Barbecue lovers “eat up” editor’s talk
Sometimes Daniel Vaughn would just lose himself, looking at the slides of pepper-crusted brisket or cheeky meat he flashed on the big screen. Sometimes his audience would work up some “mmmm,” “oh yeah” or “Amen” comments when he mentioned a particular favorite barbecue joint. (City Market in Luling for me).
Vaughn is the Texas Monthly barbecue editor, which sounds like one of the best jobs in the state. He shared the history, methods and regional practices of our beloved Texas Trinity of brisket, sausage and ribs at a McFaddin-Ward House free lecture on March 19. Then, Brad Klein’s brisket-cooking wagon released some flavorful brisket for everyone to sample with a side of pickles, onion and potato salad. I won’t even mention the banana pudding.
Oh yeah, everybody had a good time. He began with brisket on butcher paper, covered meat by the pound, trenches dug for whole animals when a barbecue involved the whole town, and the notion some meat markets had to fire up pits so customers could buy some cooked meat and enjoy it right there, without a day’s investment in cook time.
Vaughn is author of “The Prophets of Smoked Meat,” which I had the pleasure of reviewing in this column, and he held our attention as he also discussed backyard pits for cooking goat, the crisp casing of smoked boudain and even the eye of the cow, which turns out to be more beefy fat instead of fatty beef.
Most of the crowd was willing to hop in their cars and drive across the state for some of the mesquite/beef rib/avocado/tortilla/sausage/ dirty rice combos. Vaughn ate at Patillo’s and Gerard’s when he was in the Beaumont area and says followers will be able to read about it at TMBBQ.com.
Thank goodness, and the McFaddin-Ward folk, guests got to eat some brisket and sides from Brad and Katherine Klein, who barbecue as a hobby. What a great night.
We have a rich history and there may be a friendly or not-so-friendly debate about barbecue in Southern States, but Vaughn seems to support the notion of go with your tradition. If people think they don’t have “good” barbecue in the area, the could just mean they don’t have the kind the critic grew up with. He even showed a map with different regions of Texas and who uses mesquite, oak and other woods. While it may sound trendy that a California restaurant barbecues with grape vine, he thinks, why not? We all developed our flavor with what we have to work with.
So, it’s all different, and if it’s juicy and flavorful, it’s pretty much all good.
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