fourth list of the fifty best barbecue joints in the state. We were right, of course, but I did wonder: Had we peaked? Was there nowhere to go but down? Four years later, the answer is clear. There was nowhere to go but up! Our appetite for smoked meat remains insatiable, and I can say, with gusto, that we are living in the golden age of Texas barbecue.
And what defines this succulent era? First, quality. The cult-level popularity of barbecue has permanently changed the old landscape. When we compiled our very first list—twenty places—in 1973, smoking anything but the cheapest briskets was unthinkable; now, glistening slices of Top Choice—even Prime—beef are the norm. Restaurants serve butter-tender beef ribs and name-check the ranches they hail from on their menus. This is true from Wolfforth to Mercedes and Pecos to Spring, because excellent barbecue is also more widespread. A claim of “That’s great brisket” in Longview no longer has to be qualified with “for East Texas”; today’s pitmasters provide an excuse for a road trip to just about any far-flung corner. Once the term “Texas barbecue belt” meant the center of the state. Now it stretches far and wide.
Barbecue is easier to find too. Thanks to Twitter, Google Maps, Facebook, and Instagram, you can get a brisket or sausage fix when and where you need it. Decades ago, a barbecue trailer on a farm road could dry up and blow away in between customers. These days all it takes are a few raves on Yelp, and it has a good chance of success. This coincides with another trend: more than ever, barbecue is urban. Lockhart was once the smoked-meat capital, with three fantastic joints on our list in 1997; this year, the town has one representative. By contrast, Houston has four entries, Austin seven. At this rate, our next fifty best could come solely from our five or six biggest cities. (Don’t worry, it won’t.)
If there’s a dark side to all this, it is the cost—to our wallets and our patience. One reason cities are dominating is that they have customer bases that can afford brisket at $20 a pound and foodies who think nothing of investing time in a barbecue line. “Democratic” is hardly the word for an hour-long wait for a $35 beef rib. Still, I won’t complain too loudly, because cities also have armies of amateur reviewers who demand the best. Competition has a way of keeping the bar high for all of us.
Which brings me to a final trait of this moment we’re in: variety. In 2008 the quartet of brisket, pork ribs, sausage, and chicken ruled our list, and we lamented aberrations such as deli turkey. Since that time, the barbecue menu has been expanding faster than my waistline, with the addition of real turkey breasts, a renaissance in beef ribs, and a full-on embrace of pork steaks and chops. Great pulled pork has made a definitive invasion, and there’s even a little ham and pork belly to round things out. It makes you wonder what’s in store for the 2021 list. Anybody up for rattlesnake? —Daniel Vaughn
Source: Texas Monthly
Like all J&R ovens, this large capacity pit is wood-fired. However, it comes equipped with an electric oven heating element as a standard feature. This feature reduces wood consumption and allows the chef to craft the flavor of the meat to his exact preference.
By using safe, clean electrical energy to assist the wood fire, this oven can produce authentic barbecue without the “gassy taste” associated with competitors’ gas-and-wood fired ovens. Up to 600 pounds per load of briskets, pork butts, tri-tips can be cooked at one time. Even cooking is also assured with the unique, high velocity convection air system. No rotation of the meat is required.
Fire starting is easy with the built in stack fan providing draft and the combustion air fan providing oxygen. However, live coals last over 72 hours in the refractory lined firebox so most customers start a fire from scratch only once. After that, they just scoop out some ashes daily and add fresh wood. The coals and the pit do the rest to ignite the newly added wood. Loading and unloading are easy with the large doors and slide out racks. After loading, just set the thermostat and relax. The air control system will precisely maintain your selected temperature while you sleep.
Safe, clean electrical energy reduces wood consumption if you choose, thereby eliminating the hazard, foul taste, and odor of gas with its sulfurous components (mercaptans).
The Smoke-Master is incredibly efficient due to the unique temperature control design and heavy insulation. It cooks up to 600 pounds of meat yet requires less than 17 square feet of floor space!
Just turn the evacuation switch and our damper and fan system goes into action to induce fresh air into the pit and exhaust the smoke out through the stack and not into your kitchen.
Set the cooking time and the initial cooking temperature. After the timer counts down, the pit temperature automatically resets to 145 degrees (holding temperature).
Removable racks and rack slides. The oven floor slopes to a large drain reservoir, which can be easily drained through a remote valve. Stainless steel interior.
Can be vented directly with six inch Class A stack or placed under a Type I exhaust hood. Follow all local codes.
|250||47.5"W X 51.25"D X 77.5"H||7-32" X 39"||208V/18.3A|
|600 LBS||161 SLABS||70 SLABS*||310 HALVES|
*2.5 and down