Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Eating Out: Black's BBQ in Lockhart, Texas

As the cliche goes, time really does fly. About a year ago, I traveled to the Lone Star state with only one goal in mind -- to eat enough BBQ so that my pores would reek of smoke. That didn't exactly happen, as I only visited four places. Call it a mini BBQ crawl, if you will.

I wrote about my experiences with Franklin's and Smitty's, but I never got a chance to write about Black's BBQ -- Texas' oldest, family-owned BBQ restaurant. Well better late than never, right? 

Lockhart is about a half hour drive south from Austin, and I made sure to carve out some time during the short trip. Unfortunately, Kreuz Market was closed (Sunday), so I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn't get to complete the "holy trinity" of BBQ in Lockhart. 

Other than the kid who tried to sell Girl Scout Cookies by the front entrance, what stood out about Black's BBQ upon entering the restaurant was the seemingly endless row of side dishes. Beans, mac and cheese, green beans, the list goes on. It was tempting, but I had to resist. This was second lunch and my stomach could only hold so much food. I had already visited Smitty's BBQ a few minutes earlier!

The guys working the restaurant were real friendly, and immediately made me feel at home. Unlike Smitty's, where nobody cracked a smile and the atmosphere was more akin to a mortuary, eating at Black's just felt like eating at your relative's house in Texas. Except that this relative loves to hang deer head and giant long horns on the wall.

We ordered a giant beef rib and a couple of spare ribs to go along with few slices of brisket. Everything was excellent. Good smoky flavor, tender meat, and nothing was dry. The giant beef rib was the clear winner -- the peppery flavor from that crusty bark sent shivers down my spine as I gnawed on the giant dino-sized bone. Black's BBQ is definitely worth a visit, and one of my favorite BBQ restaurants thus far. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Burnt Ends with Gates Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce

I've never been to Kansas City, but I hope to make a visit soon. I can only dream and drool about it for now. But recently, my neighbor traveled to Kansas City for work and visited a few BBQ spots. He brought home a bottle of Gates Bar-B-Q sauce for me to try. I was thinking, sure I'll try some... but he wanted me to have the entire bottle. He's been a loyal fan of my blog, and he's tried a lot of my BBQ too. So it was nice of him to return the favor.

So what's Kansas City BBQ all about? I wrote about it a while back, but the main difference is that Kansas City sauce tends to be tomato-based, thick, sweet, and heavy on the molasses. Kansas City is also mostly known for their burnt ends. I had a huge hankering for some burnt ends, so I recently made some of my own just to try out with my bottle of Gates Bar-B-Q sauce.

I can probably eat burnt ends all day, every day. Once I cut them up into cubes, I either like to throw them back into the smoker for a few more hours to get more of the crusty bark on the edges and for the fat to render off some more so that it's nice and crispy. Then I like to toss them in a pan with some BBQ sauce--in this case, Gates Bar-B-Q sauce, and let the burnt ends caramelize with the tomato and sugar from the sauce. It sounds like a lot of work, but it sure is worth it.

Once the final product is on the plate, it doesn't stay there for long. The sweetness from the tomato and the "tang" from the vinegar perfectly compliments the salt and smoke from the beef. The absolute best part is the bark. The perfect burnt end has to have a contrast in texture--the crispy bark on the outside to go along with a moist, juicy, and fatty meat on the inside. It's the best thing you'll put in your mouth.